URI National Register Nomination

Image 1

Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot Landscape Architects, “R.I. College of A.; M. Arts /
Kingston R.I. / Preliminary Sketch,” March 6, 1895. Plan shows three existing
buildings (Taft, Davis and South Halls) and the planned drill hall (Lippitt Hall) in dark
shading, and a rectilinear, double-quadrangle plan with tree-lined paths.
Credit: Olmsted Plans and Drawings Collection. Job #01392. Frederick Law Olmsted
National Historic Site, Brookline, MA.

by Joanna M. Doherty, Principal Architectural Historian of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission

The core of the University of Rhode Island’s campus in Kingston was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 2017. In listing the University of Rhode Island Historic District, the National Park Service recognizes its significance to the history of public higher education in Rhode Island and its fine collection of academic buildings designed by locally prominent architects, centered around a quadrangle laid out by Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot.The campus traces its origins to 1888, when the state purchased the Oliver Watson Farm as the location for the Rhode Island State Agricultural School and Experiment Station; the ca. 1796 Watson Farmhouse survives as a relic of the property’s agricultural history. Three academic buildings were soon constructed: Taft Hall (E.A. Ellsworth, 1889), Davis Hall (Stone, Carpenter & Willson, 1890/1895) and South Hall (1890, not extant). In 1892, the institution’s name was changed to the Rhode Island College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, and two years later it was designated the state’s “land-grant” college (a status initially given to Brown).

Image 2

View looking southwest across the quadrangle, taken in 1900, showing Lippitt Hall
(center foreground) and, in the background, South Hall (left; not extant), Davis Hall
(center) and Taft Hall (right). The one-story buildings in the foreground do not
Credit: Bernon Helme Photograph Collection, 1895-1930. Mss. Gr. 125, Folder 13.
University of Rhode Island Library, South Kingstown, RI.

That same year, the school’s Board of Managers engaged Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot to assist with campus planning. The firm’s earliest schemes proposed a circulation system comprised of gently curving roads, but plans from the spring of 1895 showed a less romantic approach; a few roads still curved around the edge of campus, but a rectilinear double-quadrangle was at its core. The centers of the quadrangles would be open, with tree-lined paths defining the edges. Although the double-quad plan was never entirely implemented, the northern quad was established and survives largely intact, with tree-lined, perimeter paths and buildings arranged on the edges, mostly facing inward toward the green. (The perimeter of the quad was originally planted with American elms which, due to disease, were replaced with Japanese zelkovas in the mid-1980s.)

Image 3

Aerial photograph of Rhode Island State College, ca, 1946.
Credit: Carl R. Woodward Papers. Mss. Gr. 1, Box 62, Folder 170. University of
Rhode Island Library Special Collections and Archives Unit, South Kingstown, RI.

Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot’s design reflected a move away from the park-like campuses advocated by landscape practitioners earlier in the 19th century toward more formal plans that emphasized symmetry and geometry. By drawing on European precedent, the quadrangle served as a potent academic symbol for the young college. It also provided an organizing principle for the continued development of the campus. The three existing academic buildings were lined up on the western edge of the quad, and a new building, Lippitt Hall (Stone, Carpenter & Willson, 1897), was soon built on the northern edge. In 1909, the school was re-named the Rhode Island State College and new facilities were required to meet the needs of a growing student population and an expanding curriculum. Three buildings – East Hall (Leslie P. Langworthy, 1909), Ranger Hall (Clarke, Howe & Homer, 1914) and Washburn Hall (Eleazer B. Homer, 1921) – were erected on the eastern and southern sides of the quad, while Bliss Hall (Bigelow, Kent, Willard and Co., 1928) joined Lippitt Hall on the north.

Image 4

View showing Main Quadrangle, taken in 2013, looking southeast toward Washburn
Hall and Edwards Hall, showing double-row of trees along east perimeter of quad.
Credit: Joanna M. Doherty.

Other, mostly later buildings were constructed slightly off the quad, sometimes disrupting Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot’s double-quad plan; Green Hall (Jackson, Robertson & Adams, 1937), for example, was sited in the center of what was to be the southern quad. A Post World War II building boom, coinciding with the school’s designation as a university in 1951, resulted in the construction of over 20 new buildings, many executed in the Modern style, mostly away from the quadrangle. The historic core of the campus remains intact, however, embodying the university’s origins as a land-grant school and its growth in the first half of the 20th century.

