The Line of Grace: Principles of Road Aesthetics in the Design of the Blue Ridge Parkway

This article presents a case study of the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) in North Carolina and Virginia (1934-1987), long considered one of the most beautiful roads in the United States. The author notes that very little has been previously published about the origins of its physical design on the design process. The author examines the design attributes of the BRP in conjunction with the eighteenth century aesthetic theories of William Hogarth and Edmund Burke. The theories proposed that specific principles, such as the serpentine Line of Grace and smoothly transitioned variety, were fundamental to beauty. Qualitative methods were used to explore this hypothesis, including secondary and primary sources, field work, and interviews with persons associated with the BRP design. Results indicate that the BRP appears to embody several of the principles of Hogarth and Burke, although the BRP was not consciously designed according to their theories. The author notes that this research is unusual in contemporary road-related research in that it uses normative (art) theory as a basis for examining road design. She concludes that the fine arts training of landscape architects was important to the design approach and aesthetic success of the BRP and suggests ways of incorporating the classis aesthetic principles in future road design.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Maps; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 121-140
  • Serial:
    • Landscape Journal
    • Volume: 23
    • Issue Number: 2
    • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
    • ISSN: 0277-2426

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01003915
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 8 2005 6:04AM