Historic Preservation Highlights in Denver

Denver's Civic Center image: © Scott Dressel-Martin

Denver’s Civic Center
image: © Scott Dressel-Martin

Let’s connect in Denver!

‘Resilience,’ the theme of the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting, is particularly relevant to our PPN’s collective work in cultural resources and historic preservation. This meeting is a great opportunity to join colleagues and friends in the great ‘Queen City of the Plains’ for discussions, outings, and exploration of the most current issues and ideas in our design and planning for historic places.

Five field sessions offer opportunities to explore Denver’s history, from urban neighborhoods to CCC landscapes of the Denver Mountain Parks to works by Garrett Eckbo and Lawrence Halprin. Eight+ education sessions explore topics as diverse as social and cultural influences in design and planning to how-to’s for working with historic designed landscapes.

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) booth will be located in ASLA Central on the EXPO floor, along with Meet the Editors—Martha McDonald, editor of Traditional Building magazine, is participating—and TCLF will launch the new What’s Out There Guide to Denver.

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Treatment of Modernist Urban Park Plazas

Mellon Square, designed by John Simonds, underwent rehabilitation last year. The treatment was in progress on the southern portion of the site when this photograph was taken in July 2013. image: Caeli M. Tolar

Mellon Square, designed by John Simonds, underwent rehabilitation last year. The treatment was in progress on the southern portion of the site when this photograph was taken in July 2013.
image: Caeli M. Tolar

Many works of modernist landscape architecture are currently threatened. Due to their relatively young age, many do not meet the 50-year period set forth by the National Register of Historic Places. Those still extant have often been subjected to unsympathetic modifications and additions. More still have undergone insensitive adaptations, compromising their integrity and rendering them nearly unrecognizable as representations of notable design. Many suffer from original design or construction flaws. Miscommunications and misunderstandings due to differences in terminology and opinion arise when deciding when, where, and how to treat these landscapes. Few have been effectively preserved or restored. Those that have escaped demolition remain in the hands of private owners who have the capability to allocate necessary funds for preservation and subsequently high level of maintenance. In addition, these endangered landscapes commonly face negative public perception. Oftentimes these historic sites are viewed as outdated, dangerous, or aesthetically displeasing.

As a graduate student with a background in landscape architecture, my interests in historic preservation and landscape architecture led me to become interested in modernist works and their endangered state. My graduate thesis looks at the rehabilitation of significant modernist park plazas in urban settings, the actions and actors involved in the intervention, and the ultimate result of the revisions to the landscape. The purpose of my research was to determine common issues in interventions at significant modern urban park plazas for contemporary use and generate a set of considerations for future preservationists to follow. (For the purpose of the thesis, a modern landscape is a designed landscape constructed during the mid-to-late 20th century, inspired by the modern movement in art and architecture.)

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Submit a Drawing for the 2014 Holland Prize

2013 Holland Prize Winner: Turn-Of-River Bridge (HAER CT-192), Stamford, CT image: Morgen Fleisig, delineator

2013 Holland Prize Winner: Turn-Of-River Bridge (HAER CT-192)
image: Morgen Fleisig, delineator

Announcing the 2014 Leicester B. Holland Prize: A Single-Sheet Measured Drawing Competition

The Holland Prize is an annual competition, open to both students and professionals, that recognizes the best single-sheet measured drawing of an historic building, site, or structure prepared to the standards of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), or the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) for inclusion in the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection at The Library of Congress.

The winner of the 2014 Holland Prize will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a certificate of recognition, and publication of the winning drawing in “Preservation Architect,” the online newsletter of The American Institute of Architects’ Historic Resources Committee. Merit awards may also be given.

There is no charge to enter the competition. Entry forms must be submitted by May 31, 2014 and completed entries postmarked by June 30, 2014. Download the competition entry form and learn more about the 2014 Leicester B. Holland Prize on the National Park Service website.

