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Flora's Empire

British Gardens in India

By Eugenia W. Herbert

Like their penchant for clubs, cricket, and hunting, the planting of English gardens by the British in India reflected an understandable need on the part of expatriates to replicate home as much as possible in an alien environment. In Flora's Empire, Eugenia W. Herbert argues that more than simple nostalgia or homesickness lay at the root of this "garden imperialism," however. Drawing on a wealth of period illustrations and personal accounts, many of them little known, she traces the significance of gardens in the long history of British relations with the subcontinent. To British eyes, she demonstrates, India was an untamed land that needed the visible stamp of civilization that gardens in their many guises could convey.

Colonial gardens changed over time, from the "garden houses" of eighteenth-century nabobs modeled on English country estates to the herbaceous borders, gravel walks, and well-trimmed lawns of Victorian civil servants. As the British extended their rule, they found that hill stations like Simla offered an ideal retreat from the unbearable heat of the plains and a place to coax English flowers into bloom. Furthermore, India was part of the global network of botanical exploration and collecting that gathered up the world's plants for transport to great imperial centers such as Kew. And it is through colonial gardens that one may track the evolution of imperial ideas of governance. Every Government House and Residency was carefully landscaped to reflect current ideals of an ordered society. At Independence in 1947 the British left behind a lasting legacy in their gardens, one still reflected in the design of parks and information technology campuses and in the horticultural practices of home gardeners who continue to send away to England for seeds.

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Foreign Trends in American Gardens

A History of Exchange, Adaptation, and Reception

Raffaella Fabiani Giannetto

Foreign Trends in American Gardens addresses the influence of foreign, designed landscapes on the development of their American counterparts. Examining the translation, imitation, adaptation, and naturalization of stylistic trends and horticultural specimens into American gardens, the book also dwells on the dialectic of the foreign versus the native. The volume’s contributors consider the experiences of both immigrants, who contributed through their writing, planting, and design efforts to enhance the character of regional gardens, and Americans, who traveled abroad and brought back with them a passion for naturalizing exotics for scientific as well as aesthetic reasons. Including essays from an array of significant scholars in landscape studies, this collection examines topics ranging from the importation of Western and Eastern styles of design and theoretical literature to the adaptation of specific plant types. As the variety of topics and influences discussed demonstrates, the essence of American gardens defies simple definition. Its complexity and its amalgam of historicism and modernity, foreign cultures and local values, is also its most distinctive character.

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Garden and Grove

The Italian Renaissance Garden in the English Imagination, 1600-1750

By John Dixon Hunt

Garden and Grove is a pioneering study of the English fascination with Italian Renaissance gardens. John Dixon Hunt studies reactions of English visitors in their journals and travel books to the exciting world of Italian gardens: its links with classical villas, with Virgil and farming, with Ovid and metamorphosis, its association with theater, its variety, its staged debates between art and nature. Then he looks at what English visitors made of these Italian garden experiences upon their return home and at how they created Italianate gardens on their estates, on their stages, and in their poems.

With a wealth of literary and visual materials previously untapped, Hunt provides a new history of an intriguing and vital phase of English garden history. Not only does he suggest the centrality of the garden as a focus for many social, aesthetic, political, and philosophical ideas but he argues that the so-called English landscape garden before "Capability" Brown, in the late eighteenth century, owed much to a long and continuing emulation of Italian Renaissance models.

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Gardens in the Modern Landscape

A Facsimile of the Revised 1948 Edition

By Christopher Tunnard. With a new foreword by John Dixon Hunt

Between 1937 and 1938, garden designer Christopher Tunnard published a series of articles in the British Architectural Review that rejected the prevailing English landscape style. Inspired by the principles of Modernist art and Japanese aesthetics, Tunnard called for a "new technique" in garden design that emphasized an integration of form and purpose. "The functional garden avoids the extremes both of the sentimental expressionism of the wild garden and the intellectual classicism of the 'formal' garden," he wrote; "it embodies rather a spirit of rationalism and through an aesthetic and practical ordering of its units provides a friendly and hospitable milieu for rest and recreation."

Tunnard's magazine pieces were republished in book form as Gardens in the Modern Landscape in 1938, and a revised second edition was issued a decade later. Taken together, these articles constituted a manifesto for the modern garden, its influence evident in the work of such figures as Lawrence Halprin, Philip Johnson, and Edward Larrabee Barnes.

Long out of print, the book is here reissued in a facsimile of the 1948 edition, accompanied by a contextualizing foreword by John Dixon Hunt. Gardens in the Modern Landscape heralded a sea change in the evolution of twentieth-century design, and it also anticipated questions of urban sprawl, historic preservation, and the dynamic between the natural and built environments. Available once more to students, practitioners, and connoisseurs, it stands as a historical document and an invitation to continued innovative thought about landscape architecture.

