Legacy and Stewardship


uring their lifetimes, Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden developed ongoing working relationships and great friendships with clients. They and Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Inc. (now OEHME, VAN SWEDEN | OvS) created more than 1,000 projects since the firm’s founding in 1975. They also wrote extensively, so we have a deep understanding of their design and stewardship philosophies, inspirations, and values.

Along with illuminating their design legacy, this exhibition illustrates that great gardens and well-maintained public works endure because of sound stewardship, whether an ongoing collaboration between designers and their patron/stewards or other reasons. There is a tenuousness to this unique built legacy—especially the private commissions. As Oehme and van Sweden saw in their lifetimes, residential gardens can be wiped away with changes of property ownership, while carefully conceived public commissions can be lost through inadequate maintenance or a desire for something new. Not all landscapes or buildings will last, but the decision-making about their futures is more thorough when their creators’ design intent and body of work are understood and valued.

Projects (3)