The 2016 HALS Challenge

Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, HALS CA-42, Simi Valley, CA image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, HALS CA-42, Simi Valley, CA
image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

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.

We are pleased to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 2016. The NHPA is a cornerstone of American historic preservation. It was created in the belief that too many important historic places were being lost to post-World War II development and construction, and that the federal government could (and should) play an important role in protecting places that embody the United States’ cultural heritage.

For the 7th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document National Register listed landscapes from your region of the country. Authorized by the NHPA, the National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Currently there are 90,540 total listings with 1,752,995 total contributing resources. Many of these listings represent or include landscapes. Search for National Register listings in your area here.

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The 2015 HALS Challenge Winners

Kaiser Center, Oakland, Alameda County, California image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-3-9

Kaiser Center, Oakland, Alameda County, California
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-3-9

The results of the sixth annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Documenting Modernist Landscapes, were announced at the HALS Meeting that took place during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago on Saturday, November 7, 2015. Congratulations to the winners!

1st Place:
Sunset Headquarters, HALS CA-115, Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California.
by Janet Gracyk, ASLA, Terra Cognita Design and Consulting; Chris Pattillo, FASLA, PGAdesign, Inc.; and Jill Johnson, Historic Preservation Services with bonus measured drawings delineated by Sarah Raube, Janet Gracyk, Lorena Garcia Rodriguez, Genny Bantle, and Chris Pattillo.

2nd Place:
Marin General Hospital, HALS CA-118, Greenbrae, Marin County, California.
by Denise Bradley, ASLA, with bonus measured drawings delineated by Janet Gracyk.

3rd Place:
Union Bank of California Plaza, HALS CA-119, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California.
by Hannah Dominick.

Honorable Mentions:
Six Moon Hill, HALS MA-3, Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
by Pamela Hartford and Marion Pressley, FASLA, Principal, Pressley Associates.
&
Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden, HALS TX-10, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas.
by William Hartman, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Louisiana Tech University and Patrick Boyd Lloyd, David Rolston Landscape Architects.

Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 18 impressive HALS short format historical reports and 3 sets of drawings to the HALS collection.

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Historic Preservation in Chicago

The Arthur B. Heurtley House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Oak Park, Illinois, the subject of an ASLA Annual Meeting field session image: Alexandra Hay

The Arthur B. Heurtley House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Oak Park, Illinois–the subject of an ASLA Annual Meeting field session
image: Alexandra Hay

I look forward to seeing all our members and new colleagues in Chicago for the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, and I hope you will attend the Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (HP PPN) meeting on Saturday, November 7 from 12:45 to 2:15pm. We will be sharing the new initiatives that the leadership group has been working on, and we hope to hear about the work of members as well.

Storytelling Your Project. Please consider submitting a brief paragraph describing one or more of your current or recent projects. We will a few submissions and ask that you prepare 3 images and present these in a brief 3-minute story to the members at the HP PPN meeting in Chicago. Submit your paragraph to Alexandra Hay, Professional Practice Coordinator at ASLA, by this Friday, October 23.

Share Your Perspectives in Chicago!

‘Perspectives,’ the theme of the Annual Meeting, is particularly relevant to our PPN’s collective work in cultural resources and historic preservation, providing multiple tours and sessions on landscapes of contrast and comparison. Please join colleagues and friends in Chicago for discussions and dialogue on current issues and ideas in our design and planning for historic places.

Many field sessions and events explore Chicago’s rich history and cultural development from ‘Paris on the Prairie’ to the ‘Second City.’ Education sessions offer insight into a range of relevant topics: cultural authenticity, maintenance and funding strategies, past successes that inform future needs, and more.

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The Gardens of August: Wyndygoul

Lantern slide of Seton’s manor house at Wyndygoul, Cos Cob, Connecticut, circa 1900 image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-01507

Lantern slide of Seton’s manor house at Wyndygoul, Cos Cob, Connecticut, circa 1900
image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-01507

Part of a Research, Reachout & Restore series on historic and cultural landscapes

A century after the start of the First World War and 53 years since The Guns of August was published, the garden where Barbara Tuchman wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning work reveals itself.

