Landscape Architecture Professor John Crone Retires After 33 Years
John Crone, second from right, is joined by his sons, Ben, Jonathan and Chris, at a September 2011 awards ceremony in Fayetteville. The Arkansas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects had awarded professor Crone the Arkansas Pioneer Award.
John Crone had worked in locations around the world – New Zealand and London, among them – and wasn’t looking for a teaching job. Yet, he landed in Fayetteville, got a guest teaching position in the landscape architecture department at the University of Arkansas and continued to teach for another 33 years.
The longest-serving landscape architecture faculty member in the Fay Jones School of Architecture, Crone will retire at the end of this academic year. A reception will be held in his honor from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday, April 19, at Memorial Hall on the balcony. The school invites the campus community to join Crone for this event.
Crone received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia and his Master of Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
After finishing graduate school, he arrived in Winslow to check out the Depression era farm that had belonged to his grandfather. He just planned to fix it up as a vacation home. While doing maintenance on it, he was a visiting assistant professor in the landscape architecture department for a year.
“It was interesting how life created that opportunity out of the blue,” he said.
Crone was somewhat familiar with the university and the area. A family friend worked in the architecture school at the time. His grandfather was an engineer for the dining hall at Lake Wedington park, and had worked on other Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration projects in the state, such as Blanchard Springs Caverns.
When Crone arrived to the program in 1980, it was fledgling. Over the years, he’s taught most of the classes that have been offered, and he has rubbed elbows with all of the students since the first graduating class. He’s also served as faculty adviser for the Sigma Lambda Alpha honor society.
“It’s been a privilege to know all the students,” he said.
He’s also taught in the many campus locations that have housed landscape architecture – including Hill Hall, Vol Walker Hall, Carnall Hall, and, for several years now, Memorial Hall.
While teaching design and construction courses, he placed an emphasis on community planning, housing and sustainable design. His research focused on sustainable community design and the relationship between community planning and sustainable agriculture.
At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Crone had studied under Ian McHarg, who founded that university’s department of landscape architecture and regional planning and ran it for three decades. McHarg wrote the 1969 book Design With Nature, which urged landscape planners to work with ecology rather than against it.
Crone brought that ecological planning methodology to bear in his instruction, but he later also became interested in New Deal-era farm communities and sustainability.
Crone likes that he was able to combine teaching with research, conducting ecological inventories and analyses under various funding situations. “It’s really nice when you can bring the research and the students together so they can see that you’re walking the talk,” he said.
Students also saw him practicing landscape architecture when he hosted get-togethers at his Winslow farm and his home in Fayetteville. Students could see he was practicing conservation ecology – with a well-designed, sustainable garden that fed his family.
“I think that where and how you live is really important,” he said.
Outside of the classroom, one of his proudest accomplishments was helping to secure the property that would become Garvan Woodland Gardens, the university’s botanical garden located in Hot Springs. He feels that event really got the program and department noticed campuswide.
Crone came along when the plan was being developed, and he worked alongside other faculty members to understand the wishes of benefactress Verna Cook Garvan, and to assure her that her wishes would be carried out.
Under Crone’s leadership as department head from 1987-93, the landscape architecture department achieved full national accreditation status.
In 2011, the Arkansas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects awarded him the Arkansas Pioneer Award. This award, given periodically by the state chapter, acknowledges a person who has given a body of lifetime work to the profession of landscape architecture in the state.
While teaching, Crone participated in community service activities, serving on the Washington County Planning Board for eight years and the city of Fayetteville’s Tree and Landscape Committee for the past nine years. He said that experience helped keep his teaching rooted in the reality of everyday situations facing residents and governments. His example also helped lead some alumni to serve in planning positions in their careers.
Crone and his first wife raised their family – sons Chris, Jonathan and Ben – on the farm in Winslow. Crone and his wife, Camilla, have been married for 10 years. In his retirement, they plan to do some work and landscaping on their rental properties in Fayetteville. They also plan to rehabilitate a 5-acre, Roosevelt-era homestead in Morongo Valley, Calif., which has a desert ecology completely different from Arkansas. His retirement plans also include spending more time with his sons and four grandchildren, all of whom live in the Fayetteville area.
Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture
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