Christopher Marcinkoski

Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture

Christopher Marcinkoski is an Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. Trained and licensed as an architect, Christopher’s teaching, research and professional practice are oriented around issues of contemporary physical urbanization, with an explicit focus on the public realm as a space of design intervention, inquiry and agency.

Christopher’s principal research area explores the phenomenon of “speculative urbanization,” considering the environmental, social and political implications of physical urbanization activities that are wildly out of sync with economic and demographic realities. This subject matter was the focus of Christopher’s 2016 book The City That Never Was (Princeton Architectural Press) which considered the drivers and consequences of Spain’s early 21stcentury real estate driven boom and bust, positioning the events as indicative of a broader shift in the way that contemporary real estate activities are conceptualized and instrumentalized.

More recently, Christopher’s work on the subject has shifted to a focus on the proliferation of speculative new town projects promoted by both public and private actors at the periphery of major cities throughout the African continent. Work on the subject to this point has focused on identifying, documenting and comparing the proliferating number of proposals of this type—currently more than 150—considering the physical urbanism of their planning, as well as the potential environmental, social, and economic implications of their pursuit. This research has thus far taken the form of journal essays and magazine articles, symposia presentations and public lectures, as well as three international exhibitions in Kuala Lumpur (2017), Munich (2018) and Milan (2019).

As a corollary to this work on speculative urbanization, Christopher is also curating an upcoming issue of the journal LA+ (Landscape Architecture Plus, #16) that considers the intellectual and cultural role creative acts of speculation can take within a broad range of disciplinary perspectives. Here, particular attention is paid to those disciplines whose speculative products are intentionally oriented towards inspiring alternative public imaginaries around a particular subject or concern.

In addition to his appointment at Penn, Christopher is also a founding principal of PORT—a Philadelphia and Chicago-based public realm and urban design practice. Since its establishment in 2013, PORT’s work has been widely published and repeatedly recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Institute of Architects, garnering no fewer than eighteen chapter awards of honor or merit since 2018. In February of 2020, PORT was recognized by the Architectural League of New York with their Emerging Voices Award­—an honor given to North American design practices with a significant body of realized work and the potential to meaningfully influence their field in the coming years.

PORT’s work has an established national and growing international presence with recent work in Philadelphia, Chicago, Knoxville, New York, Cleveland, Kansas City, Louisville, Denver and Los Angeles, as well as in Mexico and Germany. PORT is currently leading both the landscape and architectural design of a new 110-acre central park in Bentonville, Arkansas as part of the Walton Family Foundation Design Excellence Program.

In 2015, Christopher was awarded the Rome Prize Fellowship in Landscape Architecture by the American Academy in Rome. He holds a B.Arch from The Pennsylvania State University where he was awarded the Faculty Prize for undergraduate thesis, and an M.Arch from the Yale University School of Architecture where he was awarded the H.I. Feldman Prize for design excellence, the Christopher Tunnard Fellowship for excellence in urban planning, and the national Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill Foundation Fellowship for urban design. Christopher was editor of Perspecta 38 | Architecture After All (MIT Press, 2006).

Christopher heads the Public Realm working group with Sonja Dümpelmann.