Merrill D. Peterson Professor, Landscape Architecture

Education: University of Virginia, Master of Landscape Architecture; Cornell University, M.A. Historic Preservation with a Minor in Landscape Architecture History; University of Virginia, B.S. Landscape Architecture

Landscape architecture is a socio-ecological spatial practice with its own vocabularies and theories, yet discourse about the designed landscape is hampered by reliance on interpretations by those outside our field.  Since the late 1980s, Meyer has addressed this problem by produced a substantial body of theory and criticism that has altered how practitioners around the world create new landscape imaginaries. Grounded in the materiality and experience of actual sites as well as contemporary cultural issues, Meyer’s public lectures and essays challenge conventional design practice by questioning the separation of aesthetics and sustainability; race theory and urban topography; public space, living systems and non-human species; cultural landscape interpretation and innovative design. Currently Meyer is writing a book, The Margins of Modernity, that reframes the history/theory of modern landscape architecture as a vital, but marginal, practice of city formation and place–making defining this 160-year-old profession’s significance in its hybrid spatial logics, material practices and temporal rhythms.

Meyer’s studios explore urban landscapes replete with contested cultural meanings and layered socio-ecological histories as vehicles for catalyzing new experiences and envisioning new typologies of public space. Meyer approaches design theory as a bridge between the world and design. Her seminars explore how changing conceptions of nature, space, the city and the public inform how we imagine and manipulate the landscape medium by interrogating assumptions about landscape representation, sustainability, public space and cultural landscapes. This affords students opportunities to develop critical design positions on timely contemporary topics, and to translate ideas into meaningful landscape form, space, material and experience.

Meyer founded the Center for Cultural Landscapes to recognize UVA’s multi-disciplinary community whose research and teaching examines places shaped by human interrelationships with the biophysical world. Through our varied methodologies in the environmental humanities, biological sciences, law as well as design and planning, we aim to imagine new cultural landscape practices and to develop critical approaches to conserving historic designed and vernacular cultural landscapes of value. We meet at monthly research roundtables, host symposia on timely topics, and collaborate on projects such as the Landscape Studies Initiative, a digital humanities project focused on innovative pedagogical approaches to, and tools for, the history of the designed landscape.

Meyer is broadly recognized as one of the most influential landscape architectural critics and theorists. In 2017, she received the ASLA Jot Carpenter Teaching Medal for sustained and significant contribution to landscape architecture education. Meyer’s impact is manifest in her appointment as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, her participation on winning design competition teams as a cultural landscape adviser, and her appointment to the US Commission of Fine Arts by President Obama. Additionally, Meyer has participated in numerous national design competition juries and has given keynote lectures in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Reprint of “Sustaining Beauty” in Steiner, Thompson and Carbonell’s Nature and Cities.

The Ecological Imperative in Urban Design and Planning 2016. ASLA The DIRT, Best Books of 2016

“Beyond Sustaining Beauty. Musings on a Manifesto” in Deming’s Values in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design 2015

“Garden, “Park,” “Community,” and “Farm,” four essays in Nelson Byrd Woltz. Garden Park Community Farm 2013

 “Uncertain Parks: Citizens, disturbed sites and a risk society” in Czerniak and Hargreaves’s Large Parks 2007; JB Jackson Book prize, 2008

 “Slow Landscape. A New Erotics of Sustainability” in Harvard Design Magazine “Sustainability and Pleasure II,” 2009-10

“Kiley and the Spaces of Landscape Modernism” in Rainey and Treib’s Daniel Kiley Landscapes. Poetry of Space 2009

“Sustaining Beauty: The Performance of Appearance. A manifesto in three parts,” JOLA 2008

 “Lessons from the World War II Memorial: From Urban Prospect to Retrospect,” JAE 2008

“Site Citations: The Grounds of Modern Landscape Architecture” in Kahn and Burns’ Site Matters 2005

Reprint of "Situating Modern Landscape Architecture: Theory as a bridging, mediating, and reconciling practice" 1992 in Swaffield’s Theory of Landscape Architecture: A Reader 2002

 “The Post Earth Day Conundrum: Translating Environmental Values into Landscape Design” in editor Michel Conan, editor, Environmentalism in Landscape Architecture 2001

“Preservation in the Age of Ecology: Post World War II Landscapes” in Birnbaum’s Preserving Modern Landscape Architecture 1999

“Seized by Sublime Sentiments: Between Terra Firma and Terra Incognita” in Saunders’ Richard Haag. Bloedel Reserve and Gas Works Park 1998

"The Expanded Field of Landscape Architecture" in Thompson and Steiner's Ecological Design and Planning 1997

"The Formation of a Mississippi River Urban Landscape Morphology", Places. A Forum of Environmental Design 1996

"Landscape Architecture as Modernity's Other and Postmodern Ground" in Edquist's The Culture of Landscape 1994

"The Mount Vernon Memorial Highway: The Machine in the Modern American Garden” in Bousquet’s Parkways, Greenways, Riverways 1994

"The Public Park as Avant-garde (Landscape) Architecture", Landscape Journal 1991

Jot Carpenter Teaching Medal, American Society of Landscape Architects 2017

Mellon Foundation Planning Grant, UVA Landscape Studies Initiative 2017-20

Jefferson Trust Grant, UVA Landscape Studies Initiative 2017-19

Faculty Award, University of Virginia Raven Society. This award honors excellence in service to the University 2014

ASLA Professional Communications Award. “Nelson Byrd Woltz. Garden Park Farm Community Farm.” Editors: Byrd, Woltz, Orr. I wrote the four essays in this monograph 2014

Most Admired Educators, DesignIntelligence, ranked by US Design School Deans, 2011, 2012, 2013

Fellow, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture CELA 2012

Framing a Modern Masterpiece. Arch+City+River,” on MVVA team. Winner of an international urban design competition for St. Louis Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Ground 2010

NEA grant, “Designing Community: A Social and Design History of Charlottesville’s Pedestrian Downtown Mall”, 2009-10

All University Outstanding Teaching Award, University of Virginia 2004

Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects 2003

Fellow, Studies in Landscape Architecture, Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Center 1999

ASLA Professional Merit Award, Wellesley College Master Plan, Consultant to Van Valkenburgh Assoc. 1999

Woman of Achievement Award, University of Virginia Women Faculty and Professional Association 1998

ASLA Professional Merit Award, Bryant Park, New York.  Hanna/Olin, Laurie Olin, partner-in-charge 1994

Award of Distinction for Teaching, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 1992

ASLA Professional Honor Award, UVA Historic Central Grounds Landscape Plan, EDAW, 1987