Question: Why did the UK adopt the term landscape architecture?
Answer: Impressed by Frederick Law Olmsted’s work in America, Geddes, Mawson and Adams wanted a UK professional institute with a focus on public projects and public goods – as well as designing private gardens.
Frank Clark died in 1971 and in the mid-70s concerns about the small size of the ILA led to a change of name, to the Landscape Institute, and to the formation of ‘divisions’ for landscape designers, managers and scientists – not garden designers, not landscape planners and not urban designers.
I was at the meeting when this decision was taken and wrote a note, for myself, to record that there seemed to be three main motives for the expansion, which I associated with three of its protagonists:
1. to increase the size of the ILA, which Bill Gillespie wanted,
2. to increase the influence of the ILA, which appealed to Cliff Tandy,
3. to bring in landscape managers, which appealed to Brenda Colvin.
Brenda Colvin’s concern was that people who learned about horticulture without learning about design, would not be able interpret design intentions. She recalled that a garden she’d designed in Poland had been fought over by the Germans and the Russians during the war. And this was, she said, the sort of thing that happened to a garden design without good managers.
My own concern about the decision to expand the ILA was that the concentration on landscape architecture as a design discipline would be diluted, as indeed it has been. I don’t think I voiced this concern, but I do remember making a point about Gilbert Laing Meason and the importance of the term that was about to be de-emphasised.