Erdman Recognized for Preservation Education With New Landscape Architecture Course

Kimball Erdman, assistant professor of landscape architecture and John Greer, president of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas board of directors.
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Kimball Erdman, assistant professor of landscape architecture and John Greer, president of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas board of directors.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Kimball Erdman has received the 2012 award for Outstanding Achievement in Preservation Education from the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas for a new course he developed at the University of Arkansas. Students taking the course surveyed the cemetery at a World War II Japanese-American internment camp in southeast Arkansas.

Erdman is an assistant professor of landscape architecture in the Fay Jones School of Architecture.

He was one of 13 individuals and organizations honored by the alliance at its annual preservation excellence awards banquet Jan. 11 at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. The alliance is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Arkansas’ architectural and cultural heritage.

The Arkansas Preservation Awards are given each year to recognize the important work being done throughout Arkansas to preserve and protect places of historical and cultural importance. “Each of these projects highlighted at the awards show what a dedicated group of people who appreciate historic places and who have vision can achieve to enhance our state and the lives of Arkansans,” said Vanessa McKuin, executive director of the alliance.

Erdman’s recognition comes from work done in his Historic Landscape Preservation course in the 2012 spring semester. Erdman developed the course to focus on the documentation, analysis and preservation treatment of historic landscapes.

As the core project for this course, seven landscape architecture students conducted a Historic American Landscape Survey for the Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery in Desha County. They worked with staff members from the university’s Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, using laser scanners and geographic-positioning-system units to create a three-dimensional point cloud of the site, from which the two-dimensional survey drawings were derived.

 
l-r: John Greer, Tim Maddox of deMx architecture, and Vanessa McKuin, executive director of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas 

Erdman was honored “not only for leading the crucial documentation project of an endangered historic site, but for his teaching students practical skills and inspiring the next generation of preservationists to further pursue the field,” according to the awards event program.

The internment camp, which closed in 1945, was one of two in Arkansas, and among only 10 in the country. The Rohwer cemetery is the only relatively intact remnant of the Arkansas camps.

“It’s a significant site that has a real need, and it needs intervention before it disappears,” Erdman said. “The monuments are crumbling; they’re falling apart. They’re going to be gone forever unless something is done.”

This place is important not only to people in Arkansas and the region, but for those across the country and around the world. “This is a site that has meaning and value and importance and a message for all of them,” he said.

None of the other 12 HPAA awards involved a landscape architecture project. Historic preservation for architecture has been around since the 1930s and is well established in Arkansas, Erdman said. But the preservation of historic landscapes did not develop as a specific sub-discipline until the 1980s.

Being recognized for this project not only brings attention to the Fay Jones School, it also raises awareness of the field of historic landscape preservation. “It’s been a fantastic project for our school to be involved in, in a variety of ways,” he said.

As part of this project, the team created Historic American Landscape Survey documents that are now part of the Library of Congress and will be available online to the public.

Project team members included Derek Lynn, who graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2012 and served as Erdman’s assistant in class. Students were Stephen Gaulin, Patrick Lower, Jaime Navarro, Garrett “Ty” Richardson, Jonathan Schmitz, Benjamin Stinnett and Danilo Tchoupe. They worked with staff members Robyn Dennis and Caitlin Stevens from the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies. Dennis graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2000, and Stevens graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in 2010.

In March, Erdman will present two papers that stemmed from this project – one on the history of the cemetery at the annual conference of Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture in Austin, Texas, and another on the methodology and pedagogy used in the class at the annual meeting of the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation in Lynchburg, Va.

In addition, some Fay Jones School alumni also received awards at the historic preservation awards ceremony.

Tim Maddox, with deMx architecture, won an Award for Excellence in Preservation through Rehabilitation for the sensitive adaptive use of the 1925 Cravens Building in Fayetteville to create a comfortable, modern dining space in Vetro 1925 restaurant. Maddox graduated from the university in 2002 with a Bachelor of Architecture.

The Clinton Presidential Park Bridge spanning the Arkansas River between Little Rock and North Little Rock and the project team partners were recognized with an Award for Excellence in Preservation through Rehabilitation for adapting the vertical lift railroad bridge to a fixed span bridge to connect parts of the River Trail for use by cyclists and pedestrians. The project team included Joe Stanley and Dustin Davis, both with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Little Rock. Stanley graduated from the university in 1969 with a Bachelor of Architecture, and Davis graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Architecture.

Honorees and guests celebrated with a reception and banquet at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion followed by a program recognizing award-winning projects. Actress and Arkansas native Natalie Canerday served as mistress of ceremonies for the event.

For more information on the project, go to Research Frontiers, the university's research magazine, or watch the Research Frontiers video about the project. For more on the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, visit the Preserve Arkansas website.

Contacts

Kimball Erdman, assistant professor, landscape architecture
Fay Jones School of Architecture
479-575-5617, kerdman@uark.edu

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu

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