Significant Events

Significant Events in the History of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

 1888:  The College of Agriculture offers its first course in landscape design through the Horticulture and Economic Entomology Program.

1926:  Landscape Architecture is offered as a degree option in the Department of Horticulture.

1929:  G. William Longenecker, a landscape architect and graduate of the Department of Horticulture (BS and MS), receives the first graduate degree in the Landscape Architecture option, serves as campus landscape architect and joins the faculty as an Assistant Professor.

1933:  G. William Longenecker becomes Executive Director of the new University of Wisconsin Arboretum, and serves until 1958.

1938:  The first known interdisciplinary course in the US that combines human ecology and landscape planning is offered by Franz Aust (Landscape Architect in Horticulture), J.H. Kolb (Rural Sociology), and George Wehrwein (Agriculture Economics).

1964:  Landscape Architecture becomes an independent Department in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

1966:  The undergraduate program in design and planning in Landscape Architecture is accredited by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

1970:  Environmental Awareness Center is established with Landscape Architecture Prof. Philip H. Lewis, Jr. as its director.

1979:  The Department of Landscape Architecture hosts the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) conference. The theme, “Research in Landscape Architecture,” and the professional meeting format are firsts for CELA.

1980:  Prof. Arnold Alanen is named a three-year National Fellow by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

 1981:  Landscape Journal is founded by Profs. Arnold Alanen and Darrel Morrison of the Department of Landscape Architecture.

1982:  The College’s Land Information and Computer Graphics Facility is established, led by Landscape Architecture.

1983:  Landscape Journal receives a national Merit Award for Communications from ASLA.

1988:  Special issue of Landscape Journal—“Nature, Form and Meaning”—is published with funding assistance provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; the issue receives a special award from Magazine Design and Production for graphic excellence.

 1989:  Five faculty members receive ASLA awards, and one receives a special award of recognition from CELA.

1990:  The first Clearing Landscape Institute is conducted. Held at “The Clearing,” the former Door County, Wisconsin, home and school of Jens Jensen, the biennial institute provides opportunities for participants to discuss the landscape legacy of the Midwest.

 1992:  Faculty members in the Department organize the 15th annual meeting of the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation, which is held at The Clearing.

 1993:  Faculty members in the Department begin to conduct landscape research and studies for the National Park Service as part of the Cooperative Park Service Unit (CPSU) agreement signed with the University of Wisconsin.

1994:  The 30th anniversary of the Department is marked; during the three decades, close to 1,100 undergraduate and 200 graduate Master’s degrees have been awarded.

1995-96:  Prof. Evelyn Howell serves as chair of the University Committee, the most powerful committee on campus.

1997:  National research award from ASLA honors the efforts of Profs. Alanen, Tishler, and graduate students in preparing three CPSU-funded reports for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

1998:  Prof. William Tishler receives an Award of Distinction from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture.

1999:  The 35th anniversary of the Department occurs. Over 1,200 students have received undergraduate degrees and another 265 have earned Master’s degrees.

Prof. William Tishler receives a communications award from ASLA for his video production of landscape architect Jens Jensen, and Prof. Arnold Alanen receives a research award that recognizes his work in documenting the cultural landscape at Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska. Both awards are given at the 100th anniversary conference of the ASLA in Boston.

2000:  Undergraduate students in the Department organize and sponsor LABASH.

The Department serves as one of the sponsors for the annual national conference of the Vernacular Architecture Forum; held in Duluth, Minnesota, the meeting is organized by Prof. Arnold Alanen and a former departmental graduate student.

Emeritus Prof. Wayne Tlusty receives a Life Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA.

The Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA recognizes Prof. Alanen with its Visibility Award.

2000-01:  Three faculty members serve as editor or co-editor of three books published by major North American presses: Arnold Alanen, Preserving Cultural Landscapes in America (Johns Hopkins University Press); Evelyn Howell, The Historical Ecology Handbook (Island Press); and William Tishler, Midwestern Landscape Architecture (University of Illinois Press).

2001:  Emeritus Prof. William Tishler receives a Life Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA.

Preserving Cultural Landscapes in America receives the Antoinette Forrester Downing award from the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH); a national Merit Award for Communications from ASLA; and the Allen G. Nobel Book Award from the Pioneer America Society. The SAH terms the volume “the most outstanding publication devoted to historical topics in the preservation field that enhances the understanding and protection of the built environment in the US.”

Prof. Arnold Alanen receives CELA’s Outstanding Educator Award.

Prof. John Harrington is appointed chair of the newly created Campus Natural Areas Committee; this committee is responsible for overseeing the use and protection of the University’s large natural areas acreage.

