Part 3: Remembering Len
October 2, 2014
Leonard Blackford believed in the essential connection between Architecture and Landscape. He chose his landscape architect partners carefully and the design process was always fully-integrated.
The SMUD Headquarters (above) is a strong and hard modernist form in a lush, soft landscape garden. The Dreyfuss & Blackford Office (at top) is a crisp, sleek glass box beautifully screened by a soft grove of birch trees. Both landscapes were created by landscape architect Ralph Jones, in close collaboration with Len. Ralph Jones was a private practitioner in Oakland who had started his career in the offices of Thomas Church. Len had worked in Jones’ office during his student years, an experience which he said contributed to his strong sense of the importance of site planning as a part of architectural design.
Len’s master plan for the Sacramento International Airport (below) set the terminal buildings well back from Interstate 5. Working with Bob Danielson & Associates, he created a richly varied landscape parkway comprising several acres of trees and plants, spared from encroachment by all-too-typical industrial warehouses and hangars. For newcomers arriving to the “City of Trees” there can be no better introduction of our landscape heritage.
Some twenty-five years after the SMUD Headquarters, CalPERS Lincoln Plaza was an opportunity for Len to fully, perfectly integrate building and landscape design together. Where SMUD was the building in the park, Lincoln Plaza was the building as the park. With its lush terraced grounds and tall interior atrium, Lincoln Plaza remains a great example of that success. It is fitting that a celebration of Len’s life will take place on October 3, 2014, at Lincoln Plaza.
During his 40+ year career Len created some of the most iconic places in the Sacramento region, in addition to the aforementioned:
- The Mansion Inn with its interior Japanese-style garden;
- The Asclepius Medical Building and its atriums;
- 4100 Folsom Boulevard luxury condominium building with its extensive manicured grounds (on the former site of the Breuner mansion);
- Ancil Hoffman Park;
- And of course, The Nut Tree.
Plus many others in our area, which you can see photos of here.
As we say goodbye to a great architect, mentor and friend we will always be grateful for the modernist legacy he left us and Sacramento with. And, as we continue to suss out our identity as a City, we must acknowledge the modernist architectural contribution Dreyfuss & Blackford created.