The University of Rhode Island Historic District National Register nomination may be found at http://www.preservation.ri.gov/register/riproperties.php


Welcoming Spring at the Preservation Society of Newport County

by Kaity Ryan, Deputy Chief of Staff of The Preservation Society of Newport County.

The Preservation Society of Newport County (“PSNC”) is most known for its collection of architectural landmarks known as the Newport Mansions. Of equal significance are the 88 acres of gardens, parkland, and an arboretum that comprise the organization’s landscape collection. Over the past 10 years, the Preservation Society has renewed its commitment to landscape preservation and elevating public discourse about landscape history.

The majority of the PSNC’s landscapes were designed during the Gilded Age for affluent patrons for whom maintenance costs were no obstacle, in contrast to the present-day constraints of a not-for-profit steward. Today, a team of horticulturists, arborists, and gardeners tend to the 11 historic properties in the Preservation Society’s care. The PSNC’s Gardens and Landscapes department operates several greenhouses in which it cultivates trees, plants and flowers that are used in the  houses and grounds. The team also addresses the ongoing needs and challenges of the variety of landscapes in the collection.

One such challenge is succession planning, which presents a unique obstacle given that much of the collection contains non-native specimen trees that, in addition to the ever-present threats of climate conditions and disease, are nearing the end of their natural lifespan. Anticipating the need to replace the rare specimen trees that characterize properties like Chateau-sur-Mer and The Breakers – as well as the larger Newport tree canopy – the Preservation Society has established nurseries for cultivating replacements. The Breakers Greenhouse is home to a variety of species, including rare Turkish Oaks grown from acorns taken from the trees at Chateau-sur-Mer. In 2016, the Preservation Society created a beech nursery at Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, where replacement trees are being cultivated in preparation for transplanting in the coming years.

In addition to the 30+ people who make up the organization’s horticultural team, the Preservation Society is committed to hiring local contractors whose knowledge and experience are critical to the success of our landscape efforts. None of this work could be carried out without the contributions of volunteers who dedicate time, expertise, and enthusiasm to helping the organization carry out its mission.

PSNC_Article_Images_2018.003Recognizing the need for a curatorial vision to guide landscape stewardship and interpretation, long-time Green Animals Topiary Garden director Jim Donahue was promoted to the role of Curator of Historic Landscapes and Gardens in 2014. In this capacity, Donahue draws on his horticultural background and design experience along with historical research and scholarship to devise creative ways to engage visitors in the Preservation Society’s properties. In 2015, Donahue spearheaded the accreditation of the Newport Mansions Arboretum, which was recognized by the Morton Register as a Level II arboretum. In addition to interpretive efforts like the restoration of the rose garden at Rosecliff (currently underway), Donahue helps guide public education through programming such as the 2017-18 lecture series highlighting the evolution of The Breakers landscape along with an adult education series that is being offered this spring.

Integral to these interpretive efforts is the generosity of supporters like the van Beuren Charitable Foundation (vBCF). In 2017, vBCF awarded the Preservation Society a grant of one million dollars which provided transformational funding for The Breakers landscape. For the first time in over a century, the original design, conceived by noted landscape architect and engineer Ernest W. Bowditch, will be reestablished so that the property reflects the original design intent. This gift will enable the Preservation Society to implement site improvements and design recommendations informed by a master plan by landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand (Cambridge, MA) and a cultural landscape report (CLR) by consulting historian Judith Robinson and Associates (Washington D.C.). Together these resources provide a blueprint that will guide landscape treatment moving forward.

The master plan presents an opportunity to rehabilitate and restore elements of Bowditch’s design that will activate the landscape and unify the entire site as a cohesive experience. The master plan outlines site improvements based on eight “character zones” or designated project areas to lend a phased approach to the 13-acre property over time. With a total cost of over $4 million, the Preservation Society has raised $1.1 million and continues to seek funding that will enable us to execute the entire plan. The first phase of implementation is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2018.PSNC_Article_Images_2018.002

The CLR formed the basis for Reed Hilderbrand’s design recommendations and it is a critical tool for the future stewardship of The Breakers as it provides a comprehensive history of the landscape that will guide treatment and interpretation for years to come. The report can be found on the Preservation Society’s website and all are encouraged to read it.

Beyond its own gates, the Preservation Society has forged public-private partnerships that support landscape preservation in the local community. In 2015 the Preservation Society partnered with The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), the pioneering national organization dedicated to landscape preservation and advocacy. Together the two not-for-profits organized a free, weekend-long program called “What’s Out There Weekend: Newport County” in which local experts (including many ASLA members and affiliates) led free tours and guided walks of 28 landscapes throughout Newport County. With support from the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, Bartlett Tree Experts, and others, TCLF and PSNC published an accompanying guidebook which remains available to the public through the TCLF website.

