Diana Balmori

Oral History Interview with Diana Balmori, undertaken by Elizabeth Gettinger in Diana Balmori’s office in New York City on July 29, 2009. At Dumbarton Oaks, Diana Balmori was a Senior Fellow in Garden and Landscape Studies between 2005 and 2011.

EG: Today is July 29, 2009; my name is Elizabeth Gettinger, and today I have the pleasure of interviewing Diana Balmori in her office in New York City. Thank you for sitting down to talk with me today.

DB: Delighted.

EG: So, to start things off, could you tell me a little bit about how you first heard about Dumbarton Oaks and got involved there and what your initial impressions were of the place?

DB: First of all, I was attending conferences at Dumbarton Oaks, one of the few places in which there was a serious attention to landscape history. I was writing on landscape particularly at that time, so I was particularly interested in the level of research and the kinds of research. I was doing some research of my own on issues of public space in New York City, and ran across a whole series of letters from a landscape architect to an architect, and I was investigating that particular architect at that time, who was working in New York City. This was in the New York Historical Society. At any rate, I got enormously interested in what this landscape architect was saying to this architect, and though it had nothing to do with New York, it had to do with some site in Washington D.C. called Dumbarton Oaks, I got enormously interested in the story, and since I was talking about public places and landscapes, I got very interested and began to do research on her, and on her work, and I got very involved in how Dumbarton Oaks was designed. There was nothing at Dumbarton Oaks on that at that time, so this was the first vision of the actual conversations that took place between the architect, the landscape architect, but also with the client. There were many references to what Mildred Bliss had said, and what Mildred Bliss wanted, and some sketches from Mildred Bliss. I found myself with this research, which I had not intended to do, but became incredibly interested because of the vitality coming out of these letters and the interesting issues that were brought up by her. So, at that particular time there was a temporary head of the Dumbarton Oaks landscape program for a year, Diane McGuire, and she had decided to make the conference of her year in the post – to do it on Beatrix Farrand – both to do something for women's history and also to get to a greater depth about the site on which Dumbarton Oaks is sitting. So, I submitted – the conference was already set, so I was added at the last minute. That began to develop a different type of relationship with Dumbarton Oaks. For me it's always been a very important relationship, because it also represents the relationship with Beatrix Farrand, which afterwards became a main theme and about which I also wrote other things. I have discovered in Princeton some of her three-monthly visits to maintain a landscape, and I use them always as a form of education for a landscaper. So, my connection – I always see Dumbarton Oaks as part of Beatrix Farrand, as part of this story and also my evolution, which afterwards went from writing about landscape to doing landscape. That's a long answer to your question.

EG: Thank you. So, you had begun researching Beatrix Farrand and the history of Dumbarton Oaks before you came to the conference?

DB: No, I started going to the conferences and I knew about them, but I never put together what I was doing with Dumbarton Oaks. It happened to be the accidental coincidence of Diane McGuire setting up a conference on Beatrix Farrand that produced this criss-crossing by which the research which I thought was totally on a different track became part of Dumbarton Oaks also.

EG: So, what were some of the earlier conferences that you went to, what were those like?

DB: I remember they were very good conferences. I always discovered very interesting ideas in all of them. I remember one on the Italian villas with Wilhelmina Jashemski. I remember one on Italian; I remember a conference on French gardens. They were all, I felt, very high-quality and very interesting, and all under the leadership of different directors.

EG: They had varied themes back then? I don't know a lot about the earlier conferences.

DB: They were, though, very much tied to the gardens of a particular culture, be it classical culture or be it Italian or French or English. And Joachim Wolschke – I think it was much more taking periods but looking at them across a more mixed series of cultures, but all at a very high level.

EG: So, what were your first impressions of Dumbarton Oaks when you got there, both in terms of its reputation as intellectual center and the physical setting of it?

