About Prof. Lemon
As a practitioner, I am a registered professional landscape architect, LEED accredited professional, and EDAC certified. I practice both architecture and landscape architecture, with an emphasis in food, productive landscapes, and healthcare and mental/behavioral health environments. My interests in design and theory of the built environment is built on storytelling and opening space to others to tell their story[ies], by researching and uncovering histories and ecological processes, engaging the people of the community, and developing new techniques and strategies to provide a solution that is of the place and vernacular.
In my design research in the built environment, I focus on historical and contemporary productive landscapes, emphasizing Black communities, farms, and food across Illinois, toward a goal of broader awareness and education of these histories and for increasing public health of Black communities. In this context, I study both rural and urban productive landscapes, as they both offer historical insight on Black migration, settlement, and land management practices. I employ methods of archival work and data collection, historical and current interviews, drawing and mapping, onsite fieldwork, and community participatory design. Working together, these methods allow my research to evolve into the storytelling of landscapes and the people that inhabit them, and bringing forth narratives that have not yet been collectively understood. These ideas can then be folded back into project work to provide innovative approaches to reshape our built environment. Using these research methods, I have chosen study areas within Illinois based on the identification of several criteria important to the work, including 1) current and historical data on the number of Black farmers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2) the prominence of agriculture and farming, and 3) the availability of land within urban regions. These criteria place my work in rural regions, such as Kankakee, Alexander, and Pulaski Counties, and in urban centers, such as the Lansdowne neighborhood of East St. Louis (St. Clair County).
My latest project, Connections Across the Black Agricultural Landscape, examines the agricultural landscapes of the remaining black farmers across the state of Illinois, with a focus on Kankakee, Pulaski, and Alexander counties. The work aims to reconsider our understanding of the importance of histories and stories of Black communities here in Illinois, regional and local land management practices in a dominant commodity crop landscape of corn and soybeans. Using cartographical and diagramming methods to describe histories, narratives, soils and food, these are mapped and then clarified to tell the stories of the landscapes through the lens of black farmers, both historically and currently. This work was awarded a Graham Foundation Grant in 2022.
- University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design, Master of Architecture 2007. Thesis: "Harmonious Conflict: Architecture of the Boundary". Thesis Committee: Jill Stoner (chair), Renee Y. Chow, Walter J. Hood.
- University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, with honors, 2002.
Research and publications
Lemon, Kelley and Chia-Ching Wu. “STLCC Forest Park Center for Nursing and Advanced Health Sciences.” Landscape Performance Series. Landscape Architecture Foundation, 2022. https://doi.org/10.31353/cs1810
Teaching and advising
- LA 241: Landform Design and Construction
- LA 335: Community Design Studio
- LA 336|438 Design Workshops (vertical studios)
- LA 533: Community Design Studio