The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.

Faculty Profile

Walter Louis Chambers
The Michigan Alumnus 329

By every indicium in the academic world,
 Walter Louis Chambers had built a 
highly successful career before coming to
 Michigan in 1958 as chairman of the Depart
ment of Landscape Architecture and director
 of the Nichols Arboretum.


During 25 years as a faculty man at Har
vard, he rose in rank from instructor to full 
professor, became chairman of his depart
ment, rated a 24-line niche in Who's Who,
 and won professional recognition by being 
named a Fellow of the American Society of 
Landscape Architects.


Why did he leave Harvard after a quarter-
century of faculty service?


"Because," he says, "Michigan offered me 
the chance of a lifetime—to rebuild a de
partment after its staff had been wiped out
 by retirement and illness."


Walter Chambers began his rebuilding 
task at Ann Arbor with a handpicked staff of 
two full-time teachers, recruited from Cornell
 and private practice in Detroit.


His department is one of the smallest and
 most specialized in the University, with an 
enrollment of about 30 students. It is one
 of three units within the College of Architec
ture and Design.


The University offered its first course in 
landscape architecture in 1909, and in the 
intervening 52 years has granted about 120
 degrees. Michigan is one of 16 accredited
 schools in the U.S. offering a program in this
 field.


As a design profession, landscape architec
ture is the arrangement of land, together 
with the spaces and objects on it—land 
forms, buildings, open spaces, walks, plant
ings—to meet human requirements of utility 
and beauty.


Preparing students for professional prac
tice is the principal concern of Walter Cham
bers. "There are two positions open for every 
new graduate," he says, "and our aim is to in
crease the proportion of Michigan landscape
 architects in professional practice or teach
ing."


Chambers' own career reflects a wide va
riety of experience in both teaching and
 practice. Born in Hanging Rock, Ohio, in
 1907, he received a B.L.A. degree from Ohio
 State University (1929), then went to Har
vard for an M.L.A. degree (1932) and stayed 
on at Cambridge as a faculty member.


In addition to his teaching duties, he had
 an independent practice for 10 years (1938-
48) and then became senior partner in the
 firm of Chambers & Moriece (1948-57). His 
professional work has merited several honors,
 including the Progressive Architecture Award 
(with Hugh Stubbins) for the landscape de
sign of the Weston (Mass.) Country School