Showing posts with label Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Show all posts

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".

School Arts Magazine Looks at Responding to Nature

The October issue of School Arts magazine focuses on "Responding to Nature". It is available online ( and will be arriving in subscriber's mailboxes soon. This issue will also be featured in the Davis Publishing booth at state art education association conferences across the country in October.

For design educators the topic of responding to nature opens up opportunities to learn about spatial design. Most traditional art education programs concentrate mainly on 2D images and 3D objects. Most art educators have had little experience with 4D spatial design or 5D experience design. Architects, landscape architects, interior designers, urban planners, set designers, and exhibit designers are people who design spaces and places in which people move around, which takes different sensibilities than designing 3D objects.

Two iconic examples of 4D spatial designers are the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. Wright is famous for being responsive to nature in his designs such as the Kaufman House (Fallingwater) (left) and Olmsted (right) is the father of landscape design whose works include Central Park in New York City. Much can be learned from the work of both of these famous 4D spatial designers and there are many resources available about them and many others like them. A good book just out this year (2011) is "Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted" by Justin Martin.

Click on the heading above to see the digital version of School Arts magazine.