Benjamin C. Howland (1923 – 1983)
Benjamin C. Howland was a landscape architect and former Associate Director, Office of Professional Services, National Capital Region. Ben’s design legacy can be enjoyed today as you drive the George Washington Memorial Parkway between George Washington’s Mount Vernon through Alexandria, Virginia to the District of Columbia. Ben was also principal designer of the grounds of the Iwo Jima Monument alongside that Parkway as well as for Point Reyes National Seashore, Cape Cod National Seashore, and Assateague Island National Seashore. But of even greater legacy for Ben, was his impact on generations of landscape architects both in the National Park Service as well as throughout the nation. He was tireless in mentoring young talent and encouraging them to work for the National Park Service. He is labeled by many in his profession as a seminal figure in American landscape architecture. His beautifully rendered drawings were (and remain) inspirations for generations. He had an infectious love of family – his wife Sue and their five children, of the National Park Service, and of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Ben Howland was born in 1923 in Saratoga Springs and raised in Tonawanda, New York. As a youth, he was a Civilian Conservation Corps forestry leader in New York State. He then served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific during World War II from 1941 to 1945 in the famous 1st Raiders Battalion, Edson’s Raiders. After receiving a B.S.in landscape engineering and recreational management from the New York State College of Forestry in 1950, he joined the National Park Service serving in the Western Office Design Center in San Francisco, the Eastern Design Center in Philadelphia, and the North Central Design Center in Washington, D.C. In 1970, he became Chief, Master Planning for National Capital Parks Office of Design and Construction and then Associate Director, Offices of Professional Services, NCR where he was responsible for some of the Service’s most-beloved parkscapes in and around the nation’s capital.
In 1975, Howland was detailed as a visiting professor to the Division of Landscape Architecture, College of Architecture, University of Virginia. After retiring from the Service, he continued on as a full professor and oftentimes took groups of students to Yellowstone National Park and other units for summer studies. In recognition of Ben Howland’s deep commitment to teaching and to the National Park Service, the University of Virginia established the Benjamin C. Howland Memorial Lecture. Perhaps no other landscape architect has so influenced generations of National Park Service practitioners than Ben Howland.