The Olmstead in All of Us

Start Date
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This presentation draws on forty years of professional practice – incorporating big ideas
and anecdotes, and aims to lift the veil on those in Olmsted’s practice and his successor
firms from 1857-1979 (beyond those named Olmsted). Additionally, the presentation
will address how the Olmsted practice served as the definer and proselytizer of the professional discipline that Sr. named, how the firm came to define what a corporate practice should look like and how it should function (including support for the “grand tour,” the idea of preparing multiple alternatives to sell your ideas, leveraging one’s
position as both a practitioner and an academic to cultivate and import the best and brightest students, the need to nurture and cultivate patrons, the critical nature of well organized archives and dedicated staff for collections management), and how landscape architects need to seize the opportunity to lead and orchestrate from the planning of cities and campuses to getting involved early and siting the building architecture.
Olmsted introduced new typologies (parkway, park system), he recognized that landscape was Infrastructure and that a thorough understanding of soils and water (from watersheds and hydrology to soil remediation) was essential. He understood landscapes and cities to be dynamic, possessing intertwined systems that could be
guided and shaped, and the idea of managing change.
Finally, the presentation concludes with reflections of how we can steward Olmsted’s
ideas and built works today – from a deeper and broader cultural context (e.g. race,
gender) to supporting and collaborating with individuals and organizations who are
working in their communities to engage with Olmsted and his legacy
WaterMill, NY
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
The role of landscape architects in initial site design and siting of buildings
• The importance of soils and hydrology in landscape design
• How to steward diversity and inclusion during the design process and afterward
Charles Birnbaum
Course Codes
New York Chapter of ASLA

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