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Sonja Dümpelmann

Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Sonja Dümpelmann joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design in July 2019.

Dümpelmann’s research and writing focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century landscape history, and contemporary landscape architecture in the Western World, with a particular focus on the urban environment in Germany, Italy, and the United States. Her work explores the transatlantic transfer of ideas, the role of politics, technology and science, and the work of women in the field. Of special importance to her work are the relationships between the inside and the outside, i.e. the relationships between architecture and landscape, core and periphery, theory and practice; those in power and those subjected to that power; intent and contingency; and the relationships between social and political processes and landscape transformation.

Dümpelmann is the author of Seeing Trees: A History of Street Trees in New York City and Berlin (Yale University Press, 2019; 2019 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize), Flights of Imagination: Aviation, Landscape, Design (University of Virginia Press, 2014; 2015 John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize), and of a book on the Italian landscape architect Maria Teresa Parpagliolo Shephard (VDG Weimar, 2004). Her edited volumes include Airport Landscape: Urban Ecologies in the Aerial Age (together with Charles Waldheim; Harvard GSD, 2016), Women, Modernity, and Landscape Architecture (together with John Beardsley; Routledge, 2015), A Cultural History of Gardens in the Age of Empire (Bloomsbury, 2013), Greening the City: Urban Landscapes in the Twentieth Century (together with Dorothee Brantz; University of Virginia Press, 2011), and Pückler and America (German Historical Institute Washington DC, 2007). Dümpelmann has guest-edited special journal issues and has published numerous book chapters, and articles in scholarly and professional journals, including Landscape Journal, Landscape Research, Planning Perspectives, Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, Stadtbauwelt, Stadt und Grün, Die Gartenkunst, Journal of Landscape Architecture, and Landscript.

She lectures internationally and has held research fellowships at the German Historical Institute, and at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC. Her work has also been supported through grants from the Graham Foundation and the Foundation for Landscape Studies. In 2015 she was a 2015 August-Wilhelm Scheer Visiting Professor at Technical University Munich, Germany.

Dümpelmann currently serves as Senior Fellow of Garden and Landscape Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington D.C., and she is the past President of the Landscape History Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (2013-16).

Before joining the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania she held associate and assistant professorships at Harvard University, the University of Maryland, and Auburn University. Dümpelmann holds a doctorate in landscape history from the University of the Arts, Berlin, and a MLA from Leibniz Universität Hannover. She has curated exhibitions on landscape-related topics in Germany and the U.S., and has worked as a landscape designer in Studio Paolo Bürgi, Switzerland.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard University