September 17, 2019 | 61° F

Landscape Architecture professor at Rutgers wins prestigious award

Photo by Courtesy of Kathleen John-Alder |

Kathleen John-Ader, an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture was awarded the 2017 Award of Excellence from a national society for a project that analyzed the climate and topography of Norway.

A Rutgers University assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture was recently recognized with a 2017 Professional Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

When looking at climate and environmental issues, thoughts on what role landscape architecture might play are not at the forefront of most people’s thoughts. However, it can provide a unique perspective of our changing environment, especially in regards to the polar ice caps.

Kathleen John-Alder won the 2017 Award of Excellence from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for her research project entitled, “Fluid Territory: A Journey into Svalbard, Norway.”

The project analyzed the Arctic topography of Svalbard, Norway from the perspectives of climate, geology and politics, among others.

“By looking at the landscape’s total complexity, I hope it modifies our perception, not only as designers but as a society," John-Alder said.

With the findings compiled into a series of 15 maps, the research is representative of the many ways that such northern terrains can be viewed and interpreted.

The aim, John-Alder said, was to approach the Arctic in a “holistic” way in an effort to “make a little bit of a lyrical statement.”

The research was conducted by a disciplinarily diverse team with members stemming from countries located along the world’s most northernmost boundaries. John-Alder also noted that her award-winning research stemmed from previous projects.

“This was a study that has built on two other projects,” she said.

John-Alder went on to note the continuation of these previous studies signals to her the importance of the subject matter.

Although her project focus has historically been mostly in architectural design, this most recent interdisciplinary venture set John-Alder firmly in the realm of research.

John-Alder’s research took the top spot in ASLA’s research category, with it being one of just five Awards of Excellence selected out of 300 submissions.

“Research projects are difficult because there is a wide divergence of opinions as to what constitutes research,” wrote the ASLA Awards jury. “But this one rang all the bells.”

Justin Merced

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