tv Hugh Howard Architects of an American Landscape CSPAN May 29, 2022 4:15pm-5:08pm EDT
welcome everyone to the fifth installment of our conversations with olmstead series. i'm ddp try president and ceo of the national association for olmsted parks the managing partner of the olmstead 200 campaign. we have at last arrived 2022 the year of olmsted and we invite everyone from coast to coast to participate in a vast array of programs conferences tours and more around the country. please visit olmsted 200.org to learn more today we are going to
start in mr. olmstead's neighborhood the community of brookline, massachusetts. some rare neighborhoods. holy unique place in our history because they were home to an extraordinary confluence of talented individuals and that is surely the case in the green hill neighborhood of brookline, massachusetts there frederick law olmsted henry. richardson and charles sprague sergeant and others worked in close proximity shaping 19th and early 20th century architecture and landscape design in ways that continue to reverberate today. that's why the national association of olmsted parks and other organizations across the country fought hard to oppose proposed plans that surfaced in 2020 to destroy henry hopson richardson's home and properties associated with john charles olmsted the steps under frederick law olmsted olmsted and partner in the olmsted firm. and as we start the new year, i
have good news. we are grateful to the brookline preservation commission brookline preservation staff frederick law olmstead national historic site friends of fairstad, richardson and olmstead scholars and many others who advocated for the preservation of the richardson house and two properties associated with john charles particular. thanks to the going town meeting which is approved the creation of a local historic district that will help preserve these important properties for posterity. having said that our goal today is not to focus on brookline. although we could surely do so our goal today is to take this remarkable neighborhood and the collaborations it engendered as a jumping off point. what can we learn from these collaborations at a time? what america was rapidly turning into an urban and industrial society how we're olstead richardson and sergeant
reimagining public spaces. this seems to particularly timely examination as we find ourselves today engage in an important and continuing conversation about public spaces and about equitable access to green and open spaces for all americans. what can we learn from the work of these individuals over a hundred years ago? to address these issues we have found. extraordinary individuals who will explore these ideas this afternoon after a conversation with them. we'll take questions from the audience and please let us know where you're from in the chat box, but submit any questions you have through the q&a box. we will answer as many audience questions as possible and in our program at one hour, with that, let me introduce our panelists our moderator keith morgan is professor emeritus of history of art and architecture at boston university where he taught from 1980 until 2016 keith served as a director of preservation
studies the director of american in new england studies and the chairman of the art history department, his books include community by design the olmsted firm and development of brookline, massachusetts. rosetta elkin as a research associate at the arnold arboretum harvard university as well as associate professor at mcgill university. rosetta is a designer and scholar. focusing on how societies represent respect and cultivate the earth. she was the recipient of the garden club of america rome prize fellowship in 2017. hugh howard is author of more than 20 a clean books about architecture and landscape presidents and painting his newest book is out today architects of an american landscape, which explores frederick law olmstead and henry hobson richardson. i am reading it right now and i highly recommend it. and we are pleased to have dan marriott associate professor of landscape architecture at penn
state. dan is a licensed landscape architect and principal and founder of paul daniel marriott and associates looking at the intersection of landscape transportation preservation and planning dan is also a member of the board of the national association for olmsted parks heath. i will turn it over to you and let you set the stage. thanks to one and all. thank you, deedee and welcome again, everyone my task this afternoon is to facilitate a conversation between three specialists that will look at the roles that three leading. figures in the design fields in the 1880s who happened to be living next door to each other in brookline, massachusetts the real estate played in reimagining the american public landscape and how their examples could be brought forward for contemporary problems. could have have the first slide please? critical homestead that you see
on the left hand side of this trinity is somebody i'm sure it's well known to everyone in the audience the man who defined the field of landscape architecture in the united states in the second half of the 19th century in the middle dressed in monks robe to contain is enormous girth is the architect henry hudson richardson who in the same years came to dominate the practice of architecture in the united states until his death in 1886 and finally on the right charles springs sergeant a man who became the nation's leading authority on north american trees these all three came to live in the green hill neighborhood of brookline if i get out the next slide, please where they were jason to each other at a walking distance. that meant that goes great interaction between the three
