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Martha Schwartz, born 1950, is an American landscape architect. Her background is in the fine arts as well as landscape architecture, and her projects range from private to urban scale. She studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and graduated from the University of Michigan. She married and later divorced fellow landscape architect Peter Walker Schwartz practice Martha Schwartz Partners currently has an office in London.
MSP is a leading international practise whose work focuses on activating and regenerating urban sites and city centres. Combining landscape, art and urbanism, MSP has extensive experience designing and implementing installations, gardens, civic spaces, parks, institutional landscapes, corporate headquarters, urban regeneration projects as well as creating master plans. MSP also works with cities at a strategic level to look at longer term planning at city or regional scale.
Having had over 30 years of experience as a landscape architect and artist, she has received a number of highly regarded awards and prizes including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum National Design Award for her body of work in Landscape Architecture, an honorary fellowship from RIBA, several design awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and visiting residencies at Radcliffe College and the American Academy in Rome, although accolades in the art world continue to evade her work.
The full list of awards for MSP is : MIPIM Asia Award 2014, Best Future Mega Project (Pluit City) U.S. Commerce Association Best of Cambridge Award, 2013 International Landscape Design Industry Association Design Innovation Award, 2013 Boston Society of Landscape Architects Merrit Award, 2012 American Society of Landscape Architects Landmark Award, 2012 (Village of Yorkville Park) U.S. Commerce Association Best of Cambridge Award, 2012 British Association of Landscape Industries Regeneration Category Award, 2008 (St Mary's Churchyard Park) Chicago Athenaeum Award for Best New Global Design, 2007 (Leamouth Peninsula) American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award, 2007 (Mesa Arts Center) Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, 2006 Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence, 2006 (Mesa Arts Center) Boston Society of Architects Women in Design Award for Excellence, 2005 Play and Leisure Award, 2003 New American Planning Association, New Mexico Chapter, Award for Innovative Transportation Planning, 2001 American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 2000 (H.U.D. Plaza) Federal Design Achievement Award, National Endowment for the Arts, 2000 American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1999 (Minneapolis Courthouse Plaza) Broward County Public Art Percent for Art Award, 1998 (Broward County Civic Arena) General Service Administration Design Awards, National Design Citation, 1998 (Jacob Javis Plaza) The Parks Council New York, Phillip N. Winslow Landscape Design Award, 1997 (Jacob Javis Plaza) City of Toronto, Toronto Urban Design Award, 1997 (Village of Yorkville Park) American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award, 1997 (Jacob Javits Plaza) General Service Administration Design Awards, National Design Citation, 1997 Metro-Dade Art in Public Places Award, 1996 (Sound Wall) American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award, 1991 (Citadel Grand Allee) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1991 (Beckton Dickinson Atrium) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1991 (Marina Linear Park) American Society of Landscape Architects Honor Award, 1989 (Herman Miller Western Regional Facility) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1989 (IBM Federal Systems Division Facilities) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1989 (Turf Parterre) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1989 (Rio Shopping Center) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1988 (190 Marlborough Street Roof Garden) American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award, 1988 (Westlake and Southlake Office Development and Village Center) Atlanta Urban Design Commission Award, 1987
Martha Schwartz has been awarded: Fellow FASLA, American Society of Landscape Architects, 2011 Honorary Royal Designer for Industry, HonRDI, Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce RSA, 2009 Honorary Doctor of Science HonDSc, University of Ulster, Belfast, 2007 Tenure Professor in Practice, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, 2007 Honorary Fellow HonFRIBA, Royal Institute of British Architects, 2005 Gold Medal, Tau Sigma Delta Society, 2005 Bracken Fellow, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Landscape Architecture, 2001 Resident, American Academy in Rome, 1991 Fellow, Urban Design Institute, 1990 Artist in Residence, Radcliffe College, 1987 Visiting Artist in Residence, Villa Romana, Florence, 1983
Martha has been inspired by the work of Isamu Noguchi, and her practice aims to create landscapes that speak to the public about being human and that communicate ideas, as she believes that landscape should reflect who we are and who we want to be . Her design approach has been characterised by striking and highly colourful projects such as the Grand Canal Square in Dublin, Ireland, hard landscape projects like Exchange Square in Manchester, England and more architectural installations such as the City and Nature installation in Xi'an, China but what is perhaps less well known and rather overshadowed are the more naturalistic projects such as Yorkville Park in Toronto, Canada by Schwartz in collaboration with Ken Smith and her then husband Peter Walker, and Geraldton Tailings Landscape in Canada as well as MSP's more transformative community based projects such as the Monte Laa Central Park which converted an eight lane highway into a new neighbourhood park for residents of an ethnically diverse area of Vienna, Austria.
Noted for her exploration of new design expression in the landscape, Schwartz’s projects span the globe; from her striking Dublin Docklands project in Ireland to the Children’s Discovery Centre in Damascus, Syria, Schwartz’s project portfolio is extremely diverse. Recent and current projects include: Leamouth Peninsula, London, UK; Wellington Place, Leeds, UK; St Mary’s Churchyard, London, UK; Cosmopolitan Casino, Las Vegas, USA; Frederiks Brygge Master Plan, Copenhagen, Denmark; Qatar Petroleum Headquarters, Doha, Qatar; Al Ain Sports City, Al Ain, UAE; Mesa Arts Center, Arizona, USA; Master Plan for Lulu Island, UAE, Jacob Javits Convention Center Plaza, New York City, USA, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Washington, USA, Rio Shopping Center (1988-2000), Atlanta, USA and many others.
In the news
In 2008 Schwartz took on old friend Will Alsop in a promotional video challenging his negative views of the profession of Landscape Architecture.
Schwartz has featured in the UK news following her views on the way in which Britain’s obsession with gardens is holding back the country’s public spaces. Schwartz argued that unless Britain separates its gardens from its public spaces, the country will fall behind other European cities.
- Bernstein, Fred. "AT HOME WITH/Martha Schwartz; Making Landscapes Pop". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
Tim Richardson, Vanguard Landscapes and Gardens of Martha Schwartz, (2004) ISBN 978-0-500-51131-2
- Martha Schwartz Partners website
- Channel 4
- BBC: Urban planning needs a green rethink
- Building Design debate
- BBC: Preserving natural resources
- Wallpaper.com: Alsop and Schwartz debate video
- Telegraph.co.uk: A private passion and a public disgrace