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Friday, April 14, 2017

April 20, let’s talk topiary

URI’s Landscape Architecture Lecture Series continues April 20
Related imageThe University of Rhode Island’s annual Landscape Architecture Lecture Series concludes this month with a talk by a nationally renowned historic landscape preservationist.

Charles A. Birnbaum, founder and president of The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington, D.C., will give a lecture entitled “Why Not Cultural Systems.”

The talk, free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m. April 20 in the Richard E. Beaupre Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences, Room 105A, 140 Flagg Road, on URI’s Kingston campus.

“We are excited to have Charles visit and share his passion with our students,” says William A. Green, a professor in URI’s Department of Landscape Architecture. 

“He is the leading voice for the protection of iconic cultural landscapes from around the nation. Through his vision and tireless efforts writing, lecturing and producing videos, exhibits and postings, he has made a significant contribution to the field of historic landscape preservation.”

Cultural landscapes are landscapes that have been “affected, influenced or shaped by human involvement,’’ according to the foundation’s website. They can be everything from a grand estate and college campus to a cemetery and public park.

Birnbaum specializes in protecting—and writing about—these landscapes, which are often threatened by development and neglect. 

In his “Huffington Post” articles, Birnbaum writes about protecting public parks in the country from development, unsuitable additions and a misplaced quest to renovate landscapes to make them more modern. His goal is to preserve the integrity—and beauty—of sites.

Before creating the cultural foundation, Birnbaum spent 15 years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative and a decade in private practice in New York City, with a focus on landscape preservation and urban design.

One of his major projects is a database of the country’s designed landscape heritage called “What’s Out There.” He has written and edited many publications, including “Design with Culture: Claiming America’s Landscape Heritage.”

He is the recipient of the 2005 California Preservation Award, the 2004 Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation, the 1992 Federal Design Achievement Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and numerous awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Birnbaum earned degrees from SUNY Farmingdale, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Harvard University. He is a visiting professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation.

Birnbaum’s lecture is co-sponsored by Victor Stanley, a landscape furnishing company.

The entire series is co-sponsored by The College of Arts and Sciences, The Gaetano and Pasqualina Faella Memorial Endowment, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and Bartlett Tree Experts.

For more information about Birnbaum’s talk, contact the URI Department of Landscape Architecture at 401-874-2983 or Professor Green in URI’s Department of Landscape Architecture at