this was an elite area of boston's most affluent. suburb sergeant who grew up in this neighborhood in 150 acre estate called home leah the consumes much of the bottom of this map was appointed in 1872 the director of the harvard botanical garden and the following year became the director of the new arnold arboretum a research center of harvard university. that was also an early component of the boston park system designed by olmsted with the assistance occasionally of richardson as well richardson and olmstead who live on the periphery of the home lee a property richardson to the left and umstead of above. um, we're both friends from the 1850s where they were neighbors in staten island, long island and freaking collaborators thereafter. when opportunities in boston came their way they began to
relocate first richardson in 1874 and then richards and then olmsted in 1883 to suburban brookline where they opened offices as act junks other suburban residences all three of these were nationally important sites from which major decisions were made and now we want to focus less on what happened in the 1880s in brookline, but bring it forward to learn what their innovative and radical solutions couldn't pose as examples for the problems of our own days. so i'll turn to our panelists with a general question to begin with here. we are in 2022 the 200th anniversary of homestead's birth honoring olmsted legacy. how did you get interested in olmsted? why do you think the work of homestead in his colleagues matter today and perhaps of member of the naop board we should turn to dan first.
so keith. thank you very much for the introduction of a pleasure a pleasure to represent the nao people board in addition to deedee didi mentioned at the start of this the idea of this this confluence in this neighborhood in brookline and what drew me to olmsted in my career and this whole period of history is this idea of confluence connection collaboration, and i think this is an extraordinally important thing to keep in mind as we begin this conversation today is what's happening among these people and the energy interdisciplinary relationships that they have with one another. this is a rich period in american history with the version of opinions ideas and talents coming together to problem solve in a large way first slide, please this is an image of mount auburn cemetery in cambridge, massachusetts. many of you probably know this
is a great historic landscape. this is also result of public health removing burial grounds from city centers and looking at the idea of burial ground being a park a snake place to go touring and as an arboretum, so these idea of multi-purposis coming together and solving problems next slide, please. it's easy to look back on these gaussy level images of the past where that current one of today and forget about the fact that these gentlemen this period the population were up against tremendous challenges because of technology. this is hydraulic mining during the california gold wash now your typical image of the the minor pain for gold and a clear stream massive environmental destruction. right after that next slide, please. the american civil war the first modern war were we realized we were truly capable of destroying the environment in our landscape. next slide please. so to me, it's all the more remarkable that these
individuals are thinking and planning big ideas. connecting parks such as we see as one of the brooklyn parkways. also, this is multimodal. horseback riding carriage riding bicycling promenade. they're thinking ahead globally for all populations and connecting ecosystems through larger green corridors next slide, please. we see this even greater with copeland's vision for boston and look at the big ideas here taking parts of the existing city of boston and returning them to green space and connecting everything by these leafy green corridors. it's a magnificent broad long-range futuristic vision of what boston could be now a lot of this never happened, but nevertheless have planted the ideas next slide, please. but you see later a regional plan by the end of the century for boston with charles elliott leading the call for this the bits and green are existing parks. the orange are proposed parklands. now if you look at the end said
i have on the right you can see the emerald necklace a tiny tiny part of this grand vision. now this predates the automobile this predates much of what areas people never considered be developed, but this is idea of the future thinking out hundreds of years in advance and planning for the ecology for public health. for public engagement for civic space and last slide, please. this is the infrastructure connecting this all through this massive investment and land and talent and people and today we'll be looking at through these very very talented individuals and how these intersections came together in brookline in this area and globally so i'm very pleased to be here and look forward to the conversation. you may pass the baton to you next to respond to that same question. yes. well truthfully i came to write about olmsted. i'm kind of through the back door in that. i proposed to write a book about
