Michael Hough, who founded the University of Toronto’s Landscape Architecture program in 1965, passed away last week at the age of 84.
Hough left an indelible mark on the field of landscape architecture. He pioneered an approach to urban landscape design that went beyond aesthetics, incorporating important urban ecology and biological principals as well as sound urban planning and long-term development strategies.
Winner of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, Hough had a profound influence in Toronto, Canada, and beyond. After serving as head of U of T’s Landscape Architecture program, he became a professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. He designed the landscape for Ontario Place (for which he received a Merit in Design from the Canadian Society of Architects in 1975), Scarborough College (for which he received a Honour Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects), as well as U of T’s University College Quad and Earth Sciences Courtyards — among numerous other award-winning projects. Hough was a long-standing Emeritus member of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects.
Seminal publications — which over the years have become required reading for landscape architecture and urban planning students — include: The Urban Landscape (1971); City Form and Natural Process (1984); Land Conservation and Development (1984); Out of Place (1990); and Cities and Natural Process (1995). Hough was also a co-author for In Celebration of Play (1980) and People & City Landscapes (1987). Many Torontonians will remember him as the author of Bringing Back the Don (1991). Written on behalf of Task Force to Bring Back the Don, a citizen’s group working to clean up the polluted Don River, this report won Hough a Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence.
As reported in the article “The Life and Times of Michael Hough” published in Toronto Life, when Hough received the 1991 City of Toronto Arts Award for Architecture and Design, then-Mayor David Crombie told the audience at the award ceremony: “He loves cities, he loves nature, he insists on a link between the two, and he’ll tell you, every day if you ask him, that the regeneration of one is the salvation of the other. He loves ideas and his ideas always surprise you. They startle you at the start, because they’re new, but after a while they become inevitable. He is, I think, a gentle revolutionary.”
“Michael Hough was one of a number of leaders who transformed the profession of Landscape Architecture in Canada and brought international attention to Canadian Design and the Profession," said Robert Wright, Director of the Landscape Architecture program at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. "He pioneered environmental- and ecological-based design through his work, through all the scales of design, from region, to city and to site. As an academic he was influential in educating four subsequent generations of both practitioners and academics. His influence never waned throughout his whole career and he continued to be a strong champion of the environment and the social responsibilities of landscape architecture. We owe Michael a debt that can never fully be repaid except through our own continued commitment to the issues he so dearly believed in and demonstrated through his work.”
In 2003, the OALA provided an endowment to support the Michael Hough / OALA Visiting Critic in Landscape Architecture at the Daniels Faculty. This position was establish in honour of Hough to enrich the academic experience of students in the landscape architecture porgram through the creative input of a visiting professor, practitioner, or critic in the field.