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Carol R Johnson A Landscape Architectural Practice Takes Root by Mary Alice Van Sickle, Marketing Director, CRJA Carol Johnson is good at growing things. Her Cambridge garden draws admiring passers-by throughout the summer. And the seeds of the landscape architectural firm she founded 40 years ago are firmly rooted and continue to bear fruit. Perhaps, like all good gardeners, she has succeeded because she has taken care to select the right materials, prepare the ground for healthy growth, and, over many years, provide a nurturing environment in which growing things can thrive. In October of this year, Carol Johnson, FASLA, and her staff will officially celebrate Carol R. Johnson Associates' (CRJA) 40th anniversary. Visitors who come to the ASLA Convention in September will be able to tour many CRJA projects in greater Boston. Recent Boston-Area Projects Prominent on the Boston skyline will be the new U.S. Federal Courthouse on Fan Pier, a collaborative landscape design effort between CRJA and Olin Partnership of Philadelphia. Mayor Curley Park, which features bronze sculptures of Boston's former illustrious mayor, is a popular gathering spot in the busy government district between historic Faneuil Hall and Boston City Hall Plaza. On the Cambridge side of the Charles-River, visitors might spend a relaxing afternoon at Lechmere Canal Park in East Cambridge, perhaps embarking here on a leisurely boat tour of the Lower Charles River Basin. While taking in the sights and sounds of Harvard Square--a must for any visitor--one might spend a moment of quiet reflection at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, reading excerpts from Kennedy speeches carved into the granite walls of the memorial fountain. Firm History To appreciate fully the magnitude of Johnson's accomplishments, one would look more closely at the firm's beginnings in 1959, and the woman whose passion for growing things allowed it to flourish. Carol Johnson inherited a love for gardening and the outdoors from her parents. After working in a local nursery, she entered Harvard's Graduate School of Design in 1955 to study Landscape Architecture. It was a field she knew little about. As a student at GSD, she learned to believe in the collaborative process and environmentally sensitive landscape design, concepts which remain cornerstones for her firm's practice today. Two years after graduation, Carol began her own practice. It was a time when there were few women Landscape Architects, and the profession itself was not well established. She had worked for a year at The Architects Collaborative, the firm founded in Cambridge by Walter Gropius, and it was here that she received the encouragement of her colleagues to venture out on her own. Today, CRJA is an award-winning firm of 76 people, with an expanding repertoire of work throughout the Eastern United States, in the Midwest, and in various location's abroad. It is a firm rooted in the mainstream tradition of Landscape Architecture, whose designs reflect the goals of the earliest landscape architects--preservation and enhancement of the environment and accommodation of the public. But it is also a firm in transition, with a new generation of leaders poised to take the firm into the next millennium. Now, the chairman of CRJA, Carol Johnson, has turned over management of the firm to her fellow partners, under the leadership of Harry Fuller, the firm's President and Managing Partner. Among the senior staff are nine other principals, most of whom have been with the firm for 15-20 years. The Present and Future of CRJA Rooted in fertile soil, CRJA continues to grow and flourish. Carol Johnson now focuses much of her efforts on collaborations with architects on college and university campus projects in the Eastern U.S. Among these is the recently completed Cornell Campus Center at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, for which she worked closely with Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott Architects of Boston. Always open to new challenges, she has recently taken on site design for the new U.S. Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, with Tai Soo Kim Partners, architects of Hartford, Connecticut. CRJA's other partners are also leaving their mark on projects in New England and farther afield. President Harry Fuller, ASLA, works closely with architects and real estate developers designing the sites for urban and suburban corporate office properties. Bill Taylor, ASLA oversees CRJA's growing list of projects in Taiwan, Korea and Mainland China. Tom Kirvan, ASLA is helping with planning for the recreational reuse of capped landfill sites in several communities north of Boston. Jerry Brown will open the firm's first branch office, in Salt Lake City, this fall. Jennifer Jones, ASLA is sought after for her expertise in campus landscape design, and in site development for continuing care communities such as Brooksby Village, occupying a former quarry site in Peabody, Massachusetts. Randy Sorensen, ASLA oversees a studio within the office devoted to the large number of primary and secondary school projects and office designs. John Gustavsen, or "Gus" as he is affectionately known, remains the firm's resident expert in irrigation and fountain design. Pam Shadley, ASLA is developing an expertise in urban waterfront reclamation, with the award-winning Great River Park along the banks of the Connecticut River in East Hartford, CT, to her credit. And Bruce Leish, ASLA is directing several recreational greenway projects, one of which is the restoration of 5.75 miles of the Upper Charles River Reservation in several communities west of Boston. After four decades of growth and expansion under Carol Johnson's leadership, what course will the new generation of leaders take to steer the firm into the new millennium? According to Harry Fuller, this period of transition is both exciting and challenging. CRJA hopes to capitalize on its depth and breadth of experience and its acknowledged reputation for design excellence, by opening its first branch office in Salt Lake City, in October. Prospects for new commissions in the Far East may result in a second branch office in Taipei, expected sometime during the year 2000. Fuller comments, "We have come a long way under Carol's dedicated leadership. Like the good gardener she is, she has helped us all grow. With her inspiration, we hope to sow the seeds for yet another generation of Landscape Architects at CRJA, and to perpetuate an environment in which we, and they, can continue to flourish." lasn

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June 16, 2019, 10:33 pm PDT

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