henry hobson richardson. who was from my money one of the three most important american architects up there with right and jefferson. in fact, right? who was a man very close to credit anybody else with anything that he did really in my richardson and did did credit him from time to time in any case i pitched the idea for this book to my editor and he said well, that's fine. you may want to resurrect richard. it's a reputation, but if nobody knows who we is then who's going to buy your book? at which point i did much for other research and discovered that he richardson was very close fan friends was a very close collaborator and i think they were kind of mutual inspirations for one another with frederick law olmstead, so i ended up deciding to write a dual biography, which i've done. the second question is you know, what was does olmsted matter today? and i can certainly stipulate
that olmsted does matter as a long time new yorker. i know central park pretty well from previous books and research i know newest civil war writings, but in writing this book i came across any number of things. i didn't know about him and learned about the breadth of his vision. he designed suburban streets before we really knew we had suburbs before they really evolved into what we know them today. he helped save yosemite and niagara his very career was, you know significant as a sociologist as as a visionary something of a genius and shaping the city for as a democratic place forever. and rosata, can we ask you finally do respond to that as well? sure. well, i'll i'll sidestep the
first question because it's just no exaggeration to say that every landscape architect knows of frederick law olmsted and it's hard to pinpoint when one finds out having grown up in montreal with the montreal mountain and then visited a great deal very often new york and seeing central park because my mother is from there. i sort of grew up with olmsted in the dna of all city making but in terms of the second point. that you make or you know to speak of of the future in in terms of what olmsted was able to achieve in. his time is to understand how remarkable he was a cultivating relationships and that's not just with relationships with other individuals like sergeant but also relationships with the natural world that he was then able to somehow embody and reproduce in a really meaningful way for a much larger public. he did so as a true visionary
and i i can only say that i think still think despite having grown up next to a couple of his very well known public spaces that there are arnold arboretum one of the jewels in the emerald necklace remains of his most i suppose a formative landscapes for me both because it represents that health and well-being that dan was referring to as well as an incredible relationship both with sergeant one that i think most of the audience members know about but we can touch on later but also with the city of boston and harvard university. those are some hard relationships to negotiate right for those of you that don't know in 1882 the arnold arboretum and the city of boston reached an agreement on this kind of very
unique public private collaboration. harvard university donated the land of the arboretum um, the director ned always makes a joke. so i'll just echo ned and say it's the probably the first and last time harvard ever gave anything away in any case harvard donated the land to the city to have an incorporated into the developing boston park system and to open for the public. for public enjoyment and for education to make education public and in turn the city least the land back to the arboretum for the purposes of research and education and committed itself. to managing for public use the grounds through construction and maintenance of roads walls fences gates and to some extent sufficient security and it's probably less known to many of our guests that the arnold arboretum doesn't receive funding of any kind from harvard university.
so the the fact that you know since this inception of an incredibly unique space, you know having you know 188 1879 or so was the original design all the way up until 2022 is truly a testament to the to that relationship building that homestead and sergeant developed. thank you. rosanna penn. i returned to hugh then and ask you to tell us how olmsted and richardson reimagine public spaces and what we can learn from them today using whatever example is appropriate. i'm gonna take us to shovel town like you might call it the city of it's a small city of northeastern, massachusetts when olmstead of richardson got engaged there. it was the the place where most of the shovels use in the world were manufactured. it was a mill town and the
downtown look like just what was a great big. eight place with workers housing and mill buildings and dead end streets a place that had evolved. very randomly over a period of decades as the business had exploded. but the family that own those buildings that owned the factory their name is ames a m e s they decided to create a new town center. that was less higgly piggly and they hired olmsted and richardson to go about doing that. let's go the slide here slide number one if you would place and i think the town hall is the place to start and this image in a sense almost tells the story by itself. the lighter pencil lines you see on here are the work of a draftsman and henry hobson richardson's architecture offices and you can see the building that's in there has a tower it has an arcade with low arches, you know, very typical
