Department of Landscape Architecture John R. Bracken Fellow to speak

April 04, 2012

Tom Leader, an illustrious landscape architect with more than three decades of industry experience, will give a talk titled “Recent Work” at 6 p.m. April 5, in 112 Forest Resources Building on the Penn State University Park campus.

Leader is speaking as part of the Penn State Department of Landscape Architecture John R. Bracken Lecture Series, and is being honored as the Department of Landscape Architecture 2011 John R. Bracken Fellow.
Leader joins a distinguished list of Bracken Fellows that includes Ian McHarg, Dame Sylvia Crowe, Garrett Eckbo, A.E. Bye, Richard Haag, Mario Schjetnan, Michael van Valkenburgh, Frederick Steiner and others.
The Tom Leader Studio was formed in March 2001 for the practice of landscape architecture. With projects ranging from a railroad park in Birmingham to a theatre complex in Beijing, this nationwide practice combines thoughtful analysis and deep experience with a proclivity for experimentation and reverence for the landscape.
In his book "Tom Leader Studio: Three Projects" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), Leader compares landscape architecture to farming.
“Farming, done properly, is a very efficient engine of cultivation that requires a careful understanding of the site and clear intentions,” he wrotes. “People don’t farm in an ambiguous way and that’s what I like about it as a reference. If we’re going to intervene in the landscape, it should be for a clear reason.”
In 1998, Leader was awarded a year-long Rome Prize Fellowship in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome. He has been featured in two exhibits at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, including the on-site installation “Coastlines” as head of a collaborative team for the 2001 exhibit “Revelatory Landscapes.” The project “Shanghai Carpet” was featured in New York exhibits including the 2005 exhibition on international landscape architecture, “Groundswell,” in the Museum of Modern Art and the 2006 triennial, “Design Life Now,” at the Cooper Hewitt Museum.
Leader lectures frequently and has taught at the University of Southern California and at Ohio State University, where he served as the Glimcher Distinguished Visiting Professor in the spring of 2008.
In 2010, his studio completed several significant projects including a 19-acre Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, Ala., and the Stanford School of Medicine in California. The firm won 2009 ASLA Honor Awards for Pool Pavilion Forest in Napa Valley; Stabiae Archaeological Park in the Bay of Naples, Italy; and Park Merced in San Francisco.
Each year the John R. Bracken Fellow is honored with the presentation of a medal designed by John Cook, professor emeritus of art at Penn State. The face of the medallion depicts the corona of the mountain laurel and the reverse side portrays the Greek deity Daphne transforming into a laurel tree under Apollo’s touch.
“This identification with an interaction between human qualities and nature is the basis of all art, especially so in the art of landscape architecture,” Cook said.
Bracken is key to the department’s rich history – he was among the first to graduate from Penn State with an undergraduate degree in landscape architecture and he served as department head from 1924 to 1957. Bracken continued to serve the department as an active professor emeritus until his death in 1979.
The lecture series, which began in the spring of 1982, was made possible by a generous endowment from Bracken's estate. These lectures, and the association with noted professionals through seminars and intimate discussions, have enriched the lives of Penn State students.
Penn State’s H. Campbell and Eleanor R. Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture is a leader in professional design education comprised of an interdisciplinary confederation of strong design disciplines: Architecture, Design, and Landscape Architecture.


  • Tom Leader is being honored as Penn State's Department of Landscape Architecture 2011 John R. Bracken Fellow.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 09, 2015