Member Spotlight: Zihao Zhang
Zihao Zhang, ASLA
Assistant Professor and Interim Director
City College of New York, MLA program
Education: MLA and Ph.D. in the Constructed Environment, University of Virginia, Charlottesville Bachelor of Engineering in Landscape Architecture, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing
Zihao Zhang, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Interim Director of the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. By building transdisciplinary, critical analyses across design, engineering, and environmental humanities, he interrogates emerging technologies and their ramifications on contemporary culture and landscape. His work inspires innovative landscape strategies to address pressing issues such as food insecurity, climate crisis, and social injustice, along with their cumulative effects on future cities and urban landscapes. His work expands the impact of the landscape architecture profession through multidisciplinary collaborations. He founded the Ecological Laboratory for Urban Agriculture, where he conducts research on urban agriculture innovations. He co-leads a multidisciplinary research team at CCNY called Climate Solidarity, which reimagines New York City's urban future, focusing on equitable housing, clean energy, food resilience, and environmental justice.
African Burial Ground National Memorial, New York, EKLA
What is YOUR story? What led you to a career in landscape architecture? When did you realize you wanted to become a Landscape Architect?
My story is about why I chose an academic career in landscape architecture. During my education in both China and the US, I have realized that landscape architecture is still a marginalized profession and discipline in contemporary culture, which prioritizes efficiency and promotes unquestioned acceptance of modernization. I wanted to increase the impact of the landscape architecture profession and discipline among other fields, and the most effective way is through academia, preparing future landscape architects to become interdisciplinary experts and leaders, thus increasing the impact of the profession.
Ecological Laboratory for Urban Agriculture at the rooftop of the Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York.
Photo credit: Shurui Zhang
What project or work that you have done at any point in your career are you most proud of and why?
ELUA-Ecological Laboratory for Urban Agriculture on the rooftop of the Spitzer School of Architecture at CCNY. This is my first built work as a researcher. It is an ongoing research site for advanced design computation while producing some fresh vegetables and flowers for my family and friends.
What is your favorite outdoor space in the greater NYC area and why?
Flushing Meadow Corona Park. I would describe FMCP as an "unintentional landscape." It was the site for two world fairs -- a site of historic future, but also an ash dumping ground, a contentious site of environmental justice. It is described as "disrepair" and "underfunded", but if you visit the park during weekends, you will be surprised to see how lively the place is and how people have been adapting and using it.
What do you do to de-stress, relax or escape?
Where do you go for inspiration or what do you find inspiring?
reading/listening to non-fiction books
What do you value most about your membership to ASLA?
Having a network of great folks outside of where I work.