Skip to main content

John Ormsbee Simonds Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS Group 050

Scope and Content

The Simonds Collection is comprised of plans and drawings, project files, correspondence, writings, speeches and lectures, photographs, audiovisual recordings, memorabilia and other material dating from 1912 to 2005. The collection provides an example of the contribution by landscape architects to the land and resource planning in Florida, Pennsylvania, and other regions; a trace of the 20th century transition and development of the profession of landscape architecture in America as exemplified by the professional work, teaching, and writings of one practitioner and the colleagues of his firm; and gives insight into the workings of the institutions, professional groups, and public agencies with which Simonds was associated.

The bulk of the collection consists of project files documenting his design and planning projects completed in numerous states and regions in North America. The majority of the projects represent locations in Pennsylvania, particularly in and around Pittsburgh, and South Florida. Also included are approximately 2500 drawings and renderings for many of the projects undertaken by Simonds and his partnerships, including EPD: Environmental Planning and Design.

The professional and personal correspondence documents his activities as a landscape architect, educator, and author; his relationship with partners, clients, and professional colleagues; and his influence on development and planning in Florida. His professional service activities are well represented in files related to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and various state, national, and international task forces and committees. All of his major publications, including multiple editions of Landscape Architecture, as well as numerous other writings are included in both manuscript and published format. Photographs and slides document his professional career, his personal life, and his travels around the world.

Dates

  • 1912-2005
  • Majority of material found within 1940-2005

Creator

Access

The collection is open for research.

Usage Restrictions

During the lifetime of the donors they shall retain all rights of copyright. Upon the death of the surviving donor, copyright shall be assigned to the University of Florida. Permission for reproduction is given by the Department as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Ormsbee Simonds worked for over fifty years as a landscape architect and planner. Beginning in 1940 when he founded his first partnership, Simonds and Simonds, his firms were responsible for planning over 500 projects, including more than 80 planned communities and new towns. In 1970, he was a co-founder of The Environmental Planning and Design Partnership (EPD), with offices in Pittsburgh, Miami Lakes, and Michigan. Primarily national in scope, EPD focused on urban renewal, parks and recreation, and broad-scale regional planning, particularly the development of new communities.

His philosophy of planning was firmly rooted in the Buddhist and Taoist traditions of Asia, to which he traveled frequently throughout his life. These travels taught him the importance of designing experiences, rather than places or things, and the need to promote harmonious relationships between humans and the environment. These concepts were proven in projects such as Mellon Square in Pittsburgh, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the new towns of Miami Lakes and Pelican Bay in Florida.

Not only by his practice of the profession, but also by his role as educator and author, Simonds was able to significantly affect the field of landscape architecture. Through his teachings and writings, he helped to change the perception of landscape architects from that of plant and garden specialists to environmentalists, urban designers, and regional planners. In 1961 Simonds authored the premier major textbook used in landscape architecture and planning education during the latter half of the 20th Century, Landscape Architecture: The Shaping of Man's Natural Environment. This publication was revised twice under the title Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Site Planning and Design (1983 and 1998), and Simonds was working on a fourth edition at the time of his death in 2005.

Throughout his career, Simonds was an environmentalist who preached the need for planned development in order to ensure the preservation of our natural resources. His working philosophy was: "The great opportunity for true (dynamic) conservation lies in promoting (not blocking) the process of comprehensive land planning whereby the most sensitive, most productive, and most scenic areas are defined and presented in perpetuity."

