Diane Kostial McGuire
Charlotte M. Frieze, FASLA
The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Photo Courtesy Helaine Kaplan Prentice, ASLA
Diane Kostial McGuire, the 2003 CED Distinguished Alumni award recipient in Landscape Architecture, died on February 28, 2019. In a career that spanned education, research, historic preservation, and award-winning projects, she embodied the broad reach of the profession of landscape architecture. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in 1954, the only woman in a class of thirteen, followed by dual master’s degrees in both landscape architecture and city planning in 1956. She modeled her career on Beatrix Farrand, the only woman among the founding members of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1899, whose library collection and endowment came to the landscape architecture department while she was a student.
A clear-minded interest in not accepting the usual course marked McGuire’s early endeavors. From childhood adventures in the woods exploring plants and wildlife she learned the essential stance of the environmentalist. In high school, McGuire recognized disparities that she would spend her life fighting; when she applied for a job at the San Diego Zoo, she learned that girls were not allowed to feed the animals. Dissatisfied with the lack of history, historic preservation, and humanities education in the landscape program, McGuire took courses such as art, decorative arts, architecture, history of architecture, and literature as part of her upper-level studies.
After stints in Bay Area professional offices, McGuire moved to Boston and specialized in projects with significant historical legacies. She eventually became the landscape architect for the campuses of Wellesley College, Harvard University, and Radcliffe College. Her professional relationship with Radcliffe expanded to serve as founder of the Radcliffe Seminars Program in Landscape Design. In 2012, she would receive an Honorary Doctorate in Landscape Architecture from the school.
From 1975 to 1981, McGuire oversaw the gardens of Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington D.C., Beatrix Farrand’s most well-known and accomplished project, and from 1979 to 1980 became the acting director of Dumbarton Oaks’ Garden and Landscape Studies program. In addition to her landscape architecture practice, McGuire published a number of books including Gardens of America: Three Centuries of Design (1989), the edited volumes Beatrix Farrand's Plant Book for Dumbarton Oaks (1980), Beatrix Jones Farrand, 1872-1959: Fifty Years of American Landscape Architecture (1982), American Garden Design: An Anthology of Ideas that Shaped Our Landscape (1994), and the co-authored Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes: Her Gardens and Campuses (1985).
From 1981 to 1984, McGuire served as program director and professor of landscape architecture at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Her colleague, Professor Lake Douglas said of McGuire, “She was on the vanguard of women professors and a role model because of her interest in landscape history and the application of it in practice.”