Barbara Tuchman’s daughter once mentioned the garden to me in passing, recalling a Japanese maple—or was it a weeping cherry, with layered limbs cascading over stone walls onto the smooth surface of the pond? It was her grandfather’s, Maurice Wertheim’s, garden. This frugal recollection, like a grudging haiku, conjured an elegant landscape. I couldn’t shake it.

Since our conversation many years ago, I pieced together the few threads and clues that I remembered. Earlier this spring, I finally found the elusive garden and learned about its storied past. It remains extant, albeit threadbare. Originally it was the property of Ernest Thompson Seton, a wealthy naturalist and Englishman who bought up six old farmsteads in the village of Cos Cob, Connecticut, creating his country estate in 1900 and naming it Wyndygoul, Scottish for windy glen.

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ASLA Marks Centenary of Rome Prize

The American Academy in Rome image: James O'Day

The American Academy in Rome
image: James O’Day

Centennials are occasions upon which to reflect and bestow honor. This year, the American Society of Landscape Architects has an important, historic event to observe—the centenary of Edward Lawson, FASLA, winning the prestigious Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome in 1915. Lawson was the first landscape architect to win the coveted prize, which was sponsored by ASLA. It was a turning point for the profession as well as for this newly-minted Cornell graduate.

At the July meeting of the Potomac Chapter of ASLA, Brett Wallace, ASLA, and Shawn Balon, ASLA, of the Executive Committee endorsed the proclamation submitted by James O’Day, ASLA, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Chapter Liaison, to recognize the achievements and historic importance of Lawson’s ASLA-sponsored fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.

The presence of Lawson at the academy was a coup de main for ASLA. After years of striving, the nascent and evolving profession would be accorded the same recognition that its “sister” arts—architecture, painting and sculpture—had enjoyed since the academy’s inception in 1894. The new fellowship in landscape architecture made it possible for young professionals to join the collaborative dialogue that was shaping city planning and urban design.

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Documenting Modernist Landscapes

One of Sunset Magazine's temporary demonstration gardens image: Chris Pattillo

One of Sunset Magazine’s temporary demonstration gardens
image: Chris Pattillo

The theme of the 6th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge is to document a Modernist Landscape—preferably a site that reflects the unique landscape from the region you live in. Luckily for us Californians, we have much to choose from. Thomas Church, Garrett Eckbo, Lawrence Halprin, Robert Royston and Theodore Osmundson all lived and practiced in the San Francisco Bay Area and created memorable modernist designs. When an email went out announcing the theme of this year’s challenge, one of our HALS Northern California Chapter members responded promptly to alert us that one of Church’s most well known and most visited landscapes is potentially threatened.

If one posed the question, “what one thing has influenced California gardens more than anything?” myriad responses would result. Our varied and generally temperate climate would be one good answer. But upon reflection, I’m certain many would agree that Sunset Magazine has done more to influence how our gardens look, what plants we try, and how creatively we imagine our outdoor living spaces than anything else. Just to prove my point, try Googling Sunset Magazine—78 million hits pop up instantly.

In 1951, magazine owner Larry Lane commissioned local architect Cliff May to design the headquarters building for Sunset Magazine. At the same time, he looked to Thomas Church, the premier local Landscape Architect, to partner with May to design the setting. The result of their collaboration is a powerful representation of idealized California living. Visiting the property, one enters through oversized, wooden double doors into a high-ceilinged and spacious lobby and at the same time into Church’s landscape. Opposite the doors is a glass wall the full length of the lobby, so that upon entering the building one feels they are instantly in the garden.

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The 2015 HALS Challenge

Skyline Park, HALS CO-1, Denver, CO image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

Skyline Park, HALS CO-1, Denver, CO
image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

Documenting Modernist Landscapes

“How do you design an environment where man can grow intellectually…a total environment that encourages and develops the self expression of every individual in it?”
–Robert E. Marvin

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 6th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document modernist landscapes unique to your region of the country. During the mid-20th century, landscape architects responded to the regional environment using design as an agent of social change, creating human scale space, modern forms, and sculptural compositions, which were intended to be experienced rather than simply viewed.

The designs of renowned modernist landscape architects like Church, Eckbo, Kiley, Halprin, and Rose face developmental threats despite growing national awareness. The lesser known works of many other regional designers must be documented to encourage their preservation.

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