Martha Schwartz

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Martha Schwartz
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (8225077260).jpg
Grand Canal Square, Dublin
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
OccupationLandscape Architect
OrganizationMartha Schwartz Partners

Martha Schwartz, (born 1950), is an American landscape architect, artist, educator, author, and lecturer. She is the founding partner of Martha Schwartz Partners, a landscape architecture firm based in London, New York, and Shanghai; the firm's global body of work can be found across five continents, with projects ranging from art installations, public parks, corporate landscapes, urban master plans, waterfronts, private gardens, and art installations.

Life and career[edit]

Early years and education[edit]

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Schwartz received her Bachelor of Fine Art degree, studying plastic arts from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan in 1973. After two years of graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Schwartz transferred to the Harvard Graduate School of Design. During a summer internship at the SWA Group, Schwartz was able to advance her interest in land art to express the conceptual potential of the landscape. In the formative years of her practice, Schwartz challenged conventional landscape aesthetics by drawing on diverse creative influences such as Pop Art, Minimalism, Land Art and sculptors such as Isamu Noguchi, her career was launched in 1979 by her first project, The Bagel Garden, a “Dada-esque installation that questioned the absence of art within the profession.” (citation required.)

Design approach and inspiration[edit]

The design approach taken by Martha Schwartz and her firm integrates art and climate change adaptations through the integration of landscape-based technologies and ecology to address climate change in the urban environment; the firm's work has been characterized by striking and highly colorful projects such as the Grand Canal Square in Dublin, Ireland, urban landscape projects like Exchange Square in Manchester, England and more conceptual installations such as the City and Nature installation in Xi'an, China. Less well-known are the firm’s naturalistic projects such as Winslow Farms Conservancy in Hammonton, New Jersey and Yorkville Park in Toronto, Canada, and Geraldton Tailings Landscape in Canada as well as MSP's more transformative community-based projects such as the Monte-Laa-Park, which spanned an eight-lane highway to create a new neighborhood park for residents of an ethnically diverse area in Vienna, Austria.

Teaching career and advocacy[edit]

In 1990, Schwartz started her own company, which would allow her with the help of young professionals in the field of landscape architecture, to flip the traditional ideas of the field on their heads, and would further investigate the connections between the arts, culture, and landscape. Since 2007, Schwartz has been a tenured Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture and founding member of the Working Group for Sustainable Cities at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, she was also a resident of the American Academy of Rome (1993).

A founding member of the Climate Change Action Group at the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), Schwartz is also a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee on Climate Change at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Martha Schwartz Partners (MSP)[edit]

Founded in 1980, Martha Schwartz Partners is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in New York City, US and Shanghai, China.

Completed projects (selection)[edit]

  • Beiqijia Technology Business District (2016), Beijing, China
  • Fanqe Road (2014), Beijing, China
  • Fengming Mountain Park (2013), Chongqing, China
  • Sowwah Square (2012), Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Grand Canal Square (2007), Dublin, Ireland
  • Monte Laa Central Park (2007), Vienna, Austria
  • Mesa Arts Center (2005),[12] Mesa, Arizona, US
  • Gifu Kitagata Gardens (2000) Kitagata, Japan
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development Plaza (HUD) (1998),[14] Washington, District of Columbia, US
  • Jacob Javits Convention Center Plaza (1997),[13] New York, New York, US
  • Rio Shopping Center (1988-2000), Atlanta

Art installations (selection)[edit]

  • City and Nature Master Garden (2011), Xi’an, China
  • Aluminati (2008), Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Barclays Bank Headquarters (2004), London, UK
  • Broward County Civic Arena (1998), Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US
  • Miami International Airport Sound Wall (1996), Miami, Florida, US
  • King County Jailhouse Plaza (1987), Seattle, Washington, US
  • Whitehead Institute “Splice Garden” (1986), Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • Bagel Garden (1979), Boston, Massachusetts, US


