Fort Lincoln Park, Washington, DC
1931 -

M. Paul Friedberg

Born in New York City, Friedberg studied ornamental horticulture at Cornell University, graduating with a B.S. in 1954. He then briefly pursued a career in horticulture, eventually moving to the city of his birth, where in 1958 he founded M. Paul Friedberg and Associates. He would become a leading landscape architect of new public spaces, including municipal and corporate plazas, main-street malls, and small vest-pocket parks.

In 1965 Friedberg designed an innovative play area at Riis Park Plaza (demolished in 2000) in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where a series of dynamic play structures—pyramids, mounds, and a tunnel, for example—could be used by children of various ages simultaneously and in many different ways. Peavey Plaza (listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013) in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Fulton County Government Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia, and other projects in the 1970s and 1980s, contain signature design elements, including paths and bridges interspersed among pools, ponds, and water courses. The pools at Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., at the Olympic Plaza in Calgary, and at Peavey Plaza, also served as platforms for winter skating. This flexible approach to space originated with Friedberg’s earlier revolutionary playground designs, as well as his continued observations of what made public spaces successful. Friedberg has taught at many universities, including Harvard and Yale, and in 1970 he founded the program in urban landscape architecture at the City College of New York. His books include Play and Interplay (1970) and Handcrafted Playgrounds: Designs You Can Build Yourself (1975). In 1979 Friedberg was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, which awarded him its Design Medal in 2004, and its highest honor, the ASLA Medal, in 2015.

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