Events + Media

Celebrating 100 Years of Landscape at Berkeley

Celebrating 100 Years of Landscape at Berkeley
Spring 2013
Ph: Students holding a demonstration against the Vietnam War in the courtyard of Wurster Hall, 1968 (Courtesy of the Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley.)

Pre-order for the landscape centennial book ends December 31, 2013. Reserve a copy here.

California is home to iconic places and canonical landscapes that draw people to the Golden State in search of the American dream. Some are wild or nearly so, like Yosemite, Death Valley, or stretches of the Pacific coast. Others are interspersed with urban settlement, such as oak woodlands of the Sierra foothills, or southern California’s coastal chaparral. Still others form the fabric of the state’s equally well-recognized cities and suburbs.

Making a radical break from earlier traditions, California’s early landscape architects powerfully shaped American lifestyle ideals that drew people to the state. One of the most influential intellectual hubs for this new landscape architecture was the University of California, Berkeley, which began offering degrees in landscape architecture in 1913. Berkeley’s alumni and faculty were leaders in the 20th century’s modernist landscape architecture movements, realized in projects ranging enormously by type and scale. Several were part of Telesis, the influential group of Bay Area progressive architects, landscape architects and city planners who argued for an integrated approach to environmental design.

In 1959, Berkeley’s landscape architecture faculty joined the new College of Environmental Design. Housed in Wurster Hall with lively and diverse architects and city and regional planners during the social and environmental movements of the 1960s and 70s, the department’s faculty and students highlighted social and cultural factors in landscape architecture, participatory public design and community-based landscape projects, and the nexus between larger-scale landscape design and ecology. The role of landscape architecture as a social design practice, on the one hand, and as a branch of environmental planning, on the other, was increasingly recognized. In 1997, the department officially became Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, dedicated to training students in the art of design, the science of ecology, and the pragmatics of planning practice.

2013 marks the department’s centennial anniversary. This is cause for celebration, especially when those 100 years have such a rich record of creative accomplishment, design innovation, and social purpose. It is a history to be shared and rejoiced, as well as (in good academic fashion) interrogated and critiqued. The new book, Landscape at Berkeley: The First 100 Years (Editors: Wavery Lowell, Elizabeth Byrne, Carrie L. McDade), offers a retrospective on the remarkable history of the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, through remembering the pioneering work of its faculty and students.

Landscape at Berkeley celebrates the centennial anniversary of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning through scholarly essays, reminiscences, and illustrations representing both commemoration of the Department and a greater understanding of the Berkeley campus. The monograph endeavors to trace Berkeley’s role in design education in the United States as a cutting edge leader emphasizing ecology, natural resources, and social equity. Landscape at Berkeley captures an important localized perspective as well as primary source evidence that will enhance broader examinations of the major issues that have shaped the profession and the environments we inhabit and visit.

The monograph will include a comprehensive narrative history and schematic timeline of key events; scholarly essays exploring the activities of UC Berkeley students and faculty within the broader context of design history, education, research, practice, policy, and leadership; reminiscences of current and former faculty and students; and a color portfolio of student work illustrating curricular goals, program competitions, and the formative work of many individuals who have contributed to the profession locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.