Behind many great museums, office towers, and private residences of the 20th century, there's often an unsung landscape architect. While people flock to visit Marcel Breuer's houses, I.M. Pei's museums, and mostly anything by Louis Kahn, far fewer of their admirers can name the landscape designer behind so many of these famous projects. More often than not, it was Dan Kiley.
Known for being one of the few credentialed landscape architects when he started his own practice in the mid 1940s, Kiley passed away in 2004 after a prolific career. When what would have been Kiley's 100th birthday passed by in 2012 with little fanfare, the Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) decided to put together a tribute to him through a traveling photographic exhibit.
That exhibit, The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley, is currently on display at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. through May 18. In it, viewers get to see 45 examples of Kiley's work at its best, bringing stunning greenery to modernist structures.
Often choosing geometric layouts to reflect the buildings they served, Kiley was heavily influenced by André Le Nôtre, a 17th century French landscape designer and gardener to King Louis XIV. Well before the Bauhaus movement came to into being, Le Nôtre was inspired by grids, and Kiley's work often expressed a romantic sense of monumentality more like the gardens designed by his French idol than the geometric buildings he complemented.
Although plenty of Kiley's work (he received about 1,000 commissions over the course of his career) was for very public projects, such as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis and the Art Institute of Chicago's South Garden, much of his focus was on private residences. The TCLF will also be giving a tour during the exhibit of one of his more stunning private works, the Marcel Breuer-designed Hooper House II in Baltimore County, on May 17.
Kiley Garden, Tampa, FL. Photograph © Maria Bevilacqua and Frederick Pirone, 2013, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.
The Landscape Legacy of Dan Kiley is on view at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC through May 18, 2014.