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Penn State University

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Department of Landscape Architecture

History

In 1907 John Gregg was inspired to initiate a program in landscape architecture at what was then the Pennsylvania State College.  The first home of the program, with Horticulture, was in the College of Agriculture.

A lot has happened in the hundred years since. In 1907 Bakelite, color photography and the paper towel were invented. Rachel Carson was born in Springdale in Allegheny County. The landscape architecture program that Arthur Cowell took over in 1913 grew from just a handful of students to twelve in 1930, by then led by John Bracken. The fifty-year anniversary of the program saw the reins handed to Wayne Wilson and the first accreditation of the program by ASLA. 1957 was also the year of Sputnik I, the first Frisbee and the first commercial nuclear reactor, in Shippingport, PA.

David Young succeeded Wilson as department head in 1972. The department has since been guided by Neil Porterfield, Eliza Pennypacker, Brian Orland, Kelleann Foster, and our current department head, Ron Henderson.

In 1963 landscape architecture became one of the departments that formed the new College of Arts and Architecture. At that time the department was located in the attics of the Sackett Building, and in 1979 the program relocated to the newly remodeled Engineering Units. Those Units have now been demolished—in 2005 the department moved to the Stuckeman Family Building and the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Through those changes student numbers have continually fluctuated—growing to sixty and seventy students in each class at the beginning of the 1970s when controls were put in place.

In 2007, class numbers hover around forty students. In one hundred years we have grown. We hear legendary tales of Dave Young and Wayne Wilson but they stood on the shoulders of John Bracken and he in turn looked to Cowell and Gregg who were his professors. It is sobering to be part of this stream of legacy and an important responsibility—in the next half-century new landscape architects will be standing on the shoulders of our current students and alumni.