Military Landscapes

Dumbarton Oaks Music Room
May 4  –  5, 2018
Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium, Anatole Tchikine and John Davis, Symposiarchs

Among various human interventions in the landscape, war has left one of the most lasting and eloquent records, literally inscribed in the face of the earth. Military landscapes can assume different forms and functions: vertical, as the Great Wall of China, or horizontal, as the Federal Interstate Highway System; overground and geometrically controlled, as the earthworks of the Renaissance trace italienne, or sunken and disguised by local topography, as the trenches of the First World War. They can be high-security sites, as the Pentagon, or tourist attractions, as Himeji Castle in Japan; curated, as the Gettysburg Battlefield, or neglected, as the outskirts of the Savannah River nuclear reservation site. In their most familiar form, they are national memorials as sites of remembrance and commemoration, which continue to have powerful emotional, political, and cultural resonance as places where historical memory is translated into myth.

This symposium aims to reevaluate the role of war as a fundamental form of human interaction with the land and a decisive factor in the ongoing transformation of the natural environment. What are the challenges and theoretical implications of understanding military infrastructure as a landscape from the disciplinary perspectives of cultural geography, architectural history, and environmental studies? And what is the role of the practice of landscape architecture in shaping, curating, and giving meaning to such landscapes?


  • Anatole Tchikine, Dumbarton Oaks
  • John Davis, Harvard Graduate School of Design


  • John Davis, Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Astrid Eckert, Emory University
  • Gert Gröning, Berlin University of the Arts
  • Kenneth Helphand, University of Oregon
  • John Dixon Hunt, University of Pennsylvania
  • Zhang Jie, Tsinghua University
  • Scott Kirsch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Pamela McElwee, Rutgers University
  • Chandra Mukerji, University of California, San Diego
  • Finola O’Kane Crimmins, University College Dublin
  • Antoine Picon, Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Christine Ruane, University of Tulsa
  • Daniel Volmar, Harvard University
  • Henk Wildschut, Amsterdam
  • Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, Leibniz University, Hannover

Registration for this event will open in March. Email Garden and Landscape Studies to be added to the mailing list. 12 LA CES (Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System) pending approval.

Albrecht Dürer, Landscape with a Large Cannon, 1518. Image courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art.