Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens

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JHU Press, 1992 - Architecture - 328 pages
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Jens Jensen was one of America's greatest landscape designers and conservationists. Using native plants and "fitting" designs, he advocated that our gardens, parks, roads, playgrounds, and cities should be harmonious with nature and its ecological processes--a belief that was to become a major theme of modern American landscape design. When Jensen died in 1951 at the age of 90, the New York Times called him "the dean of American landscape architecture." In Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens, Robert E. Grese evaluates Jensen's work against the background of landscape design traditions that included Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as earlier movements in Europe. Grese examines Jensen's part in the Chicago cultural renaissance that occurred just prior to World War I, a movement that brought social reform, a new understanding of ecology, organic trends in architecture, and great strides in American literature. Drawing on Jensen's writings and plans, interviews with people who knew him, and analyses of his projects, Grese presents a clear picture of Jensen's efforts to enhance and preserve "native" landscapes. Jens Jensen worked with some of the leading architects of his day--Sullivan and Wright among them--so many of his projects involved the extravagant estates of wealthy entrepreneurs in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. But Jensen also worked on schools, parks, playgrounds, hospitals, institutional homes, and government buildings. Long before environmental activists took over the idea, he foresaw the need to preserve the dunes, forests, prairies, and wetlands native to the Middle West. He championed the network of forest preserves around Chicago, protection of the Indiana Dunes (now a national lakeshore), the state park system in Illinois, and numerous parks in Wisconsin. Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens offers a compelling look at Jensen's visionary work and remarkable career.
 

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Contents

Jensens Early Background
1
A Cultural Context for Jensens Work
10
The European Roots of American Native Landscape Design
11
Frederick Law Olmsted and the Natural Style
15
Formalism and the Search for an American Style
22
The Chicago Landscape
28
The Prairie as a Regional Style
44
The Emphasis on Native Plants in Design
52
Light and Shadow
165
Movement
168
Water
172
Stonework
174
Council Rings
176
Players Greens
178
Formal Gardens
180
Time and Change
182

Jensens Design Career
62
Residential Design Work
94
Public and Institutional Work
103
Conservation Efforts
120
Ravinia Illinois and Ellison Bay Wisconsin
136
Jensens Design Style
151
Spaces
159
Jensens Legacy
187
Jensens Projects
199
Key Names and Terms
221
Notes
257
Bibliography
277
Index
295

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About the author (1992)

Robert E. Grese teaches landscape architecture in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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