In Memoriam George L Anagnostopoulos 1927-2018, founder and first president of PHALA


George L Anagnostopoulos was born in 1927 in Athens. His father Lambros Anagnostopoulos was director of the Bank of Greece and the National Bank of Greece and his grandfather George Anagnostopoulos from Messologgi was General Secretary of the Greek High Court, and represented the country in, among other, the independent Principality of Samos (within the Ottoman Empire) where he was sent by Greece to assist with the Principality’s finances in 1903.

George studied Architecture in the Technical University of Athens, where he was a classmate with his eventual wife Doris. He was inclined to study and analyse the effects that human economic growth had on our environment from early one and that guided him to study Landscape Architecture in Durham University in England in the early 1950’s. His professor Brian Hackett guided him to join IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), established in 1948 and focused on the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. When he returned to Greece, he started his efforts on the conservation of the physical and historical Greek landscape and the strengthening of the (non-existent at the time) public awareness on the issue and the generation of proposals to that objective. During the immediate post-war period (1950’s-1960’s) he exerted substantial efforts towards the goal of increasing awareness on nature preservation and how such can be ensured in the face of rapid economic growth. His paper on “The Need for Landscape Conservation along the Greek Coastline”, presented at the IUCN 11th meeting in New Delhi, (Vol. V- Morges Switzerland, 1971) was his way of raising the issue of saving “the best and most biodiverse coastline in the world”.

George started participating in IFLA congresses in 1958, “when the world was just getting out of the world war terror and its consequences and we were trying to rebuilt our cities and their environment”. His firm belief was that Landscaping “is not large scale gardening where humans decide what goes where” but that “the environment guides us humans as to what actions and intervention we need to/can take”. As such he felt that Landscape Architecture was both a science and art, where one needs to have an utmost respect to the environment. “The environment is not a factory producing what we want it to produce”, “we have to adapt to and respect it” he was often saying.

George established the Panhellenic Association of Landscape Architects in Athens in 1980 (and was president for 20 odd years), in an effort to both expose IFLA to this South East corner of Europe and introduce the Landscape Architecture profession in the efforts to safeguard and conserve the Greek landscape. In parallel, with his practice, “GL Anagnostopoulos and Associates” he practiced what he preached for, developing landscape studies for private and government clients in Greece and several other countries, such as Bangladesh, Cyprus, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the US.

George was elected Vice President – Central Region of IFLA in 1988 and subsequently President in 1992. He travelled extensively to visit many IFLA member delegations and he worked tirelessly to spread the values of Landscape Architecture to every corner of the world as he firmly believed that Landscape Architecture is both needed and indispensable for the world to grow in a sustainable way (much before “sustainability” became a buzzword for the rest of us). In his efforts he organized IFLA conferences in Africa (starting in Malawi 1990, not long after the country gained its independence), Europe, Asia and the Americas, thus helping the globalization of IFLA.

Later in his life he focused more on the artistic component of conservation, through the Panayiotis and Effie Michelis Foundation (where he was Vice President and President for more than 30 years), With the Foundation he sponsored an IFLA Regional Conference on the “Aesthetic and Functional Values in Landscape Design”. Among its other activities, the Foundation publishes several books, with one of the latest celebrating the sculptures in Greece’s cemeteries (linking it tacitly with an early paper he had issued in 1971 on the “Sculpture in contemporary landscape design”).

George led a life true to his beliefs and values on the importance of the environment in our lives, its preservation as an indispensable ondition for securing our future, and the role of Landscape Architecture in ensuring its conservation.

He is survived by his son Lambros and his granddaughters Korina and Doris.