What Is Special About An "Olmsted" Park?
What is it that makes a landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted different
than other landscape artists' work? Why such furor about an "Olmsted" design,
which seems to engender a great degree of pride in places which can boast of one
of his works, and which draw to them legions of devoted fans?
The late Bruce Kelly, a noted Olmsted scholar and himself a landscape
architect, found fifteen elements which make an landscape designed by Frederick
Law Olmsted distinct:
- They are man-made works of art.
- They have their roots in the English Romantic style.
- They reflect a Victorian influence.
- They provide a strong contrast with the city.
- They are characterized by the use of bold land forms.
- They provide a balance between the spatial elements of turf, wood and
- They use vistas as an aesthetic organizing element.
- They contain a series of planned sequential experiences.
- They provide for the separation of traffic.
- They provide visitor services.
- They contain artistically composed plantings.
- They integrate the architecture into the landscape.
- Each has provision for a formal element.
- They were characterized by variety.
- They were built to provide for recreation.
- Bruce Kelly, Art of the Olmsted Landscape
The next time you visit one of Buffalo's Olmsted parks - or one of Olmsted's works
in your area - watch for the aspects Mr. Kelly has listed!
Copyright 1997-2007 Stanton M. Broderick
Return to Olmsted in Buffalo.