University of Idaho

ID_Moscow_UniversityOfIdaho_byDavidIharlan_2012_001_Sig.jpg
Moscow, ID
United States
University of Idaho

Following a fire and the reconstruction of the Administration Building in the spring of 1907, university president James McLean invited Olmsted Brothers to provide a plan to guide  campus growth. John Charles Olmsted visited that summer and filed a narrative report the following year. A sketch accompanying the report illustrated the broad contours of the proposal, which called for land acquisition between the town, with its railroad depot, and the reconfiguration of the roadways leading toward campus. A pair of diagonal avenues were to converge on the central tower of the new Administration Building and to then stop short, ending with open views to the tower across a rectilinear green (now known as Admin Lawn) and be flanked by new academic buildings. Dormitories for men and women would be placed to the north and south. To complement and frame the new academic structures, Olmsted recommended a conservative use of trees.

The plan went largely unrealized due to lack of funding, though a preexisting curving road leading to the Administration Building was removed, allowing for the open lawn to be knit together. Nevertheless, the firm remained a resource for the university. In 1913 John Charles Olmsted, was called upon to advise on the siting and design of athletic facilities, again proposed diminishing roadways, and suggested a gentle curve to the at-the-time rigid path approaching the administration building from the northeast, now known as Hello Walk.” While the primary trajectory identified by Olmsted was implemented, the walk has since been covered by an allée of trees, thus obscuring the approach as he had envisioned it. Today, the university ensures that the Olmsted legacy remains active as subject matter in its landscape architecture programs.