DB: Very academic. I did think, however, and this very strongly – it became a stronger impression over time – that it was very academic and very historic-bound, and I dropped away from going to conferences for a while, feeling that they only dealt with historical cases and not with modern; I also felt that they were only speaking to academicians, not to practitioners, and because I had become a practitioner at that point I was very interested in having something that had to do with the practice, and I felt that was not being addressed at all. So, we're all critics as well as – but that in no way diminished my appreciation of Dumbarton Oaks, which I always felt was a very special place and a very special intellectual source of ideas about landscape, and there is a dearth of them all over the U.S.; there's very few places in which landscape is discussed. So, it was a rare gem and I've always considered it a rare gem.

EG: Could you tell me a little bit more about the Beatrix Farrand conference, what your role was and what the mission was for the symposium itself?

DB: It was really to put on the table and create a volume of all that was known about her at that particular time. I never expected to be part of a thing like that, and I just dealt with the design of the garden at Dumbarton Oaks. It's amazing, though, that at the time I had never heard her name mentioned when I went to Dumbarton Oaks, and that's what really surprised me, and then on reading all this stuff I connected the two pieces and I said, “How come there isn't a monument to her at Dumbarton Oaks, how come there is nothing there that has told me that it's her garden?” I was incredibly surprised at that, and I think this conference did a very good job at really starting to do some work on Beatrix Farrand. I think there's a lot still to be done, although a whole series of books have come out after that. But I think that was the first serious attempt to put a story about her together. I can bring the volume to you, because it's interesting to see the different topics. This volume touched on another topic which I knew absolutely nothing about, but one of the things that was done which was very good was Beatrix Farrand gave all her papers to the University of California at Berkeley, so what is in that collection was presented there, which nobody had any idea what there was. McGuire, who was the acting director at the time, did an evaluation of her work, and there was a very interesting piece of work on all of her work on campuses; nobody knew that she'd done any campuses at the time. Actually I went on to take that, because I didn't know that part of my own university, Yale university, had been designed by her, so I went to the ones where she had done the biggest jobs, which were Yale and Princeton, and really went through all the material and extended what Diane had started here. But this was all totally new; people didn't know about this – then her work in England, and then the one that I did, which was the design of Dumbarton Oaks itself, what came out of that correspondence – then the issue of maintaining and preserving Dumbarton Oaks and gardens in general. But I can't tell you how new it all felt at that particular time. Here she was, the designer of the place that we were – just all of this stuff was totally new.

EG: That's just really shocking to me, that no one had really researched that before.

DB: No, really amazing. So, it was wonderful. It was a great conference. We were all sort of ecstatic at all of the things we'd heard about Beatrix Farrand that none of us knew.

EG: So, from your research on Beatrix Farrand, have you gotten a sense of her vision for the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, or her goals in the design of it?

DB: After that I really paid much more attention at general vision about landscape architecture, rather than about Dumbarton Oaks in specific. I was very interested in the design of campuses, because the design of campuses since the '50s has really been abandoned, taken over by parking lots. The stuff that was there that was good was not maintained. So, I wanted to see how she had approached it and how effective she'd been, and I very carefully went to both Princeton and Yale to look at what was left of her work. It was really incredibly good. It really had a whole series of principles that we would consider absolutely the latest right now, which is both using either native or adapted plants, and that in the university become a showcase of the local vegetation. And she created nurseries at each one that produced the material, which gave a much higher quality to it, and also that the different universities she worked with shared plant material among them. She created a sort of very high level way of planting, but with an educational motif, and no university has that right now; it's something that's been lost. Her landscape, both at Yale and Princeton, at Yale there's maybe ten percent of it; at Princeton maybe twenty percent of it. It's ceased to be the whole idea that holds the campus together. Because the campus is such a good American invention, of creating this place that really has spaces that are landscape, that are as important as the buildings. Then it seemed that someone who worked on this, who thought of this, would be very important. But Yale has paid no attention to it, and Princeton hasn't either; they've gotten rid of the all the nurseries and practically all of the landscape, and they've done a minimum maintenance sort of design. But the ideas – nobody has gotten back to them. The ideas are very valuable and the American campus is a very, very original and interesting idea, and therefore it deserves much greater attention. She was one of the few landscape architects who really had a general vision of it. There's a couple of others, but she touched on the most important campuses of the east coast.

EG: Have you noticed similarities between the Yale and Princeton campuses and her work at Dumbarton Oaks? Did she treat them in the same ways?

DB: No, not at all.

EG: Completely different?

DB: It's obvious that in Dumbarton Oaks she had a very good client who could spend much more money than a campus could on the landscape. On the campus, she always just said that a campus should mainly be grass and trees, and certainly Dumbarton Oaks isn't just grass and trees. It was a very different thing. Of course, after that it was passed on to Harvard, and at that time a lot of things were simplified precisely so that it becomes more campus-like, so although there still is an enormous part of the garden per se function, it became somewhat simplified, in the sense of trying to obtain a simpler garden. And things like the theater that is there; it's never used and it would be wonderful to sort of have it come back to life. There are things in there that had an enormous amount of life and which have disappeared within it. And above all the connection to what was the wild part, which is now across a wire fence; it belongs now to the park system of Washington D.C., which has done a very bad job of maintaining it. But that juxtaposition of the two pieces must have been enormously interesting, going from one to the other, which today you can't even recognize.

EG: Do you think that overall her landscape at Dumbarton Oaks has been fairly maintained?

DB: Yes, I think it's lucky. It's been much better maintained than Yale and Princeton, definitely.

EG: Has there been more of a conscious effort, do you think?

DB: Oh yes. For one, there's really a gardener. Most campuses today have crews that work lawnmowers and chop trees and that's about it, and many times bus drivers and maintenance crew for landscape are the same people. Dumbarton Oaks has had a really seriously trained head gardener there. Princeton, I must say, did keep its head gardener until way into the early '90s, James Smith, and therefore that's why it was a higher quality than Yale's. A head gardener kept some of the traits, although he was dealing with a crew that was a tenth of what he had before, and a sort of mentality in campuses about doing absolutely minimum for the landscape, and no budgets, he still was able to at least keep some of the old things alive and well, a much more knowledgeable level of landscape knowledge. And I think that getting some really seriously trained gardeners to head the maintenance of a campus is a really important idea. And I meant landscape gardeners. Landscape architects and landscape gardeners in the landscape gardening tradition are people that are trained essentially in England. We don't have training programs; there's just one starting now but we don't have training programs to make a serious landscape training effort that could produce the very knowledgeable people that could run such a thing, a whole campus.

EG: It must be really interesting to have worked both at Yale and at Dumbarton Oaks, in places that were both designed by her.

DB: It's a great experience.

EG: Does it give you sort of a different view on her work, as opposed to doing research?

DB: Yes, precisely because – and I have read comments about her, that she was the kind that did gardens for rich ladies and designed them over tea. Her profession, she – this sort of real put-down about women's work, particularly in gardens, is so unlike what she did. She worked in a professional way. It wasn't over tea nor with rich clients; she was lucky with Mildred Bliss, but certainly campuses weren't rich clients. The kind of work that she did – and you can read her letters every time that she comes, every three months to look over – there's such an attention to detail and such a view of the whole at the same time. I became very influenced by the work on campuses of hers. I feel very frustrated that the campuses aren't doing anything, and particularly Yale.

EG: To start getting back to the topic of symposia, have you been involved in any of the lectures or conferences in more recent years?

