Echo Lake, Mountainside, Union County Park System, NJ

NJASLA 2022 Annual Meeting: The Legacy of Olmsted Landscape, Advocacy and Communication

Trenton, NJ

The program for this year’s New Jersey ASLA Annual Meeting, “The Legacy of Olmsted: Landscape, Advocacy and Communication”, recognizes the accomplishments of Frederick Law Olmsted beyond the landscape, including his commitment to advocacy in the public realm and as a journalist. The conference includes an opening keynote by TCLF President Charles Birnbaum.

This presentation, drawing on more than 35 years of practice – incorporating big ideas and anecdotes – aims to lift the veil on those in Olmsted’s practice and his successor firms from 1857-1979 (beyond those named Olmsted). Additionally, the presentation will address how the Olmsted practice served as the definer and proselytizer of the professional discipline that Sr. named, how the firm came to define what a corporate practice should look like and how it should function (including support for the “grand tour,” the idea of preparing multiple alternatives to sell your ideas, leveraging one’s position as both a practitioner and an academic to cultivate and import the best and brightest students, the need to nurture and cultivate patrons, the critical nature of well-organized archives and dedicated staff for collections management), and how landscape architects need to seize the opportunity to lead and orchestrate from the planning of cities and campuses to getting involved early and siting the building architecture.

Olmsted introduced new typologies (parkway, park system), he recognized that landscape was Infrastructure and that a thorough understanding of soils and water (from watersheds and hydrology to soil remediation) was essential. He understood landscapes and cities to be dynamic, possessing intertwined systems that could be guided and shaped, and the idea of managing change.

Finally, the presentation will conclude with reflections of how we can steward Olmsted’s ideas and built works today – from a deeper and broader cultural context (e.g. race, gender) to supporting and collaborating with individuals and organizations who are working in their communities to engage with Olmsted and his legacy.


  • Identify traces of Frederick Law Olmsted’s impact on contemporary landscape architecture.
  • Understand what Frederick Law Olmsted’s ideas, his built legacy and what his continuum of practice means to our approach to professional practice, project management, design and stewardship today.
  • Lift the veil on Olmsted, his sons, and his studio spanning a century of practice, making visible many of those whose contributions are usually not recognized.

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