of richardson's romanesque style. which what would she became famous? um, but literally this very drawing this piece of paper was handed to frederick law olstead after richardson decided what the building ought to look like in all of that olmstead could it into the landscape. and so the darker lines that you see on here, which i think are brown ink of some sort scholars believe and i occur. we're almost certainly the work of olmstead's own hand. as he decided how this building ought to sit on this rise that overlipped and intersection of not very busy intersection at that point in northeastern. completed building which we'll see in this next slide here. although man-made. i think it really looks like it belongs on that rugged hill, you know, it says timeless and natural almost as as it was
before richardson and olmsted or any of the aims just came along. but also it wasn't done. this is sort of one of the number of different stages and i won't walk you through all of them, but the next one was significant because he was then hired to make a monument. we're going to go to another slide here. to commemorate the civil war and he wanted to do it in a way that engaged to people of the town so he imagined a monument that has you considered kind of richardson arch here, but it also has platform and also has a flagpole can't quite see but he imagined it as the work of many hands that the kids of the town will put pebbles on a adults of the town a grown ups of the town who put largest stones on and they would create a monument stacked in memory to the civil war debt. and it would be the centerpiece of this new downtown development, which we will see as it evolved a few years later the next slide. you can see the monument is kind
of at the center there of this triangle triangular intersection and pretty soon. there was a school across the street pretty soon. there was a little bit of a mercantile development down. the block was also a library that richardson built so all of a sudden they had thanks to the shared thinking of olmsted richardson a new focus for this town some very imaginative thinking. thank you. i'm a good example and rosetta. can i come back to you again with more or less the same question do help us understand how olmsted and sergeant through specific examples created new models that are important for us to keep in mind today. well that novel agreement that i described earlier. it's important to recognize that that it was signed for a thousand year lease. and it's renewable once so in the fine print you recognize
that olmsted is sergeant were thinking for the long-term about generations that they were far beyond them and that's the real takeaway for myself anyways, and i hope for others that we need more long-term thinking and i mean really long-term thinking thinking about whether or not a sea wall is going to crumble in 20 years is just not good enough anymore if olmstead and sergeant we're working today and collab. today climate change and landscape change would be forefront in their thinking and the public's knowledge and literacy of that change would also be for front in their thinking as education was so important to both of them and i want to point out that so i would say one long-term thinking to recognizing the changes in the changes in the landscape are not only from the time of the design and the creative partnership, but that 7,000
years prior, you know, there were indigenous peoples, you know, they're 11,000 years before the land was rising up from the ice age. i mean landscape change is on such a long duvet and it's very important. i think to humble ourselves and and place our society within a much longer time frame than a lot of municipal budgets and mayoral cycles often allow and that's really or we can do better. i would i would say an example if if we could pull up the images that image one. there is the arborway entrance in 1903 the the width of that entrance the the inviting kind of embrace that is designed into a public space. not a small marginalized entry, but rather really the feeling of everyone is welcome here. please enjoy the grounds and if we go to the second slide what's
important about contextualizing that is that when you have a really integrated, this is the arboretum just to be clear integrated into the city planning. you can't have one entrance and what public i mean save a library, perhaps we can talk about that with richardson. what outdoor public space should only have one entrance on the contrary there at this point over 29 entrances? is a formal informal nature if they're arboretum it is porous to the city around it because sergeant and olmstead advocated for for no fences essentially and no and no walls, and that is also something that current park planning could really learn from and it's because of this plan that during the pandemic the arboretum was able to stay open when other botanical gardens in arboretum closed and that is such a critical public infrastructure. for the long term thank you. and dan is our homestead scholar. can we come to you to close out
