Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Telephone: 312.787.4071
info@grahamfoundation.org

Research

  • Reconstructing the 'Vegetation-Bearing Architectonic Structure and System (1938)'
  • GRANTEE
    Richard Hindle
    GRANT YEAR
    2012

Richard L. Hindle, Evan Blondell, and Wesley Chiang, Garden Type/Archetype: Speculative renderings for an enclosed garden space utilizing US Patent 2,113,523. Courtesy of Richard L. Hindle.

Interest in the modernism of Stanley Hart White has been renewed by the discovery of his 1938 patent for the first–known vertical garden. White's patent for the Vegetation-Bearing Architectonic Structure and System describes a new method "for producing an architectonic structure of any buildable size, shape or height, whose visible or exposed surfaces may present a permanently growing covering of vegetation." In six beautifully illustrated pages, White describes the technology and art of this invention, and in the process, defines a new garden typology not fully realized until after his death. Even with the prominence of vegetated architecture in contemporary discourse, White's invention remains unrealized and entirely unknown more than eighty years after its initial conceptualization. In his 1931 writings on the subject of What is Modern, White outlines the art of creating vertical gardens of steel, substrate, vegetation, light, and sculpture to act as backdrops to modern ways of thinking and the pageantry of modern living. This project reveals the techno–historical origins of the vertical–garden type, and materializes the undocumented intricacies of vegetation-bearing architecture in a time when no such history exists.

Richard Hindle is the Emerson/Womack Assistant Professor of Design at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University. Hindle's research focuses on technology in the garden and landscape, with an emphasis on material processes, innovation, and patents. He is founder of the Horticultural Building Systems Lab and Consultancy, which investigates the known and speculative relationships between plants and structure through design pedagogy, prototyping, and archival research. Current projects at the lab include large scale mapping of riverine and coastal patent technologies, and ongoing research on vegetated systems in architecture and urbanism. A recurring theme in Hindle’s work is the antecedents of landscape technology. In his recent article "A Vertical Garden: Origins of the Vegetation–Bearing Architectonic Structure and System (1938)" in the journal Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, he posits White as the inventor of the vertical garden and establishes the historical context for the development of this emergent garden typology. As a consultant and designer, Hindle's work focuses on the design of advanced horticultural and building systems, from green roofs to facades, working with firms such as Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Steven Holl, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, and Atelier Jean Nouvel. Hindle holds degrees in horticulture and landscape architecture from Cornell University and the Rhode Island School of Design, respectively.