DB: Yes, but I only started coming when Michel Conan became director, because he suddenly put modern landscapes into the mix, and he also included practitioners and artists, and suddenly all the things that I had been complaining about disappeared, so I started coming again because of that. I had become sort of anti-history at a certain point, although I'd been writing history of landscape; I felt that landscape was too mired in the past, and that it needed to break out and work with new ideas, and so I didn't want to learn more about historical landscapes. I felt that it got in my way of what I wanted to do as a practitioner, so I ceased to get involved in the historical aspects, and I stopped writing, and therefore didn't present papers anymore. But I did start attending with Michel Conan's entry into the contemporary on the one hand, the issue of putting both practitioners and artists, who I think have contributed enormously to landscape, and finally also because I was starting to work in Asia at that particular point and he had paid an enormous amount of attention to Asian landscapes. So, all those three things touched directly on my practice and I became enormously interested. So, I was absolutely delighted when I was asked to be a Senior Fellow, because it felt like coming home.

EG: So, you'd say there's been a shift in the focus of the research at Dumbarton Oaks?

DB: Yes, I think that there's a wider world-view – that both the Middle East conference, the Asian conferences, the attention to China, to Japan, to Korea, the sort of pan-Asian view, has entered in different ways into Dumbarton Oaks, and has made it a much more cosmopolitan place than before; it was basically European history. And I think this makes it totally of the times. And I think John will certainly go much more in that direction, which I think benefits Dumbarton Oaks enormously. I still think that the tie with the profession itself is very weak, and practitioners and academicians – there's a colossal abyss between both, and there's very few people who cross it.

EG: Have you noticed there that there was a tension between the people that did the history of gardens and people who actually practice it? That was an issue there?

DB: It's an issue. So, the practitioners basically don't go; they consider, “Oh, these academicians, just boring stuff,” and they do not pay attention to it, and I think it's to the detriment of the profession, because the kind of work, and particularly since touching on modern themes, is enormously relevant. I'm not saying the historical stuff is not relevant, it's just that it's all we had before, and I think that the inclusion of some of the newer stuff that's coming in is really very important for practitioners to be part of. And the other thing is that the effect that artists have had on landscape, partly because landscape, in different ways, since the twentieth century has pulled itself apart from the arts, so that no museum today considers that they would have a show on landscape, because it's not art. So, it's out there. And because artists got very interested in it, above all in the era of the earthworks, that they started working with earth forms and all of that and they influenced landscape practitioners enormously, but they also had an effect on pulling it back into the family of the arts. Still, a museum will exhibit work by an earthwork artist, but they won't exhibit work by a landscape practitioner. It's still out there. And ecology has had the effect, too, of putting it out there as something that is kind of anti-art, that you just try to be as much like nature as possible, and that you find the way that the systems work and that automatically gives you a design – which is total nonsense – and there is also another strain, which is that gardens and gardeners or landscape gardeners were in a large part women, and that work was put down as women's work, and therefore not part of the arts, even with people like Gertrude Jekyll – or Beatrix Farrand is another example. You know her work was totally forgotten; Gertude Jekyll also was practically erased at one point, and it's Beatrix Farrand who discovered that they were selling at some sale – I think it was the Red Cross – all the papers of Gertrude Jekyll, and she bought them and donated them at UC Berkeley. So, she was rescued by Beatrix Farrand. But the negative connotation, which is a gender issue – and then the ecology movement coming in and having that particular effect on it, this pushing it out of the arts, have been a very big hump for landscape reentering into the family of the arts. It is an art; that is what its value is. All the earth-artists really did start pushing landscape much more into the family of the arts again. But it's still not admitted. It's just starting to be seen as something that can be part of the family of the arts. So, Dumbarton Oaks can be an enormous influence in changing and helping that course of action.

EG: Do you think that it has been so far? It certainly seems like they've sort of broadened the topics that are researched at Dumbarton Oaks, and is that coinciding with the growth and changes in the field itself?

DB: The problem is this, that there still is this colossal gap between practitioners and academicians, and that gap still reigns. I think that a lot more work by Dumbarton Oaks needs to be done on both contemporary landscape and the art of landscape. Dumbarton Oaks is in an incredibly good position to be able to incorporate itself much more into contemporary artistic art, rather than just being a historical landscape academy. I'm hoping that that is going to be a future agenda.

