Christian Werthmann

Christian Werthmann is an Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture Department of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Previously he also served as the Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Degree Programs. Werthmann is also the co-director of the recently established Anticipatory Spatial Practices concentration in the postgraduate Master in Design (MDes) program.

Werthmann’s research concentrates on the potentials of landscape architecture and soft infrastructure in heavily urbanized and socially conflicted terrain. Werthmann’s interest in soft infrastructure resulted in the book Green Roof: A Case Study, published by Princeton Architectural Press (2007) and in the founding of the GSD Green Roof Initiative that installed an experimental green roof at the Graduate School of Design. As a co-founder of the interdisciplinary research group TransUrban, he critically examines built experiments of sustainable urbanism and issues reports in regular intervals. 

Since 2007, Werthmann’s research is mostly connected to the global rise of informal urbanism as a major development factor.  In Spring 2008 Werthmann collaborated with John Beardsley in the staging of a travelling exhibition titled Dirty Work. Transforming the Landscape of Nonformal Cities in the Americas (a book publication on the same topic will be published by Princeton Architectural Press). Based on his high-risk research activities, Werthmann has been awarded the prestigious Hans Fischer Senior fellowship of the Technical University in Munich (2011). Most recently, Werthmann is engaged in the development of an earthquake refugee community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (jointly with faculty from MIT).

Werthmann received his Master of Landscape Architecture degree with a specialization in urban design at the University of Kassel in Germany. Before moving to the United States in 1997 he was a project designer in the landscape architecture office of Latz and Partners and taught as an Assistant Professor at the Technical University Munich.  In the US, Werthmann joined Hargreaves Associates in San Francisco, and was an Associate at Peter Walker and Partners, where he led a series of major design projects as the project landscape architect including the award winning Parking Structure #4 at Stanford University. In his private practice he has been a finalist in numerous national and international design competitions, such as the Harvey Milk Memorial in San Francisco, the Lenne Prize, the International Competition of the Eo Wijersstichting foundation and the Philips Award. His work has been published in Der Architekt and Architekturjournal Wettbewerbe magazines and exhibited throughout the world, most recently at the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam.

At the Harvard Graduate School of Design Werthmann teaches in the landscape architecture core design studio sequence and offers electives in landscape technology. Recent courses include Green Infrastructure in the Non-formal City,  Sustainability for Planning and Design, the third semester core studio Planning and Design of Landscapes as well as various Option Studios: The Landscapes of Castilla-La ManchaContested Waters: The Tajo River in Spain and A Place in Heaven, a Place in Hell. Tactical Operations in Sao Paulo’s Informal Sector. In 2009Werthmann was selected teacher of the year in landscape architecture. 

Projects