Nathan Heavers, ASLA

Associate Professor

MLA, University of Pennsylvania

B.A., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Certificate in Visual Arts, Princeton University

MLA, University of Pennsylvania

B.A., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Certificate in Visual Arts, Princeton University

122D Burruss Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
heavers@vt.edu
website
portfolio

Nathan Heavers is an associate professor in landscape architecture at Virginia Tech. He explores the design and care of temperate forests in the Northeast US in their many permutations: urban forests, orchards, groves, arboreta, agroforests, and wildlands. Drawing on his farming and ecology backgrounds, his work is aesthetically and productively motivated and embodies a deep respect for the more-than-human world. Nathan currently manages his family farm in Rhode Island and a five-acre 1880s homestead in New Jersey. In Rhode Island, he tends an antique apple orchard, cultivates 140 acres of native forest, and maintains 20 acres of the meadow through mowing and cool burns.
Nathan’s writing and drawings are published internationally and his collaborative designs have gained national recognition. For example, he was a member of a multi-disciplinary team from Virginia Tech, winning First Prize in the Casey Tree Farm Masterplan Design Competition. This master plan led to a design proposal for an arboretum based on the practices of agroforestry, work which was subsequently presented and published at the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS) conference (2016).
In 2020-21, Nathan served on the Advisory Committee for the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, a project envisioned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Trust for the National Mall in collaboration with the National Park Service. The Ideas Lab generated speculative designs and arguments for how to respond to the imminent threat of sea-level rise at the Tidal Basin. Nathan’s published research on the National Mall and his expertise on the Tidal Basin’s flowering cherries contributed to the proposals made by five leading-edge landscape architecture firms (Reed Hilderbrand, DLandstudio, James Corner Field Operations, Hood Design, and GGN). In 2020, Nathan moderated a panel of these landscape architects in the Past/Forward conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Nathan’s current research is a longitudinal study of dwelling in a forest plot in the Jefferson National Forest. For three years he has inhabited the forest, tapping in the wisdom of the woods. Preliminary results of this work have been presented at the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference (2021), European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools Conference (2021), and the Rutgers University Landscape Architecture Department lecture series (2021).
Nathan holds a Master of Landscape Architecture (2009) from the University of Pennsylvania where he was awarded a Van Alen Traveling Fellowship and the John Dixon Hunt Prize in History, Theory, and Criticism. He has taught landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, the City College of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture, and Rutgers University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. In addition to design studios, he has taught field ecology and plant identification, site engineering and grading, materials and construction methods, digital representation, and scholarship in landscape architecture.
Nathan earned a Bachelor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University (2000) and was awarded membership to Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, for his senior thesis on Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Park. He also received a Certificate in Visual Arts and produced a solo exhibition of paintings at 185 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ. After graduation, he worked as the gardener at The Cloisters Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2000-2003) and the horticulture manager at the Washington National Cathedral (2003-2006). These professional experiences were built on internships at NOAA’s Narragansett Lab, RI (1997); The Konza Prairie, KS (1998); and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, PA (1999).

research areas

  • Forest dwelling and forest bathing
  • Temperate agroforestry practices
  • Urban forest design and management
  • Botanical garden and arboretum design

publications

  • Heavers, N. (2019). “Ian McHarg’s enduring influence on the ecological planning and design of Washington’s waterfront.” Socio-Ecological Practice Research.
  • Heavers, N. (2019). “Marking sacred ground through imported trees and medieval European sculpture at the Washington National Cathedral.”Acta Horticulturae et Regiotecturae.
  • Heavers, N. (2017). “The Evolving Arboreta of Washington’s Monumental Core: 19th Century to Present.” Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes: 1-14.
  • Heavers, N. (2016). Integrating Agroforestry Practices within the Springsbury Arboretum. In European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools. Rapperswil, Switzerland.
  • Heavers, N. (2016). Wayside Fruit: Considering the Productive Potential of Roadway Verges in Washington, DC, and Alexandria, VA. In International Federation of Landscape Architects. Turin, Italy: International Federation of Landscape Architects.
  • Heavers, N. (2015). Arboretum on the National Mall: A Study of Tree Labeling. In Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. Landscape Research Record 4: Kansas State University.
  • Heavers, N. (2015). Finding and Mapping a Teaching Arboretum in Alexandria, Virginia. In European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools. Tartu, Estonia: European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools.