Founded in 1956 by Macklin Hancock, who remained its president for more than 45 years, this Canadian planning and design firm was a forerunner in its multidisciplinary structure, with a staff that included landscape architects, architects, transportation and environmental specialists, engineers, and urban planners. It would undertake projects in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East, which included planned cities, recreational parks, university campuses, resorts, and waterfront developments.
The firm’s genesis lay in the planned community of Don Mills, in Toronto, which Hancock was hired to design in the early 1950s, while still a student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Seven individuals involved in the Don Mills project initially joined the roster of Project Planning Associates, Ltd. (PPAL), which would, in turn, become a seedbed for young landscape architects, many of whom founded notable practices, including Bradley Johnson, Richard Strong, and Phillip Weinstein. PPAL’s other Toronto projects include Centre Island Park, and the subdivision of Flemingdon Park, a community of high-rise apartments on over 160 hectares. It also planned the site of the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, in Montreal, an event considered a milestone for the profession of landscape architecture in Canada, due to its scale, complexity, and extent of professional collaboration. A notable legacy of PPAL—assessed with a mixture of praise and criticism—is the international exportation of the Garden City plan, which was the basis of Don Mills, and is evident, for example, in the firm’s master plan for Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania.