You are here

Remembering Landscape Architect Geoffrey Rausch

Landscape Architect Geoffrey Lew Rausch, responsible for the planning and design of over 60 botanical gardens and arboreta throughout the continental United States, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Canada, passed away July 1, 2019 at the age of 79.

A native of Columbus, OH, Rausch began his career in landscape architecture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Simonds and Simonds (later to become Environmental Planning and Design,) where he became a Principal in 1976. In 1999, Marshall, Tyler, Rausch, LLC, split off from the original firm to concentrate on botanic garden development while EPD focused on urban planning and design. His clients included Atlanta Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, Bloedel Reserve, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, U.S. National Arboretum, National Tropical Botanical Garden, and Tower Hill among many others.

“Geoff and his firm changed the course of the botanic garden world with his designs and philosophy about what public gardens are and whom they should serve,” former Executive Vice President and Director of the Chicago Botanic Garden Kris S. Jarantoski said in an e-mail to the Association. "As we visit many member APGA gardens, we are enjoying the creativity and vision of Geoff Rausch."

Rausch worked with John O. Simonds on the original plan for the Chicago Botanic Garden, turning an area of mostly waterlogged, untamed woodlands and lakes into a nature sanctuary committed to scientific research, innovation, conservation, and education based around island gardens and a series of lakes.  

"When I first entered the field of botanic gardens and arboreta in the 1970s, gardens didn't particularly care if people came to visit or not," Jarantoski said. "Geoff felt strongly that all public gardens could be a force for changing the public's view of plants and gardens and created designs with the visitor in mind. Visitor amenities, wayfinding, comprehensible layouts, blending of facilities and collections, and beautiful, enticing displays all became part of daily discussion at public gardens.”

In 1985, Rausch designed the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden addition to CBG.

''We wanted to set a scale: We didn`t want to awe the gardeners, we wanted them comfortable so they could take home some of the ideas they saw here,'' Rausch said at the time. ''We felt a real need to demonstrate physically, so we designed the kitchen with the amphitheater to give demonstrations on how to use various products in the garden.''

Rausch was honored with the Merit Award for Garden Design by the American Public Gardens Association in 1984 and the National Landscape Award by the American Association of Nurserymen. 

In 2003, Rausch was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in honor of his body of work. He master planned or contributed a substantial amount of design to five American Society of Landscape Architects Medallion sites: Missouri Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Riverbanks Zoo, and Toledo Botanical Garden.

In 2006, the Missouri Botanical Garden awarded Rausch the Henry Shaw Medal, the Garden's Highest Honor.

“Geoff Rausch is largely responsible for planning the outlines of the Garden as it appears today,” then-President (now President Emeritus) Peter Raven said. “He is the one who placed the Japanese Garden and Center for Home Gardening where they are, who invented the concept of the Ridgway Center, changed the whole layout of the Garden, and made it possible to use the entire 79 acres to its best advantage.”

Rausch was a devoted husband, father and PopPop.  His survivors include his wife, Nancy; his daughter, Beth and her children – Kelsey, Alison, and Bennett Roth; his son, Matthew and his family – Stacey and Joshua York; his sister, Judy Warner, and her husband Howard; his sisters-in-law, Margo and Kathy Olson; his brother-in-law, Don Olson – and wife Celia; and many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors. 

A memorial service will be held on August 3, 2019 at 2:00 pm at Johns Creek Presbyterian Church, 10950 Bell Road, Johns Creek, Georgia, 30097.   In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hands of Christ (duluthco-op.com) or Johns Creek Presbyterian Church.

Official obituary.