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A Moment of Silence for John Ormsbee Simonds, FASLA



John Ormsbee Simonds, FASLA

The Pittsburgh papers, the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review, have eulogized John Ormsbee Simonds, an influential landscape architect who passed on of natural causes May 26, 2005 at his home in Ben Avon Heights, Penn., at the age of 92.

Simonds, born in Jamestown, N.D., was the son of a Presbyterian pastor. He studied landscape architecture at Michigan State University, but left at the end of his junior year to travel the world, working as a seaman in the Pacific and living for a time in Borneo and Tibet.

Resuming his studies stateside, he graduated from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1939, founding the firm Simonds and Simonds with his brother, Phillip, the same year. In 1970, Simonds and Simonds became Environmental Planning and Design. Mr. Simonds worked there until 1983.

In Pittsburgh, he designed Mellon Square, Equitable Plaza, the Civic Arena, Crawford Square, and many playgrounds and small parks. He also designed the Chicago Botanical Garden, four new towns, including Miami Lakes and Pelican Bay in Florida, and was the planner of record for more than 80 planned communities.

Mr. Simonds was on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University for 13 years. He was a past president and fellow (1964) of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He received the ASLA Medal (1973) and the ASLA’s President’s Centennial Medal (1999) for “unparalleled contributions to landscape architecture and service to the ASLA in the 20th century.” He was also a fellow of the Royal Academy of Design in Great Britain.

Mr. Simonds is the author of a number of landscape architectural texts, including:

  • Landscape Architecture: The Shaping of Man’s Natural Environment, 1961
  • Earthscape: A Manual of Environmental Planning, 1978
  • Landscape Architecture: A Manual of Site Planning and Design, 1983
  • Garden Cities 21: Creating a Livable Urban Environment, 1994
  • Lessons, 1999 (ASLA Press)

Mr. Simonds is survived by his wife, Marjorie, whom he married in 1943, four children and seven grandchildren.


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December 8, 2019, 8:38 am PDT

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