  • 2015 - "Showcase for Public London", The Building Centre, London, UK
  • 2015 - "Rethinking the Urban Landscape", The Building Centre, London, UK
  • 2014 - "Landscape-City-Public Space / Guerilla-Industrial-Festival", Jaroslav Fragner Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2012 - "Architecture China – The 100 Contemporary Projects", Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen Museum Zeughaus C5 Mannheim, Germany
  • 2011 - "Master Designer’s Garden", International Horticultural Exhibition, Xi’An, China
  • 2007 - "Public City Exhibition 2007", New London Architecture, London, UK
  • 2006 - "The Good Life: New Public Spaces for Recreation", Van Allen Institute, New York City, New York, US
  • 2005 - "Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape", Museum of Modern Art, New York City, New York, US,
  • 2004 - "Post-Modernism Revisited", German Architecture Museum, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 2004 - "Paradise Transformed", Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
  • 2003 - "Asfalto: The Character of the City", Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy
  • 2001 - "Together/Insieme", Museo Nazionale di Architecttura, Ferrara, Italy
  • 2001 - "Public Design 2001 Expo", Berlin, Germany
  • 2000 - "Women Designers in the USA, 1900-2000: Diversity and Difference", Bard Graduate Center, New York City, New York, US
  • 2000 - "100 Years of Landscape Architecture at Harvard", Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • 1999 - "Representing Landscape Architecture: Selections from the Frances Loeb Library and Other Collections", Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • 1999 - "Landscape & Meaning: As Far as the Eye Can See", Atlanta College of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, US
  • 1998 - "Face to Face: Art and the Public", Marlborough Gallery, New York City, New York, US
  • 1997 - "Democratic Design: A New Era of Federal Architecture", Chicago Anthenaeum, Chicago, Illinois, US
  • 1997 - "Citizen Sisters", Sagacho Exhibit Space, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1995 - "Austin’s Art in Public Places", Austin Municipal Building, Austin, Texas, US
  • 1995 - "Off the Shelf", Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • 1995 - "Der Garten. Gärten in der Kunst-Gärten in der Schweiz seit 1870", Cultural Center, Pfäffikon, Switzerland
  • 1991 - "Green", Max Protetch Gallery, New York City, New York, US
  • 1991 - "Projects in Architecture", Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, US
  • 1988 - "The New Urban Landscape", Olympia & York, New York City, New York, US
  • 1987 - "Mary Miss / Martha Schwartz", Vanguard Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
  • 1987 - "Beyond Ornamentation", The Institute of Business Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • 1987 - "The Outdoor Chair", Topher Delaney, Sausalito, California, US
  • 1986 - "Transforming the American Garden: Twelve New Landscape Designs", Urban Design Center, New York City, New York, US
  • 1986 - Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • 1986 - "Six Views", Main Art Gallery, California State University, Fullerton, California, US
  • 1984 - "Artists as Designers", The New Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio, US
  • 1982 – "Artist’s Gardens and Parks," Hayden Gallery, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US
  • 1982 – Chicago Institute of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, US
  • 1982 – Ohio Foundation of Arts, Cleveland, Ohio

In the news[edit]

In 2008 Schwartz took on old friend Will Alsop in a promotional video challenging his negative views of the profession of Landscape Architecture.

Schwartz has featured in The Daily Telegraph[1] following her views on the way in which Britain’s obsession with gardens is holding back the country’s public spaces. Schwartz argued that unless Britain separates its gardens from its public spaces, the country will fall behind other European cities.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tim Richardson, The Vanguard Landscapes and Gardens of Martha Schwartz[2] (2004) ISBN 978-0-500-51131-2
  • Jatsch, Markus. Martha Schwartz Partners – Landscape Art and Urbanism. Tianjin: Phoenix Publishing & Media Group, 2016. Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Waugh, Emily. Recycling Spaces: Curating Urban Evolution; the Work of Martha Schwartz Partners. Berkeley: Oro Editions, 2011. Hardcover, 300 pages. ISBN 1935935038
  • Richardson, Tim. The Vanguard Landscapes and Gardens of Martha Schwartz. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2006. Hardcover, 224 pages. ISBN 0500511314.
  • Meyer, Elizabeth. Martha Schwartz: Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Berkeley: Spacemaker Press, 2004. Softcover, 160 pages. ISBN 1888931019.


  1. ^ Correspondent, By Louise Gray, Environment. "English obsession with gardening 'prevents improvement of public parks', claims Harvard professor".
  2. ^ Richardson, Tim; Schwartz, Martha (13 April 2004). "The Vanguard Landscapes and Gardens of Martha Schwartz". Thames and Hudson Ltd – via Amazon.

External links[1][edit]

  1. ^ Asensio Cerver, Francisco. (1995). The world of landscape architects. Barberá, Patricia. Barcelona: [Arco Editorial Board]. ISBN 8481850047. OCLC 35040923.