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Source Books in Landscape Architecture


Grant Jones / Jones & Jones ILARIS: The Puget Sound Plan Jane Amidon, Series Editor

Source Books in Architecture: Morphosis/Diamond Ranch High School The Light Construction Reader Bernard Tschumi/Zénith de Rouen UN Studio/Erasmus Bridge Steven Holl/Simmons Hall Mack Scogin Merrill Elam/Knowlton Hall Zaha Hadid/BMW Central Building

Source Books in Landscape Architecture: Michael Van Valkenburgh/Allegheny Riverfront Park Ken Smith Landscape Architect/Urban Projects Peter Walker and Partners/Nasher Sculpture Center Garden Grant Jones/Jones & Jones/ILARIS: The Puget Sound Plan

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Princeton Architectural Press

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Press —Kevin C. Lippert, publisher

© 2007 Princeton Architectural Press All rights reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Printed and bound in China

Grant Jones/Jones & Jones : ILARIS : the Puget Sound

10 09 08 07 5 4 3 2 1 First edition

plan. — 1st ed. p. cm. — (Source books in landscape architecture ; 4)

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any

Includes bibliographical references.

manner without written permission from the publisher,

ISBN-13: 978-1-56898-604-3 (alk. paper)

except in the context of reviews.

ISBN-10: 1-56898-604-1 (alk. paper) 1. Landscape—Computer simulation. 2. ILARIS.

Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify

3. Landscape protection—Washington (State)—Puget

owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected

Sound Region. 4. Jones, Grant R.—Interviews. 5.

in subsequent editions.

Landscape architects—United States—Interviews. 6. Jones & Jones.

Editing: Nicola Bednarek

QH75.G685 2007

Typesetting/Layout: Paul Wagner

712.09164’32—dc22 2006037146






Bill Miller

Data and Chronology


Conversations with Grant Jones


3 Influences


3 A


Context and a Catalyst

3 Building 3 Puget

a Model



3 Relevance


and Critique


Gallery Asking the Animals for Advice,


Frederick Steiner








Conversations with Grant Jones Compiled and edited by Jane Amidon


a schoolboy to describe a horse. His reply paints a picture of a free-running creature,

Jane Amidon (JA): Grant, in 1978 your essay

flowing mane, glistening flanks over contoured

“Landscape Assessment . . . Where Logic and

muscles. But he is chided, and the teacher turns

Feelings Meet” was published in Landscape

to the next student for the correct reply: “A

Architecture magazine. In it you outline Jones &

horse is a large, solid-hoofed quadruped,

Jones’s early approach to visual resource

family Equidae…” Both viewpoints are valid.

management and describe the importance of three visual qualities in the landscape: vividness,

What are the sources of this fusion of logic and

intactness, and unity. You provide a hand-drawn

emotion that distinguish Jones & Jones’s approach

flow chart of visual resource management for

to landscape assessment? As you point out in

highways that is clearly a precursor to ILARIS. Also

Landscape Journal (2001), blurring the bounds

included are examples of your poetry that offer a

between perception of place (the subjective) and

very different manner of describing intrinsic

analytical site assessment (the objective) to create

landscape qualities. You conclude that the essay

“a scholarship of a different kind” is a technique

leads in two seemingly disparate directions:

not shared by many design and planning practices.

toward a poetic and highly individualized view on one hand, yet toward a technical, objective

Grant Jones (GJ): I grew up in Seattle in a household

view on the other. This brings to mind the

overflowing with the cultivation of plants and ideas.

Dickens episode where the strict teacher orders

My family lived on a small farm above the tidal flats 13

Previous: Jones & Jones’s flow chart of visual resource management for highways as published in Landscape Architecture magazine, 1978 Left: Grant Jones on the tideflats beneath the sea bluffs of Admiralty Inlet on Whidbey Island Right: The tidal flats in Richmond Beach

in Richmond Beach, about ten miles north of

Hanna; and Ilze Grinbergs, who I was married to for

downtown. From our house you could see the flats

fifteen years. She is the other founding partner of

and, at low tide, the sand bars. There was a swamp

Jones & Jones and has been the firm’s president for

nearby, trapped by the railroad tracks, and I loved

the past twenty years. Our design training was a

going out exploring with my rowboat, bottom fishing,

collision between the beaux arts and the modern

observing the rhythm of the tides. Growing up, I was

movement. We were inspired by both the old way

surrounded by these three worlds: an upland farm, a

and the new way, but we were definitely modernists

swamp, and the saltwater flats. Living in such close

at heart.

