A. E. Bye
University of Georgia Press in association with LALH
A Volume in the Masters of Modern Landscape Design series
Throughout his more than fifty-year career as a landscape architect, A. E. Bye (1919–2001) approached his work with the sensibility of an artist, the eye of a photographer, and the precision of a scientist. He designed landscapes to intensify their inherent qualities and “moods,” using abstract forms and defining relationships among elements to explore a site’s underlying natural processes. As he strove to reveal the essence of a landscape, Bye created memorable places that have become modernist works of art.
After launching his practice in 1951, Bye began developing a design aesthetic rooted in his deep affinity for the natural world and his belief in the art of landscape architecture, its power to evoke emotional responses to place. Grounding his designs in an ecological understanding of a site and a desire to use existing materials, he evolved an approach based in constructing landforms. He is perhaps best known for the landscape he created for George and Annalise Soros on Long Island, with its undulating earth mounds that become abstractions as the sun and shadows pass over them or snow melts in ever-shifting forms.
Beginning in the 1950s, he broke new ground in his field designing campus plans for the new building type of suburban corporate headquarters. In his work for Avon, Chrysler, Westinghouse, Dow Corning, and other companies, he answered the challenge of integrating large-scale industrial architecture into a residential context by sculpting landforms and planting buffers, softening the visual impact and in some cases creating public greenspace. His solution became the standard for the suburban corporate landscape. In his original explorations of landform as an art, his celebration of the garden as a place for reflection, and his effort to achieve an ecological balance in his work, A. E. Bye offered a unique and timeless vision of how modernist landscape architecture could improve the quality of life.
THAISA WAY, professor of landscape architecture, teaches history, theory, and design at the University of Washington. She has published and lectured on feminist histories of design and women practitioners. The author of several books, Way is the editor of the forthcoming collection of essays River Cities, City Rivers (2018), part of the Dumbarton Oaks Colloquia series.