Landscape Architecture Oral History Resources

Oral histories available through the SCRC's Rare and Unique Digital Collections site.

Oral histories available through the SCRC's Rare and Unique Digital Collections site.

Blog post contributed by Lindsey Naylor

Students of design and landscape architecture have access to a trove of oral histories through NCSU Libraries’ Special Collections Resource Center. The Landscape Architecture Archive has a particularly rich collection of interviews, which allow prominent designers and leaders to reflect firsthand on their careers, on design education, and on landscape architecture’s past, present and future. And for the convenience of listeners, many of the oral histories are in audio and video formats that can be enjoyed on the go through the SCRC website. Other items can be accessed in the SCRC by appointment.

Reflections captured in the oral histories include:

  • Richard Bell on designing the Brickyard and on Raleigh’s “cowboy development;”
  • Lewis Clarke on asking the right questions and his development of overlay analysis;
  • Charles Flink on his career in greenway design and how greenways can open the door to broader ecological wins;
  • Randy Hester on his trajectory from student to Raleigh politician to international proponent of ecological democracy;
  • Linda Jewell on the emergence of ecological design and on her approach to designing amphitheaters;
  • Benson Kirkman on the legacy of ecologist B. W. Wells and the implications of his work for today’s design and development practices;
  • Elaine Molinar, Marvin Malecha and Susan Nutter on the Hunt Library design process;
  • Richard Moore on his land-management work in Hawaii and his ideas about cyclical data and design processes;
  • Herb Schaal on getting work and on the design of world-class gardens for children and families; and
  • Sally Schauman on the future of landscape architecture and on midcentury chauvinism in the design school.

Here are a few ways to explore all the SCRC interviews and the insights therein:

  • Search for “oral histories” at the SCRC website. This gives you a full list of the 58 collections that include oral histories, and the option to filter results by online access, date, person or subject.
  • Visit the online finding aid for Lewis Clarke Oral Histories, MC 191. This collection features 30 interviews with prominent former students and colleagues of Clarke. Each interview is available online and includes a searchable transcript.
  • The Design Library in Brooks Hall has a collection of oral histories conducted in the late 1990s with 24 prominent faculty members and alumni. Click on the Contents tab at this link to see the list of interviewees, and visit the Design Library to access the full video recordings.