Landscape Architecture

Posted August 27, 2019
  • Meto Vroom at Arizona State University in 1993

    Vroom was taking part in the ASU symposium entitled Landscape Architecture: Ecology and Design and Planninng.

  • Meto Vroom (back row, fourth from left) at Arizona State University in 1993

    With (left to right) George Thompson, James Corner, Sally Schauman, Michael Laurie, Forster Ndubisi, Carol Franklin, Elizabeth Meyer, Laurie Olin, Ian McHarg, Mark Johnson, Frederick Steiner, and Hamid Shirvani

  • Meto Vroom photographed as a student at Penn

    Photo courtesy Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.

Meto Johan Vroom: A Tribute

By Frederick Steiner
Dean and Paley Professor, University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design

We have lost the Dutch master of landscape architecture education. Meto Johan Vroom was born on September 27, 1929 in Glimmen near Groningen in The Netherlands. His father was a tree nurseryman and garden designer and his mother was the daughter of a minister. He died on August 28, 2019 in Wageningen, The Netherlands.

A tall, imposing man with a big smile and an uncompromising intellect, Vroom was a towering figure in landscape architecture ideas in The Netherlands, Europe, and internationally. As a professor at Wageningen University from 1966 to 1994, he had a major impact on elevating the status of the landscape architecture profession in The Netherlands and beyond. During his time as chair of the landscape architecture department, Vroom developed one of the most influential programs in the world in the 1970s and 1980s. He recruited an outstanding collections of thinkers and practitioners to the faculty that produced some of today’s leading designers, including Adriaan Geuze (West 8), Ank Bleeker (Ank Bleeker en Anneke Nauta), and Eelco Hooftman (Gross Max). Meanwhile, many Wageningen alumni pursued distinguished academic careers (Klaas Kerkstra and Ingrid Duchhart) and in the public sector. After his retirement, Vroom remained active as writer, mentor, and speaker.

Vroom received his ingenieur degree in landscape architecture from The Netherlands Agricultural College (Rijks Landbouw Hoogeschool, now Wageningen University) in 1955. At Wageningen, he studied with Jan T.P. Bijhouwer, one of the most significant individuals in the history of Dutch landscape architecture. In 2014, Vroom fittingly received the Bijhouwer Award, one of his many honors.

In 1957, Vroom was a member of Ian McHarg’s first class of Master of Landscape Architecture graduates at the University of Pennsylvania. As an educator, Vroom forged his own ideas with those of Bijhouwer, McHarg, Kevin Lynch, and others to develop the Wageningen curriculum.

During his tenure as a chair and afterwards, Vroom welcomed and guided many international scholars, including me, Jack Ahern of the University of Massachusetts, and Donna Erickson of the University of Michigan. His books include Lexicon of Garden and Landscape Architecture (2006) and Outdoor Space = Environments Designed by Dutch Landscape Architects since 1945 (1995).

Meto Vroom was married for 60 years, had three children, and was a consummate teacher, friend, and gentleman.