this question thinking about olmsted's relationship to richardson sergeant burnham and others and welcome. we learn about that collaboration today. thank you. rosetta just said as well. it's this idea of long-term vision long-range planning and thinking beyond the next 20 years 200 years to outer 1000 years out with the least toronto arboretum, i think right now so we look at climate change and the pandemic one of the most important things i could think we learn is collaboration and the role of design in terms of solving larger problems. i think we've lost a lot of that conversation right now. we focus on climate change in terms of we have to put up a seawall. we have to change force management product programs etc pandemic. like how do we make people safe? what about the vaccine all these things all being very based on science and the conversation and i think the idea of design and the role of design and problem-solving are things that these three men and men and
women across the board during this period of the 19th century. we're thinking much more broadly about the commonwealth of massachusetts had the first state public health department the united states and in the late 19th century the massachusetts medical profession with the olmstead firm. developed a plan for public health for metropolitan, boston. most american cities were suffering from waterborne diseases such as thai food cholera and malaria and we forget that nowadays. it was a major public health crisis what to me is so remarkable was that it wasn't just the medical profession, but the value of landscape architecture. and the idea of looking at the larger ecosystem and public health benefits of a functioning healthy waterway network with a metropolitan, boston. so with people at charles elliott taking the lead we see the metropolitan park district established and we see the state putting money behind this too. this was not just a big idea that sounded good on paper. this was funded and supported by
the commonwealth of massachusetts and they were all the extra benefits public health with clean water recreation settingside lands to keep the public water system clean also provided places public recreation, and these are called reservations because they knew at the time they weren't exactly sure how they might be used but thinking ahead to the long distant future they have these land areas set aside and they were connected with parkways so you can move through the system in green and the parkways ended up falling the river quarters, which protected which provided seeing driving and recreation. so all these things cycling back and forth and why i showed that earlier image of not auburn cemetery at the start was okay. the problem was burying people in boston was contaminating. the water wells so we looked it out, but it wasn't just relocating the cemetery function. it was about recreation. it was about arboretum all of these ideas. and i think this is the lesson
for us inspiration collaboration and the role of design in terms of taking scientific problems and making them civic. investments thanks so much as a great fan of charles elliott. i'm glad to see him brought in there to remind people that they're members of the olmsted firm whose last name don't begin with. oh you can we come back to you in your new book. you note that richardson. wanted to break away from european influence and create an american architectural idiom. is there something distinctly american about the way that these individuals imagine public space all three of them potentially. of the public library is something that comes to mind first in this context. keep that is you know, we take them for for granted today public libraries, but in 1850 the was no place that a member of the hawaii polloi could just go take a book out could go and borrow a book. they just didn't exist.
they began to appear thereafter, although for the most part in the early years. they tended to be a room in an apothecary upstairs downtown or maybe in city hall or town hall or something like that. but by the time richardson came along they were beginning to think seriously about freestanding buildings, and he designed a half dozen of them. they ended up being significant paradigms for others. in fact the first of the carnegie libraries was based very closely on richardson design and a fair amount of the time in those half doesn't libraries i think in at least four maybe five of the cases olstead was hard to sit them. the landscape so i think we should see a picture here. i got slide five here. this is one of the one of the libraries that he did. it's in malden as that's not the right slide. we need to go on to slide five. it's a there we go. it's that's involved in massachusetts. although this drawing comes from
richardson's office it very much reflects olmsted's thinking and for me, it feels like it's a little bit park like it feels like a little bit of a restful oasis for the body just as once you get inside that's stimulation the mind. a second example i give here of of his peculiar american work is really a consequence the way up there american work of the way that american society changed radically in the course of the 19th century. when all said was born pretty much everybody lived within a mile or two of countryside and therefore they could get a taste of nature if you will in the ensuing decades with a population that grew eightfold in almost as lifetime all of a sudden the city exploded and suburbs which hadn't existed at the beginning of that time. let's go to the next slide here.
