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Carl D. Johnson, FASLA (1926-2010)

LAF was saddened to learn of the passing of Carl D. Johnson, FASLA, founder or the firm Johnson, Johnson, and Roy (JJR) in 1961 with his brother William and fellow landscape architect Clarence Roy. Johnson died in Ann Arbor on October 24, 2010, at the age of 84.

Johnson served on the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Board of Directors in the 1980s and was largely responsible for the establishment of the JJR Research Grant, which supported the LAF’s Land and Community Design Case Study Series of published books and our new Landscape Performance Series.

carljohnsonJohnson was JJR’s guiding force in planning and design for over 30 years. He had a special passion for drawing and watercolor, and his approach to design frequently made use of conversational graphics as sketches intended to stimulate discussion of design approaches and solutions. His talent in design and illustration were surpassed only by his ability to communicate the contributions that landscape architects make to preserve and shape both the natural and built environments. His professional legacy includes internationally significant and lasting work in the fields of restoration and adaptive reuse of historic landscapes, including of the City of Louisville’s famous Cherokee Park, what became the Lighthouse Landing Park in Evanston, and rehabilitation of the C.S. Mott Estate, Applewood, in Flint, Michigan.

Johnson was committed not only to his professional practice but to developing the next generation of planning and design leaders. He taught at the University of Michigan there for 29 years and presented guest lectures at more than 20 architecture and landscape architecture schools thoughout the continent and overseas, all while maintaining an active practice at JJR. In 1989 he retired from teaching and was named Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture at the University of Michigan.

Johnson consistently supported the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) at the local chapter and national levels. Named an ASLA Fellow in 1979, Carl Johnson was awarded the Society’s highest honor, the ASLA Medal, in 2000. With the exception of the Olmsted brothers, he and his brother William are the only siblings to have been so honored by ASLA.

For a complete biography, visit the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Pioneers of American Landscape Design.

  1. Patricia Schroeder LoheedFeb 25th, 2011 3:46pm
    Patricia Schroeder Loheed said:

    Reading about Carl on the LAF web page, evoked thoughts of my year spent at JJR in 1967-68. It was directly instrumental in my passing the Michigan licensing exam before I went onto the GSD. One of the best tasks I had at JJR was doing the block out bases for Carl and Bill Johnson's wonderful pencil sketches! 314 draughting pencils in their hands became instruments of graphic magic.

    Recently siix of us, Ken Bassett, Rick Lamb, and our spouses were able to have dinner with Bill and Charlotte Johnson in Concord. My condolence note to him elicted the news that they would be in Lincoln/Concord for a family wedding this February. Many thanks for LAF's thoughtful write-up on Carl and his work! This gave us all a lively opportunity to rejunvenate our creative thinking and honor his contributions.

    Patricia Schroeder Loheed, School of Landscape Architecture, Boston Architectural College, Boston, MA

  2. Karl W. Grube, Ph.D.Jan 17th, 2011 3:16pm
    Karl W. Grube, Ph.D. said:

    CARL D. JOHNSON, FSALA was one of my mentors as I entered the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Educational Administration and Architecture at the University of Michigan. ca.1970-73 He supported my 3 year application for a full scholarship at the U of M in Ann Arbor. He launched my career in educational planning of school facilities especially in the site discipline. After my graduation in 1973 I spent a decade working on projects with him at JJR, Inc (aka) the Smith Group. He taught me about landscape design solutions and the importance of constant monitoring to evaluate the projects original purpose. I was honored to have him on my Doctoral committee; he will be personally missed but his writings and JJR, Inc. projects will live into the anals of landscape architectural design.

  3. Bill MacElroyNov 18th, 2010 2:11pm
    Bill MacElroy said:

    I had the chance to work with and next to Carl at JJR from the mid 1980's to the early 90's before moving to the the West Coast. Carl was the heart of JJR. I remember how he could sense when office morale needed a boost. At those times he call a meeting of the staff and give us a heart felt talk about the importance of the work we did and the value of each of us as contributors to that work. He reminded us of his respect for us and what we did. By the by end of his talk we were all refreshed, refocused, feeling appreciated and ready to go.

    Carl was supportive to me personally and so approachable. He was a talent to admire, a genuine caring man as a leader. And equally important, his leadership set the tone for the land ethic of the firm, and for the expectations for quality in all we did, the art and craft of the work was imperative. This too has not been forgotten by me. I feel so fortunate to have had to opportunity to rub shoulders with and be mentored by JJR's leaders like Carl and Jim Christman, Jim Page, Don Tilton, Sandy Hansen and others. It was a wonderful experience and a great group of talented committed people and Carl was our spiritual leader.

    Wherever you are Carl, I have not forgotten your influence, I talk about you to others and my students about the lasting impressions I have from the stories you shared, the respect and support you gave, and the lessons I learned from the example you set. Thank you for your influence on me, it has never left me. You made JJR a great place to work and learn. I am thinking of you now with a warm hearted smile and gratitude for all you gave to us.

    Bill MacElroy, University of Idaho, College of Art & Architecture, Moscow Idaho.

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