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Jane Silverstein Ries (1909-2005): Retrospective of a Colorado Landscape Architect

February 6 - May 20, 2009
The Central Library, Vida Ellison Gallery - Level 7

View the exhibit and listen to an interview with landscape architect and colleague of Jane Silverstien Ries, Cathe Mitchell

The exhibition features original landscape architecture plans and photographs of gardens designed by Jane Silverstein Ries, Colorado's first licensed female landscape architect.

These evocative and sensual landscape designs will highlight Jane Silverstein Ries' creative and innovative architecture landscape career, which spanned over 60 years. The exhibit includes landscape renderings, plans and designs along with photographs of the gardens created for clients. She created more than 1,500 landscapes in the Colorado region and specialized in city gardens, parks, hospitals, museums, churches, schools, city halls, and grand homes, including the Executive Residence of the Governor. The exhibit also includes ephemera from Ries' professional and personal life, including drawings and photographs from her childhood and her years as a student at Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women.

Julia Jane Silverstein was born in Denver, Colorado on March 10, 1909. From a young age, Jane eschewed traditional women's roles and was determined to have a career. In 1929, she graduated from Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women in Groton, Massachusetts. She returned to Denver to take a job at the Denver landscape architecture firm McCrary, Culley and Carhart. A few months later, Silverstein started her own firm, to which she would dedicate her professional life for more than 60 years.

In 1966, Ries worked to support a bill establishing the Colorado State Board of Landscape Architecture. The group authored the Landscape Architect Registration Act, which limited the use of the term "landscape architect" to only qualified professionals. In 1968, Ries was granted the third certificate ever issued by the Colorado Board of Examiners of Landscape Architects, making her Colorado's first licensed female landscape architect. She was the first president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). In 1994, the Colorado Chapter of ASLA established the Jane Silverstein Ries Award to recognize those who demonstrate a pioneering sense of awareness and stewardship of land use values in the Rocky Mountain region. Ries was an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Fellow, and in 2005, she was awarded the prestigious American Society of Landscape Architects Medal in honor of her lifetime achievement in the profession.

Jane Silverstein Ries lived at 737 Franklin Street in Denver, and used the studio above the garage as her office for more than 60 years. The house was designated a Historic Landmark by the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission in 1992. Jane Silverstein Ries died in Denver in 2005. A species of boxwood, a shrub, Buxus mycrophylla "Julia Jane," is named in her honor.

Special thanks to the JSR Foundation.

JSR Foundation logo
1944 photo of Jane Silverstein Ries

This 1944 photo of Jane Silverstein Ries was taken during her stint in the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard. She went to New York during World War II, and when she returned to Denver she designed landscaping for war housing projects for the Federal Public Housing Authority

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Updated: June 25, 2013