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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Award-winning South African landscape architect to present two lectures at URI, Oct. 24 and 27

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 11, 2011 – Graham Young, an award winning South African landscape architect who designed a pre- and post- apartheid memorial park in his country, will present two lectures at the University of Rhode Island through the University’s Distinguished International Visiting Scholars Program.

On Oct. 24 at 4 p.m., Young will discuss “The Significance of Ecology and African Symbolism in the Planning and Design of Freedom Park” in Lippitt Hall. He will follow that up on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. with a presentation on “Transforming Urban Open Space: The Development of Parks in Soweto” in the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. The lectures are free and open to the public.

“South Africa is a land that is beautiful and rich in natural features. It is also a modern urban society that faces many great challenges associated with its history, diversity and economy,” said Will Green, URI professor of landscape architecture who invited Young to campus. “The fact that Graham has produced such beautiful and important works within a changing society is testament to his personal qualities of observation and communication, as well as his sensitive and creative professional skills.”

Young has spent 30 years consulting and teaching landscape architecture in South Africa and Canada. The senior member of the design firm Newtown Landscape Architects in Pretoria and a senior lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria, he has won numerous awards for his designs.

He is best known for his work on Freedom Park, a memorial that narrates the story of South Africa’s pre- and post-apartheid history and heritage, spanning a period of 3.6 billion years of humanity, which acknowledges those that contributed to the freedom of the country. In addition to many awards for Freedom Park, Young has been recognized for his designs for Corniche Bay Resort in Mauritius, Moroka Park Precinct in Soweto, Mpumalanga Provincial Government Complex, and Sibaya Resort and Entertainment World, among others.

“After the ‘new’ South Africa emerged in 1994, an evaluation of the many inadequacies and disparities that characterized the country for so long was rigorously pursued. This opened up wonderful opportunities for designers of public landscapes,” explained Young. “The challenge thrown at us was to find a balance that incorporated Western-orientated theory and practice but also drew heavily on the African way of doing things. By respecting the subtlety of African symbolism and tactfully releasing it, we were able to convincingly create exciting, accessible new environments.”

A former president of the Institute of Landscape Architects of South Africa, he has published widely on landscape architectural issues in design journals and books. He has also been a visiting studio critic at the University of Witwatersrand and University of Cape Town.

Young is speaking as part of URI’s Distinguished International Scholars Program, which provides funding to invite notable researchers from outside the United States to visit URI for several days to meet with faculty, students and administrators and present a public lecture. The program is sponsored by the URI Office of the Provost and the URI Department of Landscape Architecture.

For more information, contact Deborah Hughes at 401-874-2983 or debhughes@uri.edu.