Featured Image Courtesy Courtesy MidCentArc, Creative Commons

Fundamentals of Mid-Century Landscapes: Modern Settings

Modern architecture eradicated, or melded, the boundary between indoors and outdoors. It is the major concern of the 20th century. That has consequences for preservation professionals, because the setting is more complicit than ever in evaluating a potential resource, and thus for us as preservation professionals. As framed by "Six Axioms for a Modern Landscape Architecture" established by landscape historian Marc Treib.
  • What are the basic attributes of a Modern landscape?
  • How do we identify it as Modern, rather than a Picturesque or Classical garden? After all, sometimes the geometries of a French garden are just as intricate and building-responsive as a Modern garden.
  • Of course there are the remarkable gardens of landscape architects such as Roberto Burle Marx and other luminaries, but in more modest arenas, what are some typical plants Modern architects used? Why? What were their goals?
  • Do you believe that there are the same or different latitudes in approaching the restoration or rehabilitation of landscapes than those established for architecture in the Secretary's Standards? How so? How do you establish a Period of Significance?
  • What contemporary landscape restoration or rehabilitation of a Modern landscape is a role model for you?
  • Do you distinguish between early Modern, postwar, and mid-century gardens, or is that too fine (and unhelpful) a parse?
  • What impact did the prevalence of Japanese gardeners in California have on the Modern garden here, or was the influence more modern painting, much of that in Europe or the East Coast?


  • Rhett Beavers, ASLA, Landscape Architect
  • Ted Cleary, ASLA, Studio Cleary Landscape Architecture
  • Kelly Comras, RLA, ASLA, Kelly Comras Landscape Architecture
  • Lisa Gimmy, ASLA, LEED AP, Lisa Gimmy Landscape Architects
  • Steven Keylon, Landscape Architectural Historian
  • Barbara Lamprecht, M. Arch, Lamprecht ArchiTEXTural

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the basic components and character defining features of a modern landscape
  2. Sensitively approach the restoration or rehabilitation of a modern landscape with the Secretary of Interior Standards in mind
  3. Determine how successful case studies can inform projects and closely integrate built features with landscape and setting
  4. Explain how cultural influences impacted California's mid-century landscape design


Continuing Education

  • AICP
    • Environment
    • Green Communities
    • History
    • Housing
    • Neighborhoods
    • Property
  • AIA
    • Building Science and Performance
    • Design and Design Services
    • Insights
    • Materials and Methods
    • Practice
    • Project Types
    • Sustainable Design
  • ASLA
    • Design-Build
    • Historic Preservation
    • Horticultural / Plants
    • Housing / Community Design
    • Project Management
    • Residential Design
    • Sustainable Development / Design
    • Water / Stormwater