Thomas Woltz, one of nation’s top landscape architects, to lead off lecture series

Media Contact: Tony LaRoche, 401-874-4894 |

KINGSTON, R.I. – Feb. 5, 2020 – Kicking off its spring schedule, the University of Rhode Island Landscape Architecture Lecture Series will feature Thomas Woltz, one of America’s leading landscape architects.

Woltz, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, is principal and owner of Virginia-based Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, designers of the high-profile Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards in Manhattan. Woltz will speak on “A Critical Balance: Ecology, Culture, and Resilience in the Landscapes of Nelson Byrd Woltz” Thursday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m. in Room 105 of the Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, 140 Flagg Road, on the Kingston campus. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public.

“Woltz is a recognized leader in landscape architecture,” said William Green, professor of landscape architecture and organizer of the lecture series. “The work he and his firm are involved in is exciting, innovative and significant. His work is clearly about problem solving, people and places and he is an engaging speaker.”

With 20 years in the field, Woltz’s body of work integrates the beauty and function of built form and craftsmanship with an understanding of complex ecological systems and breadth of landscape material and media. His design work infuses places where people live, work and play with narratives of the land that inspire stewardship.

Under his leadership, Nelson Byrd Woltz has grown from a firm of five to 45 people, garnering more than 100 awards while undertaking projects in more than 25 states and 10 countries. Woltz is leading the firm in the design of major public parks in the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand.

Woltz, who holds master’s degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from the University of Virginia, worked in Venice and Paris before returning to the U.S. to launch his career. He was named Design Innovator by the Wall Street Journal Magazine in 2013 and one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company in 2017.

A frequent speaker, he has presented lectures and symposia in such locations as the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, The Dallas Architecture Forum, Harvard Graduate School of Design and the New York Botanical Garden. His TEDx Talk, “From Landscape Architecture to Conservation Agriculture,” posted on YouTube in January 2015, has had more than 160,000 views.

Other speakers this semester are:

March 5 – Amy Whitesides, design director at Stoss Landscape Urbanism in Boston, on “Climate Ready: Urban Landscapes and the Transformation of Boston’s Waterfront.” Whitesides holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and graduate certificate in scientific illustration from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has served as project manager on planning and design projects throughout the U.S., including Stoss’ winning entry in the Dallas Connected City Design Challenge, along with projects in New Orleans, Toronto and Louisville.

March 26 – Autumn Visconti, senior landscape architect at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in Copenhagen, New York City and London, on “BIG in the Public Realm.” Visconti has a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s in landscape architecture from Virginia Tech. She heads BIG’s East Side Coastal Resiliency and the Brooklyn-Queens Park projects. Her approach is devoted to building projects through a clear and concise methodology in better preparing cities and communities for climate adaptation. She has designed and developed climate resilient strategies for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

April 23 – Shannon Nichol, founding partner of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) in Seattle, on “Big Small Moves: Designing From and For the Local in an Overscaled Era.” Nichol, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, lectures internationally and judges for design awards. Her designs, including Millennium Park’s Lurie Garden in Chicago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus in Seattle, and Boston’s North End Parks, are recognized for being deeply embedded in their neighborhoods and natural contexts. Nichol and her partners have received the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Architecture in 2011, and GGN was the recipient of the 2017 American Society of Landscape Architects’ Landscape Architecture Firm Award.

All lectures start at 7 p.m. in the Beaupre Center.