Frederick Law Olmsted Lecture: Günther Vogt, “The Imprint of the Landscape”

Günther Vogt standing in his workshop surrounded by shelving

Please join us for the Frederick Law Olmsted Lecture delivered by landscape architect Günther Vogt. Vogt’s lecture will also mark the opening of the exhibition Günther Vogt: First the Forests, which is on view in the Druker Design Gallery from January 21 – March 8, 2020. A reception in the gallery will take place immediately following the lecture.

What is the relevant scale for operating with the landscape of the city?

Since the Industrial Revolution at the latest, humans have become the determining factor for global ecosystems. This fact becomes apparent when we look at sediment displacement influenced by human activity, for example. There is thirty times more of it today than what natural processes cause. Due to our massive intervention in the Earth system, not just new landscapes are formed, however, but the conditions for cohabitation in our cities are also fundamentally changed.

Against this backdrop, solutions proposed by the current ‘green movement’ seem to have little viability. Green facades, vertical gardens or planted bridges deal primarily with esthetic aspects and are neither sustainable nor do they work as part of a network of lived public space. Vegetation is applied onto a construction framework, demoted to the ‘new ornament’ of landscape architecture.

Set against these neatly composed images, Günther Vogt applies a systematic design approach with his projects. Their success is measured not just by their design qualities, but primarily by their consequences for the environment. In the spirit of Friedrick Law Olmsted, who met the changing environmental conditions of his time with a holistic view of space, thinking in systems like this requires incorporating highly diverse scale levels and leads us from the miniature to the panorama of the city landscape.


Günther Vogt’s training at Gartenbauschule Oeschberg provided the practical basis for his intensive landscape work. His knowledge of vegetation and his skills in cultivation continue to be the very cornerstones of his work. His studies with Peter Erni, Jürg Altherr, and Dieter Kienast at Interkantonales Technikum Rapperswil, combined the disciplines of culture, design, and natural sciences. VOGT Landschaftsarchitekten emerged from the office partnership with Dieter Kienast in 2000. With projects such as the Tate Modern in London, Allianz Arena in Munich, or the Masoala Rainforest Hall at the Zurich Zoo, the firm has achieved international recognition. Its work is characterized by the dialogue established between the various disciplines and its close cooperation with artists. Since 2005, Günther Vogt has been pursuing a combination of teaching, practice, and research with his chair at the Institute of Landscape Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. In 2012 he was a visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD). As a passionate collector and keen traveler, he is looking for ways to read, interpret, and describe landscapes, and finding answers to questions about future forms of urban coexistence.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].