Building the Olmsted Record: Duke University’s Landscape Architecture
Building the Olmsted Record: Duke University’s Landscape Architecture documents the history of Duke’s landscape architecture from its early conception in the 1920s. The project has three main goals: first, to research and create a digital repository of documentary evidence, visual and written, about the conception of Duke and its cultivated and natural landscape; second, to combine and structure the wealth of documentation from the Olmsted Archives in Massachusetts along with other records in the Duke University Archives and the Library of Congress into a sharable platform within Airtable; and third, to interpret these documents and generate historical narratives in ArcGIS StoryMaps in addition to traditional scholarly essays.
As a subproject of Building Duke, Building the Olmsted Record expands our knowledge and understandings of Duke’s physical environment and re-establishes the Olmsted firm’s fundamental role in the original conception of the campus. Select people, including Robert Lee Flowers, A.C. Lee, and Percival Gallagher, working in tandem with institutional ambitions, collectively informed the present-day shape of Duke’s intertwined cultivated landscape and architectural elements. The stories of these central protagonists and the Olmsted Firm, with celebrated projects like New York City’s Central Park and closer to home Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Mansion, have become imprinted within the two campuses and specific spaces that collectively form Duke University.
Featured Image: Unrealized Project of a “Rainbow Fountain” Placed in View of Duke Chapel. Envisioned by the Olmsted Firm in 1925. Graphite on Tracing Paper, 14 inches by 25 inches. See 279735, job 07411, in the Olmsted Research Guide Online. Courtesy of the Olmsted Archives. Full version here.
Dana Hogan (Doctoral Student Contributor & Undergraduate Mentor)
Amanda Lazarus (Doctoral Student Contributor & Undergraduate Mentor)
Andrew Lin (Undergraduate Student)
Kayla Marr (Undergraduate Student)
Holly Stam (Undergraduate Student)
Daniella Welton (Undergraduate Student)