The Department’s CPSU contract with the NPS concludes; during the eight-year tenure of this grant, twelve reports for six national parks in the United States are prepared by faculty members and graduate students.

2002:  Prof. Arnold Alanen and a graduate student receive the President’s Award of Excellence from the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA for their project: “A Landscape History of Wisconsin’s Capitol Park.”

Faculty Associate Shawn Kelly is appointed chair of the License Upgrade Committee by the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA.

 2003:  Prof. Arnold Alanen is recognized by CELA with a Communication and Service Award.

Prof. Janet Gilmore brings to the Department her National Endowment for the Arts-funded “Access to Prior Folk Arts Projects in the Upper Midwest” project, coordinated with an Expressive Culture and Diversity in the Upper Midwest Cluster Enhancement grant through UW-Madison’s Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC) (through 2005).

2004:  Prof. John Harrington organizes and chairs the Nineteenth North American Prairie Conference, held in Madison.

Prof. Susan Thering’s state-wide contributions are recognized with a Visibility Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA.

Faculty Associate Shawn Kelly is elected Trustee of the Wisconsin Chapter of the ASLA; serving on the national ASLA Ethics Committee, and the Council of Educators Committee.

 2005:  The University’s Faculty Mentoring Program recognizes Prof. Evelyn Howell with its Excellence in Mentoring Award.

Prof. Howell receives the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Prof. Arnold Alanen and the Facilities Management and Planning Unit at the UW-Madison receive a grant from the Los Angeles-based Getty Foundation to undertake a comprehensive study of campus cultural landscapes.

Prof. Samuel Dennis, Jr. initiates the American Indian Housing Initiative’s Landscape Architecture Option working with the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana, a summer design-build service learning experience (through 2005).

Prof. Susan Thering facilitates a dialogue between the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences and the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College that culminates in a Memorandum of Understanding for a cross-campus exchange.

Prof. Janet Gilmore’s CSUMC archiving team receives National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant for a “Survey of Folk Heritage Collections in the Upper Midwest” (through 2006).

2006:  Prof. Samuel Dennis, Jr. initiates the “Open Space Honduras” service-learning studio; with design-build projects in rural Orica and urban Siguatepeque, Honduras (through 2010).

Emeritus Prof. William Tishler’s book, Door County’s Emerald Treasure: A History of Peninsula State Park, is published by the University of Wisconsin Press as part of its Wisconsin Land & Life Series. The book receives the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA Presidential Award of Excellence.

Prof. Dennis begins participating as a co-investigator on a multi-year National Institutes of Health grant that focuses on American Indian communities in Wisconsin; his contributions feature environmental supports and barriers to healthy lifestyles.

 2007:  Prof. Evelyn Howell is designated as a National Academy of Sciences Education Fellow.

Prof. Susan Thering is awarded a three-year grant from the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Foundation to support an action research service learning initiative: “Green Community Development in Indian Country.”

Prof. Arnold Alanen and Emeritus Prof. William Tishler are inducted into CELA’s Academy of Fellows.

Following an invitation from the city’s mayor, Prof. John Harrington begins serving on Madison’s Urban Design Review Committee.

Faculty Associate Shawn Kelly is re-elected Trustee of the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA; at this time he also begins serving on the national ASLA Audit Committee.

Profs. Alanen and John Harrington, in conjunction with the School of Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, assist in offering a three week long Summer Interim  course in Italy’s Umbrian region.

Prof. Harrington begins participating with the National Park Service, Wisconsin DNR, and US Fish & Wildlife Service in visioning workshops for several Ice Age National Science Reserve properties in Dane County.

Prof. Janet Silbernagel teaches advanced ecology courses at Fudan University, Shanghai.  She also sets up a regional design studio (LA 462) on landscape recovery after the Sichuan earthquake.

Prof. Alanen’s book, Morgan Park: Duluth, U.S. Steel, and the Forging of a Company Town, which features the work of Morrell & Nichols, the largest landscape architecture firm in the upper Midwest for several decades, is published by the University of Minnesota Press.

2008:  Beginning in 2008, Prof. David Bart develops a collaborative teaching-research initiative with Wings over Wisconsin (WoW), a state-wide conservation group.  To date, seven LA courses have been integrated into restoration research, design, and implementation activities at WoW restoration sites.

Prof. Janet Gilmore acts as chief project coordinator for an “Ethnography, Archival Collections, and Electronic Access” Cluster Enhancement grant for the Communications Technology Research and Expressive Culture and Diversity in the Upper Midwest clusters.

