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)