  • 1913, March 11 Born in Jamestown, North Dakota
  • 1930 Enrolled at Michigan State University
  • 1933-1934 Took a year off from school to live in Borneo and travel throughout Asia
  • 1935 Graduated from Michigan State with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture
  • 1935-1936 Worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Big Bay, Michigan (responsible for rehabilitation of land and design of Marquette State Park)
  • 1936-1939 Attended Harvard Graduate School of Design, receiving a Master's in Landscape Architecture in 1939
  • 1939-1940 Traveled to Asia with fellow Harvard graduate and future partner Lester A. Collins
  • 1940 Established Simonds and Simonds partnership in Pittsburgh with his brother, Philip
  • 1941 Could not enlist when U.S. entered WWII because he had contracted malaria during his travels to Asia, but worked on military base projects in Pennsylvania
  • 1943 Married Marjorie C. Todd
  • 1945-1960 Simonds and Simonds practice flourishes during post-war boom and Pittsburgh Renaissance
  • 1952-1970 Partner in Collins, Simonds and Simonds
  • 1955-1967 Served on faculty of Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • 1961 Published Landscape Architecture: The Shaping of Man's Natural Environment
  • 1963-1965 President, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
  • 1965 Chair, Urban Parks and Open Spaces panel, White House Conference on Natural Beauty
  • 1965 Principal planner and author of Virginia's Common Wealth, one of the first state action plans for land and resource planning
  • 1966-1968 Member, Federal Highway Administration's Board of Urban Advisors - Simonds edited the board's report, Freeway in the City (1968)
  • 1968-1970 Member, President's Task Force on Resources and the Environment
  • 1970 Simonds and Simonds firm renamed EPD: The Environmental Planning and Development Partnership
  • 1973 Awarded the ASLA Medal, one of the highest honors in the profession
  • 1978 Published Earthscape: A Manual of Environmental Planning
  • 1979-1980 Member, Governor's Resource Management Task Force (Florida)
  • 1983 Retired from EPD, but continued to consult afterwards as partner emeritus
  • 1983 Published second edition of Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Site Planning and Design.
  • 1998 Published third edition of Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Site Planning and Design.
  • 1999 Awarded the ASLA President's Centennial Medal
  • 2005, May 26 Died at the age of 92 at his home in Pittsburgh
1913, March 11
Born in Jamestown, North Dakota
1930
Enrolled at Michigan State University
1933-1934
Took a year off from school to live in Borneo and travel throughout Asia
1935
Graduated from Michigan State with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture
1935-1936
Worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Big Bay, Michigan (responsible for rehabilitation of land and design of Marquette State Park)
1936-1939
Attended Harvard Graduate School of Design, receiving a Master's in Landscape Architecture in 1939
1939-1940
Traveled to Asia with fellow Harvard graduate and future partner Lester A. Collins
1940
Established Simonds and Simonds partnership in Pittsburgh with his brother, Philip
1941
Could not enlist when U.S. entered WWII because he had contracted malaria during his travels to Asia, but worked on military base projects in Pennsylvania
1943
Married Marjorie C. Todd
1945-1960
Simonds and Simonds practice flourishes during post-war boom and Pittsburgh Renaissance
1952-1970
Partner in Collins, Simonds and Simonds
1955-1967
Served on faculty of Carnegie Institute of Technology (Carnegie Mellon University)
1961
Published Landscape Architecture: The Shaping of Man's Natural Environment
1963-1965
President, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
1965
Chair, Urban Parks and Open Spaces panel, White House Conference on Natural Beauty
1965
Principal planner and author of Virginia's Common Wealth, one of the first state action plans for land and resource planning
1966-1968
Member, Federal Highway Administration's Board of Urban Advisors - Simonds edited the board's report, Freeway in the City (1968)
1968-1970
Member, President's Task Force on Resources and the Environment
1970
Simonds and Simonds firm renamed EPD: The Environmental Planning and Development Partnership
1973
Awarded the ASLA Medal, one of the highest honors in the profession
1978
Published Earthscape: A Manual of Environmental Planning
1979-1980
Member, Governor's Resource Management Task Force (Florida)
1983
Retired from EPD, but continued to consult afterwards as partner emeritus
1983
Published second edition of Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Site Planning and Design.
1998
Published third edition of Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Site Planning and Design.
1999
Awarded the ASLA President's Centennial Medal
2005, May 26
Died at the age of 92 at his home in Pittsburgh

Extent

175.75 cubic feet (214 Boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Drawings, project files, correspondence, writings, speeches, and other papers of landscape architect John Ormsbee Simonds.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into several archival series. Within each series, files primarily are arranged alphabetically. The "Speeches" and the "Drawings and Renderings" series are exceptions to this arrangement.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Gift of John Ormsbee Simonds and Marjorie Simonds, 1990. Acquired with the assistance of Herrick Smith, former chair of the University of Florida Landscape Architecture department.

Processing Notes

The Simonds Collection was arranged and described between August 2004 and November 2005. Funding for two graduate student assistants, Brenda Curtis and Nicole Hawkins, was provided by the UF Landscape Architecture Department to complete processing activities. Additional processing was completed by Prof. Kay Williams of the Landscape Architecture Department, and John Nemmers and Jim Silk of Special and Area Studies Collections.
Title
A Guide to the John Ormsbee Simonds Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid prepared by John R. Nemmers
Date
January 2006
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

Contact:
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America
352-273-2755