The Little-Known Women Behind Some Well-Known Landscapes


Ms. Danadjieva, an 89-year-old Bulgarian, led many urban design and city planning projects with Lawrence Halprin & Associates, including large-scale ones in the 1970s like the Ira Keller Fountain in Portland, Ore., and Freeway Park, perched above Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle.

“The great majority of people never heard her name, but she is one of the unsung heroes,” said Gina Ford, a landscape architect and co-founder of Agency Landscape + Planning. “She really gave shape and form and design expression to those incredible spaces.”

Thomas Polk Park, in Charlotte, N. C., an urban pocket park and fountain, was one of Ms. Danadjieva’s first solo commission;Ms. Ford called it a masterwork of water feature design that is singular in this country.

“It’s just a magnificent monument, a powerful cascade of water, steps, stones, plants, and greenery, sculptural and beautiful,” she said. “All you hear is the rush of the water. When you see people walking by, they are just drawn to it. It has this kind of presence in the city center.”

Ms. Ford said her firm would update the site, which had fallen into disrepair, “but will recognize its history and beauty.”

Because of the growing presence in landscape architecture programs of women, who now outnumber men, but who remain underrepresented in the profession, Ms. Ford co-founded WxLA, a coalition to assist the next generation of women in the work force. “The fact that, over all, women have not been acknowledged as leaders in landscape design makes their work even more precious.”


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