came into being and they had to have some methodology for getting back and forth, which was the railroad which of course was this immense economic driver also, and he has a railroad station designed by richardson long and low seated nicely in the landscape fitted in beautifully by olmstead's, you know permanent plantings. you don't see flower beds here you see trees and bushes a little bit of artscape. and i think together they made these suburban train stations into very welcoming portals for these suburban towns. olmsted created dozens of railroad landscapes on richardson fewer railway stations because he didn't live that long but i think this is a classic example of a kind of public civic architectural landscape plan that they created an integrated. and the fact that charles sprague sergeant was on the
board of the boston and albany railroad means that he was also instrumental in bringing about that partnership too. i think it's a great example. he heard of both no question. yes. can i come back to rosetta and then move on to dan and chew with a question landscape architect and olmsted advocate lori olin praises olmsted in his colleagues for their ability to think at the scale of the problem. how should practitioners today think at the scale of the problem can the efforts of richardson olmsted and sergeant help us reimagine public space in healthful ways for the future. of scale is a very interesting topic that you can't really get away from in landscape. we we talk about telescopic scale and landscape you have to get down to the microscopic and then way back up into the territorial the whole continent
and beyond and that's nowhere where more evident in in how 21st century land use has has evolved. i'd go back to also just referencing something that dan mentioned in terms of the commonwealth and i think that a commonwealth politics of today one would have to ask what wealth itself means and what is the value of life and i'm sorry to get a little bit heavy, but i think it really is important that we ask ourselves in this day and age. what a common wealth is and common space is has especially in boston starting with the commons and beyond sort of underscored our ability to feel a sense of freedom and connectivity with a greater public but now more than ever there is less and less space something that we mentioned in in conversation was was sort of
this idea of what do we evolve? right? i mean, i think what lori is referencing is also a vision the visionary aspect of thinking big but i also would caution us to also think little because we can do a lot with the spaces that we have olmsted thought big because there were very expensive spaces and he could imagine transforming them and he did but through acts of essentially stewardship and conservation, but what we have now in overbuilt urbanized and you know more polarized social environments. we have less and less space. so what can we do with that? right and and so rather than evolve the present rather than evolve the present state ie evolved the boundaries of the arboretum or the boundaries that exist of the boston commons and
the emerald necklace. how can we evolve to the future? what would a next generation commons look like? what would a commonwealth commons look like in the 21st century? i think those are the kind of questions that certainly lori asks in his practice and ones that i hope that our leadership will begin to ask in this century. dan can we come to you next? yeah a great great. these are great questions, and i'm glad we were prepared for them as well. so i think when we think about all this the idea of scale, right? anticipating people have trouble envisioning change people don't often like change and people quickly except change. usted at the end of his life was already arguing that central park was not large enough to serve metropolitan new york as he saw it and he could envision metropolitan new york region as far as connecticut at some point which people thought was completely ridiculous and so far off the mark but where
connecticut is very much a part of this the sphere of influence with new york city right now olmsted's idea. very practically was that you know the time to be acquiring public lands and protecting spaces before the development pressure is there and as a landscape architect today, i see myself community squandering opportunities. for a minor investment right now because they can't envision a level of population level of growth of level of change. that goes beyond their view of the world right now and thinking out for these future generations that we were thinking about so much more strongly i believe during this period i think particularly right now too in a divided nation where people are counting pennies. these are not new ideas. there were people actively trying to sabotage olmstead projects and acquisition of public lands. i would commend to all of you interested in olmsted three public parks in the enlargement of towns, which is a paper that he presented in boston looking
at how american studies should grow and plan ahead. an importantly if you're feeling like you're having frustrations going up against the council member or mayor who just doesn't quite get this. olmstead talks about nefarious and unscrupulous people who will try to undermine these efforts in the need for you to maintain a clarion vision. and to me if we're looking at the big picture for 20,000 feet, it's having a clarion vision and remembering that the idea is that you have for long-rangement planning green space are probably quite good. um and no one's just going to say go ahead. let's do it. you're gonna have to fight for these you're gonna have to argue for them. you have to defend them after their bills. almost there was aware of that and he managed to keep an optimistic view and a big vision and he didn't let all this slow him down and i think all these people and the century were really important with that approach and i think they're very important lessons for us today with politics and funding. thanks, and you over to you?
