The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Landscape Architecture

The interest of the University in the subject of landscape design was heightened in 1906, when Walter Hammond Nichols ('91, M.A. Columbia '01) and his wife Esther Connor Nichols ('94) gave the University a tract of land to be used as a botanical garden (see Part III: The Botanical Gardens). Ossian Cole Simonds ('78e, M.A. hon. '29), nationally known landscape gardener of Chicago, was employed by the University in 1907 to plan the Botanical Gardens. He also laid out other city parks, home grounds, and residential subdivisions in and about Ann Arbor. He was made Nonresident Lecturer on Landscape Gardening at a salary of $500 a year in 1908 and gave a series of lectures at the University on the subject of landscape design. Professor Filibert Roth, of the Forestry Department, and Assistant Professor George P. Burns, of the Botany Department, were of much help in promoting and perfecting these plans. Burns might well be said to be the father of the Nichols Arboretum as well as of the city of Ann Arbor park system.

In 1909 the Regents authorized the establishment of a five-year course leading to the degree of master in landscape design, four years to be spent in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and one year in the Graduate School. At first a degree of bachelor in landscape design was also authorized for the completion of a four-year course, but this was discontinued a few years later. Professional students were expected to follow the five-year program. With the transfer of the department to the College of Architecture and Design in 1939, the degree of bachelor of science was granted after four years of study. The first graduate of the five-year program was Franz A. Aust (Minnesota '08, M.S. ibid. '10, M.L.D. Michigan '22), who became professor of landscape design at the University of Wisconsin.

Upon the establishment of the department in 1909, Simonds continued as Nonresident Lecturer, and Aubrey Tealdi (Royal Technical Institute Livorno Page  1313'00), of the Simonds Chicago office, was appointed Instructor in Landscape Gardening. Drafting rooms were on the top floor of old University Hall. The University of Michigan was thus the first institution in the Midwest to establish a department of landscape design. The Regents allocated $224 for books and illustrations for the beginnings of what is now an excellent library.

In 1913 Tealdi was appointed Junior Professor, and in 1914 Harlow Olin Whittemore (Alma '09, M.L.D. Michigan '14) was added to the staff as Instructor in Landscape Design. Simonds continued as consultant in landscape design and city planning for many years. He died in 1931.

Only very general instruction in civic improvement had been given until 1913, when Ewart G. Culpin, secretary of the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association of England, who was in the United States lecturing on the new "garden cities" of England, came to Ann Arbor. His talks aroused such great interest that the department bought his entire collection of lantern slides, and a definite program of instruction in city planning was begun. A graduate course in city-plan design was offered in 1914, and a special undergraduate lecture course in city planning and civic improvement grew until by 1926 the class enrollment numbered 160. Tealdi, who in 1915 was promoted to Associate Professor of Landscape Design, was an active member of the civic committee which promoted the development of the city plan for Ann Arbor drawn up by Olmsted Brothers, landscape architects of Brookline, Massachusetts.

In 1916 Frank Backus Williams, of the New York bar, was appointed Nonresident Lecturer and inaugurated a course in city-planning law. Taught first in this country at the University of Michigan, it has since become a recognized phase of city-planning endeavor. Williams later developed and published this series of lectures in book form, and from the proceeds of the book donated $500 to the department to purchase foreign books on city planning. With this as a nucleus a fine library has been assembled on the subject.

Professor Tealdi was made Director of the Arboretum in 1916 and held this position until 1934. Under his direction large numbers of various species of woody plants, trees, shrubs, and climbers were secured and planted.

Up to this time the curriculum in landscape design had been a combination of Literary College subjects, professional design courses, and a few elementary courses in surveying, drawing, and architecture. After 1916 more emphasis was placed on training in the first- and second-year courses in drawing and architectural design, decorative design, and history of art and architecture as well as on surveying and highway engineering. This instruction was intended to provide a solid foundation in general design and draftsmanship as well as in the principles of construction. More courses in landscape design also were added. In 1917 the staff consisted of Aubrey Tealdi, Associate Professor of Landscape Design, Harlow O. Whittemore, Instructor in Landscape Design, and Ossian C. Simonds and Frank B. Williams, visiting lecturers. George Carroll Cone (Harvard '03) taught a course in landscape modeling, which was another innovation by the department. In 1919 Tealdi was made Professor of Landscape Design. In 1925 Cone was promoted to Assistant Professor of Landscape Design, thus becoming the third full-time member of the staff. A four-year program in park and estate management, so far as is known the first in this country, was inaugurated in 1919.

