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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI’s Landscape Architecture Lecture Series, April 20

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

Noted historic landscape preservationist to speak at


KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 7, 2006 -- Charles Birnbaum, recognized as one of the country’s most influential historic landscape preservationists, will speak at the University of Rhode Island on April 20 as part of the spring Community Planning and Landscape Architecture Lecture Series.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in Weaver Auditorium at the Coastal Institute on URI’s Kingston campus. It is free and open to the public.

Birnbaum, founder of the Cultural Landscape Foundation and coordinator of the National Park Service’s Historic Landscape Initiative, will discuss “Change Continuity and Civic Ambition: Managing Cultural Landscapes.”

“The lecture will reveal both the opportunities and constraints in this rapidly emerging discipline,” Birnbaum said. “Special attention will be placed on the segmented divide between design and historic preservation and nature and culture. I’ll also explore the larger philosophical challenges such as holistic stewardship, placing a value on antiquity, the need to limit carrying capacity for certain landscapes, and the recognition of a cultural landscape's historic layers.”

Birnbaum established the Historic Landscape Initiative in 1992 to promote responsible preservation practices that protect designed landscapes such as parks and gardens, as well as vernacular historic landscapes such as farms and industrial sites. He later founded the non-profit Cultural Landscape Foundation to continue this work through stewardship and education. Previously he taught at Harvard University, George Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania and worked for landscape architecture firms in New York and Connecticut.

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. He has produced several interactive educational CD-ROMs and websites, as well as a documentary for the National Park Service entitled Connections: Preserving America’s Landscape Legacy, which was narrated by actress Angela Lansbury.

Birnbaum earned degrees from SUNY Farmingdale, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Harvard University. He is the author of dozens of scientific and popular articles and reports, including Design with Culture: Reclaiming America’s Landscape Heritage.

The URI Community Planning and Landscape Architecture series is co-sponsored by the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association. For more information about the series, call the URI Department of Community Planning and Landscape Architecture at 874-2983 or e-mail Professor Will Green at wagre@uri.edu.