Morven Virtual Program: Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

Debra Lampert-Rudman's picture
January 27, 2022
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Architecture and Architectural History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Historic Preservation

Spend an evening discovering Frederick Law Olmsted's huge imprint upon America's landscape with historian & filmmaker Laurence Cotton

About this event

Historian and filmmaker Laurence Cotton joins us virtually to present a "mini-travelogue" of select Olmsted landscapes across North America in this special evening event. Discover the extraordinary legacy of a true Renaissance man and how Olmsted's philosophy, his writings and his designs are still relevant today. 

Mr. Cotton originated and served as Consulting Producer to the NEH-funded, nationally broadcast PBS special “Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America.”

He will present an information rich and entertaining talk about Frederick Law Olmsted’s life, career and legacy including those sites designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Senior, the two sons and the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm. 

About Frederick Law Olmsted:

Self-taught Renaissance man Frederick Law Olmsted, his two sons and one Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm left a huge imprint upon the landscapes of North America. Public parks, private estates and gardens, residential neighborhoods, entire community designs, and institutional campuses. Not only did Frederick Law Olmsted and his progeny found the field of landscape architecture, they also were early proponents of urban planning. The Olmsted design philosophy addressed public health—physical and mental health, and issues of equity and access that are even more relevant to contemporary park managers and users. Frederick Law Olmsted foresaw the crucial role of the experience of nature in the urban setting and the very role that parks can play for the enactment of democracy in a multi-ethnic, multiracial society.

About Laurence Cotton:

The summer of 2014 saw the nationwide PBS broadcast of a long-awaited film project, Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America. Writer, historian and filmmaker, Laurence originated the Olmsted film, and served as principal researcher and as Consulting Producer. Directed by his colleague, Lawrence Hott of Florentine Films/Hott Productions, the film premiered before public audiences in the key Olmsted cities of Boston, Buffalo and New York City. 

Mr. Cotton served on committees that planned legacy projects for the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial, played a role launching the restoration efforts for Vista House and served as a consultant to the Confluence Project, a series of environmentally and culturally sensitive landscape installations along the Columbia and Snake Rivers designed by Maya Lin. 

Laurence Cotton currently serves as historian on board small ship cruise vessels that ply the rivers and coastlines of N. America. His specialty is serving as lead historian on the American Empress, the largest sternwheeler west of the Mississippi, offering a week-long lecture series focused on the geology, natural history and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on the heritage of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. He also occasionally serves as historical lecturer in Puget Sound, in the Great Lakes, along the St. Lawrence Seaway, the coast of New England and in the Mississippi River system.

As a landscape historian, Laurence is active with the NAOP--the National Association for Olmsted Parks. As biographer of Frederick Law Olmsted, Mr. Cotton has taken it upon himself to regularly travel across N. America, presenting his PBS film and delivering a popular PowerPoint talk about the Olmsted legacy--father, two sons and Olmsted Bros. landscape architecture firm--across North America.

This program is part of the Olmsted 200 national celebration



Contact Info: 

Debra Lampert-Rudman, Curator of Education and Public Programs