EG: Switching gears a little bit, if I may, can you tell me how you got involved with the Senior Fellows board at Dumbarton Oaks?

DB: Well, it was through the invitation of Michel Conan to be a Senior Fellow. I didn't understand very clearly what a Senior Fellow could do within this, and so it took me a couple of years to really understand what it is that we could be useful at. I really think it is in two things, which is basically on setting the subjects for a conference, because that produces a debate of ideas for one thing – what is valuable at this particular time – and it sets a direction for Dumbarton Oaks. And the other one is of course in the Fellows that we choose, that whatever the fellowships we give to people also try to set up a direction for landscape. So, my own sense as a board member is that I really am enormously interested in both making sure that there is some fellowship going to take a look at contemporary landscape work, and the other thing is that it also be not just European, but I'm interested in the Middle East, I'm interested in Asia, that we keep a broad focus, that we don't come back into just European history. That's how I see my role.

EG: This European theme seems to be common.

DB: Is it?

EG: In both the Byzantine studies and – I guess less so in Pre-Columbian. But yeah, we've heard a lot that back for several years it was just entirely focused on European and really only European scholars coming in. It's interesting. Have you had a chance to work with any Byzantine scholars or Pre-Columbian or anything in your time?

DB: No, there isn't much exchange, so we don't really know what's going on. What has happened in these last two years is that we've had applicants who are applying to both programs. And this year there is one that is in both programs, for the first time, I think. But that's totally new; that didn't use to happen, and I'm very happy about that, because that may foster more communication, and I think that in landscape, the kind of work that they do, particularly in pre-Columbian, there is the possibility of an interesting relation. Partly because we know so little about the pre-Columbian stuff in landscape, and there's new stuff coming out that's very, very interesting. So, I think that that's another source of influence for landscape which may be fertile. With Byzantine there has been none. And actually I have a historian friend who proposed to me that why didn't we do a Byzantine landscape piece of research. The problem is that both of us are busy; we can barely come up for air so that the two times coincide for us to do it, and she got a fellowship for the Byzantine there, so she did a piece of research in Byzantine history but she never related it to gardens. And she was thinking, well, since it's never been done, what if we do it? But for her free time to coincide with my free time seems like a pipe dream right now. But anyway, it may still happen. And she's teaching in England now, so that makes it even more difficult.

EG: So, aside from that sort of theme, have there been any important or memorable topics of discussion at the Senior Fellows meetings?

DB: Yes, I think that the interesting discussions have been about the role of the contemporary, and the role of practitioners versus academics, and the role of art within this, and how can it be made more part of the discourse, since it's so important for landscape to re-enter the family of the arts. I think those have been interesting discussions. This year we were discussing the themes for our future conferences, and without going into the details of that, I think that the gist of the matter was, what is – and that was the interesting discussion – what is really – I'm not going to say important, but weighty matter for landscape now. And we were all over the place; each one of us has a different idea. That is what makes it interesting to discuss, because they're all very knowledgeable people, and so from each one of the fields, be it Chinese history or be it the landscape of the wars, that Kenneth Helphand has worked on, the views are differing, very different, and at the same time there are some bases by which we can unify behind some themes. So, the question was: what was something that is of interest to this particular present moment? And that's a very interesting thing to discuss. Whatever our solution is, the theme in itself was interesting.

EG: What were some of the proposed weighty matters?

