clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Get to Know Dan Kiley, the Designer Behind America's Best Modernist Landscape Works

In a career spanning much of the 20th century, late American landscape architect Dan Kiley designed over 1,000 projects all over the U.S., including the grounds of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Miller Garden (a collaboration with Modernist great Eero Saarinen) in Columbus, Indiana, and the leafy atrium in the Ford Foundation headquarters in New York City (recently named a landmark interior.) Despite these famous credentials, Kiley, who passed away in 2004 at age 91, is far from widely-recognized himself. In an effort to rectify this, the Cultural Landscape Foundation decided to launch Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley, a comprehensive traveling exhibit celebrating Kiley's far-reaching influence on our built environment. The show, which made its NYC debut at the Center for Architecture last night, features 45 newly-commissioned photographs of 27 representative Kiley work, plus updates on the current state of each project.

Inaugurated at the Boston Architectural College in fall 2013, the show is apparently booked till 2017, a fact that TCLF president Charles Birnbaum thinks signals greater public recognition for Kiley at last. And that is critical, because the upshot of honoring Kiley's work is also calling attention to their stewardship. The Kiley Garden (↑) in Tampa, Florida, for example, is currently rated as "starting to falter" by the TCLF, despite recent efforts to restore it.

As the Tampa Bay Times details, Tampa-based landscape architect Ron Sil spearheaded a $4.7M restoration of the Kiley's rooftop checkerboard garden, which had fallen into despair and began leaking water to the garage underneath. Completed in fall 2010, the effort saw a complete reconstruction of the garden as Kiley had designed it, a process that involved following the precise mathematical formula Kiley used to place the concrete and grass patches. Still, the TCLF believes there's much to be done, including replanting the more than 100 crape myrtles trees that were removed for the restoration process.

Below, a photo of Kiley at the "Air Garden" he designed for the U.S. Air Force Academy, followed by a stroll through a dozen more of his projects featured in the show.

United States Air Force Academy · 1968 · Colorado Springs, CO

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial · 1947 · St. Louis, MO

Miller Garden · 1955 · Columbus, IN

Rockefeller University · 1958 · New York, NY

Currier Farm · 1959 · Danby, VT

Ford Foundation Atrium · 1964 · New York, NY

Hamilton Garden · 1965 · Columbus, IN

Banneker Park · 1967 · Washington, DC

Dallas Museum of Art · 1983 · Dallas, TX

Kimmel Residence · 1996 · Salisbury, CT

Kusko Residence · 1996 · Williamstown, MA

Agnes R. Katz Plaza · 1998 · Pittsburgh, PA

Patterns · 1998 · Wilmington, DE

More photos and information (including where the show goes next!) can be found on the exhibition website, this way.

· All landscape architecture coverage [Curbed National]