Landscape Architecture


Colgate Searle

Colgate M. Searle, Jr., is widely recognized for his long-term, continuous commitment to the profession through teaching and community-based, participatory environmental and ecological design projects. A symbiosis among academic service, professional practice, and community service aptly characterizes his career. He is a Professor of landscape architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and former Head of the Department. He has been teaching a wide range of courses for over thirty years, within the Departments of Landscape, Architecture and the Freshman Foundation. He is the originator and teacher of the interdisciplinary course, “Field Ecology/Design Foundations.” He had recently served as chief critic for the RISD European Honors Program.

Colgate is a registered Landscape Architect and Principal in the landscape architectural design and planning firm of Searle and Searle, founded in 1975, and a fellow and a trustee of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The firm has earned its reputation for award-winning work, especially in the areas of planning and restoration of environmentally sensitive lands, and historic landscape rehabilitation. Colgate has received numerous RIASLA design awards, as well as the RISD alumni Council Arts Education Award. His current projects include the Wheeler School Farm Master Plan, Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, the Blackstone River Bike path, and the Roger William Park Botanical Garden. From his practice, he brings the complex issues of stewardship into classroom discussions and studio work.

His research most recently includes design for the 1-95 highway bridge corridor, culminating in a design proposal for an elevated highway reused as an armature for a new city district connecting neighborhoods. The RISD innovations studio “Think Like a River” applied watershed management understanding to abandoned industrial sites, from the river’s source to the tidal waters, sponsored by the RISD and the RI Development Council. “One River Project” is developed design strategies that maximize mixed use development at the water edge, while providing public access and restoring and enhancing environmental and ecological health. One River is sponsored by RISD, the RI Economic Policy Council and grants form the National Endowment of the Arts. Colgate is founding director for RISD/Earth University, Costa Rica, collaborative projects. This ongoing collaboration works on issues ranging from the masterplan of their new campus, the ubiquitous computing, to designing products that use agricultural waste.  This work has evolved into an annual research studio, funded through, “The Fund for Sustainable Education”. His current research is focused on the hill town of Castelvecchio Calvisio, damaged in the 2009 Abruzzo, Italy earthquakes.

Colgate holds an undergraduate degree from RISD and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University. He has lectured and been a guest critic at the Chinese Academy of the Arts in Hangzhou, the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, the Department of Landscape Architecture, Tsinghua University Beijing, the Seoul National University in Korea, Cornell University, Harvard University, Roger Williams University, Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand, and the University of Maracaibo, Venezuela. He has been a visiting critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cornell University, Roger Williams University, Edinburgh College of Art, and the RISD European Honors Program in Rome.