Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Daniel Winterbottom, FASLA

by Shan Jiang, PhD, International ASLA, and Melody Tapia

Children's garden play space
The Seattle Children’s PlayGarden / image: courtesy of Daniel Winterbottom

An Interview with Daniel Winterbottom, RLA, FASLA, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington and Founder of Winterbottom Design Inc., Seattle, WA

The Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is honored to present this interview with Daniel Winterbottom, RLA, FASLA, one of the most respected educators, designers, and influencers in the field of therapeutic gardens and participatory design-build. He has been published widely in Northwest Public Health, Places, the New York Times, Seattle Times, and Landscape Architecture Magazine. He is the author of two books—Wood in the Landscape (2000) and Design-Build (2020)—and he has also co-authored the award-winning book Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces.

When did you start your work in the field of therapeutic landscapes and what inspires you to do this type of work?

I guess what inspired me goes back to 1991, and a little before that. I was a bit challenged, in hindsight, with depression, and did not know it at the time, and, unfortunately, began to self-medicate. To come out of that, I spent a lot of time in nature; it was something that helped me evolve and come back from where I was. But more significant was the diagnosis of my mother with ovarian cancer. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and it was at the time almost identical to Roger’s study (Roger Ulrich, 1986) that we were in the room when she pointed at a tree. She talked a lot about the tree; it was the only tree and was the only piece of nature in the view. I realized that she just clung to it—a totem of reality that you can attach to because the rest of reality was so oppressive. Almost at the same time, I entered into the landscape architecture profession. And because of the social convictions stemming back to the 60s and 70s, it all came together with me that there was an opportunity to explore this area, so I sought out working with marginalized populations.

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