Stu has played a significant role at Sasaki and as a national leader in the landscape architecture profession. He has also had a profound impact on many individuals here. In a letter supporting Stu's nomination for the ASLA Design Medal, Sasaki principal Alan Ward, FASLA, eloquently summarizes Stu's work:
Stu has designed some of the most significant, enduring, and influential landscapes of the modern era. Many of Stu's designs are national landmarks or signify an important transition point in American landscape design over the past five decades.
Fifty years ago: As a young landscape architect in Hideo Sasaki's office, Stu leads the design and collaborates with Eero Saarinen and Kevin Roche on the landscape for the John Deere and Company Headquarters. This beautiful and tranquil landscape in the Illinois countryside, completed in 1964, sets a modern precedent for landscape architects creating corporate settings outside of American cities.
John Deere and Company Headquarters
Forty years ago: Stu collaborates with Araldo Cossutta of I. M. Pei's office to design the 14-acre site of the Christian Science Center. A popular new Boston landmark is created with a 700-foot -long reflecting pool and fountain. The new plaza and gardens are an early and quintessential example of bold private interventions in American cities—making privately owned open spaces publicly accessible.
Christian Science Center
At about the same time in Boston, Stu collaborates with civil engineers on the design of Boston Waterfront Park to reconnect the city with its historic waterfront. Stu invents a robust design expression that captures the scale and enduring qualities appropriate for the tough urban environment of an old industrial waterfront. The design is a catalyst for Boston's revitalization, as well as a model for many other American cities as underutilized waterfronts become opportunities for landscape architects across the country. Boston Waterfront Park helps initiate this return to the waterfront.
Boston Waterfront Park
During this time, he becomes a founding member of the Boston Landmarks Commission, and is a resident at the American Academy in Rome.
Thirty years ago: Stu is selected by Mayor Riley and the City of Charleston, South Carolina, to reclaim abandoned waterfront land for this historic city. Side by side with Mayor Riley, Stu absorbs the feel and character of the city and its people, and reinterprets these attributes in a contemporary way in the design of Charleston Waterfront Park. It is embraced—in fact, loved—by the residents of Charleston as it reflects the community's engagement. It is the first step in significant reinvestment and increased tourism in Charleston. This project marks a transition as landscape architects increasingly aim to make designs that both celebrate the past and, at the same time, have a powerful social impact.
Charleston Waterfront Park
Twenty years ago: Stu is selected by the Army of Corp of Engineers and the City of Indianapolis to undo an overly engineered waterfront. Stu works closely with Sasaki civil engineers to remove floodwalls in favor of a vegetated riparian edge and green spaces that slope down to the river and connects it with canals, both new and renovated, linking interior neighborhoods to the river. With a place for residents on the water, Downtown Indianapolis experiences a renaissance and attracts new investment. White River State Park marks the trend, early on, of landscape architects reshaping the urban infrastructure of American cities to create an enhanced public realm.
White River State Park
Added together, Stu Dawson, in his own modest and quiet way, designed these seminal projects that are at the forefront of our profession, and seemingly foretell future trends in American cities as well as the future direction of American landscape architecture.
Today, Stu continues to be available to consult on certain ongoing Sasaki projects, such as John Deere and National Harbor, located on the Potomac River adjacent to Washington DC. He has continued recently to teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Locally, he serves on the board of the York Land Trust and the York Village Study Committee (for improved urban design in the village center), and consults with The Museums of Old York. He also finds time to indulge in his love of boating, fly fishing, travel, and sketching.