Leadership | LAF Medal and Founders' Award

2017 LAF Founders’ Award Recipient: National Park Service


nps-grandcanyonImage courtesy of the National Park Service, photo by Michael Quinn

“In no small way are landscape architects and their organizations, including the Landscape Architecture Foundation,  indebted  to the National Park Service for its leadership, ethics, and works of landscape architecture. It is only fitting for LAF to honor the National Park Service with its highest honor, the 2017 LAF Founders’ Award.”

                            — Awards Committee Chair Dennis Carmichael, FASLA


The U.S. National Park Service had its origins in 1872 when President  Ulysses S. Grant signed into legislation a bill that established Yellowstone National Park as the first such park in the world to be preserved for the recreation, inspiration, and education of future generations. The system grew to 14 National Parks and 21 National Monuments until 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that established the National Park Service (NPS) as the steward of this vast array of unique natural and cultural resources. The mission and philosophy of the NPS was codified at that time, and landscape architects helped shape the agenda to preserve, protect, and enhance these parks in perpetuity.

In 2016, the NPS had its centennial celebration, and over 300 million people visited the more than 400 NPS sites across America. Since the beginning, landscape architects have played an essential role within the NPS to preserve our iconic landscapes by leading design, conservation, and recreation projects throughout the  park system. In 1993, the NPS published  Guiding Principles of Sustainable Design, illuminating  the core values of sustainable design in a way that was  both understandable and refreshing. This tome became a benchmark for a renewed focus upon ecological effectiveness and conservation of resources and materials for design professionals.