2009:  Prof. Janet Gilmore and her Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures archiving team received the Brenda McCallum Prize from the American Folklore Society Archives and Libraries Section for “exceptional work dealing with folklife archives or the collection, organization, and management of ethnographic materials.”

Prof. Samuel Dennis, Jr. receives the Public Service Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA in recognition of his commitment to bringing landscape architectural expertise to underserved communities.

Prof. Dennis receives the Partnership Award from Public Health of Madison and Dane County in recognition for his collaborative service using design to create healthy communities.

Prof. Dennis is inducted into the University of Wisconsin Teaching Academy.

Prof. Gilmore co-leads oral history and cultural landscape component of summer vernacular architecture field school in Wiota, SW Wisconsin, with Prof. Anna Andrzejewski, UW-Madison Art History, and visiting vernacular architecture specialist Prof. Thomas Carter, University of Utah.  Coordinated with UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture (Buildings Landscapes Cultures Companion Program), with funding from CALS, L&S, and Milwaukee’s Chipstone Foundation.

Profs. Dennis and Gilmore are appointed affiliate faculty in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture for the Buildings Landscapes Cultures Companion Program with UW-Madison.

Prof. Dennis publishes a journal article in Health and Place describing the theory and application of Participatory Photo Mapping, a novel method for understanding people’s experience of place through photography, narratives and mapping.

Prof. Dennis and Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH receive two year grant from the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research to evaluate the efficacy of the Participatory Photo Mapping method in the 42 research projects in which it had been used in the United States and Canada.

Senior Lecturer James Steiner integrates a proposed study for the new Art Academic building on the UW-Madison campus into his second year design studio (LA261). This project involves undergraduate students and UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning graduate students in the design of various architectural and site schemes. Faculty from the Art Department and the School of Education are involved in the programming and design process, with the resulting designs published in a written report. The Art Academic Primer, through UWM.

Dr. David Bart organizes symposium titled “Bridging the Divide: Integrating Human Ecology and Ecology to Improve Research and Management” at the Ecological Society of America 93rd Annual Conference, Albuquerque, NM.  August 8, 2009.  This was the inaugural symposium for the Human Ecology Section which he helped organize in 2008.

Faculty Associate Shawn Kelly is author of the Practice Act for Landscape Architects in Wisconsin after eleven years of specific effort.

Faculty Associate Kelly is invested as Fellow, ASLA, in the category of Knowledge.

2010:  Prof. Janet Silbernagel develops a ‘spatial narrative geotool’ as a web and mobile app to foster citizen engagement with socio-environmental complexities of Great Lakes coastal estuaries funded by UW Sea Grant and in partnership with ESRI, a global leader in GIS technology. The project team is now piloting the geotool with the Green Bay community. 

Prof. Silbernagel becomes chair of the Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program, Nelson Institute.

Senior Lecturer James Steiner teams third and fourth year students with graduate students from UWM’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning for a four week studio project studying the historic Horse Barn on the UW-Madison Campus, as an Independent Study project.  Methods of preserving the integrity of the historic structure are combined with ideas to update the structural and mechanical systems currently in place, as well as provide new exterior areas for showcasing agriculture products, sustainable food systems, and educational programs. The schemes are presented to UW-Madison’s Office of Campus Planning and subsequently published in a report, through UWM. Prof. John Harrington’s planting design class working with civil engineering students also contributes to the landscape of the grounds.

Profs. Samuel Dennis, Jr. and James LaGro are part of an interdisciplinary research team funded for two years, called “The effects of environmental opportunities and barriers on physical activity, fitness, and health in Hispanic children in Wisconsin.”

2011:  Prof. John Harrington, along with Paul Zedler (PI) of the Nelson Institute, the US FWS and The Nature Conservancy receive a competitive Joint Fire Science grant to develop and oversee the Midwest’s tallgrass prairie and oak savanna Joint Fire Science Consortium (all regions of the country are to have a consortium in the future). The consortiums purpose is to disseminate research on application and effects of fire on the Upper Midwest grasslands through traditional as well as new technologies.

Prof. Samuel Dennis, Jr. begins service on the Madison Arts Commission’s Public Art Jury.

Prof. Harrington and Senior Lecturer James Steiner combine third-year undergraduate students with University of Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning graduate students for a semester long study of the Inner Harbor site in Milwaukee. This industrial site along the Milwaukee River is the future home of UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences. The completed schemes are published in a report through UWM as part of a freshwater sciences grant. Dr. Herbert Dreiseitl, a landscape architect and freshwater expert from Switzerland lectures on alternative stormwater methods and helped mentor the students during the design process.

