Frederick Law Olmsted: America's Father of Landscape Architects

Frederick law olmsted projects

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) is popularly known as the father of landscape architecture. He defined this profession as: "An artist so noble ... like him who with a broad conception of aesthetics, in designing landscapes, sketching outlines, writing colors and directing the shadows of drawings is so great that nature will be employed upon it for several years. generations, before the work he arranged for him would make his intentions come true."

America's Father of Landscape Architects

Olmsted designed some of the most famous landscapes in his country. Central Park in New York City, America's first major urban park was his first and perhaps best-known project. Design in Central Park, which he collaborated on with Calvert Vaux, has many elements of British landscape design.

Olmsted formulated these elements during his 1850 visit to Birkenhead Paxton in Liverpool, England, and among other gardens. The gardens are characterized by great views and expanses.

This park and the others he later developed were also influenced by his views on society. As a writer on social issues, he believes parks should provide the underprivileged an "education for improvement and the sense and mental and moral capital of gentlemen". Olmsted believes that public green spaces should always be accessible to all citizens.

His city parks, including Central Park, integrate the city and landscape by taking the radical step of directing traffic through the park, not far from it. This is done without disturbing the landscape by physically separating roads either by sinking them out of the site or by hiding them behind the landscape.

In addition, his gardens are influenced by his views on conservation. For example, rocks and outcrops are left in Central Park to remind visitors of the original landscape and the origin of the city in the wilderness (Sommer, 2007).

America's First Landscape Architecture Consultant

In 1883 Olmsted founded the first landscape architecture firm in Brookline, Massachusetts. He called the Fairsted home and office complex. Now the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site has been restored.

From there Olmsted designed Boston's Emerald Necklace, the campuses of Wellesley College, Smith College, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago, and the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, among many other projects.