Patricia Johanson '62

Image of Patricia Johanson

For the past 30 years Patricia Johanson’s multidisciplinary designs have combined art, ecology, landscaping, and functional infrastructure. During the 1960s and 1970s, Johanson worked for Joseph Cornell and Georgia O’Keeffe, designed a series of 150 gardens for House & Garden magazine, and created site plans for the Mitchell/Giurgola buildings at Yale University, Columbus, Indiana, and Con Edison’s Indian Point Generating Facility.

From 1981 to 1986 she created the Fair Park Lagoon in Dallas, one of the earliest ecological artworks, where sculpture serves as causeways, bridges, seating, and islands that bring people into contact with functioning natural communities. From 1988 to 1995 she co-designed San Francisco’s new sewer, also known as “Endangered Garden,” a linear park along San Francisco Bay, incorporating tidal sculpture, butterfly meadow, habitat restoration, and a bay walk that coincides with the roof of the sewer.

A “Park for the Amazon Rainforest” (1992) in Obidos, Brazil, was designed to reveal forest stratification, and Nairobi River Park (1995), Kenya, features sculpture that filters polluted river water. “Ulsan Dragon Park” (1996), Korea, and “The Rocky Marciano Trail” (1997), Brockton, Massachusetts, combine ecological and sculptural playgrounds, gardens, and bridges with flood control and watershed restoration. “Millennium Park” (1999), in Seoul, South Korea, transforms the world’s largest landfill into a sculptural guardian figure, whose terraced landscape stabilizes the slope and provides recreational climbing trails.

Most recently Johanson has designed a small urban garden for the French government, and the 272-acre “Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility” in Petaluma, California, which transforms sewage into drinkable water within the context of wildlife habitat and a public park. “The Draw at Sugar House” in Salt Lake City incorporates sculptural trails, canyons, and constructed wetlands into a journey that recalls pioneer landmarks while providing an under-highway pedestrian crossing and a new sculptural dam.

Her latest projects include a water garden along Lake Superior in Duluth that employs microbial communities and wetland plants to purify storm water and a land reclamation garden in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in conjunction with Marywood University and the Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

Johanson's work has been seen in more than 150 exhibitions worldwide, and her drawings and models are in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York City; Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York; and National Museum of Women in the Arts and Dumbarton Oaks Contemporary Landscape Design Collection, both in Washington, DC.