This past summer, our profession lost one of its greatest champions and collaborators. Our dear friend and esteemed colleague, Peter Lindsay Schaudt, passed away unexpectedly on July 19th, 2015, at his home in Villa Park, Illinois. He was 56.
An architect by training, a recipient of the Rome Prize and a protégée of the legendary landscape architect Dan Kiley, Peter brought to landscape design a focus on research and history and a deep love of learning. An American Institute of Architects award-winner for collaborative achievement, Peter was best known for his ability to work with a broad range of architectural practices, which he often likened to a lifelong education. Throughout his career, Peter’s talent for collaboration was invaluable to the success of each project within his diverse portfolio. This was most evident in his academic and campus work.
Peter strove to create coherent, dynamic and timeless landscapes at every scale. A patient visionary, Peter emphasized the importance of maintaining a long-term relationship with campus clients, knowing that a cohesive landscape is best formed over time. Carefully cultivating and nurturing relationships throughout the country, Peter’s ability to build and maintain trust earned him the opportunity to implement multiple projects at a campus over an extended number of years.
One of the most prominent examples of Peter’s long-term investments in relationships was at the University of North Carolina (UNC), the country’s oldest public university. He began working at the university in 2006 on the Bell Tower Development, collaborating with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on the Genome Sciences building (completed 2012). Simultaneously, he teamed with Ayers Saint Gross on the master plan for Carolina North (2008) and led an interdisciplinary team on the development of the Landscape Preservation Master Plan (2008). At the time of his passing, new design initiatives were underway for the Old Well, the symbolic heart of campus, and the Bell Tower historic landscape.
The highpoint of his work at UNC was the development of the Landscape Preservation Master Plan, titled “The Dignity of Restraint.” The result of a broad interdisciplinary team effort which included soils expert James Urban, FASLA, historic landscapes expert Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, and plant expert Dr. Michael Dirr, Hon. ASLA, the plan established guidelines for the preservation and enhancement of the school’s most iconic spaces, including: McCorkle Place, Polk Place, Kenan Woods, the Forest Theater and Bell Tower. The plan recommended improvements that were both historically appropriate and which celebrated the natural and civic character of each space. This was often accomplished through the selective removal of site elements, rather than the addition of new ones. The project won a 2011 ASLA Honor Award and a 2009 SCUP Design Excellence Award.
Greatly influenced by his time working for Dan Kiley, Peter’s work was characterized by simplicity, restraint and a deep understanding for the history of the site and its architecture. At Illinois Institute of Technology, following principles established by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associate’s Campus Landscape Master Plan, Peter executed a series of projects that continued the legacy of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) and landscape architect Alfred Caldwell (1903-1998), including State Street Boulevard (2000), Crown Hall Field (2001), Federal Street (2002) and State Street Village (2003). Peter continued Caldwell’s preference for native Midwestern plantings as the unifying element between landscape and the modernist campus architecture. Possessing a sensitivity for the rich history and precedent on campus, Peter successfully reinterpreted these historic landscapes while responding to the contemporary needs of the university. The four completed projects together won a 2005 ASLA General Design Award of Honor.
Peter further influenced campus development through his service as a juror for SCUP Awards (2013) and as a member of the Design Review Boards at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UNC Chapel Hill. Here, his thoughtful and constructive reviews consistently elevated the level of discourse and improved the overall quality of the project. This gained him the respect of his peers and visiting design professionals alike.
Transformative, campus and civic projects captivated Peter. He truly enjoyed the difference he made in the lives of the public. The North Burnham Park and Soldier Field Redevelopment (2003) transformed the Chicago museum campus, extending it to the south, completing Daniel Burnham’s vision of a continuously green lakefront. Seventeen acres of asphalt and 4,000 parking spaces were placed underground, creating valuable new green space along the lakefront.
Inspired by the artificial origins of the site which was created between 1917 and 1924 by filling a portion of Lake Michigan in with excavated construction material from the Chicago Freight & Tunnel Company, the sinuous, sculpted landforms express its artificial creation and reflect the dynamic forms of the new stadium. An innovative designer, Peter used foam blocks to build up the topography (over structure) in an otherwise flat Chicago landscape, creating a winter sledding hill with dramatic views back to the park and the Chicago skyline. The nautilus-shaped Children’s Garden, its form inspired by the programming of the adjacent Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium, is imbued with symbolism of the earth.
Peter had the lifelong curiosity of a student, the mind of a brilliant designer and the heart of a teacher. Generous with his time and his kindness, Peter was mentor to many and a friend to all. He thoroughly enjoyed his work and his enthusiasm for landscape was contagious, and he will be deeply missed. His legacy of simplicity and restraint, for understanding of the site, and his spirit of collaboration and innovation lives on in his projects, clients and within the firm he leaves behind.
by Stan Szwalek, ASLA, Senior Associate at Hoerr Schaudt in Chicago