contact with nature, I learned to appreciate the visual

between the beaux arts, the moderns, and the

place. This early interest would later lead me to study

beatniks, I searched for leaders to give voice to what

regional aesthetics while in architecture school.

had become most important to me—bioregionalism. I

Since my grandfather was a builder and my father


After being exposed at school to the culture clash

gestalt of the fundamental elements and patterns of a

was particularly fascinated by the writings of Aldo

an architect, architecture loomed over my childhood,

Leopold, who described land as a community versus a

and while that influenced my career choice, in many

commodity. I studied the nineteenth-century Jesuit

ways I also revolted against it to become what I am. I

poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who wrote about the

entered the College of Architecture and Urban

“inscape” as the essence of a place that creates an

Planning at the University of Washington in 1958

energy that actualizes visual perceptions in the eye

and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in

and mind—what Yi-Fu Tuan, the great scholar of

1961. In school I met people who have been friends

landscape aesthetics and perception, has called the

and colleagues ever since, including Laurie Olin; Bob

“resonance of an image.” I found W. G. Hoskins’s

C o n v e r s at i o n s

A sketch by Jones illustrating intrinsic environmental qualities of Richmond Beach

book The Making of the English Landscape, which

where we would work on urban design projects,

describes various types of regional landscapes and

trying to capture the spaces and the aesthetics of the

helped me understand that our environments are

market life. After studying the kinesthetic experience

made up of intrinsic geologies, hydrologies, and

of the market, we built a machine to replicate it. It

cultural processes. Thus I began to see the regional

consisted of long scrolls of paper with different

landscape for what it literally was—a series of

textures, which were mounted on a large drumlike

physiographic puzzle pieces—and learned that by

structure that was connected to a long pole with a

mapping and naming the pieces, I could create a

bicycle wheel in the center. We hung the scroll, put

bioregional analog to structural linguistics. In 1961 I

members of the faculty inside the machine, and then

decided to foster my interest in poetry and started

spun it. Patterns started to flow, mimicking the

studying under the American poet Theodore Roethke.

experience of driving a car when scenes start blurring

I was one of his poets for three years until he died. At

together. The machine thus captured all the motion

the same time I was also working for the landscape

and rhythms of the market. The faculty members

architect Richard Haag, a great friend and mentor.

were totally perplexed, but we learned lessons about

At school Haag had been a tremendously influential faculty member. He was one of Hideo

how to record and communicate perceptions of place. After college Haag convinced me to go to Harvard

Sasaki’s best friends during the fifties and had worked

for a graduate degree in landscape architecture. One

for Lawrence Halprin in San Francisco before moving

of my first teachers besides Hideo Sasaki and Norman

up to Seattle to join the landscape architecture

Newton was Charles Eliot III, grandson of Charles

department at the University of Washington. Haag

Eliot, who had worked with the Olmsted brothers.

often took us on field trips to the Pike Place Market,

Eliot gave us a wonderful interdisciplinary project, an Influences


Pike Place kin-aesthetics analysis by Grant Jones, Ilze Jones, and Mark Kabush, students of Richard Haag, University of Washington, 1960


C o n v e r s at i o n s

Regional analysis of proposed recreational open space in Massachusetts by Jones, under the instruction of Charles Eliot III, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, 1964

evaluation of the state of Massachusetts that

Philip Lewis from the University of Wisconsin, and

combined landscape architecture, regional planning,

Angus Hills from the Ontario Department of Lands

and urban design. In my proposal I outlined a

and Forests. All three had developed prototypes for

recreational open space network that would

hierarchical land evaluations. Lewis was the first to

strengthen the economy of Massachusetts by

map intrinsic landscape features, particularly along

focusing on the scenery and the aesthetic quality of

rivers, while McHarg worked with a more holistic

the state. Another Harvard professor that greatly

system of transparent overlays to determine best

influenced me was Peter Hornbeck, a naturalist who

placement for development versus environmental

seemed to know everything about every plant, flower,

protection. These three regionalists who created

herb, grass, snake, or insect. He helped me objectify

models to categorize inherent characteristics of the

how close one can get to nature.

land deeply impacted me.

