Rachel Leibowitz | Landscape Architecture | SUNY-ESF
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Rachel LeibowitzAssistant Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation

Rachel Leibowitz

Room 816 Harrison Street
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210


Cultural landscape preservation is an integral part of any landscape design practice—it recognizes the significance of our past relationships with the environment while focusing on present conditions and planning for the future. To students in the classroom and to community members wherever I work, I emphasize the need to analyze and understand the historic cultural contexts of any site as a critical component of planning for landscape design. Every design problem presents related issues of cultural landscape conservation; therefore, I do not view historic preservation as an isolated, rarified specialization within the broader field of our profession. Preservation considerations are essential to all landscape design activities.


For a blast from the past (that still holds true today!), read this 2010 "It Takes One" stewardship story from The Cultural Landscape Foundation: 





LSA 220 — Introduction to Landscape Architecture 

LSA 226 — Foundations of Design Studio I (2nd-year BLA students)

LSA 227 — Foundations of Design Studio II (2nd-year BLA students)

LSA 305 / 605 — History of Landscape Architecture I

LSA 306 / 606 — History of Landscape Architecture II

LSA 425 / 426 — Off-Campus Design Thesis Studio Orientation / Preparation sequence advising (4th-year BLA students)

LSA 458 / 459 / 460 / 461 — Off-Campus Design Thesis Studio sequence advising (5th-year BLA students)

LSA 496 / 696 — Special Topics in Landscape Architecture: Issues in Cultural Landscape Preservation

LSA 640 — Research Methods for Landscape Architecture (1st-year MLA students)

LSA 800 — Capstone Studio (3rd-year MLA students)



2008        Ph.D.       University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Landscape Architecture (history and theory)

1999        M.Arch.   University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, School of Architecture (historic preservation)

1992        M.F.A.      Tulane University, Newcomb School of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana (photography)

1990        B.F.A.      Washington University, School of Fine Arts, Saint Louis, Missouri (photography)



Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture; and Co-Director, Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York


Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer and Division Chief, Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois


Visiting Instructor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Science and Research Program Manager, International Society of Arboriculture, Champaign, Illinois


Visiting Instructor, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin


Historian, Federal Programs, History Programs Division, Texas Historical Commission (state historic preservation office), Austin, Texas


Historian and Sally Kress Tompkins Fellow in Architectural History, Historic American Buildings Survey, Heritage Documentation Programs, National Park Service, Washington, DC, and Emporia, Kansas


Architectural Associate, Landon Bone Architects, Chicago, Illinois

1998, 1999–2000

Architectural Associate, Eifler & Associates, Chicago, Illinois


Architectural Intern, Commission on Chicago Landmarks, Historic Preservation Division, Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago, Illinois


selected publications


Review of Michael R. Allen, “How Not What: Anthropocene Landscapes of St. Louis.” In Forty-Five: A Journal of Outside Research 220 (May), available at: forty-five.com/papers/220

Constructing the Navajo Capital: Landscape, Power, and Representation at Window Rock. (book manuscript in progress).


“Urban Tree Growth and Longevity: An International Meeting and Research Symposium White Paper.” Arboriculture and Urban Forestry 38:5 (September), 237-241.


“The Million Dollar Play House: The Office of Indian Affairs and the Pueblo Revival in the Navajo Capital.” In Buildings and Landscapes: The Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum 15 (Fall), 11-42.   http://www.jstor.org/stable/27804881


Review of Mark Rice, Through the Lens of the City: NEA Photography Surveys of the 1970s.  In Planning Perspectives: An International Journal of History, Planning, and the Environment 22:1 (January), 119-120.


Bibliography of Thomas Dolliver Church. In Thomas Church, Landscape Architect: Designing the Modern California Landscape, edited by Marc Treib (San Francisco: William K. Stout Architectural Books), 264-278.


Review of Chris Wilson, Facing Southwest: The Life and Houses of John Gaw Meem. In the Vernacular Architecture Forum Newsletter 96 (Summer).

