Congratulations to Reuben Rainey!

peope_reuben_rainey_pic1b.pngReuben M. Rainey, William Stone Weedon Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture for forty years and current co-director of the school’s Center for Design and Health, has been selected by the Dean’s Advisory Board of the university’s School of Architecture as the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award. A board member of the Foundation for Landscape Studies since its inception in 2005, Reuben continues to serve on its Awards Committee and as a regular contributor to its journal Site/Lines.

Ila Berman, Dean of the School of Architecture

people_berman_pic1b.pngReuben’s embedding of human life and culture within the environments and ecologies of which it is a part – where it should be – is perhaps why his understanding of landscape architecture and its significance is so critical. This thinking is intrinsic to both his scholarship and teaching where he has truly distinguished himself and been an enormously influential mentor to countless generations of students. (Headshot courtesy UVA School of Architecture)

Warren T. Byrd, Jr.

people_warren_byrd_pic1b.pngUVA is fond of the using the word illimitable these days. It's a mouthful, that word, but it does describe how I’ve seen Reuben Rainey over all these passing times. He has never set boundaries on how landscape architecture should be defined. He expanded our sense of what history and theory could mean to design practice. That history was not some fusty recitation of dates, epochs, periods, styles, but was instead a living expression of design as the embodiment of values, of culture's deepest understandings of the way peoples and natures worked. Professor Rainey is the consummate educator, always challenging himself and others to see the connections and relationships between the ideas, thought, art, and craft related and seemingly unrelated disciplines. He has been a champion of comprehending the crucial correlation between health and environment, a legacy that we could fairly link back to Olmsted, but he has given it a resonance borne of the connections he makes between recent science and psychology and the revelation that world philosophies and religions have embedded this in their scriptures from time immemorial. 

John Elder

peope_john_elder_pic1b.pngReuben Rainey's remarkable career as a landscape architect reflects his profound explorations of Jung's spiritual and psychological insights. Accordingly, he has long dedicated himself to the values of robust local communities, a more inclusive society, and the healing of individuals within gardens and other beautiful settings. Frequently, these profound themes are delightfully complemented by Reuben's mirthful personality. A characteristic playfulness often lends an inviting quality to his sincerity. Colleagues, students, clients, and friends alike have been the fortunate beneficiaries of such deep and gracious authenticity.

David Kamp

people_david_kamp.pngLike a pebble tossed in a pond, whose ripples extend outward in all directions, Reuben’s influence extends far and wide. As classmate, colleague and collaborator, he has profoundly influenced my own explorations into the connections between nature, design and health. I often pause and reflect on our conversations – history, religion, philosophy, neuroscience, design theory and so many other things – and how often I have been enriched and enthused by his thoughtful observations. His is a life filled with generosity, curiosity and the joy of learning; and we are all better for it.

Karen Van Lengen, Kenan Professor of Architecture

people_karen_van_lengen.pngReuben’s importance to the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia has emerged not through a singular act but by a wide range of seminal contributions that have embraced intellectual and creative projects, all of which have served to shape, both the form and content of the School.


Thomas Woltz, ASLA, CLA

peope_woltz.pngStudying the history of landscape architecture under Reuben Rainey, revealed the discipline as a continuum of design intent at once political, cultural and philosophical. Reuben taught history as a complex web inextricably connected to social, spiritual and ecological systems – a network as complex and interdependent as the ecologies that shape our world. And like those ecologies, he made an understanding of history essential to living mindfully in the present day.

The commitment to the role of history that Reuben inspired, directly shapes the design process at Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects – where deep interrogation into the site's history, results in narrative anchors that cultivate the contemporary design response. Reuben's teaching has, by extension, given shape and meaning to many contemporary landscapes that create a more meaningful world for us all.