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Botanical Gardens and the Urban Future

Oak Room, Fellowship House
November 2, 2018
09:00 AM to 06:30 PM
Fully Booked
Garden and Landscape Studies Colloquium, John Beardsley and Anatole Tchikine, Organizers

For the 2018 fall colloquium, Garden and Landscape Studies, in collaboration with New York Botanical Garden, will bring together a group of historians, landscape designers, and scientists to discuss the changing role of botanical gardens (including arboreta) in the urban context as both landscapes and research and public institutions. Of particular interest is the role of design in helping botanical gardens meet the challenge of operating as educational and community resources while maintaining their traditional focus on the preservation and study of plants. Historically, botanical gardens have proved to be a very adaptable and resilient type, serving as repositories of materia medica, teaching or taxonomical aids, and centers for plant acclimatization in the context of colonial botany. What are the likely scenarios for their development in the future? What are the most effective ways in which they could communicate ideas about nature to city dwellers in an age of advanced urbanization and climate change? What role could historical scholarship of botanical gardens play in this regard?


  • Sheila Brady (Oehme, van Sweden), “Designing Ecosystems at the New York Botanic Garden”
  • Peter Crane (Oak Spring Garden Foundation), “Botanical Gardens: History, Diversity and the Future of Plants”
  • Adriaan Geuze (West 8), Ecosystems and cultural contexts: Qur’anic Botanic Garden, Doha, and Houston Botanic Garden
  • Mikyoung Kim (Mikyoung Kim Design), “Looking to the Future:  New Paradigms for Botanic Gardens: The Regenstein Learning Center at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the McIntire Botanic Garden in Charlottesville, VA”
  • Hans-Walter Lack (Botanical Garden of Berlin), “Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden:  Botanical Scholarship and Botanical Representation”
  • Finola O’Kane (Universty College Dublin), “The Public Botanic Garden in the budding British Empire: The Ideal Subversive Suburban Space?”
  • Emma Spary (University of Cambridge), “Prospective Gardens in the Early French Empire, 1670-1730”
  • Gerda van Uffelen (Leiden University), “Hortus botanicus Leiden: Past, Present and Future”

Programs in urban landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks are supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through its initiative in “Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities,” intended to foster the joint contributions that the humanities and the design and planning disciplines may make to understanding the processes and effects of burgeoning urbanization.

This event has been approved for 8 LACES (Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System.)


Speaker Abstracts and Biographies


Bliss and Mellon Awardee narrative responses

The Native Plant Garden, New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY, designed by Oehme, van Sweden Landscape Architecture (image © Robert Benson, NYBG)