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Design Workshop Launches Landscape Architecture Archive with USU

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010

Design Workshop plan rendering, Park Avenue Redevelopment, Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Design Workshop created plans for the Park Avenue Redevelopment, South Lake Tahoe, Nev., 1992-2002. Seen here is the Gondola building with clock tower steeple as built. (Images from Design Workshop.)

Design Workshop plan detail, Park Ave. Redevelopment project

A cross section and sketch of the proposed new development, Park Avenue Redevelopment, South Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Design Workshop, Inc., a leading international landscape architecture firm, has partnered with Utah State University to create the Design Workshop Landscape Architecture Archive and Digital Collection. The archive is a collaborative effort between Design Workshop, USU’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Merrill-Cazier Library’s Special Collections and Archives and the library’s Digital Initiatives Department.
“In 2008, Design Workshop was named the top landscape architecture firm in the country by the American Society of Landscape Architects,” said Sean Michael, head of USU’s LAEP department. “In the process of providing access to the firm’s genesis, evolution and workings, the archive offers students the most comprehensive look available into how leading designers and design firms succeed at their trade. Design Workshop has an impressive history with a story that can enrich future generations.”
The archive features a collection of projects that highlight the firm’s Legacy Design philosophy, which focuses on an equal balance of four key elements: environment, community, economics and art.
Merrill-Cazier Library will add a new landscape architecture digital collection to its Digital Library and partner with LAEP to develop learning objects for students, both at USU and around the world, according to Brad Cole, Merrill-Cazier Library associate dean for Special Collections and Archives.
Assisting the project is Cheryl Walters, digital initiatives department head at Merrill-Cazier Library.
“There really is no archive or digital library in the country that is tackling landscape architectural records in the way we propose,” said Walters. “We feel this is truly new territory, and we are very excited about the project.”
Additionally, the records will inform more than just landscape architects and environmental planners.
“These documents help tell of the development of the modern western United States,” Cole said. “They deal with recreational sites and planned communities and how this development interacts with the natural environment. One of Special Collections’s main collecting emphasis areas is in Western environmental collections. The Design Workshop Collection will definitely be a boon to those researchers studying the history of the 20th century West.”
Design Workshop’s founding partners, Joe Porter and Don Ensign, graduated from USU in 1963, earning bachelor’s degrees in landscape architecture. Other USU graduates followed and joined the firm, including Richard Shaw, Todd Johnson and Terrall Budge, among others.
“The intertwined histories of the university and the firm highlight the importance and value of preserving the Design Workshop Archives at Utah State University,” Michael said.
The creation of the archive also celebrates the firm’s 40th anniversary.
“Choosing Utah State to house the history of our firm was an easy decision,” said Kurt Culbertson, Design Workshop’s chairman of the board of directors. “Our work is inspired by the West, and USU’s landscape architectural studies are at the center of teaching the design spirit of the West. We have strong ties to the university and are impressed with its archiving processes and technologies.”
The Design Workshop Archives and Digital Collection at USU begins by focusing on the firm’s early work in a pilot effort to bring each piece to life via carefully selected materials, colorful visuals and engaging audio.
“Design Workshop’s portfolio of landscape architecture projects in the North America, especially in the American West, is unsurpassed anywhere in the world, and with the archive’s creation, students, scholars and designers at any location on the planet will have the opportunity to learn from that rich legacy of work,” Michael said.
Related links:
Writer: Patrick Williams, 435-797-1354,
USU Contact: Sean Michael, 435-797-0509,
USU Contact: Brad Cole, 435-797-8268,
Design Workshop Contact (Denver, Colo.): Hillary Osborne, Associate, 303 623-5186

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