Princeton Alumna Catherine Seavitt Nordenson (M.Arch ‘96) to Lead Landscape Architecture Department


March 27, 2023


Catherine Seavitt Nordenson (Princeton M.Arch ‘96)  has been selected to join the faculty at the Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania as a tenured professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture, effective July 1, 2023.


Seavitt is a registered architect and landscape architect as well as a professor of landscape architecture at the City College of New York, where she has directed the Master of Landscape Architecture program. Her work explores climate-adaptive futures in urban environments and novel mitigation strategies addressing the climate emergency. Her research and publications examine the role of landscape architects as significant participants at the intersection of political power, environmental advocacy, and public health, as seen through the design of equitable public space and policy. Her books include Depositions: Roberto Burle Marx and Public Landscapes under Dictatorship (University of Texas Press, 2018); Structures of Coastal Resilience (with Guy Nordenson and Julia Chapman; Island Press, 2018); and On the Water: Palisade Bay (Hatje Cantz, 2010). Her essays have been published widely, including by the journals Architectural Review, Artforum, Avery Review, Harvard Design Magazine, JoLA, LA+, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and Topos. She is currently at work on a book-length study of 19th-century sanitary engineer George E. Waring, Jr. to be published by the University of Texas Press that examines the relationship of public health with issues of climate, race, empire, and the infrastructural landscape.


In 2017, Seavitt partnered with the Regional Plan Association to develop an ecological design strategy as part of the Fourth Regional Plan, which was honored by Penn with the Witte-Sakamoto Family Medal in City & Regional Planning. The companion book Four Corridors (Hatje Cantz, 2019), co-edited by Seavitt, Paul Lewis, and Guy Nordenson, documents that design initiative. Her work with Guy Nordenson and Adam Yarinsky on the risks and responses to future sea level rise and coastal flooding at New York Harbor was the basis for the exhibition Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront, presented by The Museum of Modern Art in 2010. She received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to develop new and novel resilience proposals for Jamaica Bay, New York, foregrounding the importance of natural systems and ecological health.


In 2021, Seavitt was elected to the Council of Fellows by the American Society of Landscape Architects, one of the highest honors the society bestows upon its members. She is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for research in Brazil. She has been honored for leadership and excellence in teaching by the American Society of Landscape Architects and the City College of New York, where she increased support for female, Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ students. In addition to City College, she has taught at the Cooper Union, Princeton University, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Parsons School of Design, Louisiana State University, and the University of Virginia.