William L. Flournoy, Jr., Oral History Recorded for Landscape Architecture Archive


Gwynn Thayer interviews William L. Flournoy, Jr., FASLA.

Blog post contributed by Lindsey Naylor.

A new video oral history is in the works to add to the NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center's Landscape Architecture Archive. Today Gwynn Thayer, Acting Department Head for Special Collections in NCSU Libraries, sat down to interview William L. Flournoy, Jr., FASLA, a landscape architect often referred to as the “father” of the Raleigh greenway system.

Flournoy entered the graduate program of the NCSU Department of Landscape Architecture in 1969, and his final master’s project was the production of a report titled “A Report to the City Council on the Benefits, Potential, and Methodology of Establishing a Greenway System in Raleigh.” The report is seen as the first of its kind in the country, and it laid the groundwork for the city’s decades-long effort to establish thousands of acres of greenways along its network of streams and wetlands.

In the interview with Thayer, Flournoy reflected on his childhood in Raleigh, exploring the stream corridors that ran through his family’s neighborhood. He discussed his time at the NC State School (now College) of Design and the shifts in Raleigh’s political and development culture following the “Goals for Raleigh” planning process. He shared examples of projects in which his propensity for large-scale, systems thinking complemented site-scale design to result in high-quality environmental and recreational projects. And he looked forward to the increasingly critical role that green infrastructure will play in city planning and development practices.

The oral history will be edited, transcribed and posted online in early 2018. It will join the William L. Flournoy, Jr., Papers and other collections and oral histories as part of the Special Collections Research Center’s strong focus on greenway planning and design.