DB: I don't know if John does not have to approve putting it out in public, so I would have to ask for permission, or you can ask him, but basically in just general terms, there was the issue of farming in cities, which has become a contemporary issue, because the attention to cities in the first place. And then in the second place the fact that now landscape is considered that it can be part of a city has also brought up this business of whether you can produce food in cities, and there's a whole series of both experimental programs for doing it, there are practitioners working on it and there's also a whole series of social movements behind it, so it is definitely of the moment. Another subject that we talked about was the role of animals in landscape, because they have been excised; it was always taught as if this is only plants. We know from ecology that plants and animals are totally united and they develop in unison in certain ways, and that they have been part of the history of gardens, but nobody has paid attention to it. So, there is an idea about working that topic in. And it is not the topic of zoos, in which they are sort of isolated, although the design of zoos is also trying to make them not isolated. But in having them rejoin the world and not be as this thing in cages. So, that was a long discussion about what were the different aspects of that theme. Then the other one is the issue of technology in landscape, and there's some very interesting things going on that are technological, and there has been technology in gardens from early on, from the Renaissance fountains that spurted only when you came by, etc, etc, singing fountains and so on and so forth. But there have been a series of developments that have both to do with materials and also with making a landscape active, and doing things, and sort of becoming robotic in some way. It also raises the question of the line between the artificial and the natural. Those are some themes that have been debated and are being considered for future conferences.

EG: That's very interesting. Could you tell me a little about the process of choosing the conferences each year?

DB: It depends a lot on the director, and obviously it changed enormously under each director, because of the subjects that were chosen and how they were chosen. So, I can't speak about the past but I know that it was very different. Now in this session with John, we all brought some topic to the table, and then we spent time discussing it, and John told us his preference and what he would like to do first and so on and so forth, thinking in terms of what were the ones that he was most interested in, but at the same time, letting us all put our proposals forward. So, he's backed what came out of these things, the proposals that we've made. He is both putting proposals forth too and at the same time modifying some of our own, saying, “Well, it would be interesting if this also took in such and such a part,” etc, etc. With Michel, Michel would bring a series of both names and people and themes to the Senior Fellows to discuss, but he brought to the table both people that were interesting and themes that were interesting and paired them so that we would discuss them: this is interesting because there happens to be a person, or at the same time this is an interesting topic because such and such a thing is happening. And so, we would discuss what was the best way to go, and people would have suggestions about other names – put it together. But what happens too is that on certain subjects some people in the Senior Fellows know a lot more than others about a particular topic, so they really lead the shaping of it and propose the people, because they know them. We support them, we look at the material and then support them or say that well, this is not as interesting, it goes in this particular direction, shouldn't we turn it down, etc. But essentially for each conference then it becomes that some Senior Fellows are much more involved than others, depending if it's a topic that they are knowledgeable about.

EG: Have you had the opportunity to work with any of Junior Fellows during your time as a senior fellow? Obviously you choose them.

DB: No, we choose them, and we have a couple of meetings with them in a year. They present a summary of their work, and we've had that opportunity. And I think that the last group was a very, very good group; I was very pleased with it, and very interesting in what it produced. But yes, I've had besides the opportunity to interact with David Hayes – that was working on a Swiss landscape architect that Dumbarton Oaks just obtained all the papers from his studio. He's a contemporary landscape architect and so I'm very partial to that.

EG: Could you talk a little about – you've mentioned a few scholars that you've had the opportunity to work with, Diane McGuire and obviously John Beardsley and others. Are there others that you've worked closely with during your time at Dumbarton Oaks?

DB: No, I've worked closely with Michel Conan, and I have worked closely in the past with John Beardsley. And of the people at Dumbarton Oaks I became very fond of some of the Senior Fellows that were in this past group and some of the ones that are already there. We've had a least a couple years of working together, because we have a four-year term. Stephen Bann, the British landscape historian and art critic, absolutely superb Senior Fellow to have, is incredibly knowledgeable, incredibly worldly as far as he has connections with the landscape world all over the whole world, but very, very acute critic and has a very keen sense of foretelling trends in the artistic world – anyway, absolutely superb. I've had chances of interacting with him. I have with Kenneth Helphand, whose book on war landscapes I admire enormously, and Eric de Jong, the Dutch landscape architect who resigned last year, was also a very good Senior Fellow, and we continue to be in touch. He just came from Holland with forty of his students, and we set up a Twitter forum with his forty students and him and the Twittering population about public space, about public places, and it was very good, and it came out of our relationship at Dumbarton Oaks. Kenneth Helphand has also brought his students through my office and we had a discussion with them, so that's another layer that has come out of our Senior Fellow associations. Nurhan Atasoy, who's from Turkey, has been a very good Senior Fellow to work with. I think she knows most about Turkey on all levels, not just landscapes. But she has an energy that is beyond belief, and the Middle Eastern conference of two years ago was basically spearheaded by her with Michel, and she brought in some incredible people that it was a much broader view of Middle East than the separatist kind of pieces that usually comes up. We remain in touch, and I'm enormously interested in her work. But those have opened for me windows into other aspects of landscape that I was not familiar with, because I was not familiar with the Middle East at all; I've never delved in anything close to it. So, that's one of the added benefits of the Senior Fellows group, these other connections that occurred at a very high level with people that are very knowledgeable in their fields.

