Robert Royston (1918–2007) is best known for his public works, especially city parks. Over the course of his long and productive career, however, the San Francisco–based landscape architect also designed many innovative gardens, outdoor living spaces enlivened by the shapes and rhythms of modern art and characterized by fine detail, attention to comfort, and beauty. Royston’s final project, for the Palm Springs homes of Brent R. Harris and Lisa Meulbroek, is a particularly rich design, owing to its dramatic scenic and architectural setting. In his talk, JC Miller will detail the process of designing and, after Royston’s death, continuing to fine-tune the garden created in response to two adjacent, architecturally significant modern homes, one designed by Welton Becket & Associates in 1957 and the other by Richard George Wheeler, with additions by Albert Frey.
Royston’s plan responded to the circular shape of the main house with a large central pool and surrounding plantings, walls, and furnishings that continue the round forms. He claimed that his inspiration for the layout came from a 1926 painting by Wassily Kandinsky, Several Circles. Royston also designed a new streetscape to reflect the spectacular desert setting dominated by the austere form of Mount San Jacinto, bringing in over two hundred tons of stone to match the local geology and planting it with native species in a limited palette. Miller will discuss the experience of working directly with Royston on the project and his collaboration with the owners through the years.
JC Miller is a partner at Vallier Design Associates in Point Richmond, California, and director of the Landscape Architecture Certificate Program at UC Berkeley Extension. He worked for more than a decade in the Royston office and, as a principal, assisted Royston in the design and execution of his final projects. He is coauthor of Robert Royston, a volume in Library of American Landscape History’s Masters of Modern Landscape Design series.
A book signing of Reuben Rainey and JC Miller’s Robert Royston (University of Georgia Press, 2019 in association with Library of American Landscape History) will follow this presentation.
Things to Know
This event is for all ages.
This event is wheelchair accessible.
The organizer of this event is Modernism Week.
Event Check-in Location
Modernism Week CAMP Theater, 575 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Photo Credits: Harris garden model: Photo by Jennifer Loring. Harris garden: Photo by Brent R. Harris. Harris garden pavilion: Photo by Brent R. Harris. Harris garden: Photo by Brent R. Harris. Harris garden: Photo by Brent R. Harris.
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