Exploring Landscape Architecture and Park Planning

On January 15  we went to the Fairsted house where we learned about  Frederick Law Olmsted.  Olmsted was the founder of American landscape architecture and the nation’s foremost park maker. He design oven 6,000 parks all over the U.S. The first park he designed was central park in New York city in 1857, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1963.

Frederick Law Olmsted

We took a tour of the architecture firm at the Fairsted house, we saw where Olmsted and his partners did all their work and where all his employee work in different types of jobs. After we did the tour we learned about different types of jobs like architect, drafter, surveyor, urban and regional planner.  A highlight from the firm tour was walking into the architects room and imagining what it would have been like back when Olmsted was alive and working there. Next, we went outside and we looked at the three main areas of the house (the Hollow, the rock path, and the open field. It was interesting because Olmsted purposefully designed the land his architecture firm was on using very common Olmsted principles such as narrow, meandering pathways, and utilizing small space to look bigger. 

Ranger Piper showing and explaining the concepts of the hollow at Frederick Law Olmsted NHS

Touring the landscape at Frederick Law Olmsted NHS

After lunch we went to the barn house where they given us a activity to design our parks for visitor. We were each given a client and specific features they wanted to see in their park. Some clients wanted a safe park with lots of lights, others wanted clean parks and requested that trash cans be placed throughout the park but look natural. Other clients wanted parks that would help them relax. We then each got our own park to design. We then presented to each other what our clients requests were and how we were able to address and incorporate those ideas into our park plan. 

Jeremiah showing the team his park design

Ranger Brianne gave us good tips and feedback about how our designs meet the clients needs, we put all the parks together at the end!

Team 7 Park!

Then, as a second part to our landscape architecture and park design workshop, on January 18 and 19 we met with Historical Landscape Architect, Chris Beagan. Chris works in the planning department at Olmsted Center. He showed us how to use various computer programs to create a map outline and  draw out the Qarters C backyard. Eventually we are going to construct raised beds and choose where to plant different type of trees. This workshop was important because we learned how to create and draw a map, identify different types of plants that would be suitable for planting, and what criteria is important to consider for our backyard space. Some examples of the criteria was making sure the hardiness zones of a plant could survive in a Boston/New England winter, how big the plants will grow, and how much sunlight/water it might need.  

The map we made with Chris of the Quarters C backyard.

Joel taking measurements with guidance from Chris Beagan

It was a group effort to take all the measurements and draw our map layouts.

We learned how to draw like a landscape architect and transfer it on the computer to have a digital design of what we were drawing. Also we learned how to read a landscape architect drawing and how they would incorporate the topography of the design area. Our next step following this workshop is to identify and continue our search for different type of plants to add to our plan for the backyard raised bed.

Some highlights of our team was being able to draw a design of the backyard and measuring it out. Also learning how to do plant selection and finding a lot of beautiful plants that we’ve never seen before. At Fairsted, learning about the framework of landscape architecture and the many jobs that fall under. It gave us new knowledge of how it all started and how it relates to the work we do. Chris showed us how to do plant selection and learning how each would work with our backyard project. Our next step will be figure what type of plants that will look better in the backyard and figure out where each plants will be better to plant.

After taking measurements we went back into the office to complete the final layout drawing of our map. Here we are learning how to create a scale for our maps.

Thank you to the parks Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site that hosted our team and the staff Brianne Cassetta, Piper Sallquist; and Chris Beagan from OCLP for sharing your expertise!

-Jeremiah and Joel

One response to “Exploring Landscape Architecture and Park Planning

  1. So glad you were able to make it out to the homestead site in Brookline. It’s a wonderful place to learn about The Olmsted firm and the profession of landscape architecture. I’m looking forward to seeing the backyard planters.


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