"John Collins deserves the highest accolades for bringing greenery and the finest quality of urban design into Philadelphia." -Edmund N. Bacon
John Collins began his 40-year career in landscape architecture at time of great change and upheaval in America. The 1950s and 1960s were a time of unbridled expansion. Distant states were connected via an extensive interstate highway system. Corporate office parks and malls became commonplace, while urban renewal projects swept away vast tracts of cities, replacing older housing with high-rise buildings.
Spurred by the devastating social and environmental challenges of urban sprawl, a growing movement of planners, developers and landscape architects began to coalesce around a new movement based on principles of planning and architecture that worked together to create human-scale, walkable and diverse communities.
John Collns was influenced by these forces of change. He sought to use design as a means for improving economic disparity and environmental degradation, particularly in urban situations. Some of his works, such as the civic projects in Salem, Mass and Reston, Virginia anticipated New Urbanism by embodying many of its principles. Stylistically, his design express was modern, sculptural and spare, following the language established by Dan Kiley and other modernist landscape architects. Collin's elegant detailing of materials and intimate understanding of plan form added richness to the strong, legible backbone of his designs.
He was born in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania on July 12, 1936. His father William was a newspaper columnist and his mother Florence was an artist and teacher. He learned to draw early in his childhood and as a teenager became involved with horticulture, working at local nurseries and homes. At age 15, he started a commercial nursery in his parents' backyard, growing trees and potted plants. When he was 19, he entered the landscape architecture program at The Pennsylvania State University and received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 1959. As a senior, he won a national award from Jackson & Perkins for a rose garden design. Collins entered the Harvard Graduate School of Design and worked with his professor, Hideo Sasaki, as an associate at Sasaki Walker and Associates. Upon achieving his Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) in 1962, he was awarded the Charles Eliot Traveling Fellowship which resulted in an extended tour of Italy with his family. In 1965, he moved to the Mount Airy neighborhood in Philadelphia where he lived with his family for 34 years.
In 1963, Collins co-founded the firm of Adelman, Collins & DuTot in Philadelphia with colleagues Marvin Adleman and David DuTot. Later, this firm became Collins DuTot & Associates and in 1971, this firm joined with others to form The Delta Group, a regional landscape architecture, planning, engineering and architecture firm with offices in Philadelphia, PA and Baltimore, MD.
John Collin's legacy is in his built works and in the people whose lives were changed as a result of his advocacy, teaching and professional example. His enthusiasm, confidence, integrity and devotion to the highest professional ideals have inspired several generations of landscape architects. He anticipated the need to reach out across disciplines to solve complex problems, while helping government officials, community leaders and the public see the consequences of their decisions and actions. As a result, he has advanced the region's ability to work cooperatively toward meeting major, social and environmental challenges. Perhaps most important is his celebration of creativity, the notion that cities can be civilizing places that promote an enduring human connection with the natural world.
JOHN F. COLLINS
1959 - Jackson-Perkins Residential Design Competition; First Place
1962 - Charles Eliot Traveling Fellowship, Harvard Graduate School of Design
1964 - Progressive Design Award for 11th and Waverly Street Town Houses in Philadelphia
1965 - Progressive Design Citation Award in Residential Design on Pastorius Mews for Besy Ross Corporation in Philadelphia
1965 - AIA Citation for Excellence in Community Architecture for rehabilitation of Society Hill in Philadelphia
1966 - Progressive Design Citation Award in Urban Design on town houses for Washington Street East Unit #2 in Philadelphia
1966 - US Department of Housing and Urban Development Honor Award: Design Excellence for Delancey Park in Philadelphia
1968 - ASLA Honor Award: Recreational Planning for Schuylkill River Park in Philadelphia
1972 - ASLA, Institutional Planning, Honor Award, Campus Fine Arts Study for the University of Pennsylvania
1972 - Fifth Biennial HUD Award for Design Excellence, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, for Heritage Plaza East in Salem, MA
1976 - ASLA, Urban Design Award, Merit Award for Penn Square in Reading, PA
1978 - Chestnut Street Park Compeition, Philadelphia, PA, First Place
1979 - Urban Design Newsletter, Urban Design Award for Coldspring/Newtown in Maryland
1979 - Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Landscape Design Award, Heritage Plaza East, Salem MA
1980 - US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, Honor Award for Heritage Plaza East, Salem, MA
1980 - Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Environmental Improvement Award, Judges Award for Chesnut Park in Philadelphia
1981 - Boston Society of Architects Urban Design Award for Downtown Salem, MA
1983 - ASLA Honor Award, Parks and Recrational Planning for Chesnut Park in Philadelphia
1983 - ASLA Honor Award, Urban Design for Downtown Salem, MA Central Business District Plan - Heritage Plaza East/West
1984 - Alumni Achievement Award, School of Arts and Architecture Pennsylvania State University
1985 - Crotona Park Master Plan, New York, NY; First Place
1989 - Foundation for Architecture, Award of Excellence for Market Street Improvement Program in Philadelphia
1990 - Foundation for Architecture Urban Design Award
1993 - Investiture as Fellow of American Society of Landscape Architects
1995 - Distinguished Achievement Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
1999 - Lifetime Achievement Award, ASLA Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter, Lighting Ceremony and Dedication of Schuylkill River Park
2006 - Distinguished Service Award, ASLA Pennsylvania/Delaware Chapter