Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes is the first scholarly examination of the planning and design of suburban corporate offices, among the most significant works of twentieth-century landscape architecture. Comprehensively researched, engagingly written, and beautifully illustrated, Pastoral Capitalism and contextualizes these works within larger manifestations of American metropolitan, economic, and social history.
Pastoral Capitalism fills a substantial gap in the history of landscape architecture and builds a comprehensive, highly original narrative about the evolution suburban corporate landscapes. It astutely engages a broad spectrum of archival sources, historical photographs, corporate records, design and planning articles, business literature, scholarly literature, and site reconnaissance. (See pages 225-304 for the footnotes, bibliography, and list of archives.) The book certainly benefits faculty, students, and professionals in the field to understand the history of the profession and the impact of landscape architects on work environments and metropolitan regions. As significantly, Pastoral Capitalism has extended the understanding of the significance of landscape architecture beyond our own discipline. According to World Cat, the book is held by at least 243 academic libraries worldwide, well beyond the confines of libraries relating to landscape architecture programs. In addition, Pastoral Capitalism has been remarkably widely reviewed and discussed for a book in the field of landscape architecture—in academic journals, professional journals, and the popular press.
Reviews ranging from positive to enthusiastic have appeared in scholarly journals such as Technology and Culture, Journal of Historical Geography, EURE (Spanish Language), Journal of the American Planning Association, Buildings and Landscape, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. The reviews all note the book’s highly original, unprecedented subject matter, the thorough scholarship, and the effective and telling use of illustrative graphics, photographs and plans. Of particular note is the lengthy review by the distinguished professor of architectural history and urban planning at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Robert Bruegmann who praises Pastoral Capitalism: “Amazingly enough, despite the way the landscapes she describes were among the most conspicuous products of postwar America and are fast becoming common elsewhere around the world, this is the first serious study of them. Fortunately, author and subject are ideally matched here. [The author]…has produced an important book. Carefully researched, well written, beautifully illustrated, and nicely produced by the MIT Press, it is likely to be a standard work on this subject for many years to come.”
In addition to scholarly journals, Pastoral Capitalism received significant attention from both the professional and popular press. An array professional environmental design journals including Landscape Architecture Magazine, Planning, Architect: the AIA Journal, and L’Architecture d’aujourdui reviewed the book. Shortly after publication, the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine featured Pastoral Capitalism and the highly regarded Los Angeles Times architectural critic, Christopher Hawthorne, extensively cited it in his review of the new Apple 2 headquarters in Cupertino. Additional favorable reviews appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Bookforum, and the blog of the prominent business writer Hardy Green. Publication of Pastoral Capitalismgenerated a number of author interviews by business journals (The Conference Board Review, Silicon Valley Business Journal) as well as Architect: the AIA Journal and the blog the Urbanologist. Just this past April, National Public Radio’s Marketplace interviewed the author and featured the book.
The publication of Pastoral Capitalism generated an invitation from the New York Times to write the op-ed “To Rethink Sprawl, Start With Offices.” The editorial received national attention and was cited in countless other articles and blogs including Switchboard of the National Resources Defense Council, Slate, CBS News’ Smartplanet, The Atlantic Cities, Better! Cities & Towns (the blog for members of the Congress of New Urbanism); the website of the Council of Foreign Relations highlighted the article as a “Must Read.”
In 2012, a Silicon Valley office park developer e-mailed the author: “A copy of Pastoral Capitalism sits on my desk sandwiched in between [Jane Jacobs’s] The Death and Life of Great American Cities and [Robert Caro’s] The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York City.” One of the primary purposes of this research on the suburban corporate landscape was to spur the reconsideration of the policies and preferences that support this low-density, resource-consumptive form of suburban development. The widespread, multi-faceted interest in Pastoral Capitalism demonstrates its significance in both the scholarly and professional realms of landscape architecture and its impact on a wider public discourse, an explicit intent of the book. As the author states at the end of chapter one: “You cannot change, at least constructively, what you do not know.”