The Library of Congress and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) have announced a collaboration to archive the society’s Professional Award-winning projects, the first time that collections representing the international landscape architecture profession will be archived by a U.S. federal institution.
While the Library of Congress has archived collections representing the professions of architecture, design and engineering since the 1800s, this collaboration reflects the Library’s recognition of the growing significance of landscape architecture in society today. New designs will be added to the collection each year.
“This is a step forward in strengthening the connection between landscape architecture and the built environment. The chosen winners are a snapshot of the issues we face in our society each year and how landscape architects are addressing them, which also demonstrates the increasing relevance of landscape architecture to global communities,” says Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of ASLA.
The national library’s significant collections documenting the history of landscape architecture include the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the founder of American landscape architecture, as well as a collection from the landscape architecture firm he founded. Olmsted is known for his work on New York’s Central Park, the U.S. Capitol grounds and many other landmarks. The Library also holds the original records of the American Society of Landscape Architects, dating from 1899-1966. The Historic American Landscapes Survey, begun in 2000, offers drawings and photographs for more than 900 heritage sites. A new research guide, Architecture, Design, and Engineering Collections in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, makes it possible to explore landscape design work that is within the records of many architects and photographers.
“The Library is very grateful for this annual gift of award winning digital designs from the American Society of Landscape Architects, because contemporary coverage of the creative landscape world will now be an integral part of the inspiring collections that we can offer to both researchers and the general public,” says Helena Zinkham, chief of the Library’s Prints & Photographs Division.
For more than 30 years, ASLA has been granting awards to professional members in a number of categories including General Design, Urban Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, and Research, as well as a single Landmark Award, granted to distinguished landscape architecture projects completed between 15 and 50 years ago. Juries representing a cross-section of landscape architecture in practice, research and academics judge hundreds of submissions in these categories — covering issues such as climate action, racial equity and urban planning.
Adding materials from ASLA to the national library will not only establish a significant position for landscape architecture, it will also distinguish the work of landscape architects from architects.
“By preserving our profession’s most important work, the Library of Congress will enable the public to understand the enormous role our professionals play today in improving lives throughout the nation, from protecting our environment from climate change, to providing racially equitable and nature-based solutions to our aging urban communities,” says ASLA President Eugenia Martin, fellow of ASLA.
The theme of history is very present for the landscape architecture community in 2022 with this collaboration and Olmsted200, the 200th birthday celebration of Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture and avid advocate for open and accessible green spaces and communities. A schedule of educational events will lead to the celebration this April, which is also World Landscape Architecture Month, highlighting Olmsted’s influence on the profession today. The partnership with the Library further demonstrates the need to learn and share the history of a profession that is entirely dedicated to keeping the planet and its communities healthy and thriving.