A celebration of the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted, founder of American landscape architecture.



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...Frederick Law Olmsted's work has passed the test of time; his work in Druid Hills set the stage and continues to influence metro Atlanta...
-Tina Fountain

Grounds of the US Capitol

In May of 1873 Olmsted was asked by the Senate Committee in Buildings and Grounds to assume the job of planning the grounds for the US Capitol.

Olmsted felt that the 46 acre plot was to small for a full blown park, and he knew that he would have to subordinate the park to the beauty of the Capitol.

Olmsted was determined that the grounds should complement the building. To accomplish this as well as deal with the terrain of the area, Olmsted designed marble terraces on the north, west, and south sides of the building, thereby causing it to "gain greatly in the supreme qualities of stability, endurance, and repose."

Work on the grounds began in 1874, concentrating first on the east side and then progressing to the west, north, and south sides in 1875. The first phase of the project was to even out the elevation of the parcel. This was attained by removing almost 300,000 cubic yards of earth and other material as well as transplanting over 200 trees.

In order to make the grounds accessible to pedestrian traffic, foot-walks were laid. They were constructed of artificial stone and the approaches were paved with concrete. To add the aura of formality, an ornamental iron trellis were installed on the northern east and on the southern walk.

In 1885, Olmsted retired from superintendency of the terrace project; he continued to direct the work on the grounds until 1889.

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