April 27, 2022

The Legacy of Olmsted (including Vancouver)

Recommended reading from Fast Company:

He’s probably best known as the codesigner of New York’s Central Park, but pioneering landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted left a legacy that touches nearly every corner of the United States.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of his birth, the Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has released a new digital guide to more than 300 landscapes across North America that bear his signature. The What’s Out There Olmsted guide maps and profiles each of these projects and their lasting legacy.

American parks, yes, and a Canadian one: Mount Royal in Montreal.  Plus a local plan – Capilano Estates – from the Olmsted Brothers, the firm of the sons of the great Frederick Law …

In 1931 James Dawson, Olmsted Brothers firm partner, met with Alfred J. T. Taylor… to discuss that company’s purchase of 4,000 acres of sloping, thickly wooded land in temperate West Vancouver, from the Capilano River to Horseshoe Bay. Underwritten by numerous investors, the intent was to develop these panoramic parcels into high-end residential communities with amenities. The area was to be called Capilano, from a First Nations name meaning “beautiful river.”

Between 1931 and 1937, the Olmsted firm, together with Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson, laid out Capilano Estates and the Capilano Golf and Country Club on 1,100 acres. Curving, north–south roads on manageable grades were carved out of virgin forests along the steep slopes, providing for uphill and downhill house sites, with views toward water or mountains. They retained acreage for schools and community amenities and protected watercourses with surrounding parkland. The Olmsted firm’s layout essentially remains to this day.


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