DECEMBER 2020 LECTURE
Thursday, December 3, 2020
The Olmsted Brothers’ Planning in California:
A Prescient Approach to Ecological Design
Christine E. O’Hara
Professor of Landscape Architecture, California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo
The population migration and subsequent development pressures in California in the post WWI decades provided the Olmsted Brothers firm with opportunities to plan at a more expansive and complex scale than in their previous work. Working in topographically and climatically challenging landscapes, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. sought to develop a comprehensive approach in their multiple design commissions for residential communities, as well as urban and state park systems that would enhance the natural scenic and cultural features while planning wisely for sound infrastructure. The resultant master planning for the greater Los Angeles region was both ecologically prescient and problematic. Viewing the firm’s visionary designs, some built, some only planned, which impacted this vast megalopolis, this talk will consider the Olmsted work in terms of contemporary ecological issues.
As respondent, Fadi Masoud, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Toronto, will explore these projects in view of current demographic and climate changes.
Christine Edstrom O’Hara is Professor of Landscape Architecture, California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo; her research focuses on landscape history and historic preservation with expertise in the California work of the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Art History from Stanford University, Master’s degree from University of Washington in Landscape Architecture and Preservation Planning, and PhD in Landscape Architecture from University of Edinburgh. O’Hara was awarded the Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden History and the Charles E. Beveridge Research Fellowship to support her research on the Olmsted firm’s ecological approach to design in 1920s Los Angeles. Her publications include essays in The Journal for the Society of Architectural Historians, Landscape Journal, Pacific Horticulture, Journal for Green Building and the International Journal of the Constructed Environment. Prof. O’Hara has had a landscape design practice for over 20 years and is the president of the California Garden & Landscape History Society and a trustee for the National Association for Olmsted Parks.
Fadi Masoud is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Toronto and Director of the Centre for Landscape Research. Masoud holds a Bachelors of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo’s School of Planning, a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Toronto, and a Post-Professional Master in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University.
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