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ASLANY & Central Park Conservancy: The Olmsted in All of Us


Thursday, March 16, 2023 @ 6:30 pm EDT
Thursday, March 16, 2023 @ 9:00 pm EDT


Scandinavia House
58 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016




Start: Thursday, March 16, 2023 @ 6:30 pm EDT
End: Thursday, March 16, 2023 @ 9:00 pm EDT



Join ASLA-NY, TCLF and Central Park Conservancy for:

The Olmsted in All of Us – Presented by Charles Birnbaum

This past April marked the bicentennial of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.’s birth. Although many still do not know that there is no “A” in his name, and that there were actually three Olmsteds (news flash: he didn’t live from 1822-1957), generally speaking, his impact on the profession – and the public – from coast-to-coast – is still only superficially understood. Olmsted-designed landscapes are more than picturesque scenery and public grounds for society’s use and enjoyment.

This presentation draws on forty years of professional practice – incorporating big ideas and anecdotes, and 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 concludes 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.

1.25 LACES CEUs approved

This event will be followed by a reception and book signing


Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, is the president, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Trained as a landscape architect, he spent a decade in private practice in New York City and then fifteen years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI).

Birnbaum’s major projects at TCLF (which he founded in 1998 while a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design) include the web-based What’s Out There database of the nation’s designed landscape legacy and creation of the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize, which includes a $100,000 award. He has authored and edited numerous publications, including most recently: Experiencing Olmsted: The Enduring Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted’s North American Landscapes (Timber Press, 2022).

Inducted as an ALSA Fellow in 1996, Birnbaum has received the Alfred B. LaGasse Medal (2008), the President’s Medal (2009), and the ASLA Medal (2017). In 2004, Birnbaum was awarded the Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation. He has served as the Visiting Glimcher Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University’s Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture, a Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, a visiting critic at Harvard’s GSD where currently serves as a Lecturer in Landscape Architecture.



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