'The Alan Ward Portfolios of Designed Landscapes'

Landscapes in Black and White

John Hill
11. September 2023
Miller Garden, Columbus, Indiana, 1996 (Photo © Alan Ward, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

TCLF recently announced the gift and the creation of The Alan Ward Portfolios of Designed Landscapes, a digital photographic archive of around 2,500 photographs in 110 “portfolios.” The photos here give a taste of the primarily black-and-white photographs Ward took in the United States over the course of nearly fifty years, but the archive also includes photographs in twelve other countries: Austria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Slovenia. 

Naumkeag, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, 1983 (Photo © Alan Ward, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Just 20 of the 110 portfolios are currently online, with the rest to be added over time as the rest of the prints, negatives, and transparencies are digitized. In the first crop of twenty portfolios are numerous notable modern landscapes, among them: Dan Kiley's Miller Garden in Columbus, Indiana; Fletcher Steele's Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; George Patton and Harriet Pattison's Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; and Stuart Dawson's John Deere Administrative Center in Moline, Illinois. The last, incidentally, is usually attributed to Sasaki, where Dawson was a founding partner and where Ward has worked since graduating from Harvard GSD decades ago.

John Deere Administrative Center, Moline, Illinois, 1996 (Photo © Alan Ward, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Ward's often moody and always gorgeous photographs of landscape architecture were previously compiled in the 1998 book American Designed Landscapes: A Photographic Interpretation; he was co-author of the recent American Residential Architecture: Photographs of the Evolution of Indiana Houses; and his photographs were the subject of the 2016 exhibition Luminous Landscapes at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Still, some people visiting TCLF's website will be seeing Ward's photographs for the first time — a fact that is sure to change as his photos are licensed and shared more widely.

Alan Ward (Photo © Alan Ward, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

It should be noted that each of the 20-and-counting portfolios (presented as PDFs linked from the different geographical indexes) includes Ward's notes on the making of the photographs — the whys and hows behind the images. Also recommended is reading TCLF's interview with Ward, in which he gives insight on his photography but also why he gifted his archive to TCLF: 

“I chose The Cultural Landscape Foundation to donate this archive of images because the foundation has prominent visibility in making known significant designed landscapes, educating people about the importance of the legacy of designed landscapes, as well as being a leading voice when these landscapes are threatened. I envisioned The Cultural Landscape Foundation expanding on its tradition - by using this archive of photographs to help make known these significant gardens, parks, arboreta, and other sites. In comparison, I imagined donating the archive to an educational institution where the work would be filed away – materially and digitally – amidst large volumes of other materials, perhaps lost from view.”

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