GSD 4142 is a lecture course, meeting once weekly for three hours with a discussion section. It covers the formal/cultural history and theoretical underpinnings of gardens and public landscapes from the Baroque to City Beautiful. Beginning in early modern Europe, the course moves from the Italian villa and palazzo to French royal landscapes and English rural estates, to nineteenth-century urban parks in Britain and North America. This private/public evolution involves shifts within amateur and professional “landscape gardening” towards the consolidation of professional landscape architecture by 1900. The multi-disciplinary origins of modern landscape architecture — crossing borders with architecture and urban planning — are examined in a variety of contexts that include:
- The question of style within politics and culture and in relationship to science, technique and piety
- The social reception of gardens, the networks of collecting, and the visual culture of natural history
- The rise of technology, social reform, and ecological concerns during industrialization and urbanization
- The emergence of ideologies of nature, from the Picturesque to the “Wild Garden” and “Prairie Style”
- The development of historicism, landscape preservation, and National Parks as land conservation
- The roots of professional practice, and the emergent role of women in the landscape profession
Landscape design is analyzed through the methodologies of art history, geography, social and urban history, horticulture and ecology, and studies in land-management. Adjunct to his design practice, Professor Laird’s involvement in multi-disciplinary books (from Empire’s Nature, 1998, to Mrs. Delany and her Circle, 2009, to Gardens in the Age of Empire: 1800-1920, forthcoming) makes his lectures rewarding for students from varied backgrounds. Evaluation is by two assignments and two exams.