The year I graduated, 1966, I won the Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. I was the first design

JA: In the mid-1960s, at the threshold between

student to receive the fellowship since Tommy

academia and practice, the Sheldon Fellowship

Church had won it in 1939. Before I left for my trip,

offered the first opportunity for you to establish a

two classmates (Ray Belknap and John Furtado) and I

critical voice in the profession. Did you achieve

worked on a research project with Hornbeck. We had

this? You later wrote in your 1975 manifesto

helped secure $20,000 from the Conservation

“Design as Ecogram” that “the poet whose

Foundation to study three landscape scholars who

responsibility was to discover and give meaning to

were dealing with the regional landscape at that time:

life has been replaced by the ecologist,” but at the

Ian McHarg from the University of Pennsylvania,

same time, you quoted Wystan Auden to say, “the Influences



C o n v e r s at i o n s

Opposite: On the Galapagos Islands Jones researched cultural adaptations to different bioclimatic zones.

machine through a sort of general technoic

from specifics of place. My proposal to the Sheldon

anesthesia has replaced our interdependence with

committee was to travel to South America, where I

nature.” These words seem to question human

would search for cultural adaptations to the different

capacity to hear and respond to what Jones &

bioclimatic zones that stack skyward from sea level up

Jones calls the voice of the landscape.

through the Andes. The Sheldon trip took me to the Galapagos

GJ: My Sheldon Fellowship proposal promulgated the

Islands, where I learned firsthand from Darwin’s

need to catalog city forms, regional architectures, and

finches. Darwin noticed that as finches moved to

material cultures that had evolved adaptively to real

outer islands, they developed evolutionary adaptive

places and real ecologies, and to use these adaptations

mutations to new contextual conditions. The

as models for shaping a better fit for sprawling

fundamental structure of Jones & Jones’s design

modern communities. The idea of environmental

practice works in a similar fashion—we’ve always

determinism, a phrase that was first used by cultural

tried to adjust our design approach to the specific

anthropologists in the 1930s, had acquired slight

context of each project. As a design practice, we are

disrepute because it seemed to indicate that people

constantly responding to changing pressures in the

are a product of their environment. This distrust of

environment and evolving to develop innovative

Social Darwinism had developed partially because it

approaches to new problems. Our practice is reactive

had been used by the Nazis to prove that Aryans were

and contingent, it’s methodologically consistent in

superior. It was my belief that misappropriations of

its adaptivity but not stylistically consistent.

the idea really wrecked the perfectly wonderful notion that people, plants, and animals all evolved

Because of a military junta Ilze and I ended up getting stuck on the island for nearly six weeks, Influences


Sketch by Jones of cultural adaptations to the bioregional conditions of Finca-Cauquillo in the Cauca Valley region of Colombia, 1967


C o n v e r s at i o n s

subsisting at the Charles Darwin Research Station. We

depict a multi-discipline, multi-partnered

couldn’t even contact our parents to let them know

operation that aggressively avoids stylistic

where we were. It was tough at the time but in

categorization. Describe the structure of your

retrospect, it was a wonderful retreat. We went out

practice and some of your early projects.

every week with different scientists to study birds, reptiles, and insects. In a philosophical way, the

GJ: I established Jones & Jones in 1969 with Ilze. As I

Sheldon Fellowship shaped the future of our practice.

mentioned earlier, we came of age in the Beat

My travels confirmed to me that ecology and poetry

Generation and were greatly influenced by Beat

are equally valid ways of describing the world we

writers, but also by scientists who advocated

experience. As cultural expressions, they are closely


aligned, as are intrinsic landscapes and community

Our first job was an urban plaza called Occidental

values. I certainly hope that realization has been a

Square, near our newly opened offices in the old

critical contribution to the profession.

Globe Hotel in the Pioneer Square section of Seattle. We wanted to create the first European cobblestone

JA: In a recent interview firm cofounder Ilze Jones

square in the West and connect it outward with a

said that the intentions of Jones & Jones have

tree-lined open space system. On the working

remained consistent from the beginning: to

drawings we wrote that paving materials would be

promote the objective integration of cultural and

provided free of charge by the owner since our budget

natural values and connectivity at all scales. This

was limited to only $60,000. When asked where those

efficient description of nearly forty years of

materials would come from, we replied that they were

practice somehow is broad enough to accurately

already on the streets, covered with asphalt. We Influences


Ilze Jones and Arthur Skolnik, the Pioneer Square District manager, sorting street cobbles for Occidental Square, Seattle, 1970


C o n v e r s at i o n s

Pioneer Square District master plan, Jones & Jones, 1970. Occidental Square occupies the open space at the district’s center.



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Grant Jones/Jones & Jones — ILARIS: The Puget Sound Plan Source Books in Landscape Architecture 4  

Grant Jones, founding principal of the noted landscape architecture firm Jones & Jones, has practiced ecological design for more than 30 yea...

Grant Jones/Jones & Jones — ILARIS: The Puget Sound Plan Source Books in Landscape Architecture 4  

Grant Jones, founding principal of the noted landscape architecture firm Jones & Jones, has practiced ecological design for more than 30 yea...

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