Remembering Glenn Allen, landscape designer, world-class Memphian

The Sydney Morning Herald ran two days ago a belated obituary for Glenn Allen, the world-renowned landscape architect and native Memphian who died July 30 from a heart attack at age 59. Allen had lived and worked in Sydney for three years while helping redevelop parts of the city's suburbs for the 1996 2000 Summer Olympic Games. It was, according to the SMH, his favorite overseas posting in a career that took him all over the world. He died in Baton Rouge, La., where he held an endowed professorship at Louisiana State University. More from the Sydney paper about this fascinating former Memphian and his legacy:

Allen escaped the confines of southern society to embrace the freedom of San Francisco, moving there to work with the giant landscaper SWA Group. There he met the young Harvard-educated George Hargreaves. Their work together on the chequer-board ''hardscape'' of Harlequin Plaza of 1982, now considered a seminal work of postmodern landscape design, marked the beginning of a collaboration formalised in 1983 as Hargreaves Allen Sinkosky & Loomis (later Hargreaves Associates).

The style of this new company -- a minimalist approach to vegetation combined with sculptural, geometric landforms, more earthwork than soft landscaping -- was honed in the mid-1980s through projects such as Candlestick Point Cultural Park in San Francisco. Allen also played a leading role in major waterfront reclamation projects in Louisville and Chattanooga, the masterplanning of the University of Cincinnati, and most recently, the William J. Clinton Presidential Centre in Little Rock, Arkansas.


The SMH writers seem almost awed by Allen's purported brushes with (Memphis-linked) celebrities, but such connections would be almost expected of a Memphian of his age:

He had a talent for dropping names and startling facts, very casually, into conversation, in tales that seemed almost too tall until verified by the pages of magazines such as Vanity Fair. Could he really have been best friends with Cybill Shepherd at high school? Was he the inspiration for the character Mouse in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City? Did Elvis really give his aunt a car?

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Deputy Online News Editor Mark Richens takes you through all the news about Memphis from sources outside the Mid-South.