Exhibition on Landscape Architect Dan Kiley Opens for Palm Springs Modernism Week

The traveling photography exhibit, The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley, showcases 45 photos of 27 projects by the renowned Modernist landscape architect.
Landscape Architecture Legacy exhibition Dan Kiley

Patterns (du Pont Residence), 2013 Photo: Roger Foley, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation.


Since 2013, audiences nationwide have been introduced to or reacquainted with seminal Modernist landscape architect Dan Kiley (1912-2004), thanks to The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley. This traveling exhibition, first held in Kiley’s hometown of Boston, comprises 45 photographs that capture 27 Kiley projects in their current condition. After visiting 16 venues, the collection comes this month to the UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Center (located in Palm Desert, California, near Palm Springs). While Kiley’s colleagues and collaborators included figures such as Garrett Eckbo, Louis Kahn, Eero Saarinen, and I.M. Pei, today much of his oeuvre is in a vulnerable state.

“Kiley was among the most important, influential, and idiosyncratic landscape architects of the 20th century and the designer of more than 1,100 projects,” says Charles Birnbaum, exhibition organizer and president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation. “Yet today his work is not well known outside of the field of landscape architecture and, to a lesser extent, the architecture profession. Despite his renown and importance, his legacy remains fragile.” For example, one now-threatened Kiley design is the landscape at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin—a project that included frequent Kiley collaborator Harry Weese.

Today’s exhibition opening coincides with the second week of Modernism Week, the festival centered in Palm Springs that has become a significant annual architecture, design, and cultural destination. “Palm Springs has an unrivaled collection of Modernist architecture and landscape architecture, so it was natural for The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley to be hosted in tandem with Modernism Week,” notes Birnbaum. “I hope the 27 projects throughout the U.S. and in Paris, France, featured in the exhibition inspire future generations of architects and landscape architects—let alone those who make the pilgrimage to Modernism Week, to carry the stewardship torch home to ensure thoughtful management and interpretation of Kiley’s work in their communities.”

On February 19, Modernism Week will host “A Walk in Nature: The Landscape and Architecture of Dan Kiley,” an opening reception and presentation by author and educator Jane Amidon, who will speak about Kiley’s career as well as about projects highlighted in the photographs. The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley will remain on view at the Palm Desert Center through April 19.

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Categories: Landscape