American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Professional Awards
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This page provides orientation of the Cultural Landscapes as Classrooms series and links to the available on-line modules. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

To illustrate that many of our great parks were not merely acts of God, but the work of a pioneering landscape architect, visitors are invited to find the source of the water that serves Jens Jensen's Prairie River. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Visitors to Columbus Park can navigate the park either through a Map - with nine active Nodes - or through the Visitor's Guide - with nine thematic topics. The map and visitor's guide provide multiple options for exploring. This non-liner approach to learning takes advantage of the technology rather than being a dull, linear lesson plan. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

In this interactive game, built in Flash, users can drop and drag a variety of plant materials to understand Jensen’s unique approach to planting design and landscape composition. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

To teach about how a landscape architect may seek inspiration, the man-made river designed by Jensen is investigated as are his sources of inspiration. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

The Eisenhower Expressway usurped former parkland. After its construction, ball fields were removed and the lower part of the river was radically altered. In this exercise, designed in Flash, users are asked to explore the restoration of the river and its positive impact on park visual quality, circulation and play. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

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Cultural Landscapes as Classrooms Series
The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Washington, DC

"Fascinating for all ages and skill levels. It's a fabulous tool combining various topics, history, and technology. The panoramic images were amazing and archival. This is a marvelous contribution and will be useful forever. It is one of the most important contributions in recording and sharing the history of the profession and it will make a big difference. "

— 2007 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Project Statement

Cultural Landscapes as Classrooms (CLC) teaches people to “read” landscapes that are part of their surroundings, how to manage their evolution, and to become better stewards of our landscape architectural heritage. CLC is a multi-disciplinary, web-based learning experience produced primarily for middle school students, but will be of interest to all ages. Users are able to “visit” a landscape structured as an analytic viewing experience that draws upon historical and cultural information with reference to other art forms.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation launched its Cultural Landscapes as Classrooms (CLC) series in 2002. The CLC approach is aimed at embedding an ethos of proactive stewardship of natural and cultural resources in the minds of young people, who will be the stewards and decision-makers of the future. The CLC series, available on-line for free and also in a CD-ROM version, is aimed at middle school students, an age when cognitive skills are developed and the optimum age to introduce career choices in landscape architecture to an audience of students and teachers hungry for resources. Though fun and educational for all age groups, these modules offer spectacular, interactive, virtual tours of historic American landscapes. Using streaming video, Quicktime VTRs, flash games and other multi media, the CLC modules offer users a compelling experience of place to encourage broad understanding of a landscape’s evolution and ongoing care and management. Time spent at the website is highly experiential (using a map or a visitors guide) and allows free exploration and active choices, in addition to reading and arts-based observation. At
each node, information and activities of varying complexity challenge and entertain users of all skill levels.

It has long been accepted that hands-on learning is a valuable form of teaching and the CLC series draws on a long tradition in the arts which values the unique ways in which the arts help people learn to see and understand. For many people in America, an opportunity to visit a distant city, (let alone gain access to a private garden), is often unlikely. Therefore, the CLC modules are as interactive as possible to give a “real-life” experience of the landscapes. This effectively engages people interested in landscapes in a way that is technologically advanced and educationally sound. Thus, the CLC series creates a dynamic dialog between educators and their classrooms, along with such professional disciplines as landscape architecture, planning, architecture, and historic preservation, among others.

To date, the CLC series has received over $400,000 in public and private support, including two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (Design Arts), in addition to grants from the Driehaus Foundation, Donnelly Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Graham Foundation, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Heritage Foundation of Columbus, and many others.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation has developed three CLC modules, each one representing some of the most significant works of landscape architecture in America spanning the years from the 1890s to the 1950s. Each module is available as an individual website feature and on CD-ROM. The website attracted over 3.2 million hits in 2006, and in December attracted a record 29,000 visitors. Of this number, over one-third of the hits were for CLC web offerings.

1. Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized

Columbus Park, located seven miles from Chicago’s bustling downtown, is a National Historic Landmark landscape composed of native wildflowers, waterfalls, stepping stone paths, and a prairie river. At Columbus Park, Jens Jensen employed his unique design approach known as Prairie Style. Although visitors often think this is a scenic, natural site,
The Prairie Idealized reveals how it is the designed masterwork of landscape architecture created in the 1910s. The CLC module was unveiled in 2002 in concert with Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Greening Symposium and was co-sponsored by the City of Chicago’s Parks, Libraries and Cultural Affairs divisions. The module was also featured in three interactive
kiosks at the 2002 exhibition held at the Chicago Cultural Center dedicated to the life and built works of Jens Jensen.

2. City Shaping: The Olmsteds in Louisville

Best known for his work on Central Park, the U.S. Capitol Grounds, and the Biltmore estate, Frederick Law Olmsted was the acknowledged master in his field when he was commissioned to design a park system for Louisville, Kentucky. In Louisville, Olmsted, Sr., and his sons created an interconnecting system of parks, parkways, and boulevards. From 1891- 1928, as Olmsted’s designs were realized, his firm literally shaped the city for future generations. The work also includes adjacent residential subdivisions, estates, and institutional grounds. City Shaping explores the ultimate and last park system of Olmsted’s career. The project was produced in concert with the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Metro Parks.

3. Icons of Modernism

The most recent CLC module celebrates Dan Kiley and his masterwork design for the Miller Garden in Columbus, Indiana, together with Thomas Church and Lawrence Halprin’s revolutionary biomorphic design for the Donnell Garden in Sonoma, California. Here, for the first time, visitors gain “virtual” access to two of the most important private Modern gardens in America – they also get to meet their owners and designers including Dan Kiley, Lawrence Halprin, and architect Kevin Roche. The module was produced in concert with the Visitors Center of Columbus and kidsCommons.

About TCLF

The Cultural Landscape Foundation ( was founded in Washington, D.C., in 1998 by a group of landscape architects, educators, and community leaders concerned about the declining public interest in America’s cultural landscapes. TCLF is the only not-for-profit organization in America dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of cultural landscapes. Over the past nine years, with no full-time staff, TCLF has raised nearly $2 million for its educational initiatives.

Project Resources

Executive Producer:
Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA

James Sheldon

Content Developer/Writer:
Shirley Veenema


As with Columbus Park, the module may be explored by the Map or Visitor's Guide. Unique to this module, visitors can access the entire park system through a map of the city; or an individual park such as Iroquois or Cherokee (see below). (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation.)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

This module has a great variety of professionals to meet including Olmsted scholars, landscape architects, engineers, and shown here, Kurt Mason, a conservationist, among many others. Here Mason explains the different types of floods that affect the Louisville parks. Videos in all of these applications, are produced as mini-documentaries, teach visitors about the landscape and its management, while showcasing career types and role models. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Here visitors meet arborist Roger Martin and get to see him and his crews restoring and recapturing the views to the Ohio River Valley landscape. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation.)

What if the newly constructed Extreme skateboard park was not built on a former Brownfield site and was instead "plopped" into the great meadow in Olmsted’s Iroquois Park. Here visitors can explore the impact on the park’s historic and scenic values. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Teaching people how to see: Following the video interview with photographer and cyclist, Ted Waltham, visitors can see how Ted "reads" the landscape and how he captures these moments. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

The roots of Modernism in the allied arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, and furniture design provide a framework for a discussion about Modernism and Landscape Architecture. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

In this section at the Donnell garden, visitors are taught how to think in the abstract. In particular, an exploration of the "composition of values, instead of color," and the landscape as "an abstract composition" is illustrated. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

By dragging the cursor, visitors may explore the entire pool area in a 360-degree panorama. This is one of over twenty panoramas that appear in this application. What is most exciting about these panoramas is that for the first time landscape architects can truly get a sense of the space in these two, privately held gardens. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

The Icons of Modernism Module includes many landscape architects including the late Dan Kiley and Walt Gutherie (Thomas Church's last employee); in addition to Lawrence Halprin, Cheryl Barton, Meg Storrow, and Pritzker-prize winning architect Kevin Roche, the last surviving member of the Miller design team. (Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

(Photo: The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

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