The Glorious Landscape Design Of Dan Kiley

The prolific landscape architect’s work is on display at New York’s Center for Architecture.


In the world of landscape architecture, Dan Kiley is a legend. Kiley, who died in 2004 at the age of 91, designed more than 1,000 landscapes throughout his career, including projects for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (the St. Louis park where the Gateway Arch is located), the Art Institute of Chicago’s South Garden, and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Now, some of his best landscapes are on display in New York City as part of the photography exhibit The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley, at the Center for Architecture.

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, TXPhotograph © Alan Ward, 2013/Courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Influenced by Louis XIV’s landscape architect André Le Nôtre, Kiley’s works often exhibit the strict gridlike neatness of an expansive 17th century European garden. Kiley’s focus on geometric forms has inspired comparisons to modernists like Le Corbusier and more, and he collaborated with celebrated architects like Eero Saarinen, Louis Kahn, and I.M. Pei. One scholar has called Kiley “Mies in Leaf.”

Dan Kiley. United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, COPhotograph courtesy Aaron Kiley

However, Kiley’s influence on the American landscape has not been well-preserved, despite his status as one of the foremost landscape architects of the past century. His Lincoln Center campus underwent massive alterations as part of its latest renovation by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and his gardens at Dulles Airport were buried under new buildings. The 27 works featured in the exhibition, on display in new photographs commissioned for the retrospective, are a call for better maintenance and protection of his tranquil modernist masterpieces.

The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley is on view in New York City until June 20.

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut