Kathryn Gustafson

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Yakima, Washington


  • Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysages, Versailles, 1979

Years of practice

1980– (estimated)


  • Gustafson Guthrie Nichole
  • Gustafson Porter

Related websites


Amsterdam, Aulnay-sous-Bois, Chicago, City Hall, France, London, Millennium Park, National Portrait Gallery, Nottingham, Parc de la Villette, Paris, Princess Diana, Seattle, Smithsonian, Spain, Valencia, Versailles, Washington, Washington DC, bridge, civic, courtyard, factory, garden, landscape, landscape design, memorial, museum, residential design, sculpture, square


Early life and education

Gustafson was born and grew up in Yakima, Washington, the daughter of a surgeon, Jack and mother Mary Gustafson. The basis of her designs comes from her memories of past settings. The region around Yakima is a desert-like plateau surrounded by mountains.

At the age of 18, Gustafson attended the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied applied arts for about a year. She then moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating from the Fashion Institute, Gustafson moved to Paris to be a fashion designer. Gustafson turned to landscape design. She was educated at the Ecole Nationale Superieure du Paysage in Versailles, where she graduated in 1979.

Career in Landscape Architecture

Kathryn Gustafson is a founding partner in two offices, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, in Seattle, and Gustafson Porter, in London. Her diverse span of works are known as ground-breaking, contemporary designs that incorporate the sculptural, sensual qualities that are fundamental to the human experience of landscape.

Kathryn lectures throughout the world and is an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architecture, an honorary Royal Designer for Industry member, and a medalist of the French Academy of Architecture. She is the recipient of the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, The Chrysler Design Award, and London’s Jane Drew Prize. In 2011 Kathryn and her GGN partners received the National Design Award for Landscape Architecture.

Major Buildings and Projects

With Gustafson Guthrie Nichol:

  • Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington, DC (with Frellon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, Under Construction)
  • Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC (with Foster+Partners and SmithGroup, completed 2007)
  • Seattle City Hall Plaza, Seattle, WA (with Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and Bassetti Architects, completed 2005)
  • Lakeshore Residence, Seattle, WA (with Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, completed 2004)
  • Lurie Garden, Millenium Park, Chicago, IL (completed 2004)
With Gustafson Porter:
  • Valencia Parque Central, Valencia, Spain (with Borgos Pieper, Under Construction)
  • Old Market Square, Nottingham, England (with Ove Arup & Partners, completed 2007)
  • Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, London, England (with ARUP, completed 2004)
  • Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, Netherlands (completed 2004)
Independent Works:
  • South Coast Plaza Pedestrian Bridge & Garden, Costa Mesa, CA (with HNTB, completed 2000)
  • L’Oreal Factory, Aulnay-sous-Bois (completed 1992)
  • Shell Petroleum Headquarters, Rueil Malmaison, France (completed 1992)
  • Rights of Man Square, Evry, France (completed 1991)
  • Parc de la Villette, Paris, France (completed 1986)
  • Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire, Terrasson-Lavilledieu, France (completed 1985)

Press and Awards


  • Hon. Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects
  • Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, American Academy of Arts and Letters (2012)
  • National Design Award in Landscape Architecture, Cooper-Hewitt (2011)
  • EU Prize for Cultural Heritage in Conservation (for Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek, 2010)
  • International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum (for “Towards Paradise” installation at the Venice Biennale, 2009)
  • AIA/UK Excellence in Design Award (for Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, 2008)
  • Design Medal, American Society of Landscape Architects (2008)
  • International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaum (for Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, 2007)
  • Hon. member of Royal Design for Industry (RDI, UK, 2001)
  • Medalist, French Academy of Architecture (1993)
  • Frieze, Charlotte M. Private Paradise: Contemporary American Gardens. The Monacelli Press: 2011.
  • The Sky is Mine,” The Economist 18 July 2011.
  • Williams Goldhagen, Sarah. “Park Here,” The New Republic 7 October 2010.
  • Gilmore, John. “Cohesive Spaces in Public Places,” Contract July 2009.
  • Kathryn Gustafson on the History of Landscape Design,” Dwell April 2009.
  • Showcase: Towards Paradise, A Landscape Installation at the Venice Biennale,” Archinect 24 September 2008.
  • “Environmental Reflections,” Surface Magazine Spring 2009.
  • “Westergasfabriek Culture Park,” Topos 56 (December 2006).
  • Amidon, Jane and Aaron Betsky. Moving Horizons: the Landscape Architecture of Kathryn Gustafson and Partners. Birkhauser: 2005.
  • “They’ve Got It,” Seattle Magazine November 2002.
  • “Kathryn Gustafson’s Landscape Design a Search for Simplicity,” Daily Journal of Commerce August 2002.
  • “The Woman Who Makes Ripples,” Sunday Telegraph August 2002.
  • Kearton, Nicola, “Looking Back in Envy: Kathryn Gustafson: the Recurrent Ring,” Architectural Design 71:5 (September 2001).
  • Waldheim, Charles (2001). Constructed Ground: The Millennium Garden Design Competition. University of Illinois Press.
  • “Interview: Kathryn Gustafson,” Coast Magazine September 2000.
  • Levy, Leah (1998). Kathryn Gustafson: Sculpting the Land. Spacemaker Press. Washington, DC.
  • Diedrich, Lisa. “Kathryn Gustafson – Imagination and Form.” Topos 21 (December 1997).


  • “We Must Cultivate Our Garden,” Domus January 2009
  • “Longing for Jacques Simon,” Topos 50 (March 2005).
  • “Foreword,” in Amidon, Jane. Radical Landscapes: Reinventing Outdoor Space. Thames and Hudson: 2004.

Institutional Affiliations

  • ASLA
  • Hon. FRIBA