Liat Margolis is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the John H. Daniels Faculty and Director of the Faculty’s Green Roof Innovation Testing Laboratory (gritlab). She holds a Masters of Landscape Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and a Bachelor of Fine Art in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Margolis’ research focuses on the knowledge transfer of multi-performance materials and technologies across disciplines, and she is most interested in understanding and articulating the emerging relevance of performative landscapes as urban infrastructure. Specific topics include investigating the promise of contemporary technologies and approaches to hybrid vegetal systems at multiple scales, and the design implications for dynamic systems. In her work, research, publications and pedagogical approach she places particular emphasis on the architectonic and urbanistic potentials in dynamic and performative systems, such that their spatial and temporal expressions are at once systematically responsive and generative, and possess the capacity to shape and restructure our contemporary culture and experience.
Margolis worked as a landscape architect for Hargreaves Associates and had a primary role on the design of a 3-mile post-industrial waterfront in Knoxville, TN. She worked closely with the city to create one of the first fully adopted form-based-codes for a major metropolitan. She is also a founder and Director of Materials Research at Harvard GSD, where she had advised on the pedagogical role of material research within design. She was awarded the Presidential Instructional Technologies Fellows Award from Harvard University for the materials database development, and she continues to cultivate the idea that hands-on labs and databases of this kind are crucial to successful scholarship and practice.
Previously, as Director of Material Research for 6 years at Material ConneXion, Margolis was instrumental in the development of a cross-disciplinary material database and archiving system, as well as research concerning the environmental impacts of industrial manufacturing. She curated exhibitions on Titanium, Tensile Structures and Green Design, and wrote several articles including Responsive Materials [MODO]; Biodegradable Plastics [Ottagono], while concurrently teaching courses in material innovation, sustainable design and environmental justice for the Product Design Department at Parsons School of Design.
She is the co-author of the book Living Systems: Innovative Materials and Technologies for Landscape Architecture [Birkhauser 2007], for which she received a Graham Foundation Grant. She has lectured at many universities internationally on topics of contemporary materiality in landscape architecture including UPenn, Columbia University, Ohio State University, University of Texas, Austin, RISD, and Technion Institute of Technology, Israel.
In Margolis’ recent research and instruction, she has primarily focused on water and wastewater infrastructure in arid climates; investigating the intersection between the natural and fabricated as ecology and technological invention; all within a unique socio-political context. Her continuing collaboration with Professor Chaouni addresses economical and ecological development of tourism in the Sahara and involves an ongoing research project entitled Out of Water.