in brief, you know clearly olmstead thought huge thoughts but as a relative newcomer to studying olmstead's life, you know, i really immersed myself in it for half a dozen years rather than 20 or 30 as my colleagues have what impressed me pretty early on was that olstead didn't think about five years down the road didn't think about 10 years. he didn't think about a generation. he taught about thought about three generations and five generations and and beyond and he was a visionary in a way that very very few people are because folks just don't think in those kinds of terms and he did and i think you know, this is very unspecific, but i think that if we can adopt something of that kind of mindset that we have to really think way way over the horizon i think that's a good place to start some of these discussions. okay, i'm going to now switch to
questions that have come in from the audience and hopefully the technology will allow me to do this efficiently, but let's start with a question that seems to reflect issues that many of us have been talking about what are some of the unsteady and principles or recommendations. it can be used to approach the municipalities in charge of parks to take climate change seriously by taking the proper precautions to mitigate climate change effects on trees and ecosystems. anyone who wants to jump in that sounds like it has your name written on it rosetta but go for it there are there are four. sorry to be specific, but there are sort of four main principles that you'll find in every homesteady and landscape, of course, there are more but there are four commonly discussed. in i'm certainly no olmsted
scholar, but there's genius of place which you've probably heard a lot about which basically just means let's appreciate the unique characteristics that are here and work with them and not against them right unified composition. he spoke of which is essentially establishing a coherent hierarchy including what he always called the omission of any decorative planting. so making sure that the composition is robust and we can we we are actually the generation is probably living with some of the best examples of that the other one which dan referred to as the orchestration of movement, which is to advocate for separation of traffic speeds that always and we see that now especially with you know, electric bikes and scooters and i mean, wow, you know, we are anybody who jobs or walks dogs or has the stroller knows about the orchestration of movement and finally the orchestration of use which is a
strategic organization of relationships based on what he calls quote which i love the changing needs of the public. so i think that's where we would answer your question because the changing needs of the public right now are from more access to outdoor space whether it's to have meetings or to have classes or you know, i mean in we we need more and more open spaces and that's a changing need that we've seen. no it so present and the changing needs of the landscape itself whether it's more ice storms or hurricanes or droughts and floods and irrigation and non-irrigation and so that i hope i'm not too long-winded in trying to answer that question, but hopefully we can all consider how landscapes can be agile to the changing needs of the public if we if we listen. good, dan anything you want to add to that? that was an excellent summary rosetta.
so i appreciate that the clear clear points as you presented there. um, i would say that you know. i think we think about these things very hard and very carefully and what i've always might about olmsted was the the idea of having a large vision but not getting so trapped in it. he would walk away if you couldn't get everything they can because i find a lot of times nowadays, you know, well if we can't have this we're not gonna play we're not gonna participate, you know, what's the middle ground the parkway system and this goes back to rosette. i just mentioned trans about mobility and access for brooklyn was intended as a serpentine much more organic system, but we ended up with basically long straight race straight boulevards. that wasn't the goal. that wasn't the olmsted plan, but the main goal was connecting green space to green space and olmsted accepted that on a very geometric format and a razor straight line and did it any modified it with buffalo and it finally reached us apotheosis in boston boston with the serpentine system there. so there's a chance to learn and
mark and follow olmsted realized pretty quickly after delaware park was established in buffalo that it was too far for the working classes and people couldn't afford the nickel to get to the park. so with the buffalo south parks they changed where they're having one large park. they had a several smaller parks that were more accessible to local communities. so i think had the big vision which we've been promoting a lot, but also i think a lesson from olmsted too is recognize that your big vision can be modified. it could be corrected. it could be improved and don't get so stuck in one grand idea that you miss opportunities and i think rosetta made a point earlier to just about sometimes small things like successful too and making very positive change. and do anything you want to add to that question. echo very quickly dancepoint and point out a piece of olmsted's history, and that is that he didn't start out as a designer. in fact, he admitted quite late in his career really he wasn't really comfortable with the art
thing that was, you know awkward for him. he was a manager to start with, you know, we said i'm gonna be able to handle a thousand workers who were going to create this park in new york and they became 2000 workers and somehow he made it all work clearly. he brought a wonderful imagination to that too. but you know the the practical the pragmatic is part of what we have to do we have to make some deals as well as do things that artistic and visionary and there they have to you know fit together. good. thank you another question from the audience a number of members of the early olmsted firm like henry v hubbard. we're also involved with designing affordable housing as part of the focus of public welfare. were they unusual in developing that alliance between public welfare and landscape design? i can start with that please dan. oh the history of affordable
public housing and landscape artichoke goes goes way back in terms of planned communities and ideas english garden city movement. so these ideas of looking at housing and housing relationship to landscape and providing people with limited means access again, it goes back to green space having the garden having a playground and we see these ideas moving up through the depression with places like greenbelt, maryland in terms of planned communities. aberdeen gardens, which is the plan community for african-american community in virginia during a time of jim crow and we can see this going up through the newtown movements and public housing real innovations at times. usually it's not this great. you're just not the special but when there's a landscape architect involved, it's usually quite fun and it's worthy of note and these are examples of the draw down, the professional landscape architecture and affordable or public housing it's it's deep and it's long and it's meaningful and i it shows that.