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Edward Godfrey Lawson, “Our First Fellow”

Villa Gamberaia, Settignano, Watercolor plan of villa and gardens by Edward Lawson, circa 1917 image: James O'Day

Villa Gamberaia, Settignano, watercolor plan of villa and gardens by Edward Lawson, circa 1917.
image: James O’Day

In 2009 while researching at the American Academy in Rome, I came upon a cache of images in the Academy’s Photographic Archive. The photographs were diminutive, measuring only 2×3 inches, but the subject matter was colossal—the gardens of the Italian Renaissance. I had serendipitously discovered a collection of nine hundred photographs taken in the early 20th century. I learned that these photographs had originally been known as the “Lawson Collection” and had been reference material in the Academy’s library. The work was attributed to Ralph Griswold, Henry V. Hubbard, Richard Webel, and Edward Lawson. Most of these names were stalwarts of American landscape architecture and easily recognizable with the exception of one—Lawson. I wondered about the mysterious and little-known Lawson—who was he and why had this collection been named after him? Surely, he must have had some prominence. This is where my research and journey began.

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Smokey Hollow, a HALS Landscape

Smokey Hollow, Florida image: The Florida State Archives Memory Collection

Smokey Hollow, Florida
image: The Florida State Archives Memory Collection

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) documents significant historic landscapes of the United States and its territories, which can range from gardens and cemeteries to neighborhoods and parks. Using historic ground and aerial photos, land surveys, plats, property records, and oral histories, HALS captures and records the cultural history of a place, the story of people who occupied the landscape, their customs, their landmarks, social traditions, and how the landscape evolved over time. The National Park Service submits completed HALS projects to the Library of Congress, where they become a permanent record of our nation and are accessible to the public.

The Florida Chapter of ASLA established a HALS program in 2007 and has submitted documentation on eight state sites to the Library of Congress so far. Measured and interpretive drawings, photographs, and written histories may be viewed on the Library of Congress website. HALS FL-01 is Barrancas National Cemetery at the U.S. Naval Air Station, 80 Hovey Road, Pensacola in Escambia County. Many Union and Confederate dead are interred there, and HALS large format photographs were produced by the National Park Service. Some of these photos are stunningly beautiful.

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The 2014 HALS Challenge

Galena Forest CCC Camp, Mount Baker National Forest, Washington, 1936 image: National Archives

Galena Forest CCC Camp, Mount Baker National Forest, Washington, 1936
image: National Archives

Documenting the Landscapes of the New Deal

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to document our country’s dynamic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

For the 2014 HALS Challenge, we invite you to document landscapes of the New Deal. People from every state are hereby challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to document the landscapes created during the Great Depression. These great public works were typically funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and built by programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Workers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 new parks nationwide, upgraded most state parks, restored countless historic sites, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways across the nation. Many of these landscapes remain in all 50 states, but their history may go unnoticed.

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a companion program to HALS and  the sole surviving New Deal program, was created  80 years ago in 1933, the same year as the CCC!

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2014. HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure and digital template may be downloaded from the HALS website.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top 3 entries, which will be announced at the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver during the HALS Meeting. Employees of the National Park Service, American Society of Landscape Architects, and Library of Congress may submit HALS Short Format Historical Reports, but are ineligible for prizes.

All HALS documentation is permanently archived and publicly accessible at the Library of Congress.

For more information, please contact Chris Stevens at 202-354-2146 or Chris_Stevens@nps.gov.

by Chris Stevens, ASLA, Landscape Architect and Past Chair of the Historic Preservation PPN

The 2013 HALS Challenge Winners

Gaiety Hollow. Center of Parterre Garden with the Arbor in the background.  image: Laurie Matthews, 2010

Gaiety Hollow. Center of Parterre Garden with the Arbor in the background.
image: Laurie Matthews, 2010

Congratulations to the 2013 HALS Challenge Winners!

The results of the 4th annual HALS Challenge, Documenting the Cultural Landscapes of Women, were announced at the HALS Subcommittee and Chapter Liaisons Meeting during the ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston on Saturday, November 16, 2013. Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 30 impressive HALS short format historical reports and 2 HALS drawing sets to the HALS collection!

  • 1st Place: Gaiety Hollow HALS OR-5, Salem, OR
    by Laurie Matthews
  • 2nd Place: The Arizona Inn HALS AZ-9, Tucson, AZ
    by Gina Chorover, Jennifer Levstik, and Helen Erickson with University of Arizona Student Researchers: Jae Anderson, Crystal Cheek, and Ryan Sasso
  • 3rd Place: Gypsy Camp for Girls, HALS AR-5, Siloam Springs, AR
    by Benjamin Stinnett and Kimball Erdman

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