Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism


Parkmerced was developed in the 1940’s by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York (MetLife) to create a long-term, solid investment and, at the same time, provide moderate-income rental housing for returning World War II veterans and their families. Designed by architect Leonard Schultze and Associates with planning and landscape architecture by Thomas Church with Robert Royston, it was designed as “a city within a city.” The 191.5-acre site was developed in two phases from 1940 to 1951 and included nearly 3,500 residential units for more than 8,000 residents, a commercial zone, school, recreational areas, and a meadow.


Schultze and Church worked closely to develop the plan for Parkmerced. Church had established himself as a leading landscape architect of residential gardens in the Bay Area, often collaborating with cutting-edge, Modern architects.

He had also gained public recognition through several articles on small gardens in California Art and Architecture and a Beaux Arts-inspired, public open space, Memorial Court, in San Francisco. As war shortages curtailed private, residential work, Church, like many architects and landscape architects of the period, sought commissions for public housing projects. He was engaged in such Bay Area developments as Valencia Gardens, North Beach Housing, Sunnydale, and Potrero Terrace, however, Parkmerced was a career breakthrough for Church and would heavily influence a young Robert Royston who worked on the project as an intern.

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust