Gareth Doherty

Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Program

Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture

Gareth Doherty is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Doherty explores and unravels narratives and practices of landscape architecture that have not yet been formally documented. This work is essential to establish the precedents required to diversify the design disciplines and expand upon the limited and limiting traditional design canons. Doherty works in Islamic and, for comparative purposes, postcolonial societies, valuing the everyday and the experiential aspects of landscapes, be they professionally designed or not. Through a grounded research method Doherty calls “landscape fieldwork,” he employs human and environmental audiences as essential components of design and research in complex landscapes.

Doherty bases his work on two questions. First, how can landscape architecture theory, education, and practice benefit from working with societies with no formal landscape architecture discipline? Second, how does comparing landscapes of diverse societies better inform landscape architects’ sensitivity to the values that shape others’ attitudes towards the landscapes they dwell in and make? Doherty addresses these questions through research on designed landscapes across the postcolonial and Islamic worlds, primarily in the Arabian Peninsula, West Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

In Doherty’s book, Paradoxes of Green: Landscapes of a City-State (University of California Press, 2017), Doherty analyzed a Bahraini category for landscape—greenery—al-khudra in Arabic. He spent a year walking through Bahrain, learning local language, talking with people, and recording his encounters with green, as color and as an environmental movement. The paradox at the heart of the book is that the manifestation of the color green in arid urban environments is often in direct conflict with the practice of green from an environmental point of view. Explicit in the book is the argument that concepts of color and object are mutually defining, and thus a discussion about green becomes a discussion about the creation of space and place.

Doherty’s edited books include: Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism (Lars Müller Publishers, 2018); and Is Landscape…? Essays on the Identity of Landscape, edited with Charles Waldheim (Routledge, 2015, and China Architecture and Building Press, 2019). Doherty is a founding editor of the New Geographies  journal and editor-in-chief of New Geographies 3: Urbanisms of Color (2011). Doherty edited Ecological Urbanism (Lars Müller Publishers, 2010, revised 2016) with Mohsen Mostafavi, which has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese, with forthcoming translations in Arabic and Persian. Doherty has published in journals such as Built EnvironmentHarvard Design Magazine, Kerb, Toposand Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.

Doherty received the Doctor of Design degree from Harvard GSD and his Master of Landscape Architecture and Certificate in Urban Design from the University of Pennsylvania. He earned masters and undergraduate degrees from University College Dublin. He has several built landscape architectural projects, and he holds professional memberships in Denmark, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

In Spring 2021, Doherty teaches Landscape Fieldwork: People, Politics, Practices—cross-listed between the Departments of Landscape Architecture and Anthropology—and in Fall 2020, led the Proseminar in Landscape Architecture for Master in Landscape Architecture II students. Other recent courses include the First Semester Core Landscape Architecture StudioProseminar in Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology; an elective seminar titled Design Anthropology: Objects, Landscapes and Cities, and in 2017 Doherty led the Ecological Urbanism Field Research Seminar in China. In 2019, with Niall Kirkwood, Doherty led an option studio, “Field Work: Brexit, Borders, and a New-City Region for the Irish Northwest,” as part of a larger sponsored research project, “Atlas for a City-Region,” of which he was the principal investigator. The project was part of the Critical Landscapes Design Lab, which Doherty leads.

In Spring 2022, Doherty is offering cross-listed between the Department of Landscape Architecture, Department of Anthropology, and the Department of African and African American Studies—and in Fall 2021, led the Proseminar in Landscape Architecture for Master in Landscape Architecture II students. Other recent courses include the First Semester Core Landscape Architecture StudioProseminar in Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology; an elective seminar titled Design Anthropology: Objects, Landscapes and Cities. In 2017 he led the Ecological Urbanism Field Research Seminar in China. In 2019, with Niall Kirkwood, Doherty led an option studio, “Field Work: Brexit, Borders, and a New-City Region for the Irish Northwest,” as part of a larger sponsored research project, “Atlas for a City-Region,” of which he was the principal investigator. The project was part of the GSD’s Critical Landscapes Design Lab, which he leads.

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