Prof. Janet Gilmore begins co-coordinating a National Endowment for the Arts-funded “Wisconsin Public Folk Arts & Folklife Showcase: Online Exhibits, Tours & Games” project through the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (through 2014).

2012:  Prof. Janet Gilmore wins a Dr. Brenda Pfaehler Award of Excellence from the Center for Educational Opportunity and CeO student Bao Thao for providing equal opportunity and equity in education to first-generation college students, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities.

Emeritus Prof. William Tishler receives the Henry Glassie Award from Vernacular Architecture Forum for lifetime achievement in vernacular architecture studies.

Prof. Gilmore leads the CSUMC archiving team’s contributions to the National Folklore Archives Initiative National Endowment for the Humanities funded online searchable folklore collections database through the American Folklore Society and Preserving America’s Cultural Traditions group.

Profs. Evelyn Howell and John Harrington (with former graduate student and UW-Madison Arboretum Grounds Manager Steve Glass) author Introduction to Restoration Ecology, Island Press’ first textbook, which discusses the restoration process as taught in the department’s restoration ecology curriculum.  Island Press also distributes the Instructor’s Manual, for faculty who use the textbook, written by Prof. Howell, with assistance from Prof. Harrington

Profs. Gilmore, Arnold Alanen and Samuel Dennis, Jr., aided by current and past Landscape Architecture graduates, play critical roles in planning the annual meeting in Madison, June 2012, of Vernacular Architecture Forum, the premier national professional organization devoted to the history of vernacular architecture and landscapes.  Representing over a decade of planning and development across campus, UW campuses, and off-campus communities, the meeting and publications reach national and international audiences.

Prof. Dennis receives two 3-year, $400,000 grants for community-based research from the School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Partnership Program. One involves Milwaukee’s Centro de Communidad Unita in Milwaukee, and the other, in partnership with Nutrition Science Prof. Schoeller (PI) and Madison’s Community GroundWorks, strengthens statewide “Farm to School” programs through garden-based education.

Profs. Dennis and Harrington lead the first Cloud Forest Studio to Monteverde, Costa Rica to work with the Cloud Forest School  The private non-profit school’s mission is to “nurture a generation of ecologically aware, academically well-rounded bilingual individuals … “ that are able to make “environmentally and socially conscious decisions on a local, national and global scale.”  The studio seeks to help the school develop better mechanisms for accomplishing its mission by mapping onsite resources, providing guidance for reforestation of disturbed areas on its grounds, and exploring ways to help students as well as area citizens navigate the school grounds.

Senior Lecturer James Steiner collaborates with Department of Civil Engineering specialist Charlie Quagliana on a joint student project to review and provide solutions for a 10-block streetscape in one of Madison’s older neighborhoods.

2013:  The department completes a strategic plan that acknowledges CALS new strategic plan to respond to new opportunities and challenges:

Ensure that all curricula efficiently address emerging issues and trends and recognize student demand: we revise our undergraduate non-professional program with new tracks that have direct links to graduate studies in Urban and Regional Planning and in Landscape Architecture. The department explores collaborations with Design Studies, the Nelson Institute, and Urban and Regional Planning to advance and enhance instruction and graduate programs.

Identify and exploit new sources of revenue: We further development of a GeoDesign Certificate program in partnership with the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS), the State Cartographer’s Office and UW-Stevens Point, and submit a successful pre-proposal for funding from the Education Innovation Office. We develop a PDH (professional development hours) workshop program. A certificate program in Ecological Design is targeted for development in 2014.

Invest in the department’s strong integration of research, teaching, and outreach; respond to stakeholder needs; and communicate CALS land grant and department missions to stakeholders: During our two-semester capstone, students engage with communities and agencies to provide design/planning solutions to ‘real world’ problems. The department produces a catalog of selected past student community work. Over the past 13 years, our students have provided planning and design assistance to clients in more than 75% of Wisconsin’s counties.

The third edition of Prof. James LaGro’s text, Site Analysis: Informing Context-Sensitive and Sustainable Site Planning and Design, is published by Wiley and Sons. 

Faculty Associate Shawn Kelly recognized for second year as National ASLA Top Advocate at the midyear leadership meeting.

Prof. Dennis, Jr. develops the Environmental Design Laboratory (EDL) to bring together his community-based research, community health outreach and community design assistance. The lab is funded by 4 multi-year research grants. In addition to Dr. Dennis, EDL personnel include 1 paid employee, 2 honorary research fellows, 2 funded graduate students, and 2 undergraduate research interns.

2017: The Department of Landscape Architecture merges with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning to become the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture.