The Garden in the Machine: A Demonstration Landscape for Deere & Company

The primary foci of the studio will be:

·The potential of landscape maintenance, its processes, and machinery to inspire potent and inventive program and site designs.
·The legacy of midwestern mid-century corporate modernism—how to respond critically and responsibly to a landmark noted for its skillful integration of architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design.
·Negotiating current sustainability-based imperatives with a corporate aesthetic established in the 1960’s.
·The conceptual, formal, historical, material, operational, and technical territories of gardens, agriculture, and corporate landscapes—what they share, how they are distinct.
·Nesting design at multiple scales, from master planning to details.
·Choreographing change.

The studio’s setting will be the corporate headquarters complex of Deere and Company, in Moline, Illinois, completed in 1964. With the main building design by Eero Saarinen, site design by Stuart Dawson of Sasaki Associates, and a180 foot-long, three-dimensional multi-media collage by Alexander Girard, the assemblage is a widely acknowledged modern masterpiece. The main complex significantly alters a stream valley; addressing site hydrology will be implicit in the studio’s proposals.
Ever since the invention of the self-scouring plow in 1837, Deere & Company products have played a significant role in shaping the world’s landscape. Deer and Company has since grown to be a global giant in the construction, forestry, landscape, and agriculture sectors, with a 2010 income of $1.9 billion on net sales and revenues of $26 billion. This year they will celebrate their 175th anniversary.

The semester will begin with research. Topics will include mid-century corporate modernism, Deere and Company (history/evolution, machinery, corporate philosophy, etc.), as well as site features and systems. Students will then develop the program, design, and maintenance scenarios for a demonstration landscape featuring John Deere products for a strategically important site near the headquarters’ main entry. The overall site is approximately 70 acres; primary attention will be on a central portion measuring approximately 15 acres. Facilities for parking, vending, viewing, and storage will be included.
During spring recess there will be a six-day field trip to Columbus, IN, Moline, IL, and Chicago. Stuart Dawson, FASLA, RAAR, ASLA Medal recipient, founding principal of Sasaki Associates, and primary author of the Deere headquarters’ site design, will be a periodic guest and a guide during the site visit. In addition, extensive historical materials housed at Sasaki will be made available to enhance the students’ research efforts.