Margaret McCurry Lectureship in the Design Arts: Sierra Bainbridge and Lisa Tziona Switkin, “Growth and Grit: Cultivating a Life’s Work”

Side-by-side headshots of Sierra Bainbridge (left) and Lisa Switkin (right). Sierra has shoulder-length blonde hair and wears glasses and a black shirt. Lisa as shoulder-length brown hair and wears a black shirt, and holds a plant in a glass jar.

(c) MASS Design Group (left), (c) Alejandro Durán (right)

The GSD is pleased to present a series of talks and webinars broadcast to our audiences via Zoom.

*This lecture will be ONLINE ONLY. For security reasons, virtual attendees must register. Scroll down to find complete instructions for how to register.

Event Description

Sierra Bainbridge, senior principal and managing director at Mass Design Group, and Lisa Switkin, senior principal at James Corner Field Operations, know the challenges of living and working through the growth of a design practice from start-up to international renown. Moderated by Anita Berrizbeitia, together they will discuss both the constant struggle and deep satisfaction of cultivating vision and voice, at work and at home. This will be a candid conversation about their experiences being with a firm from its inception, and about remaining as key leaders in those firms for nearly two decades. Switkin and Bainbridge have had significant roles in projects such as the High Line in New York, Freshkills Park in Staten Island, Tongva Park in Santa Monica, the Butaro Hospital Campus in Burera, Rwanda, the Memorial to Peace and Justice Campus in Montgomery, Alabama, and many others.

Screenshot of Lisa Switkin presenting on Zoom. Switkin is visible in the top right corner of the image. The presentation shows an image of people who worked on the High Line Project, with lines indicating the gender divide between contributors.

Screenshot of Lisa Switkin presenting on Zoom. Switkin is visible in the top right corner of the image. The presentation shows an image of stretch of water with a yellow quote overlaid.

Screenshot of a panel discussion on Zoom. There are six windows that show one participant in each window.


Sierra Bainbridge was a co-founding member of MASS in 2008, and oversaw design and construction of the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. As cross disciplinary Senior Principal and Managing Director, architect, licensed landscape architect, and educator, Sierra oversees MASS’s landscape architecture department; and the design and implementation of MASS’s projects in the United States and Africa. By working deeply across disciplines to radically reshape the material supply chain project by project, Sierra is pushing to help shift MASS’s portfolio to approach carbon neutrality as close to project completion as possible.  This began with Ilima Primary school in the DCR, and continues to be tested at scale on campuses worldwide including Farm Hub in the Hudson Valley, and the Rwanda institute for Conservation Agriculture in Bugesera, Rwanda. Sierra has also worked on various memorials including EJI, the King Memorial, and the Kendall Memorial. Sierra has held an adjunct professorship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Landscape Architecture, Visiting Lectureship at Harvard University’s GSD. She served as Chair of the School of Environmental Design at the University of Rwanda, where she assisted in the inception and built out of the curricula of the first architecture program in Rwanda, for the African Design Center and for RICA.

Lisa Switkin is a Senior Principal at Field Operations, a leading-edge landscape architecture and urban design practice based in New York City. With a background in urban planning and landscape architecture, Lisa is committed to improving cities through the design of a holistic and vibrant public realm, inspired by place, people, and nature. For 20 years, Lisa has helped to shape New York City’s public spaces including the design and delivery of the High Line since 2004; Domino Park in Brooklyn; the transformative master plan for Staten Island’s Freshkills Park; Gansevoort Peninsula in Hudson River Park; and most recently the “Neighborhoods Now” initiative, in collaboration with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, Urban Design Forum, and the Van Alen Institute, to develop safe and inspirational reopening strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other signature projects include Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, Philadelphia’s Race Street Pier, Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Newark’s Riverfront Park, The Underline in Miami, Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, and Seattle’s Central Waterfront. 

Lisa currently serves as President of the Landscape Architecture Foundation. She was a Rome Prize recipient in 2008 and has taught graduate level design studios and lectured at universities, symposiums, foundations, and institutions around the world.

How to Join

Register to attend the lecture here. Once you have registered, you will be provided with a link to join the lecture via Zoom. This link will also be emailed to you.

The event will also be live streamed to the GSD’s YouTube page. Only viewers who are attending the lecture via Zoom will be able to submit questions for the Q+A. If you would like to submit questions for the speakers in advance of the event, please click here.

Live captioning will be provided during this event. A transcript will be available roughly two weeks after the event, upon request.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].