ASLA and National Trust Announce 2004 Landmark Award


WASHINGTON, DC, August 16, 2004—The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have announced that the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania will receive the 2004 Landmark Award during the ASLA Annual Meeting, October 29-November 2, in Salt Lake City.

After the Morris Arboretum was bequeathed to the University of Pennsylvania in 1932 by Lydia and John Morris, the gardens and garden features deteriorated and the Morris mansion was demolished. In 1978, the arboretum commissioned Andropogon Associates, Ltd., to design a master plan for revitalizing the institution. This was the beginning of an ongoing, 26-year relationship between the arboretum and the landscape architects, who have guided the site design and implementation of the master plan. The rediscovery of the gardens and the recognition of natural areas as essential components of the original estate led to three key concepts that have shaped the arboretum: to open up historical vistas; to reintegrate the park and garden landscapes with the natural areas; and to link the symbolic and natural landscapes together—a concept that led to using the natural areas as plant exhibits.

This year marked a new partnership in selecting the Landmark Award recipient, as ASLA welcomed the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable. Recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the Trust provides leadership, education and advocacy to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize communities. Its Washington, DC, headquarters staff, six regional offices, and 25 historic sites work with the Trust's 200,000 members and thousands of local community groups in all 50 states. For more information, visit the National Trust's web site at

The ASLA Awards Program is administered by the ASLA Library and Education Advocacy Fund, a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization established by ASLA in 2001. The ASLA Fund is dedicated to expanding the body of knowledge of the landscape architecture profession, to promoting the value of landscape architecture, and to increasing public understanding of environmental and land use issues and principles.

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects representing more than 14,200 members. Landscape architecture is a comprehensive discipline of land analysis, planning, design, management, preservation, and rehabilitation. ASLA promotes the landscape architecture profession and advances the practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship. Learn more about landscape architecture online at .

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"The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a historic public garden and an education institution. It is an important resource for extending an appreciation of the world's ecology, and an understanding of the importance of plants to people, in a biological cultural, historical and aesthetic context." - Advisory Board of Managers, 1996
(Photo Credit: Morris Arboretum)

A Diagram of the world showing all the temperate biomes the source of the Arboretum plant collections. A major historic collection of 100
large canopy trees, brought back as seedlings by plant collector "Chinese" Wilson in the early 1900's, anchors the Arboretum's collections.
(Drawing Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)

At the Arboretum there are two distinct landscape types-the complex, steep and incised topography and the broad, rolling limestone valley. The mansion, was located on the ridge, at the interface between these two geologies and between town and country. The garden developed below the mansion, taking advantage of the varied microclimates of the hillside terraces, while the countryside beyond supported the estate
with crops and pasture.
(Drawing Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)

A plan of the property showing the garden at its period of greatest neglect, just before a new director and the Arboretum's Master Plan.
University research collections filled in the Victorian garden spaces and a series of spaghetti-like paths added to visitor confusion.
(Drawing Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.

The Master Plan initiated the present period of revitalization. Clear circulation loops and a wide variety of new visitor facilities brought attendance to 125,000. The historic gardens and water features were restored and entrance road, parking, visitor center and gardens were added. As the Arboretum looks increasingly outwards to connect with the region in new and positive ways, new ponds and wetlands have been created from the old drained pastures and linked to a county-wide trail system.
(Drawing Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd. )

Two diagrams-one showing the historic landscape types-farm, park, gardens, and natural areas-and one suggesting how these original relationships could be adapted as for the modern plan.
(Drawing Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)

Overtime, as the Morris Arboretum realizes the Master Plan, the theme of a Victorian garden is developed in the attractions offered and in the landscape and building vocabulary of wrought iron, cobbles, stone and slate.
(Drawing Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)

Designed to dramatize the topography, the new entrance road reveals previously hidden landscapes such as the little stream of Paper Mill Run, the floodplain meadows, and the sweeping slope up from the broad limestone valley, bringing visitors to the historic mansion site on the ridgetop, so that they enter the gardens as the Morris family once did. The road opened up an entirely new section of the Arboretum's grounds to the public, effectively doubling the acreage open to visitors and revealing previously inaccessible landscapes. It also tied the Compton Garden and the Bloomfield farm properties together. It is a journey of anticipation and surprise where visitors feel they have left the ordinary world.
(Photo Credit: Nick Kelsh)

The parking lot integrates multiple functions as a parking facility, water collector, and horticultural exhibit. The lot allows stormwater to be infiltrated into the soil on the uplands where it falls, instead of being conveyed rapidly in a pipe to a rain-swollen Wissahickon. The lot includes a conventional impervious asphalt roadway through the center, while the parking bays off to the sides are paved with permeable asphalt. A stormwater recharge bed is constructed under the entire lot, and when it rains, water rapidly disappears through the permeable paving and into an underground basin and from there it gradually infiltrates into the ground.
(Photo Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)
Designed as a series of level terraces to catch the rainwater, the parking bays are hidden from visitors in the gardens below, carefully set into the “military crest” on both sides of the ridge top and curving to follow hilltop contours.
(Photo Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)
A new loop path incorporated and replaced the old carriage drive, which had limited the main circulation to a small corner of the arboretum.
(Photo Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)

The renovated Carriage House today.
(Photo Credit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd.)


Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371