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.

Robert E. Marvin, fondly referred to as the father of Southern landscape architecture, designed landscapes that celebrated the unique regionalism of the South Carolina low country, and Guy Greene, a pioneer in desert landscape architecture in Tucson, founded the University of Arizona’s landscape architecture program. Which modernist landscape architect shaped your region?

Fleming Garden, HALS CA-43, Berkeley, CA image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection
Fleming Garden, HALS CA-43, Berkeley, CA
image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

Many modern landscapes remain in all 50 states, but they may be unnoticed, their significance unappreciated. People from every state are hereby challenged to complete at least one HALS Short Format History to document these rapidly vanishing and often overlooked resources. Preservation Through Documentation!

Short Format Histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2015. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure, and digital template may be downloaded from the HALS website. Tips on completing the Short Format History template and the HALS Copyright Release form, and information on how entries are judged, can be found on page 2 of the National Park Services’ 2015 HALS Challenge flier.

Southwest Waterfront, HABS DC-856, Washington, DC image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection
Southwest Waterfront, HABS DC-856, Washington, DC
image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

Winners will be announced at the HALS Subcommittee Meeting at the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Chicago. Employees of the National Park Service, ASLA, and Library of Congress may submit HALS Short Format Historical Reports, but are ineligible for prizes.

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

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

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