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Paul Kelsch

Ph.D. | ASLA
  • Robert L. Turner Chair in Urban Design

Paul Kelsch is the Robert L. Turner Chair in Urban Design at Virginia Tech‚ Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (WAAC). He holds professional degrees in landscape architecture and architecture and a Ph.D. in cultural geography, and he coordinates the Urban Design master's degree at the WAAC. His research focuses on the cultural construction of nature and its expression in designed landscapes, specifically looking at interrelationships between ecological understandings of nature and discourses of nature grounded in landscape history, art, experience, and social theory. These issues come to bear especially in historical studies of the parkways of the capital region and a larger investigation of the cultivation of nature and nation along the banks of the Potomac River.

cultural landscape history, landscape urbanism, forest landscapes, urban parkways, historic landscape preservation

Interdisciplinary Design Studios
LAR 4214: Landscape Architecture History (WAAC)
LAR 5134: Landscape Architecture History (WAAC)
Constructing Sites

Kelsch, Paul, Viewing the Landscape of the George Washington Memorial Parkway: A Cultural History of Scenic Resources and Landscape Ideology, Land (11, no. 8, 2022).; 

Kelsch, Paul, History and Ecology in Redesigned Forest Edges of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.‚ In Landscape Research Record 10, 2021. Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.;  

Kelsch, P., Schiavoni, A. Cortez, A., & Fettig, J., Using Sections to Assess Sequential Experience along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.‚ In R. Smardon, & R. Hoffman (Eds.), Seeking 20/20 Vision for Landscape Futures. Newtown Square, PA: U.S.D.A. Forest Service.;

Kelsch, Paul, Of Muddy Waters and Presidential Memorials: Erosion & Sedimentation in the Potomac River Watershed, Landscape Research Record, No. 4, 2016, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.;

Kelsch, Paul, Personalizing a Parkway: Women‚ Memorial Groves along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Landscape Research Record, No. 2, 2014, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.; 

Kelsch, Paul, Cultivating Modernity, History and Nature, Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. London and Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis Group, Ltd., 2013.); 

Kelsch, Paul, Constructions of American Forest: Four Landscapes, Four Readings‚ Environmentalism and Landscape Architecture, Conan, M., ed., (Washington: Dumbarton Oaks, 2000), 165-185. 

University Award for Outreach Excellence, 2020, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University;

Merit Award in Historic Preservation, 2019, American Society of Landscape Architects, Potomac Chapter, Women’s Memorial Groves along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway;

Award for Excellence in Creative Achievement, 2016, School of Architecture + Design, Site Design for Springsbury Arboretum at Casey Tree Farm;

Award for Excellence in Scholarship, 2014, School of Architecture + Design, Cultural Landscape Histories: George Washington Memorial Parkway;

First Place, Casey Tree Farm Competition, 2013, National interdisciplinary design competition, Master Plan, Casey Tree Farm, Berryville, VA (Team leader).

First Place, National HALS Challenge, 2010, Topographies of Amusement: Glen Echo Park, MD (Team leader)


Ph.D., Geography, Royal Holloway College, University of London

M.L.A., University of Michigan

B. Arch, University of Notre Dame