“Landscape Perspectives in Planning History.” Reviews of Arnold R. Alanen and Robert Z. Melnick, editors, Preserving Cultural Landscapes in America; and Paul Mattingly, Suburban Landscapes: Culture and Politics in a New York Metropolitan Community.  In The Journal of Planning History 2:1 (February), 94-98.

selected presentations


“Does the National Historic Preservation Act Need to Be Fixed?”  Chair/moderator of working group/panel discussion at Threads of Change, the 40th annual conference of the National Council on Public History, Atlanta, Georgia (March 20).  https://ncph.org/conference/2020-annual-meeting/

“Chicago's ‘Hymn to the Lake’: The Art, Architecture, and Landscape of the World's Largest Water Filtration Plant.” Paper accepted for presentation in “‘My Kind of Town’: Chicago, Civics, and the Built Environment” session at the 108th annual meeting of the College Art Association, Chicago, Illinois (February 12).   https://www.collegeart.org/programs/conference 


“The Rise of Shibui and the Japanese Vogue: International Cultural Exchange and Design in the Postwar United States.” Presentation at the annual Tucson Modernism Week symposium of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, Tucson, Arizona (October 11). (invited keynote lecture)                     https://preservetucson.org/modernism-week/ and https://preservetucson.org/tc-events/the-rise-of-shibui-and-the-japanese-vogue/

“Landscape Preservation: Seeing What Too Often Is Unseen.” Lecture in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (October 1). (invited)

“‘There Are No Memorials for Our Most Famous Event’: Removal and Relevance of the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois.” Paper accepted for presentation at Traversing the Gap: Relevance as a Transformative Force at Sites of Public Memory, second Andrew W. Mellon Conference, National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York, New York (June 19).  (declined)   https://www.911memorial.org/mellonconference

“Tradition and Modernity.” Session chair and moderator at Landscapes of Succession, the annual meeting of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (June 1). (invited)  http://www.vernaculararchitectureforum.org/Philadelphia-2019 

“Repairing National Register Nominations: The Struggles and Challenges of Maintaining Accurate Documentation in a Changing World.” Discussant in working group session at Repair Work, the 39th annual meeting of the National Council on Public History, Hartford, Connecticut (March 28). https://ncph.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2019-Annual-Meeting-Preliminary-Program-Web.pdf 

“The Japanese Influence in American Postwar Design: Loving the Alien in an Age of Anxiety.” Paper presentation in session, “Regional Designs and Cross-Cultural Influences,” at Preserving the Recent Past 3 conference, National Park Service / Historic Preservation Education Foundation / University of Southern California School of Architecture, Los Angeles, California (March 15). https://www.prp3.org/program


“Lathrop Homes: Compromise, Collaboration, Community.” PastForward 2017: The National Conference on Historic Preservation, the annual meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Chicago, Illinois. (invited panelist)

“The Regulatory Role of the State Historic Preservation Office.” Guest lecturer in Preservation Planning class (HP 972), Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. (invited)

“Section 106 Programmatic Agreements: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Lessons Learned.” Meeting of the Committee on Historic and Archaeological Preservation in Transportation (ADC 50), Transportation Research Board, U.S. Department of Transportation, Minneapolis, Minnesota. (invited panelist)  http://www.adc50.org/assets/mn_2017.pdf

“Administration of Preservation Law in Illinois.” Guest lecturer in Preservation Law class (HP 523), Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. (invited)


“Preservation and Maintenance of Historic Buildings and Landscapes in Public Parks.” Presented at the joint annual conference of the Illinois Association of Park Districts / Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, Chicago.


“What Is the National Register of Historic Places?” Guest lecturer in Historic Preservation in the United States class (HIS 5060 419), Graduate Program in Historical Administration, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston. (invited)

“Modernism in Landscape Architecture.” Guest lecturer in From Lustron to Neon: Preservation of the Recent Past (HP 1632), Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. (invited)

“Preservation and Maintenance of Historic Buildings and Landscapes in Public Parks” (3-hour workshop) and “Historic Preservation 101” (75-minute session). Presented at the joint annual conference of the Illinois Association of Park Districts/Illinois Parks and Recreation Association, Chicago.


“What Is the SHPO?” Lecture presented at the Cultural Resources Compliance workshop, Preservation Services Division, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, Illinois. 


“Reconstructing the New Deal: Towards a National Inventory of New Deal Art and Public Works.” Discussant in working group session held at the Milwaukee Public Museum at the joint annual meetings of the National Council on Public History and the Organization of American Historians, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


“Emphasizing Cultural Landscapes.” Lecturer and moderator of panel session at the Annual Historic Preservation Conference, Texas Historical Commission, Austin, Texas. 


“Texas Players.” Moderator for panel at Landscapes for Living: The Postwar Years in Texas, a symposium of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas. (invited)   https://tclf.org/sites/default/files/microsites/pioneers/dallas/index.html 

“Cultural Landscapes: Looking at the Ground for New Perspectives.” Lecturer and moderator of roundtable discussion at the Annual Preservation Texas Summit, Austin, Texas. (invited)


“Understanding Cultural Landscapes: An Introduction.” Lecture presented at the Annual Historic Preservation Conference, Texas Historical Commission, Lakeway, Texas.


“Indigenous Architecture and Landscape: Memory, Performance, and Place.” Chair of affiliate session of the Society of Architectural Historians, College Art Association Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas. (invited)


“Creating Window Rock: Fantasy and Federal Indian Policy at the Navajo Capital." Paper presented at the Annual Fellows’ History Colloquium, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.


“‘Indigenous’ by Design: The Pueblo Revival Style and Federal Occupation in the Capital of the Navajo Nation.” Paper presented at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

“Building ‘The Center of the Navajo World’: Regionalism and Revival in Window Rock, Arizona.” Paper presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, Tucson, Arizona.

“‘Playing Indian’ on the Reservation: The Pueblo Revival Style and the Federal Construction of Indigenousness at Window Rock.” Paper presented at the 4th Biennial Savannah Symposium, Architecture and Regionalism, Department of Architectural History, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia.


“Landscape and Power at Window Rock.” Paper presented at the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History, Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois.

“The Rise of the Japanese Vogue in Postwar Suburbia: Constructing the Alien in an Age of Anxiety.” Paper presented at the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association Annual Conference, San Antonio, Texas.

Panelist respondent to keynote speaker Lucy R. Lippard at Far Afield: Experiencing the Landscape: Intersections Between the Cultural and the Personal, a colloquium in honor of Professor Robert B. Riley, held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Landscape Architecture and the Center for Advanced Study. (invited)

selected cultural resource documents

Traditional Cultural Property studies for determination of National Register eligibility

2019                Tonawanda Seneca Nation, Genesee, Erie, and Niagara counties, New York (in progress)

National Historic Landmark nominations

2019                Temple Aaron, Trinidad, Las Animas County, Colorado (in progress)

2016                Casa José Antonio Navarro, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas

National Register of Historic Places nominations

2019                The Miracle House, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois (in progress)

2014                Woodward Park and Gardens Historic District, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma

2011                Wallace Pratt Residence (“Ship on the Desert”), Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Hudspeth County, Texas

2011                Delwood Duplex Historic District, Austin, Travis County, Texas

2010                Triangle Motel (Route 66), Amarillo, Potter County, Texas

2010                Lott-Canada (Rosenwald) School, Beeville, Bee County, Texas

2010                Westgate Tower, Austin, Travis County, Texas

2010                Alden B. Dow Office, Lake Jackson, Brazoria County, Texas

2009                Zidell House, Taylor, Williamson County, Texas

2008                Chambers County Courthouse, Anahuac, Chambers County, Texas

2008                Washburn Tunnel, Houston, Harris County, Texas

Historic American Buildings Survey reports

2002                William Allen White House (“Red Rocks”), Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas (HABS KS-81-A)

2002                William Allen White House, Mother’s House, Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas (HABS KS-81-B)

2002                William Allen White House, Garage, Emporia, Lyon County, Kansas (HABS KS-81-C)

selected grants, honors, and awards


Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Graduate Fellowship

Graduate College, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dissertation Completion Fellowship


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Predoctoral Fellowship 


Vernacular Architecture Forum, 25th Annual Conference Presenter’s Fellowship


American Council of Learned Societies / Henry Luce Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in American Art

Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Graduate Fellowship (declined)


American Philosophical Society, Phillips Fund Grant for Native American Research

Newberry Library, D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, Graduate Fellowship in American Indian Studies

Pittsburgh Foundation, Walter Read Hovey Memorial Fellowship in Art History


Landscape Architecture Foundation / Garden Club of America, Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden History and Design


Society of Architectural Historians / Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship in Architectural History

Included on “Incomplete List of Teachers Rated Excellent by Their Students” (for Landscape Architecture 233), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Vincent Bellafiore Fellowship for Doctoral Studies in Landscape Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Earl Prize for Design Thesis in Historic Preservation, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Allerton American Traveling Fellowship for Architectural History, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

professional affiliations

2019–present  Walter Burley Griffin Society of America

                            Board of Directors member, 2019–present

2018–present  Preservation Association of Central New York

                            Executive Board member, 2019–present

                            Advocacy Committee member, 2018–present

2013–2018      National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers

                            State of Illinois Representative, 2013–2018

2009–present  Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation

                            Executive Board member, 2011–present

                            Chair, Annual Conference, Fort Worth, Texas, April 6–9, 2011  http://ahlp.org/2011-fort-worth-texas/

                            Co-chair, Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, June 1–4, 2016  http://ahlp.org/meeting-2016/

2009–present  National Council on Public History

                            Environmental Sustainability Committee member, 2019–present

1999–present  Vernacular Architecture Forum

                            Editorial Board, Special Series in Vernacular Architecture, University of Tennessee Press, 2006–2011

                            Executive Board member, 2009–2012