Friday, September 9, 2011

Frederick Law Olmsted: The Father of Landscape Design

Frederick Law Olmsted is still the most influential landscape architect in America. Justin Martin's new book "Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted" (right) recounts his achievements in landscape architecture, from New York's Central Park (left) to Boston's Emerald Necklace to Stanford University's campus, but also tells the story of Olmsted as an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War.

According to Martin's book, Olmsted didn't simply create places that were beautiful in the abstract but, most of all, he was a social reformer. Olmsted's work is even more relevant now than it was during his lifetime. Olmsted's designs survive to the present day and inform our urgent need to revitalize cities and our yearning for green space.

Students should know about Olmsted's influential ideas and engage in activities to help them understand 4D spatial design. In his Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner used the term spatial to refer to visual intelligence but few people have any training or education in spatial design because our visual education usually stops with 2D image design and 3D object design. Designing a 3D object is very different than designing a 4D space or place.

Click on the heading above for a lengthy discussion by Justin Martin about "Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted".

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