Pioneers of American Design

Alumnus William "Bill" Johnson and his newly recorded story of his life and career and commends alumnus Dean Abbott on being recognized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation as a Pioneer of American Landscape Design.

February 23, 2017

Bill Johnson working with students. Photo courtesy of LAAAB.

By: MSU Landscape Architecture Alumni & Advisory Board, LandTEXTURE, Winter 2017

William “Bill” Johnson Oral History

Through the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Pioneers of American Landscape Design Oral History Project, alumnus William “Bill” Johnson (class of 1953) has recorded an amazing story of his life and career. The goal of the series is to make the practitioner’s stories available for future generations, examining each designer’s personal and professional history, their overall design philosophy, and how that approach was carried out in their most emblematic projects. In addition to advancing historical research, the Pioneers of American Landscape Design initiative fosters a richer and deeper understanding of both the professional and unique works of landscape architecture.

Bill received his B.L.A. from Michigan State University in 1953 and his M.L.A. at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He went on to form Johnson, Johnson, and Roy in 1961 with his brother Carl and friend Clarence Roy. Bill was also a professor of landscape architecture beginning in 1958, Dean of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Michigan from 1975 to 1983, and became Professor Emeritus in 1988. Johnson was named a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1973 and awarded the ASLA Medal in 1986.

Bill’s oral history is the fourteenth recording of the award-winning Pioneers of American Landscape Design Oral History Project series. Please consider donating to the Cultural Landscape Foundation so that these important works can continue for years to come!

Dean Abbott Named Pioneer of American Landscape Design

Dean Abbott has been recognized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation as a Pioneer of American Landscape Design. Born in Yonkers, New York, he earned his B.L.A. from Michigan State University in 1961 and his M.L.A. from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1963.

Early in his career, Mr. Abbott contributed to the design of the Spanish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair while working for Zion and Breen Associates along with M. Paul Friedberg and Partners. He then taught briefly at the University of Georgia before joining the San Francisco offices of Sasaki, Walker and Associates in 1967.

From 1969 through 1977, Mr. Abbott worked at the New York offices of Lawrence Halprin and Associates. Among other accomplishments, he was the lead designer of the Charlottesville (Virginia) Pedestrian Mall, which reflects his longstanding interest in movement as a means to achieve a sense of place. After teaching at the University of Minnesota from 1977 to 1980, he joined Clarke & Rapauno through 1988, producing a competition-winning redesign of Boston’s Copley Square during that time. He returned to teach at the University of Minnesota from 1995 to 2011, and remains a part-time instructor in its College of Design.

READ MORE on page 9.

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