Modernist landscapes with boomerang curves, reservoirs inspired by Joan Miro paintings, animated fountains, soaring roof gardens, geometric earthworks, futuristic fair grounds, and sunken and expansive plazas all became celebrated design elements during the nation’s massive post-World War II development. These experimental and innovative expressions became a catalyst for inserting Modern design sensibilities into newly minted public and private spaces. During this period, designers, their clients, and patrons utilized revolutionary and experimental materials and subdued transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces to infuse Modern forms into classic sensibilities. However, until recently, many of these designs have been misunderstood and under appreciated.
Landslide is a yearly designation of significant landscapes at risk of being lost. The designees are chosen from
hundreds of nominations submitted from throughout the nation that highlight current issues in landscape
preservation and interpretation. This year, TCLF and Garden Design have once again partnered with George Eastman
House to produce an exhibition of original photography of the Marvels of Modernism by internationally recognized
artists on view in Rochester from November 19, 2008 through January 4, 2009, and traveling thereafter. The
exhibition includes images by photographers Debra Bloomfield, Marisol Diaz, Tom Fox, Rick McKee Hock, Tyagan
Miller, Keri Pickett, Christopher Rauschenberg, Sam Sweezy, Lupita Murillo Tinnen, and Heather Wetzel.
As Peter Walker the celebrated landscape architect of the World Trade Center Memorial noted in 1999 about one
of this year’s designees, “if the Miller Garden was not ready to be seen as an icon 20 years ago, it may be also that
to some extent our eyes were not ready to perceive it as an icon until 20 years had passed and the tenets of
modernism had seeped into our perceptual mechanisms.” The same could be said for the twelve revolutionary
designs that range from a trapezoidal‐shaped lake in a Pittsburgh park of a couple of acres, to an entire Bay Area
community of nearly 200‐acres, a “city within a city” built to house 8,000 residents.
The twelve Marvels are:
Boston City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA
Estates Drive Reservoir, Oakland, CA
Heritage Plaza, Heritage Park, Fort Worth, TX
Kaiser Roof Garden, Kaiser Center, Oakland, CA
Lake Elizabeth, Allegheny Commons, Pittsburgh, PA
Manhattan Square Park, Rochester, NY
Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks, Kent, WA
Miller Garden, Columbus, IN
El Monte, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico
Pacific Science Center Courtyard, Seattle, WA
Parkmerced, San Francisco, CA
Peavey Plaza, Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN
“The annual thematic Landslide list is one of the key ways the Cultural Landscape Foundation highlights how
landscapes are integral to our nation’s cultural identity – each Landslide site is irreplaceable; each is a unique link to
the story of who we are,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation.
“Working with Eastman’s curators and photographers we can actually teach people how to see what may be right
in our backyards.”
Along with the Eastman House exhibit of original photography, sites across the country will host the Marvels of
Modernism signboard exhibits at or near locations associated with the different Marvels. Additionally, a series of
regional launch events will be held in concert with Design Within Reach studios across America. The signboard
exhibit will provide the history of each Modernist landscape, the threat, information on how to support local
efforts, and associated historic and current photographs of each resource.
For more information on the Marvels of Modernism, including exhibit venues, visit www.tclf.org/landslide/2008