Another public-private collaboration involved the Preservation Society together with the Aquidneck Land Trust, Preserve Rhode Island, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Brought together by a shared focus on preserving and enhancing the visual quality of Aquidneck Island’s historic and natural places, this group dedicated more than five years to building support and raising $1.2 million to restore one of Rhode Island’s most significant scenic resources: the coastline of historic Paradise Valley, more commonly known as Second Beach or Sachuest. The partners worked with the Town of Middletown and National Grid to bury the utility lines and eliminate the utility poles adjacent to Second Beach in Middletown. This project not only restored the historic views that inspired artists like John LaFarge and George Bellows to paint the landscape, it also increased coastal resiliency, enhanced pedestrian safety, and improved utility infrastructure for the cyclists, surfers, beach-goers, birdwatchers, and others that visit Second Beach, the Norman Bird Sanctuary, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, St. George’s School, Purgatory Chasm, and other nearby sites.

Collectively these internal and external initiatives represent an important chapter in the Preservation Society’s stewardship and interpretation efforts. Beyond the value of contributing new scholarship, elevating awareness of Newport County’s landscape legacy and design history, and increasing engagement, these efforts support the breadth and depth of talented designers, contractors, horticulturists and scholars in and around Rhode Island. As we welcome all the harbingers of spring, the Preservation Society welcomes the next chapter in landscape stewardship and looks forward to the growth it will bring for our organization and the broader community we serve.


This is Landscape Architecture – Instagram Takeover #WLAM2018

2018 WLAM CardAs part of World Landscape Architecture Month, the RIASLA is organizing a 2 week long “Instagram Takeover” to feature the work of our local firms! The takeover will be held from April 16-April 30, 2018. Members will have the opportunity to “take over” the RIASLA Instagram account for one day during this 2 week period, showcasing their work through posts of their choosing. The takeover will be similar to the Instagram takeover that National ASLA organized last year, which was a huge success.

This will help RIASLA improve our social media content, increase our follower base, and improve awareness about the exciting work that our members are doing in RI and beyond!

There’s still a few spots available. If you are interested in participating, please contact us at rhodeislandasla@gmail.com. We will then release a temporary login for the Instagram account, which will give you access to post on your day!

Rules are as follows:

  • You may make as many posts as you like, as long as they are made on your day.
  • Include the hashtags #WLAM2018 and #LandscapeArchitecture
  • Post only landscape architecture related content
  • Please tag your business account and the accounts of those you have collaborated with, if applicable.

If you have any questions, please direct them to:

Emily Humphrey, emahumphrey17@gmail.com

Call for ExComm members for RIASLA


RIASLA Executive Committee Nominations Now Open

Help strengthen our profession! Nominate a friend, colleague, or yourself today. The strength of RIASLA comes from the dedicated efforts of our member volunteers. Join the team and make a difference.  


Five Executive Committee positions are up for election this year:  President-ElectTreasurer, Secretary, Communications Chair, and Public Awareness Chair. These positions will take office at the end of the ASLA Annual Meeting held in October 2018.

All positions are voting members of the RIASLA Executive Committee (“ExComm”) – the President-Elect position requiring a three year commitment (including one year as President-Elect, one year as President, one year as Immediate Past President), and the other positions serving one year.

All positions require attendance at monthly RIASLA ExComm meetings and include the duties outlined in detail below. The position of President-Elect requires travel to two annual meetings: Spring Chapter Presidents Council Meeting (typically held in Washington, DC) and Fall Chapter Presidents Council Meeting held just prior to, and at the location of, the ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo. Certain expenses associated with these trips (travel, accommodations, some meals) are reimbursed in part by ASLA and in part by the chapter. Participation in the annual ASLA Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, as part of the Spring meeting, is also required.


RIASLA will accept Nominations (including self-nominations) for these positions until May 18, 2018. Candidate’s name, phone number, and preferred email should be emailed to rhodeislandasla@gmail.com by Friday, May 18, 2018  

In the nomination email, please include the position nominated for as well as the name and phone number of the nominee. Please also cc the nomination email to the person you are nominating. If you want to include a short paragraph about the nominee, you may, but it is not necessary,

A slate of up to two nominations per position will be presented to the RIASLA Executive Committee for approval, after which the slate will be presented to RIASLA Full and Associate Members for voting if there is more than one candidate for a position. If the vote of the membership results in a tie between two or more candidates, the election will be decided by a vote of the ExComm.


President-Elect/President/Immediate Past President

Typically, the President-Elect/President/Immediate Past President shall be a Full ASLA Member elected for a commitment of three (3) years: one as President Elect, one as President, and one as Past President.

As President-Elect, s/he is a voting member of the Executive Committee and involved in most leadership/chapter management decisions.  The President-Elect also acts in the place of the President when asked or appointed by the Executive Committee.  S/he prepares a slate of committee chairs and members to take effect when s/he becomes President.  Preference is given to the current chairs.

As President, s/he presides over all chapter and Executive Committee meetings, represents the Chapter with other organizations, ASLA at the Chapter President Council Meetings, sets the chapter agenda with the consent of the Executive Committee, and is the primary point of contact for all ExComm members.

As Immediate Past President, s/he supports the new President in his/her duties, provides counsel, advice, and direction as needed.  S/he assumes the role of President when asked by the President or the Executive Committee and attends the ASLA Spring and Fall Meetings on behalf of the Chapter with other chapter leaders.

The President-Elect/President/Immediate Past President must be a Full RIASLA member.


The treasurer shall be a Full or Associate ASLA Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The treasurer shall: collect all fees, dues, charges, and other funds due the Chapter; be the custodian of all Chapter funds and disburse such funds only as authorized by the Executive Committee; keep the accounts of the Chapter that shall be open at all times to inspection by the Executive Committee; present quarterly reports on the financial condition of the Chapter and year-end financial statements to the Executive Committee; and perform such other duties as are customary for the office of chapter treasurer or as may be assigned or delegated by the president.


The secretary shall be a Full or Associate Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The secretary shall: maintain a record of the proceedings of the business meetings of the Chapter and the Executive Committee; prepare and issue notices of the meetings of the Chapter and the Executive Committee; prepare, issue, and receive ballots; administer annual and special elections and notify candidates of election results; serve ex officio as a member of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee; maintain the Constitution and Bylaws of the Chapter; certify documents; and perform such other duties as are customary for the office of chapter secretary or as may be assigned or delegated by the president.

Communications Chair

The Communications Chair shall be a Full or Associate ASLA Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The Communications Chair coordinates with ExComm annual planning to set themes for monthly focus areas across media. He/she coordinates timing and messaging across eNews, branded email, social media and website with assistance. He/she drafts eNews content on a regular basis and coordinates with webmaster for cross-referenced content. He/she works with ExComm to collect sponsor ads / content / stories for eNews, based on annual plan for themes. Other duties may be assigned or delegated by the Executive Committee of the Chapter.

Public Awareness Chair

The Public Awareness Chair shall be a Full or Associate ASLA Member elected for a term of one (1) year.

The Public Awareness Chair attends the national public awareness conference hosted by ASLA to represent the Chapter. He/she plans and manages public awareness events and posts to social media. Other duties may be assigned or delegated by the ExComm.


For questions regarding the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the positions up for election this year, please contact Melissa Bagga, current President, or Jenn Judge, Trustee at rhodeislandasla@gmail.com.

Anova Grant Competition

Calling all Rhode Island ASLA Emerging Professionals:

Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to receive grant money to attend this years’ Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. Anova Furnishings is asking emerging professionals to submit a short essay and a quick napkin sketch between April 13 and May 14, 2018 and are awarding $2,000 grants toward conference expenses to the 21 best responses.

For more information, check out the link below:

Anova Furnishings’ Grant Competition

Green RI is May 3rd!

2018-Green-RI-web-bannerIIDA NE Providence City Center, AIAri, and RIASLA will once again join together to host the 2018  Green RI Sustainable Product Showcase on May 3, 2018. Companies producing earth-friendly building materials set up shop to display their latest and greatest products for industry members to view. In addition to exploring the tradeshow floor, attendees have the opportunity to attend CEU presentations, network with peers, and learn about the latest innovations regarding sustainable products from various vendors. The event also includes an Earth Day sample collection so attendees have an opportunity to fill up a box (or three!) as they conquer their spring cleaning of their material library and donate unused/unwanted sample materials at the event!

The find out more and to register click here.

To volunteer the day of the event, sign up here.

National ASLA reveals new logo!

“ASLA is implementing a rebrand that refreshes our logo, which dates to 1987; sets a new palette; employs new fonts and image logic; and suggests logo, color, and font treatments for chapters. The effort teams with the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture to enhance the Society’s new directions.”
Check out the article at the following link:  https://www.asla.org/land/LandArticle.aspx?id=52781