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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Roy Brown’

BY JANE ROY BROWN

Carol R. Johnson, 1929–2020. Photo courtesy IBI Group, formerly Carol R. Johnson Associates.

FROM THE APRIL 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When the landscape architect Carol R. Johnson died last December, at age 91, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, tributes to her extraordinary career quickly appeared. Within days, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, which had conducted an oral history with Johnson in 2006 and included her work at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in its most recent Landslide campaign, published a remembrance detailing her long and influential career. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Architect’s Newspaper followed shortly afterward, a mark of her pioneer stature outside the profession.

Johnson is remembered both for the breadth and scope of her practice, which encompassed many significant public landscapes including the Mystic River Reservation, John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, and John Marshall Park in Washington, D.C., and for her leadership of Carol R. Johnson Associates (CRJA). At a time when women were rare in landscape architecture, Johnson built one of the largest woman-owned landscape architecture firms in the United States.

Educated at Wellesley and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Johnson founded her eponymous firm just two years after graduating. An inveterate traveler and hiker, Johnson’s approach to practice was informed by her deep understanding of the link between nature and culture, but also by a strong entrepreneurial drive, which resulted in a global portfolio of projects for her firm. Over the course of her nearly 60-year career of teaching and practice, Johnson also served on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Commission for Small Businesses and the Committee on Development Options during the Carter administration.

In 1982, Johnson was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In 1998, she received the ASLA Medal, “the highest honor the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) can bestow upon a landscape architect whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of the public and the environment.” She was the first American woman to receive that honor.

In 2010, Johnson gave the interview that follows to Jane Roy Brown and looked back over her career. A year later, she would announce the acquisition of CRJA by the IBI Group. She retired in June 2016, 57 years after founding her firm in her apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (more…)

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BY JANE ROY BROWN

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A historic airfield in Massachusetts is transformed into a haven for biodiversity.

From the February 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

“Are you folks from the parks department?” asked a white-haired man in hiking clothes.

It was an early summer morning, and he approached a small group standing in a path at 1st Lt. Arthur E. Farnham Jr. and SSgt. Thomas M. Connolly Jr. Memorial Park, which covers 12 acres on the 338-acre site of a former regional airport in Canton, southwest of Boston. The group did not include anyone from the park’s managing agency, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). But it did include the park’s designers, Deneen Crosby, ASLA, and Daniel Norman, ASLA, from the Boston firm Crosby | Schlessinger | Smallridge (CSS). With them was the consulting biologist Ingeborg Hegemann, the senior vice president of ecological sciences and principal at BSC Group, a Boston-based environmental services firm. Hegemann worked with CSS to evaluate the soils, review proposed grading, and select plants and seed stock for the park, which includes extensive restored wetlands.

The park visitor, a retired Canton resident who identified himself as “Mike,” described a woman he had spotted digging up plants and stashing them in her trunk. “She had a shovel in the car, so it wasn’t the first time,” he said, pulling a notebook from his day pack. He read out a plate number. Norman jotted it down. “I come here almost every day,” said Mike. “I love this park, and I don’t want to see it destroyed.”

It was the kind of gratifying feedback professionals who work on public projects rarely get firsthand, and it left the team (more…)

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BY JANE ROY BROWN

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “Kit of Parts” that really works.

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “kit of parts” that really works.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 “Ms. Thompson, what’s a log?” The question came from a kindergartener in a Boston elementary school in 2006, after his teacher (not her real name) read a story to the class about a possum hiding in a hollow log.

As shocking as the question may sound, teachers all over the country have fielded similar ones for years. By 2005, when Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods launched the term “nature-deficit disorder” into everyday use, generations of kids in some city neighborhoods had had no experience of woods, never mind logs.

Last Child in the Woods has sent all kinds of communities scrambling to offer some experience of nature to their children, and many of them have focused, logically enough, on schoolyards. As more landscape architects join the push to transform crumbling asphalt schoolyards into landscapes for play and learning, they might do worse than to take a page from the Boston Schoolyard Initiative (BSI).

(more…)

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