Faculty portfolios

  • A Preadaptation Garden.
    A Preadaptation Garden.
  • Designing Research Gardens, section.
    Designing Research Gardens, section.
  • Designing Research Gardens, map.
    Designing Research Gardens, map.
  • Designing Research Gardens, axonometric.
    Designing Research Gardens, axonometric.
  • Designing Research Gardens, perspective.
    Designing Research Gardens, perspective.
  • Aphasic Archaeology in the Temporal Landscape, photo by Meghan Grubb.
    Aphasic Archaeology in the Temporal Landscape, photo by Meghan Grubb.

Micah Stanek


Campus Box 1079

MLA, Washington University in St. Louis; MArch, Washington University in St. Louis; BS in Communication—Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University


Micah Stanek’s landscape architecture work examines human ecological systems. He studies how landscapes constitute social and environmental systems, while looking for the ways landscapes conceal and reveal their many dimensions. Stanek explores urban ecology in the absence of human intervention. He stages tests in urban sites to enfranchise social possibilities and multiply ecological interactions. The vacant lot projects focus on social engagement strategies and in situ ecological processes, testing an extensive model of landscape investment. The walking tours encourage St. Louisans and visitors to see beyond aesthetics of growth and entropy. Exhibition work asks wider audiences to tune into landscape, by reading signs in their environment

A persistent question in Stanek’s work: Can landscape architecture communicate, advocate for, or discover new ecological ideas?

An ongoing research and teaching initiative reviews 20th century infrastructure in order to design adaptive systems that better serve human needs in the 21st century.

Stanek began designing for film and theater at Northwestern University. He developed an interest in landscape research after working as a docent and a farmhand at Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm in northern India. He has also worked with SCAPE Landscape Architecture in New York and MU Architecture in Paris.

In teaching, Stanek focuses on foundational design studios. He also teaches a seminar on the history of the discipline of landscape architecture. His other teaching specialties are research methods and digital representation.

Recently he began a research project at Tyson Research Center to study science gardens, through drawing, and then to design urban research gardens for ecological study and public engagement.

Image captions

1. The Production of Ecology, collage. At the end of the Gateway Mall, west of Downtown, St. Louis, this landscape/architectural and institutional proposal is to replace a mess of highway ramps with an urban ecology training and maintenance hub.

2. The Production of Ecology, collage. Our regional tallgrass prairie ecosystem has been shaped by human fire regimes for thousands of years. A single controlled burn per year gives natives in a prairie reconstruction a chance against other disturbances.

3. The Production of Ecology, collage. On the top of a mound made by the Missouri Department of Transportation, one of the field stations stores and processes seed but also acts as a lookout.

4. A Preadaptation Garden, drawing. This project is also known as the Enright Community Butterfly Garden. Pulitzer Arts Foundation invited me to consult to reimagine a vacant lot, and to transform a deconstructed house into a butterfly garden.

5. A Preadaptation Garden, photo by Raumlabor. In order to graft a diversity of attractive wildflowers into the site, we covered the lawn grass with hundreds of biodegradable coffee sacks, donated by a local coffee roaster.

6. A Preadaptation Garden, photo by Kevin McElvaney. After a season of knocking back the lawn grasses with the burlap coffee sacks, we transplanted plants, selected because these might be preadapted for the degraded vacant lot conditions.

7. A Preadaptation Garden. Ylan Vo (foreground) and Andrea Godshalk (background), friends of the butterfly garden sitting in “the introvert garden,” where a person can sit quietly with an element of the deconstructed house, a milkweed, and a butterfly.

8. Designing Research Gardens, section. Drawing to understand a climate-adapted regional ecosystem—the limestone glade—to understand if this system is adapted for urban conditions. Drawing by Jacob Longmeyer (Tyson Undergraduate Fellow and BS—Environmental Biology 2020).

9. Designing Research Gardens, map. We sought a very public place for our urban research garden. We also needed high elevation and ample solar radiation. Maps by Brooke Bulmash (Tyson Undergraduate Fellow and BS—Architecture 2021).

10. Designing Research Gardens, axonometric. We designed a research garden, which could hold an experiment for ecological research and, at the same time, educate a larger public about regional ecology and climate adaptation.

11. Designing Research Gardens, perspective. “A Landscape Engagement Garden: Downtown mesocosm” Drawing by Alisa Blatter (collaborator, MLA 2017).

12. Aphasic Archaeology in the Temporal Landscape, photo by Meghan Grubb. An installation for Art + Landscape STL (Granite City, IL, curated by Gavin Kroeber). These artifacts and drawings are influenced by landscape archaeology and are filtered through a medical lens. Are we reading the signs in our environment? Do we know how to restore and remediate?