Paul Kelsch named Robert L. Turner Chair of Urban Design
January 4, 2021
Paul Kelsch, associate professor of landscape architecture in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has been named the Robert L. Turner Chair of Urban Design by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The Robert L. Turner Chair in Urban Design was established through a gift from Robert Turner to acknowledge faculty excellence in the field of urban design.
A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2006, Kelsch is a landscape architecture professor based at the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center who has focused his scholarship, design work, and teaching on studying intersections of ecological processes and cultural meanings of nature in designed landscapes. With professional degrees in landscape architecture and architecture and a Ph.D. in cultural geography, Kelsch’s scholarship combines a keen designer’s eye with the reflective gaze of a historical geographer as he reads and interprets cultural landscapes, especially those of the nation’s capital.
Kelsch has authored a series of cultural landscape reports that build on these paired strengths of design and interpretation, and has written complex histories of these landscapes that place them in the context of national discussions about the meanings of nature in the American landscape. Specifically, his interest in urban design through the lens of geography, cultural landscape, historical landscape, space, and place partakes unambiguously and forcefully in the creation and understanding of urban design issues, such as the parkways of the National Capital and the Potomac River.
As an educator, Kelsch encourages each student to develop their own understanding of relationships between ecological nature and other cultural meanings of nature and to manifest those ideas in the landscape through thoughtful and innovative design. The diverse impacts of his former students are testimony to his success in nurturing their individual voices.
Kelsch received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Royal Holloway College at the University of London.