Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

People

Landscape Architects

Günter A. Schoch

Biography

Born in Germany, as a young man Günter Schoch wished to pursue a career as a forester; to pursue this aim, Schoch arranged to engage in an apprenticeship on the estate of the Count von Arnim. This a course of action was interrupted by the Second World War, during which time the young Schoch was engaged in military training, was a a prisoner of war and served as a farm worker. In the post-war years Schoch trained, worked as an apprentice and journeyman with commercial nurseries and landscape contractors in Berlin, subsequently obtaining a degree at the Horticulture College of Quedlinburg am Harz. Following his graduation from this program in 1950, Schoch was hired as a landscape technician with the Berlin Parks Department

In 1953 Schoch emigrated to Canada. At this time he worked once again for two years with commercial nurseries and landscaping contractors. At the close of this period Schoch gained a position with the Winnipeg Board of Parks and Recreation. While his position was formally that of “landscape technician” from early on in this role Schoch engaged in design work. The ability to complete new projects was enhanced as a new level of government, the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg, assumed the handling of such services as planning and regional parks. Among the goals of the Metropolitan Corporation’s parks division was to render accessible Winnipeg’s regional parks in the winter, and to add substantially to the size of Winnipeg regional parks system. As of 1966 Schoch became an important figure in the role of landscape architect for the Metropolitan Parks and Protection Division. Notably, this position gained further significance from the fact that this was the first time a government agency in Manitoba recognized the term “landscape architect.”

Among the projects from this period that Schoch took on was the redesign of the grounds of the Assiniboine Park Zoo, refurbishing an extensive area of this institution; the aims of this scheme were to enhance the conditions of the zoo’s animals and to create new enclosures which minimized the involved minimal visual interference separating them from visitors. In addition the zoo was transformed into a pedestrian space, rather than a facility accessible by automobile; walkways and landscaping, rest areas and washroom facilities were built to achieve this goal.


Schoch’s work for the Metropolitan government also saw him design the pond at Kildonan Park, a feature created to compliment the 1964 modernist pavilion conceived by the local firm Blankstein Coop Gillmor Hanna. The new pond was part of the larger Lord Selkirk Creek and was planned to serve as a skating rink during the colder months. The edges of the pool were planted with native flora and stabilized with limestone retaining wall. Other projects included improvements to St. Vital Park, parks near the St. James bridge and the Crescent Drive Golf Course. Schoch would become City Landscape Architect following the unification of Winnipeg’s municipalities and Metropolitan government. He later was given the titles of Manager of Planning and Resources and Director of Planning and Development. Schoch served as the treasurer of the Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects (MALA) for twenty years and for eight years as MALA’s first Executive Director. He retired from practice in 1989.

Projects

  • Kildonan Park Pond, Kildonan Park, 1964
  • Assiniboine Park Zoo Plan, Assiniboine Park, 1967
  • Crescent Drive Golf Course, 1967