New MLA Program Chair

Rod Barnett appointed chair of landscape architecture

Posted by Liam Otten June 20, 2014

Internationally acclaimed landscape architect Rod Barnett has been appointed chair of the Master of Landscape Architecture program in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. He will join the program August 1.

A noted theorist and scholar, Barnett has designed landscapes in New Zealand, Australia, China, the Pacific Islands, and the United States. He is the author of Emergence in Landscape Architecture (2013), which utilizes contemporary systems theory to explore how relatively simple interactions, filtered through continual processes of adaptation and evolution, create larger environments of dizzying complexity.

"Rod Barnett is one of the most interesting and original thinkers in landscape architecture today," says Bruce Lindsey, dean of architecture and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Community Collaboration. "He is an innovative educator whose experiments with self-organization and nonlinear systems are grounded in a deep knowledge of art, history, philosophy, science, and design. We are delighted to welcome him to the faculty."

"I am excited about the breadth and depth of experience Rod brings to the School," says Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts. "During this important phase in our expansion of the landscape architecture program, his leadership will guide and strengthen our efforts in the areas of recruitment and program development, attracting the best students both nationally and internationally."

About Rod Barnett

Barnett comes to WUSTL from Auburn University in Alabama, where he chaired the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture. He previously taught at the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, and directed the Unitec Landscape Unit, the Department of Landscape Architecture's research wing. In 2012, DesignIntelligence named him one of its 25 most admired educators.

Barnett has written extensively on nonlinear landscape architecture and received grants from both arts and science organizations to pursue this interest in a variety of design contexts. His private practice has focused on gardens, which allow him to explore the fluid and interactive connections between humans and their personal environments.

Major projects include Artweb, an ongoing, multidisciplinary design and planning strategy that focuses on marginalized and underutilized urban spaces; redevelopment of Aotea Square, the premier public open space in Auckland's central business district (with Ted Smyth, 2002-2010); and Under the Radar (2006), an enhanced lizard habitat situated amidst a public open space in Manukau City.

Barnett's most recent work is a series of philosophical investigations that explore how issues of emergence, transformation, and disturbance—the defining features of self-organizing systems—have historically shaped landscape discourse.

A native of New Zealand, Barnett earned a Bachelor of Social Science in psychology and philosophy from the University of Waikato in 1973. He earned both a master of philosophy and a doctorate in landscape architecture from the University of Auckland, in 1997 and 2005 respectively.