Katherine Melcher


Katherine Melcher is an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design. She is a licensed landscape architect with fifteen years of experience in community-based development and design. Her work focuses on the interaction between design and community development, in particular, participatory design processes and community places. Her projects include parks, playgrounds, schoolyards, streetscapes, and pedestrian and bicycle trails.

Prior to joining the University of Georgia, she was Design Director at Urban Ecology, a nonprofit based in the San Francisco Bay Area that specializes in community-based design. She developed participatory processes that engaged diverse communities in the design and creation of their public places. She served as project manager and lead designer for the East Bay Greenway, a twelve mile pedestrian and bicycle path in Alameda County, CA. The California Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded the East Bay Greenway Concept Plan its 2009 Focused Issue Award of Excellence.

Katherine’s work has been featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine and Designer/Builder magazine as well as the books 1000x Landscape Architecture and Architecture for Change. Her research on community-built practices has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts’ Research Art Works grant.

Other community-based projects she has worked on include: land use and park planning in San Diego, post-tsunami construction in Thailand, and community forestry in Togo. Originally from Oklahoma, she received her BA in sociology from Vassar College and her MLA from Louisiana State University.

Degrees Held

BA Sociology, Vassar College
MLA, Louisiana State University
PhD (in progress), Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts

Personal Research Interests

Community-based design, public space, community design-build projects, public and community art, participatory design, human and social aspects of design, qualitative research methods.

Selected Publications

Melcher, Katherine; Barry Stiefel, and Kristin Faurest, eds. Community-Built: Art, Construction, Preservation, and Place. Routledge’s Community Development Research and Practice Series, 2017.

“Many Voices, One Project: Participation and Aesthetics in Community-Built Practices.” The Plan Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 2, 2016. http://www.theplanjournal.com/article/many-voices-one-project-participation-and-aesthetics-community-built-practices.

“Healing Community Through Play: The Design and Construction of the Moo Ban Nua Playground,” in The Architecture of Change: Building a Better World, Jerilou Hammet and Maggie Wrigley, eds. University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque, NM, 2016, pp. 255-264.

“Equity, Empowerment, or Participation? Prioritizing Goals in Community Design.” Landscape Journal, spring 2014, pp. 167-182.

Honors and Awards

Grant awardee, National Endowment for the Arts, Research: Art Works, FY 2012.

Award of Excellence, American Planning Association California Chapter, Focused Issue Planning Award for the East Bay Greenway Concept Plan (awarded to Urban Ecology), 2009.


Community Built Association
Association for Community Design
Tift Area Greenways Association
WWALS Watershed Coalition