you can have a budget and you have a very specific population design it for you can still do very very fine work. i would only add just a tiny little bit to that which is that olmsted really did his homework so to speak and he traveled all around the world, especially europe and it in holland learned a great deal about social housing as it was called there and especially from custer and and whoever and that had a great influence on him just as the deer parks of england had an influence on him and whatnot. so, i think that the innovation comes in bringing it to a growing america and translating it for for the nation in in ways that that dan has alluded to the cities that he worked so many of them. you any any further comments there? i just point out that his whole
notion of parks. although it has very little to do with housing this whole notion of parks was to give people in particular working class people who didn't have the opportunity to be exposed to nature to give them that exposure. so it was clearly conscious of not just you know, the fancy folk, but the regular guys, too. yeah, i had also adds that olmsted's first intern charles elliott who spends a fat year in europe studying landscape architecture when he's lobbying for the creation first of the trustees of public reservations and private statewide organization to hold land and then moving on to create the boston metropolitan park system. he's presenting proposals for affordable housing environments and incorporate open landscape within the block form of the environment and think charles
should be frederick lohm said jr. also spent a considerable period of time traveling in europe and trying to bring back the most innovative concepts of housing a variety to the practice and to the country. okay, let me come to one last question then. this is a quotation olmstead was born in 1822 but became a landscape artist architect rather late in his career at age 43 is i've ideas evolved from a diverse and unique set of experiences comment on the value of diversity in this professional field and in the creation of public spaces, i i would say that all set actually preferred the term landscape gardener. and i think that that's a really important. point in this day and age where a lot of the work of building.
our public spaces is outsourced and we don't have a personal relationship with it often one of the things that's maybe we've maybe we've overlooked but it's a short conversation. i don't think any of us mean to overlook it but it almost it was hard on olmsted. i mean he he broke his back defending these places. he got fired and rehired and ousted and and divorced and i mean his life was in it was very difficult, but he what he stuck to was the vision it wasn't easy for him. and so when i see pictures of him, you know standing with his with his cane in in the midst of kind of muck up to his knees even though he had a bad foot and they're moving trees behind him i think about how grounded he was as a designer how in touch with the materials he was as a visionary some visionaries say, you know a thousand feet
above and so i suppose in terms of of justice. i would also say that you know being involved in public land matters of public land don't mean you have to go to an accredited university. don't mean that you have to have a diploma from any of the great institutions that we might share. it is actually being activist being engaged being part of a community having your boots on your shovel ready and having a vision and so i really love that question because i think it's tremendously important in this day and age that that environmental literacy is something that's taught, you know from a very early age that we can recognize the trees and plants and animals in our environment. teach that as as future stewards. i'm going to unfortunately have to cut off the conversation there because we've extended
beyond. no, i thought that was a perfect place to and so i thank you rosetta for that and at this point i'm instructed to pass the baton back to deedee to return us to the naop base. terrific well, thank you everyone. we got a lively conversation as we knew we would and we are just want to say thank you to all of you and for all of you who have participated this afternoon we hold it. this has been food for thought and it has been a wonderful way to start the new year. so to everyone please remember olmstead 200 activities are in full swing here yesterday usa ss
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