Modernist Landscapes Reconsidered


National Capital Planning Commission


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Almost 200 people attended the May 15 event at the National Building Museum to hear how 20th century modernist urban landscapes can, or should, respond to contemporary expectations for public space. The panel discussion focused on advocacy and stewardship of modern landscapes, and took place in Washington, DC - home to a number of modernist landscapes, including notable designs from Dan Kiley, Lawrence Halprin, M. Paul Friedberg, and others.


To view the complete video of the event click HERE

Moderator Brad McKee, Editor, Landscape Architecture Magazine, began the evening by introducing the premise of the discussion: taking a fresh look at landscapes that may be considered “too familiar.” This set the scene for Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, FAAR, Principal, Reed Hilderbrand and Harvard University to discuss two case studies from Boston  – Boston City Hall and the Christian Science Plaza – and the approach of using the original design intent to frame modifications to address current conditions and needs. 

Beth Meyer, FASLA, University of Virginia, outlined the characteristics of a modernist landscape, noting that they are often in urban areas and reflect the technology and materials of their time. The panelists also discussed the role of continuing maintenance and the preservation issues surrounding working with living landscapes.