Projects That Changed the Profession

Keller Fountain Park in Portland, OR image: Sam Grover
Keller Fountain Park in Portland, OR
image: Sam Grover

We asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members to name projects that changed the profession of landscape architecture. Responses ranged from nineteenth century urban parks that helped to define the field when the term ‘landscape architect’ had only just been coined, to twentieth century modernist landscapes that look radically different from much of what came before them. These transformative projects had outsize impacts on landscape architecture, and stand as landmark works that mark the apex of a certain style or set of design principles, or the start of something new.

Of all the projects that appeared among PPN members’ responses, these were mentioned most often:

Autumn in Central Park image: Peter Miller via Flickr
Autumn in Central Park
image: Peter Miller via Flickr

Central Park
New York City
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux
1857

Keller Fountain Park in Portland, OR image: Brendan Scherer via Flickr
Keller Fountain Park in Portland, OR
image: Brendan Scherer via Flickr

Forecourt Fountain (now Keller Fountain Park)
Portland, Oregon
Designed by Lawrence Halprin
1970

Seattle's Freeway Park image: Matthew Traucht, ASLA, via Flickr
Seattle’s Freeway Park
image: Matthew Traucht, ASLA, via Flickr

Freeway Park
Seattle
Lawrence Halprin
1976

Seattle's Gas Works Park image: Dave Risney via Flickr
Seattle’s Gas Works Park
image: Dave Risney via Flickr

Gas Works Park
Seattle
Richard Haag
1975

High Line, Section 2 - 2013 General Design Honor Award Winner image: Iwan Baan
High Line, Section 2 – 2013 General Design Honor Award Winner
image: Iwan Baan

The High Line
New York City
James Corner Field Operations / Diller Scofidio & Renfro / Piet Oudolf
2009

The Lurie Garden in Millennium Park - 2008 General Design Award of Excellence Winner image: Piet Oudolf
The Lurie Garden in Millennium Park – 2008 General Design Award of Excellence Winner
image: Piet Oudolf

Millennium Park
Chicago
Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd / Piet Oudolf / Robert Israel
2004

In addition, a few notable names were mentioned:

  • Frederick Law Olmsted’s Central Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and Back Bay Fens in Boston
  • Dan Kiley’s Miller House, Columbus, Indiana
  • Ian McHarg’s work with resource planning
  • Martha Schwartz’s Bagel Garden and Knot Garden, Boston
  • Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC
  • Robert Moses’ parkway system in New York
Seattle's Freeway Park image: Ryan Forsythe via Flickr
Seattle’s Freeway Park
image: Ryan Forsythe via Flickr

And, there were quite a few PPN members who just couldn’t make up their minds:

“I don’t think landscape architecture has changed a lot from the gardens of Babylon to the present day. But there are landscapes which I find to be fully formed and fully informed.”

“So many to choose from with green roofs, river walks, bioremediation—

I can’t pick one. Basically I think sustainable design has changed it.”

“There is not just one; there are many, and everyday more are added to change our profession.”

“Two—integrated park systems and the rural cemetery movement. They started people thinking that open green space can inspire and provide purpose.”

At the start of 2013, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: favorite spaces. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2013, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the annual PPN Survey, see LAND’s PPN News section.

3 thoughts on “Projects That Changed the Profession

  1. Piet Oudolf June 26, 2015 / 4:12 pm

    The millennium park was not only designed by GGN. Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel were part of the design team!

    • asla staff June 26, 2015 / 5:43 pm

      Thank you for the note! I’ve added them to the post above, as I had originally listed only GGN for brevity’s sake. If you click the link in the Lurie Garden photo caption, you can see the full list of those involved in the project, including the Perennial Grower, Project Manager, Local Landscape Architect, Structural and Civil Engineer, Irrigation Designer, Lighting Designer, Water Feature Designer, and more!

      For more information about Lurie Garden in Millennium Park: http://www.asla.org/awards/2008/08winners/441.html

  2. Peg Bors December 16, 2015 / 8:24 pm

    I agree – those sites were transformative for the profession. All are wonderful spaces that have survived the test of time – a true hallmark of good work. Thanks for the reminder.

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