100 Years

I was in Philadel­phia last week­end as part of del­e­ga­tion from Ohio State to receive the Award of Excel­lence in Com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the ASLA for our group effort, 100 Years of Land­scape Archi­tec­ture at The Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty. We com­mem­o­rat­ed the program’s cen­ten­ni­al through a series of exhibits and pub­li­ca­tions tak­ing the long view of its com­mu­ni­ty and mate­r­i­al cul­ture. My con­tri­bu­tion to that effort, Test­ing Grounds, is a his­to­ry of the pro­gram told through orig­i­nal text, stu­dent work, and archival mate­r­i­al, designed by my col­league Karen Lewis.

Dur­ing this time, Ohio State has nev­er been in the avant-garde of land­scape archi­tec­ture, and its pro­fes­sors tend­ed to con­cen­trate on excel­lence in teach­ing rather than swash­buck­ling inter­na­tion­al prac­tice. Appro­pri­ate­ly, the best-known fig­ure asso­ci­at­ed with the pro­gram is the inde­fati­ga­ble Jot Car­pen­ter, the name­sake of the ASLA’s Teach­ing Medal. That gave us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to diverge from the hero­ic accounts con­cen­trat­ed on in pri­or efforts in the micro-genre of 100-year books for land­scape pro­grams, includ­ing Harvard’s The Coa­lesc­ing of Dif­fer­ent Forces and Ideas and Penn’s Tran­sects. Instead, we looked at Ohio State as a bell­wether of the main­stream of land­scape edu­ca­tion. When were the col­ored pen­cil, the mag­ic mark­er, and the Letraset sheet adopt­ed, and when did they yield to the plot­ter? How far back do study abroad trips go, and how were they con­duct­ed? When was mod­el-mak­ing taught, and when was it left out? 

Test­ing Grounds is not for sale, but we will mail a copy upon request.

(October 2018)