Faculty portfolios

  • Rod Barnett's design for Lumley Plaza in Auckland City.
    Rod Barnett's design for Lumley Plaza in Auckland City.

Rod Barnett

Research Fellow


Givens 111

Campus Box 1079

Rod Barnett is a research fellow in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, having previously served as professor and chair of the Master of Landscape Architecture program. He teaches thesis studio and courses in theory, history, and drawing.

Barnett earned his PhD from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where he researched the potential of nonlinear dynamical systems science to inform landscape architectural design and practice. As part of his studies, he developed a self-organizing approach to urban development called Artweb, a multidisciplinary design and planning strategy that focuses on marginalized and underutilized urban terrains to create a network of arts and science projects throughout the city. At the heart of his work is a commitment to linking ecological urbanism with environmental justice.

Barnett has studied landscape systems as emergent conditions in the coastlines of Fiji and Tonga, the Mississippi Delta, the mountains of Puerto Rico, and the stone alignments of Carnac in Brittany, France. Recently he developed a project in the fertile croplands between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, where he designed a network of rural pathways that connect ecological gardens where the ground-dwelling Missouri Skylark, whose population had declined dramatically, can forage and nest.

Barnett has written extensively on themes developed from his work in nonlinear design, including re-examinations of human/nonhuman relationships, the design of historical landscapes such as the sacred groves of ancient Greece, and reinterpretations of art-historical tropes, such as the medieval garden of love and the baroque gardens of 16th century France.

Barnett maintains his design practice, developing projects both large and small, public and private, with an experimental wing that culminates in competitions and exhibitions. He has taught thesis studio for many years as a site of novel and innovative design research. His studios encourage students to explore the fluid and interactive connections between humans and non-humans in the ongoing construction of a shared world. In 2012, he was selected as one of the top twenty design educators in the United States by DesignIntelligence. Recent books include Emergence in Landscape Architecture (2013); The Baden Project, a self-organizing design strategy for an ecological park in North St. Louis (2016); and The Modern Landscapes of Ted Smyth: Landscape Modernism in the Asia-Pacific (2017).