Why aren’t landscape architects speaking out about the
impending destruction of modernist masterpieces?
By Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA
In March, landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, FASLA, 86, and
nine other distinguished Americans received the National Medal of
Arts, the country’s highest honor for artistic excellence,
from President Bush. Within a month of the White House ceremony,
the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond unveiled plans for
a $100 million expansion that will destroy the only Halprin-designed
sculpture garden in North America.
Dan Kiley's NCNB Plaza
in Tampa, Florida, in the late 1980s.
Peter Lindsay Schaudt
Another pioneer of modernist landscape architecture design, Dan
Kiley, 91, received the National Medal of Arts in 1998; this spring,
the Tampa Museum of Art announced that an expansion would demolish
much of Kiley’s NCNB Plaza, completed in 1988.
So two respected American museums, institutions entrusted to preserve
works of art, intend to destroy masterworks by preeminent landscape
architects. And there’s more: Skyline Park, another Halprin
design, is being readied for the wrecking ball in Denver.
Where is the outcry, or at least the discussion, from the profession
or the press? So far, ASLA has said little, and the media seem not
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