Shaping the American Landscape: New Profiles from the Pioneers of American Landscape Design Project

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Charles A. Birnbaum, Stephanie Sue Foell
University of Virginia Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 446 pages
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Shaping the American Landscape explores the lives and work of 151 professionals who quite literally shaped both the land itself and our ideas of what the American landscape means. Although the contributors consider many important figures from the past, the book breaks new ground by including seminal designers who are in their twilight years, and in some cases still professionally active, to provide a fascinating look at the modern era of design in action. The roster of profiles extends far beyond landscape architects to encompass professionals in many other fields, including planning, journalism, gardening, and golf course and cemetery design.

The authors seek not only to bring their subjects’ design legacies to light, but also to instill a sense of stewardship for historically meaningful examples of their art. Across North America, key works in landscape design--from M. Paul Friedberg’s Riis Plaza Park in New York to Dan Kiley’s Nationsbank Plaza in Tampa--have already disappeared. Other iconic works, although still extant, face serious threats of demolition. Shaping the American Landscape identifies a host of public spaces deserving of recognition, and sheds light on the process by which they may be protected.

Organized in an accessible, encyclopedic format, Shaping the American Landscape is an indispensable reference work that may also be read simply for the pleasure of discovery. Many readers will want to go beyond the page and personally experience some of the landscapes described here. A generous selection of illustrations, together with a list of surviving landscape sites accessible to the public, brings both the subjects and their art to life.

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Charles Gibbs Adams
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About the author (2009)

Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, is the founder and president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation. Stephanie S. Foell is an architectural and landscape historian.

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