In 1919 the announcement of the department Page  1314for the first time included a list of books and magazines on the subjects of landscape architecture, gardening, park development, plant materials, and city and regional planning. This proved to be a popular feature of the bulletin, and many libraries in Michigan and elsewhere took advantage of it to build up their book lists on these subjects.

In 1934, after twenty-five years of service to the University, Professor Tealdi retired as head of the Department of Landscape Design and Director of the Nichols Arboretum to take up residence in his native Italy. The department developed notably under Tealdi and owes much to his ideas and his personality. The excellent character and quality of the Arboretum are also distinctly the result of his work and interest.

Whittemore was promoted in 1934 to Associate Professor, chairman of the Department of Landscape Design, and Director of the Nichols Arboretum. He was made Professor in 1938. Cone was also advanced to Associate Professor in 1934, and George Gould Ross was appointed Assistant Professor. In 1940 he became Associate Professor.

An optional program in city planning was added to the curriculum in 1935-36, and the optional program in park and recreation management, which had been discontinued in 1924, was renewed on a five-year basis. The city planning program paralleled the greatly increased interest in the subject prevalent in this country and abroad, as well as a widespread demand for more and better recreation facilities. Because city planning is a natural field of interest for the landscape architect, some instruction in this subject had been regularly included as part of the curriculum ever since the establishment of the department. At this time a course in practical gardening was begun at the Nichols Arboretum by Charles L. Moody, who had been Superintendent of the Arboretum since 1919.

The department was transferred to the College of Architecture and Design in 1939 and the name changed to Landscape Architecture. The degrees to be granted were changed to bachelor of science in landscape architecture for a four-year program and master of landscape architecture after one and one-half years of study in the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. The close association and collaboration with the other arts of design has had a beneficial effect on the graduates. Since 1933 the demand for graduates has been about six times the number available.

In 1936, also, the department, with the co-operation of the Detroit Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and other agencies, organized a conference on landscape architecture, which was made a section of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters in the following year.

At the close of the 1938 school year Professor Cone reached retirement age. To help fill this vacancy Robert Dare Slack ('35, M.L.D. '37), of Grand Rapids, was appointed Instructor, and Albert Davis Taylor (Massachusetts State College '05, M.S. Cornell '06), of Cleveland, president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, became Nonresident Lecturer. Lawrence A. Enersen (Carleton '31, M.L.A. Harvard '35) served as Instructor in Landscape Design from 1940 to 1942.

By 1952 records showed that since the establishment of the department in 1909 seventy-nine students had completed the five-year program and received the degree either of master of landscape design or master of landscape architecture. A larger number had received the degree of bachelor of arts upon completion of the four-year curriculum. After the transfer of the department to the College of Architecture and Design Page  1315twenty-four bachelor's degrees in landscape architecture were granted, making a total of 108 professional degrees which have been conferred. All but a few of those who received the master's degree entered the field of landscape architecture or some phase of city planning.

The equipment of the department in 1952 was second in importance only to that of Harvard University. The collection of rare books dealing with the history of landscape architecture and city planning, the result of years of painstaking search by Tealdi both here and in Europe, is unsurpassed in this country. More than nine thousand lantern slides, most of them obtained from original sources, are available for class use and for extension lectures. The photograph collection also includes about one thousand photographs taken by Ernest H. ("Chinese") Wilson (M.A. hon. Harvard '16) in his plant material collecting trips in China, Japan, and Korea. Card catalogues of reference materials and files of clippings have been maintained, to which in 1952 were added the complete files of plans and reference materials of the A. D. Taylor office in Cleveland, Ohio. The plant materials collection at the Nichols Arboretum must also be considered among the assets of the department.

The state of Michigan has resources which contribute substantially to the study of landscape design. The variety of natural geological landscape and native vegetation is unsurpassed. Michigan has more native species of trees, for example, than has the entire continent of Europe. Variations in climate extend through three distinct plant life zones. Because Michigan is far advanced in methods of manufacturing, agriculture, mining, transportation, education, and recreation from the design and planning point of view the state serves as a demonstration laboratory of modern city and rural planning.