This book reveals an extraordinary body of landscape architectural work that is at least notably accomplished and, at its best, reflects a comprehensive expression and thorough understanding of the forces and elements that celebrate the confluence of nature and man. It is what Konrad Osterwalder -who selected Kienast as the "founder figure" of the landscape architecture program at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology- acknowledges as the act of entering into nature while retaining an awareness of cultural perceptions.
Kienast's work is reflective of a marvelous simplicity of which Mies would be proud, and his use of materials -especially plants- manifests a managed and thoughtful approach, almost tender and certainly romantic. Grounded in horticulture and plants like so many European landscape architects, it is through Kienast's measured use of a broader palette of materials common to the landscape that his remarkable talent is most celebrated. Especially revealing are the observations of his peers, presented in short essays, that honor both the technical and aesthetic achievements manifest in Kienast's work. Captured in a variety of images, the seasonal impacts that interplay with Kienast's landscapes are an essential representation that pays just homage to the reflective brilliance of his expressive interpretations.
The text shares Kienast's view that it is only through variety that a place can acquire an identity. The spirit of such places can emerge and be recognized only through emancipation of a satisfactory (landscape) design, relevant utilization, appropriate care, and healthy ecology: these criteria surelywere essential to the works of many great American landscape architects including Olmsted, Eliot, Farrand, Church, and others. The underpinnings of the bridge between contemporary European and American landscape architecture continue to be sustained through this text.
This text places landscape architecture on a European meridian of great import to the larger discipline that carries its message well beyond European boundaries. It is an important work on a landscape architect who died too young (age 53, in 1998), with much work still to be accomplished. Perhaps others will follow a path parallel to Dieter Kienast: the landscape would surely be better for it!