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Joseph E. Brown Receives LAF Medal

JUNE 24, 2019

Joseph E. Brown, FASLA, is the 2019 recipient of the LAF Medal, the Landscape Architecture Foundation's highest award. The honor is conveyed to a landscape architect for distinguished work over a career in applying the principles of sustainability to landscapes.

On June 13 at LAF's Awards Dinner in Washington, DC, Brown accepted the award surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues. Many notable professionals shared their memories of Brown and his impact on their careers in what was an emotional celebration of a long, influential career. Brown dedicated his award to Bill Calloway, a good friend with whom he established the CEO Roundtable.

Inspiring, enabling, learning and researching makes our profession stronger. One day a first-tier profession. I believe this and have spent my career helping people to think big, look around the next corner, take risks, and grow.

Joseph E. Brown, FASLA

Jacinta McCann, FASLA, recognized Brown's widespread influence, sharing that hundreds of people approached her over the years to share their Joe moments, typically unforgettable quotes that changed their trajectory. McCann reached out to three women whom Brown admired to offer their thoughts on the honoree. Their comments are below.


Barbara Faga, FASLA

Joe is the master of recognizing the potential of a situation – with developers, public officials, architects, and even a US president or two – Joe figures out what they want and how we approach the project. I know very few consultants who do this – but Joe is the master. He has a seventh sense and can figure out the issue and how to address it. Which makes working with him easy and interesting as there are no long discussions because he gets it immediately. Amazingly he’s right most of the time. I like this as it makes working with him like shorthand- we have many examples.  He’s charming and in a way charmed. Everything he did with EDAW went well and his big ideas rubbed off on the rest of us. He charmed Disney, the Olympics, China, Australia, London, France, St Joe, MeadWestvaco, Huntsville, and our many offices along with thousands of projects and clients. They always ask about Joe – where’s he living and what’s he doing? He doesn’t age and they describe him as the Harvard looking guy. Before I met him 40 plus years ago the story was, he’s a smart guy who looks like he’s 18. And it was true. Joe believes everything is possible, and he makes us all believe too.


Lucinda Sanders, FASLA

There is just one practitioner who I can think of who has had an enormous impact on my business practices and on how I show up professionally….Joe Brown is that rare person.   

Joe was my most significant mentor in the business of the business.  He taught me nearly everything I now know about the business of landscape architecture.  His advice always turned out to be profoundly pragmatic yet deeply prescient.

He also, perhaps unwittingly, mentored me by being an exemplar of humanity.  I vividly remember Joe stepping forward on the heels of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina - being a voice for the profession and sustainable planning.  This was a profound demonstration of a landscape architect stepping outside of their professional bubble to make a difference.  That act was an invitation to me to stretch.

I am eternally grateful for Joe’s wisdom and humanity.


Martha Schwartz, FASLA

I know Joe mostly through others. I met him 44 years ago when I first met Pete Walker, a good friend of Joe's. Over a lifespan, Pete has always had the greatest admiration and respect for Joe, and knowing Pete, this really means something. Neither one suffer fools.

I learned a lot about Joe through my boys, Jake and Josie Walker.  Jake, an architect / landscape architect with his own successful practice in China, will often seek out Joe for advice.  Joe is always super generous with them, always treats the boys with the greatest respect, and of course, always gives clear and severely smart advice. To the kids, Joe is the smartest guy on the planet and my boys love and respect him. Many times I see Joe when he is surrounded by people who are, themselves, leaders of important firms, and it's always like you'd imagine a Greek philosopher (think Socrates), surrounded by his acolytes, eagerly soaking up every single word Joe speaks. Joe is like the "Oracle" of the landscape profession.  

But Joe, to me, is a man, very human and compassionate. He has a dry and wacky sense of humor. And he is always kind and generous to me and my children.  I love this guy.

LAF is grateful to the many individuals and organizations that provide financial support towards fulfilling our mission to support the preservation, improvement, and enhancement of the environment.

Much of what LAF is able to accomplish would not be possible without the thought leadership and financial investment of our major supporters, including ASLA, which provides over $125,000 of in-kind support annually.