Tunnard, Christopher

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1910-07-07
Death 1979-02-14
Canadians
English

Biographical notes:

Christopher Tunnard was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on July 7, 1910. He attended Victoria College of the University of British Columbia, the College of the Royal Horticulture Society, in Wisley, England, and the Westminster Technical Institute in London. From 1931 to 1939 Tunnard practiced landscape design in England. He taught landscape design and regional planning at Harvard University (1939-1942), and city planning at Yale University (1944-1975). At Yale he was appointed director of the newly created graduate program in city planning in 1950, was acting chairman of the department of city planning from 1965 to 1967, and was chairman from 1967 to 1969. He was a professor emeritus from 1975 until 1979. Tunnard is noted for his concept of the "regional city," for his belief in the importance of aesthetics in planning, and for his work as a preservationist. He wrote several books on landscape design and city planning including Gardens in the Modern Landscape, the City of Man, and American Skyline. He died in New Haven, Connecticut in 1979.

From the description of Christopher Tunnard papers, 1907-1978 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702167336

Christopher Tunnard was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on July 7, 1910, the son of Christopher Coney and Madeline (Kingscote) Tunnard. He attended St. Michael's School and Victoria College of the University of British Columbia in Canada (1927-1928). From 1928 to 1930 Tunnard studied horticulture and landscape design at the College of the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley, England, and in 1932 he studied building construction at the Westminster Technical Institute in London.

From 1932 to 1934 Tunnard was employed as a draftsman-designer for the London firm of the garden designer Percy S. Crane. From 1934 to 1937 he had a private practice as a landscape designer and site planner near London at St. Ann's Hill, Surrey. He continued his private practice in London from 1937 until 1939, when he became a visiting lecturer on landscape design and regional planning in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. From 1942 to 1943 he served with the Royal Canadian Engineers. Following his discharge from the service he helped make plans for the postwar rebuilding of London as chairman of the town planning committee of the Modern Architectural Research Society of London.

In 1944 Tunnard accepted a teaching position at Yale University. He was a lecturer (1944-1945), assistant professor (1945-1948), associate professor (1948-1962), professor (1962-1975), and professor emeritus (1975-1979) in city planning, and was instrumental in the development of the city planning program at Yale. He was appointed director of the newly created graduate program in city planning in 1950, and was acting chairman of the department of city planning (which was established in 1960) from November 1965 to June 30, 1967, and chairman from July 1967 to 1969.

During his tenure at Yale Tunnard guest lectured at numerous universities, including the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clemson College, the University of Illinois, North Carolina State, the University of Winnipeg, the University of Rome, Italy, and Harvard University.

Tunnard is noted for his concept of the "regional city" the idea that the Atlantic seaboard, for example, is not a series of cities along the coastline, but one "super city." He believed that these super cities should be planned as regions rather than individual cities. Tunnard also emphasized the importance of aesthetics in planning, and maintained that civic art and the integration of the natural landscape with new construction were critical to the health and productivity of American urban communities.

Tunnard received a number of grants which supported his research on the American city including a Wheelwright Fellowship in Architecture at Harvard University in 1943, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant to direct a three-year program (1957-1959) at Yale to study the design aspects of the regional city.

Tunnard received the Silver Gilt Medal for Landscape Design at the Paris Exposition in 1937. In 1956 he received a Fulbright Research Fellowship to work at the Institut d'Urbanisme at the University of Paris, and in 1961 he received a Fulbright to conduct research and teach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, Turkey. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London, England in 1966.

As a private consultant Tunnard was involved in the city planning activities of government and citizen interest groups throughout the United States. He also consulted on a number of international projects including UNESCO missions to study historic monuments in Java, Jamaica, and Kathmandu, Nepal, and a city planning project in Barranquilla, Colombia. From 1951 to 1959, Tunnard, Henry Hope Reed, and James Henry Ward were partners in a consulting firm which specialized in city planning. In the 1960s he formed a partnership with fellow Yale city planning faculty member Walter D. Harris.

An active preservationist, Tunnard served as a member of the International Relations Committee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the president of the New Haven Preservation Trust, and as a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. He was a member of the American Institute of Planners, the American Society of Planning Officials, the American Institute of Architects, the Institute of Landscape Architects, the British Institute of Landscape Architects, and the American Society of Architectural Historians. He was active in the planning activities of the New Haven area community, serving as an appointed member of the New Haven City Plan Commission and the Regional Planning Authority of South Central Connecticut.

His publications include Gardens in the Modern Landscape (1938), The City of Man (1953), American Skyline (with Henry Hope Reed, 1953), Man-Made America: Chaos or Control? (with Boris Pushkarev, 1963), and A World With a View (1978). Tunnard's articles and reviews appeared in publications including Harper's, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, Landscape, Saturday Review of Literature, and Comment.

Tunnard married Lydia Evans of Boston, Massachusetts in 1945. They had a son, Christopher. Tunnard died in New Haven in 1979.

From the guide to the Christopher Tunnard papers, 1907-1978, (Manuscripts and Archives)

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Subjects:

  • City planning
  • Historic sites--Conservation and restoration
  • Landscape architecture

Occupations:

  • City planners

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