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Kristi Cheramie

  • Associate Professor, Section Head, Landscape Architecture Section
200D Knowlton Hall

Kristi Cheramie is an associate professor and head of the Landscape Architecture Section at the Knowlton School. Her research employs alternate practices of spatial history to explore erasure, loss and forgetting as powerful agents of change in the landscape. Using speculation as a tool to reconstruct the historical systems, scales, and materials that comprise a landscape, she looks to design to reveal the interconnections between story, memory, ground, and time. Her work, largely based in fieldwork, tracks patterns of adaptability and transformation in the landscape, with a particular focus on efforts aimed at mitigating or eliminating change. 

Cheramie’s research and teaching have been recognized by, published in and presented at a range of internationally recognized venues. Most recently, she received the 2016-2017 Prince Charitable Trusts/Kate Lancaster Brewster Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture from the American Academy in Rome where she examined erased ecologies in and around the Colosseum. Her ongoing work on the flood landscapes of the Lower Mississippi River Basin has been the subject of winning competition entries, articles, exhibitions. In 2011, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cheramie led an interdisciplinary team in the documentation of Louisiana coastal communities compromised by land loss, sea level rise and competing industrial interests. More recently, Cheramie led one of three winning teams in Future Ground, an international design competition hosted by the Van Alen Institute.  Her interdisciplinary team developed long-range, flexible design and policy strategies for vacant land in New Orleans and Lima, Ohio, transforming long-abandoned landscapes into resources for the current and future city. Cheramie is currently finishing a book on the urban ecologies of Rome, forthcoming from Routledge in 2019.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from University of Virginia and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Recent Work

The Lost Worlds of the Colosseum 

If the city is a network of protocols and operations continuously generating politics, material, and data, it is also a landfill of forgotten spaces and unwanted histories. These ill-fitting gaps and glitches are kept alive by popular memory and paper trails, generating a mythic topology of alternate histories and counterfactual possibilities for the future city. This project visualizes the unfulfilled geographies of the lost worlds of Rome, with design acting as a proxy for Rome’s erased or not-yet-realized trajectories. Positioned at the slippage between documented truths, unfinished business and mythic tales, this project uses hybrid, hyperreal media to dissolve markers of past and present, fact and fiction, exposing our quixotic desire for permanence in the face of change.

By 1350, Rome was at its lowest ebb. Pope Clement VI lived in France. Rome’s population hovered around 15,000, down from over one million at its ancient peak. Physical evidence of Rome’s ancient greatness had also deteriorated. The Roman Forum, once the center of public life in antiquity, was in ruins and captured the essence of how far Rome had fallen: it was even colloquially referred to as the Campo Vaccino, or cow pasture. However, renewed interest in classical antiquity in Rome, c. 1350-1870, compelled visitors to see more than just Rome’s decline, but to see Rome’s ancient relics as the kernels of Rome’s future greatness, culminating in the integration of its ancient patrimony into the rhetoric of the Risorgimento and the crowning of Rome as the capital of modern Italy. This project combines hyperreal imagery with archival texts to unearth and recover the lost worlds of the Colosseum and its environs in their various early modern states.

Image title: After the Earthquake: The Colosseum and the Campo Vaccino in the 14th century

** note: this project was completed in collaboration with Robert J Clines, assistant professor of history at Western Carolina University