EG: Have you had the chance to work with any of the directors of Dumbarton Oaks, or interact with them really, like Giles Constable or –?

DB: I met Giles Constable at the conference parties, and I also met him when I went to do some research at Princeton, and I also worked very closely with Michel Conan, and now with John Beardsley. I did also work with John Dixon Hunt, and we set up a discussion about landscape in which I brought down one of my Yale colleagues and John put some other people together. It was a very interesting sort of – what will I say? – it was a day symposium. So, we were sitting around the table discussing the issues and it had a lot of effect on both me and the colleague that I brought down from Yale, who since then has gone off to the University of Wisconsin. So, I worked with John; I met Giles Constable but I didn't work with him. And then I sort of dropped out for a while from going to conferences, because of my trying to start a professional practice, and then I came back when Michel came in – so, only those.

EG: And have you had much opportunity to work with the library at Dumbarton Oaks or the collections?

DB: I started a piece of research, which is on hold because of my lack of time, and in which I'm very interested, and which has to do with drawings of landscape, but relating it to modern practice. So, I started and I found some interesting material but I barely started; I had three sessions of research and I had to put it on hold because my practice took over. But it's something I will complete at some particular time. I'm very interested in it.

EG: Starting to wrap things up, could you talk a little bit about what you see as the major changes in garden and landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks over the time you've been associated with it?

DB: The main one we've talked about already, which is the shift from purely European-based focus to a much wider – world-wide – including all kinds of cultures. So, I think that's the main one, and the most important one. I think that the shift to contemporary is very new. Joachim, I think, started with the first attempt to do it; Michel carried much further; I'm hoping John will too. I think that's a big change, and one that I feel very strongly about. I think that the thing still lacking is finding ways of overcoming the enormous separation between the academic and the professional world. I think that that needs to be done. It's been started. I think it needs to go much further. What other things have I noticed? I think that the separation of the three different areas remains firm, no big break; I haven't seen a change. As I say, there's one Fellow now that's going to two programs. I think that it's not something you can legislate, but it is something that would be interesting, that we be able, since they're all there, to feed on the richness of the others. I think that the connection with the Fellows who are coming in on fellowships can be strengthened between the Senior Fellows and the Fellows coming in. I'm very interested in following up on the people that we've selected to see how right we were in what we read through their applications. So, I think that a little bit more interchange or exchange would be helpful, but I think that that has varied under each director, and I don't know enough to compare. What else? I do know that under Michel Conan there was a start of making a collection of work of contemporary practitioners, and the work of this Swiss landscape architect that David Hayes is working on is one of them. Patricia Johanson has given things; Stephen Bann gave things from the Scottish landscaper – I don't know why I blanked the name, but I have – and I have also donated things of my work, and I'm hoping that that will also be something that Dumbarton Oaks continues with, as a way of also trying to close this gap between academicians and practitioners. I think that landscape desperately needs both a connection to art and to its own history, but in a way that does not become a closed-off world. So, it needs to set up things that though they're about the history reach out to the modern world. I think that's all I can say.

EG: I think that's great place to end, actually. Thank you so much!

Document Actions