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The Gardens of Suzhou

By Ron Henderson

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Graceland Cemetery

A Design History

Christopher Vernon

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago was founded in 1860 and developed over several decades by a series of landscape gardeners whose reputations today figure among the most important in the field. An exemplar of the rural cemetery type, Graceland was Chicago’s answer to its eastern counterparts, Mount Auburn in Cambridge and Laurel Hill in Philadelphia. While the initial layout of the cemetery was the work of William Saunders, designer of Laurel Hill, the cemetery is most often associated with a later style of design that featured exclusive use of native plants. Graceland was considered one of the most perfect expressions of this design approach, hailed as the most “modern” cemetery in existence and “the admiration of the world.” In this book, Christopher Vernon carefully recovers the history of Graceland and the many hands that helped to shape its influential layout. Following Saunders’s work, a succession of individuals contributed to the long evolution of Graceland’s landscape, including H. W. S. Cleveland, William Le Baron Jenney, and O. C. Simonds. In recent years, renewed interest in native plants and principles associated with the Prairie School of landscape design has led to a focus on Simonds’s contributions. While Vernon discusses Simonds’s work, he also considers the work of the cemetery’s other designers. Known as the “Cemetery of Architects” because so many notable ones are buried there, Graceland remains a heavily visited attraction. This richly illustrated book helps readers understand how the influential and still beautiful landscape was developed over many generations, casting new light on the careers of several important landscape architects.

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Greening the City

Urban Landscapes in the Twentieth Century

This collection covers a spectrum of topics related to nature in the city, including the design of sports grounds, problems with plant species, racial conflicts in urban parks, and countercultural ecotopias.

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Homelands

A Geography of Culture and Place across America

edited by Richard L. Nostrand and Lawrence E. Estaville

What does it mean to be from somewhere? If most people in the United States are "from some place else" what is an American homeland? In answering these questions, the contributors to Homelands: A Geography of Culture and Place across America offer a geographical vision of territory and the formation of discrete communities in the U.S. today. Homelands discusses groups such as the Yankees in New England, Old Order Amish in Ohio, African Americans in the plantation South, Navajos in the Southwest, Russians in California, and several other peoples and places. Homelands explores the connection of people and place by showing how aspects of several different North American groups found their niche and created a homeland. A collection of fifteen essays, Homelands is an innovative look at geographical concepts in community settings. It is also an exploration of the academic work taking place about homelands and their people, of how factors such as culture, settlement, and cartographic concepts come together in American sociology. There is much not only to study but also to celebrate about American homelands. As the editors state, "Underlying today's pluralistic society are homelands—large and small, strong and weak—that endure in some way. The mosaic of homelands to which people bonded in greater or lesser degrees, affirms in a holistic way America's diversity, its pluralistic society." The authors depict the cultural effects of immigrant settlement. The conviction that people need to participate in the life of the homeland to achieve their own self realization, within the traditions and comforts of that community. Homelands gives us a new map of the United States, a map drawn with people's lives and the land that is their home.

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Ideas of Chinese Gardens

Western Accounts, 1300-1860

Edited by Bianca Maria Rinaldi

Europeans may be said to have first encountered the Chinese garden in Marco Polo's narrative of his travels through the Mongol Empire and his years at the court of Kublai Khan. His account of a man-made lake abundant with fish, a verdant green hill lush with trees, raised walkways, and a plethora of beasts and birds took root in the European imagination as the description of a kind of Eden. Beginning in the sixteenth century, permanent interaction between Europe and China took form, and Jesuit missionaries and travelers recorded in letters and memoirs their admiration of Chinese gardens for their seeming naturalness. In the eighteenth century, European taste for chinoiserie reached its height, and informed observers of the Far East discovered that sophisticated and codified design principles lay behind the apparent simplicity of the Chinese garden. The widespread appreciation of the eighteenth century gave way to rejection in the nineteenth, a result of tensions over practical concerns such as trade imbalances and symbolized by the destruction of the imperial park of Yuanming yuan by a joint Anglo-French military expedition.

In Ideas of Chinese Gardens, Bianca Maria Rinaldi has gathered an unparalleled collection of westerners' accounts, many freshly translated and all expertly annotated, as well as images that would have accompanied the texts as they circulated in Europe. Representing a great diversity of materials and literary genres, Rinaldi's book includes more than thirty-five sources that span centuries, countries, languages, occupational biases, and political aims. By providing unmediated firsthand accounts of the testimony of these travelers and expatriates, Rinaldi illustrates how the Chinese garden was progressively lifted out of the realm of fantasy into something that could be compared with, and have an impact on, European traditions.

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John Nolen, Landscape Architect and City Planner

R. Bruce Stephenson

John Nolen (1869–1937) was the first American to identify himself exclusively as a town and city planner. In 1903, at the age of thirty-four, he enrolled in the new Harvard University program in landscape architecture, studying under Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and Arthur Shurcliff. Two years later, he opened his own office in Harvard Square. Over the course of his career, Nolen and his firm completed more than four hundred projects, including comprehensive plans for more than twenty-five cities, across the United States. Like other progressive reformers of his era, Nolen looked to Europe for models to structure the rapid urbanization defining modern life into more efficient and livable form. His books, including New Towns for Old: Achievements in Civic Improvement in Some American Small Towns and Neighborhoods, promoted the new practice of city planning and were widely influential. In this insightful biography, R. Bruce Stephenson analyzes the details of Nolen’s many experiments, illuminating the planning principles he used in laying out communities from Mariemont, Ohio, to Venice, Florida. Stephenson concludes by discussing the potential of Nolen’s work as a model of a sustainable vision relevant to American civic culture today.

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