Paul Kelsch, PH.D.,



Washington Alexandria
Architecture Center
1001 Prince Street
Alexandria VA 22314


Cultivating Nature and Nation
in the Potomac River Landscape

Cultural Landscape Histories of
the George Washington Memorial

Agroforestry in the Springsbury
Arboretum at Casey Tree Farm

LAR 5334 - History of Landscape

LAR 5264 - Landscape Architecture
Tectonics II: Site + Process

LAR 5006 - Graduate Design Studio

The Springsbury Arboretum
at the Casey Tree Farm

The Springsbury Institute
at the Casey Tree Farm

Visualizing Cultural Succession
along the George Washington Parkway:
A Collaboration with the National
Park Service

Rethinking “Appomattox”

Vegetation of the George Washington
Memorial Parkway

Mount Vernon Memorial Highway —
Alexandria to Mount Vernon


Paul Kelsch has professional degrees in Landscape Architecture and Architecture and a Ph.D. in Cultural Geography. He teaches courses in landscape architecture history, sustainable site construction with an emphasis on stormwater management, and design studios that focus on the urban landscapes of Washington DC. Typically, his design studios are interdisciplinary and include landscape architects, architects, and urban designers. The mix of approaches always leads to fascinating insights into the complexities of urban environments. His research focuses on the expression of nature in designed landscapes, especially the parkways, memorials and national parks that have shaped the Potomac River into a ‘capital river’. He has conducted three historical studies of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and is currently studying two forested presidential memorials: Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove. These various studies give insights into the intersections between the ecological processes of the river and the shaping of its landscape as a national landscape. Collectively these studies are leading to a book entitled, “A Capital River: Cultivating Nature and Nation along the Banks of the Potomac”. His design work includes a national competition winning design for Casey Tree Farm, in which he led a multidisciplinary team of landscape architects, architects, urban foresters, and agroforesters. Subsequently, he and colleague Nathan Heavers designed the Springsbury Arboretum at the farm with several graduate students. Both projects focused on the sustainable cultivation of trees for transplanting into the city and for experimental development and display at the farm. Both projects have received awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Ph.D., 2003. Geography, Royal Holloway College, Univ. of London.

MLA, 1986. Landscape Architecture, University of Michigan.

BS, 1981. Architecture, University of Notre Dame.

“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.

“Personalizing a Parkway: Women’s Memorial Groves along the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,” Landscape Research Record, No. 2, 2014, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.

“Topographies of Amusement: The Evolving Terrain of Glen Echo Park, Maryland,” Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. (London and Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis Group, Ltd.), 2013.

“Cultivating Modernity, History and Nature: The Planting Design for the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,” Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. London and Philadelphia: Taylor and Francis Group, Ltd., 2013.)

“Putting the History in Natural History: Buster Simpson’s Host Analog and Alan Sonfist’s Time Landscape,” Visual and Historical Geographies: Essays in Honour of Denis Cosgrove, Historical Geography Research Series, no 42. (London: Historical Geography Research Group, Royal Geographic Society, December 2010.)