Robert Marvin

Every so often I have been fortunate enough to meet the man whose work I have come to respect and study. In this field of Landscape Design this had/has happened to me several times. Robert Marvin was one of those people.

Mr. Marvin died in 2001 after getting along to the age of age 81, of the work he was responsible for there are some well-known public spaces. Some of which were highly praised and a few were not(Hazards of dealing with the public). Either way Mr/ Marvin stood by his work and tried to create the best design for the space and the client:

It is a look at the mind that left us such heirlooms as the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort; the Waterfront Park in Charleston; the Governor’s Mansion compound, the Congaree Vista and Finlay Park in Columbia; and the Callaway Gardens Sibley Center in Georgia.

I had a chance to spend time with Mr. Marvin after one of his trips to Columbia during the building of Finlay Park. It was during this time he was receiving some criticism about the design and it’s implementation. Even so he was gracious enough to allow me to pick his brain on several design issues and some of his design philosophy.

It was really great to discuss issues concerning simplicity in design and understanding the need to work with the clients on the site, and not force your ego on the site. a nice guy and I will not forget his patience and demeanor.

Why bring up Robert Marvin at this time? Well . . . If you live in the South Carolina Low Country you should take advantage of this event on May 6th:

May 6: Glorious Gardens — A Tribute to Robert Marvin, from 3 to 6 p.m

Fripp-Fishburn HouseThis event is part of the Walterboro antiques, history and arts festival which runs the 4th-6th. I was unable to get down to visit him in the low-country and will be sad to miss this event. And besides that Walterboro is some beautiful low country.


Addendum: There is another new trend happening in another part of the Lowcountry, and I am sure this will create great opportunity for Landscape Designers. It seems that people are not driving all the way to Florida to get some sunshine and are getting off a few exits earlier on I-95.

Let us hope they keep the growth under control and leave the beautiful nature and scenery as unspoiled as possible.

One large-scale development, called Tradition, broke ground in October, with 9,500 homes in the $500,000 price range. Hampton Pointe, a gated golf community of 1,022 homes by the Toll Brothers, is also under way, with prices starting in the mid-$300,000s.

Then there is this gem and plenty more:

Lots were specifically drawn to accommodate the oldest live oak trees, and the developer, the Settings Development Companies, an Atlanta-based concern, has a policy of no clear-cutting. The first phase of the project is nearly sold out, with vacant lots selling for $100,000 to $800,000.

I am hoping for the best, but . . . The other thing I didn’t get straight was all the talk about building on marshland or, on and near wetlands. Lots of talk about saving Live Oaks, but marshland? wetland? I don’t know . . .

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.

1 comment

  1. Rick,
    I’m a writer working on a story about Robert Marvin for the Colleton Magazine. I was wondering if I might interview you briefly about what it was in Robert Marvin’s designs that you so appreciated as a designer yourself? I’m just learning about Mr. Marvin for the first time and will be interviewing his widow today, but I’d really like an outsiders perspective on the story. If you could email me back, I’d love to hear from you.
    Thanks so much,

    Kinsey Labberton

    Check your e-mail at the end of this week.

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