WASHINGTON– The Urban Land Institute (ULI) recently honored world renowned landscape architect Peter Walker, founder of PWP Landscape Architecture in Berkeley, Calif., presenting him with the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. The awards luncheon, held February 8 at the Conrad New York Hotel in Lower Manhattan, recognized Walker’s lifetime achievements and lasting impact on the built environment.
The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize, first awarded in 2000, is the institute’s highest honor and recognizes a person or a person representing an institution whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. The $100,000 prize honors the legacy of Kansas City, Missouri, developer J.C. Nichols, a founding ULI member considered to be one of America’s most creative entrepreneurs in land use during the first half of the 1900s.
Amanda M. Burden, 2009 J.C. Nichols Prize Laureate and New York City Department of City Planning commissioner, presented Walker with the prize. The event was highlighted by remarks and testimonials from many individuals, including Smedes York, chairman, ULI J.C. Nichols Prize Management Committee; Tom Oslund, principal and design director, oslund.and.assoc.; Gerald McCue, T. Dunlop Professor of Housing Studies, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Joseph Brown, chief innovation officer, AECOM.
Ronald Altoon, a member of the Nichols Prize jury, commented on the significance of Walker’s selection. According to Altoon, the selection of Walker underscores the importance of landscape architecture and its essential role in constructing public space that fosters a sense of community. “Peter is the first landscape architect to win this prize and I think there is no better professional to represent the landscape architecture community in this pool of truly accomplished individuals,” said Altoon. “Peter is recognized as one of the most accomplished and influential landscape architects of his time, forging the renaissance of landscape architecture as a discipline. The scope of his work is expansive, ranging from the design of small gardens to the planning of cities around the world. His work process is dynamic. He listens and adapts to context and community with a subtle approach that imbues a very tangible stimulation in the spaces he creates.”
“Landscape architects spend all their time trying to make public open space. That’s what we do, so I hope I’m not the last winner. I hope some other of my fellows will come along here,” said Walker upon receiving the prize. “We are trying to make spaces that work, spaces that are beautiful, and if we’re lucky and we have the right client and a little budget, to try and make something which is memorable and I think that’s crucial. Most landscape architects are not the top of the power structure, but they all feel that they are important and they all work for those things all the time.”
Walker was one of the chief designers of the National September 11 Memorial, “Reflecting Absence,” in New York City, which opened on September 12, 2011. His thoughtful approach to the memorial has been highly praised as reflecting both the collaborative aspiration of his practice and the public impact of his work. Following the February 8 luncheon, he led a private tour of the memorial for attendees at the event.
Other prominent projects Walker designed include: Jamison Square Park in Portland, Ore.; the Nasher Foundation Sculpture Garden in Dallas; Sony Center in Berlin; Millennium Park in Sydney; and the ongoing Constitution Gardens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Through Walker’s writings, teachings and work, he has advanced the level of professionalism in landscape architecture and has influenced generations of landscape architects and related professions. His career includes service as the chairman of the Landscape Architecture Department and the acting director of the Urban Design Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; and he was head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Walker has served as a consultant and an adviser to numerous public agencies and institutions, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Coordination Authority, Redevelopment Agency of San Francisco, Port Authority of San Diego, Stanford University, University of California, University of Washington, and the American Academy in Rome.
A Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the Institute for Urban Design, Walker has been granted the ASLA Design Award, the Institute Honor Award of the American Institute of Architects, Harvard’s Centennial Medal, the University of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Medal, and the International Federation of Landscape Architects’s Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Gold Medal.
About the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development
The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize is funded by an endowment from the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation to the ULI Foundation. A management committee including ULI representatives and members of the Nichols family directs the prize program. More information on the prize program is available at www.nicholsprize.org.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.