'Design with Nature and Culture': The Landscapes of George Erwin Patton
architectural archives of the university of pennsylvania
american academy in rome
Historic Preservation and Conservation
George Erwin Patton (1920-1991) was the most prolific landscape architect of twentieth century Philadelphia. Over the course of three decades in practice, his firm of George E. Patton & Associates preserved some of the city’s most important public spaces and collaborated with several of the era’s eminent architects. Patton’s engagement with landscape preservation has contributed to the longstanding invisibility of his works. His career presents a challenge to the prevalent assumption that the concepts of culture and nature were disassociated from one another in midcentury landscape architecture. Despite the clear influence of Patton’s work on the urban fabric of Philadelphia, his designs have not received the recognition they deserve. Previous scholarship on Patton’s independent career is scarce and has only touched upon his projects for their relation to prominent pieces of twentieth century American architecture. Patton’s partnerships with members of the “Philadelphia School”, namely Louis Kahn and Venturi, Scott Brown, are undoubtedly essential to the trajectory of his career. This thesis will seek to expand the significance of Patton’s work to the projects to his academic landscapes at the University of Pennsylvania and landscape preservation projects in Philadelphia. Upon his death in 1991, Patton gave his drawings and papers to the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania, a collection that has remained largely unexplored by scholars. This thesis will be the first attempt at linking the rich trove of archival materials with secondary scholarship on modern landscape architectural history. The final product will serve as the framework for the future documentation of Patton’s landscapes and solidify his contribution to the landscape architecture profession in the United States and its significant role in shaping the urban environment of the twentieth century.