The Work of Terence Harkness
M. Elen Deming
The modernist history of landscape architecture is deeply marbled with veins of regional and phenomenological sensibility. Master designer Terence G. Harkness reflects this sensibility in every region he inhabits – whether the foothills of northern California, the high plains of North Dakota, or the lost prairies of east central Illinois. The long arc of his work and teaching is essentially and critically eco-revelatory. Yet because Harkness is not principally a scholar, his work has not been widely studied. That omission is redressed by this presentation of Harkness’ most significant and recognizable works, including drawings, plans, models, and photographs. Contributors to the book chronicle Terry’s development and values and position him in the currents of contemporary landscape discourse.
Except for an eight-year hiatus at HOK, between his graduation (MLA 1970) and retirement, Harkness’s teaching career extended the Illinois tradition of legendary educators from Stanley White and Florence Bell Robinson to Robert Riley and Natalie Alpert. But Harkness officially joined the pantheon of professional educators when he received the ASLA’s Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal in 2007. The book closes with an examination of Harkness’s place-based pedagogy and his role as a design mentor and model. Beyond his teaching, however, Harkness is known for iconic conceptual projects such as “An East Central Illinois Garden,” selected for Transforming the American Garden (1988). Foothill Mountain Observatory, featured in the Eco-revelatory Design exhibition (1998), reflects regionalist design for Northern California. The headquarters of Great Plains Software (now rebranded), in Fargo, North Dakota, was designed in collaboration with Julie Snow. In each project, Harkness perfected the alchemy of place, a transmutation of his deep understanding of landscape processes into designed forms