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Silent Spring
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.

Silent Spring
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 to care.

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