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Department of Landscape Architecture. — The forces effecting drastic changes in the professions were presenting landscape architects with a formidable set of challenges. In the 1920s, city planning and regional planning, both areas of critical importance to landscape architecture, emerged as distinct and separate areas of competence. Landscape architecture during this period was generally identified as a technically oriented profession concerned with the formal design of small-scaled projects.

At Michigan some instruction in city planning had formed part of the landscape architecture curriculum since the inception of the program in 1909. An optional program in city planning had been added in 1935. After the transfer of the department to the College of Architecture and Design in 1939, city planning became an option in the five-year curriculum leading to the degree Bachelor of Architecture. In 1958 Professor Harlow O. Whittemore retired after forty-four years of dedicated service to the University. He had served with distinction as chairman of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Director of the Nichols Arboretum since 1934. Professor George Ross also retired in 1958, leaving the department without faculty. In July of that year, however, Walter L. Chambers of Harvard University was appointed chairman of the department and director of Nichols Arboretum. Walter Johnson was appointed Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, and in November, Charles W. Cares was added to the faculty also as an associate professor. The new faculty completely revised the curriculums in both the undergraduate and graduate programs and introduced a new program leading to the degree Doctor of Philosophy in Landscape Architecture. Enrollment in 1958 was small, but interest in the new programs was lively and enrollment increased dramatically the following year.

Members of the department were active in directing rehabilitation work at the Nichols Arboretum and the Inglis House grounds. Plans were developed to increase the public uses of the Arboretum in order to fulfill the University's obligation to the people of Michigan. Envisioned was a comprehensive collection of all kinds of trees and shrubs viable in this climate, properly arranged, identified and labeled. A new plan was prepared for the setting out of plants in due accordance with the demands of ecology, aesthetic arrangement, and accessibility to visitors. Information was prepared and made available to the public on all aspects of obtaining and cultivating trees and shrubs in this region. In cooperation with the Extension Service and the Federated Garden Clubs of Michigan, the department introduced Landscape Design Study Courses designed to educate Garden Club members and the general public to recognize good landscape practice and to serve as guardians and critics of outdoor beauty.

In order to accommodate the steady growth in enrollment and staff, in 1963 the department moved from the Architecture Building to the former Cheever House. The space available accommodated 80 students and permitted an increase in research. The faculty continued to investigate the content of courses and programs to adequately train students to assume roles within the expanding scope of the profession. This resulted in a greater emphasis being given to regional land planning and the design of recreational areas. After a thorough study of the relation of landscape architecture to the College, the faculty requested that the department be transferred administratively to the School of Natural Resources.

Robert C. Metcalf

The University of Michigan, an Encyclopedic Survey Supplement, Wilfred B. Shaw, editor. Pages 68 - 69.

History of the University of Michigan

Department of Landscape Architecture