Join the Olmsted Network on July 28 at 5 pm ET for a webinar with University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design chair and professor Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, FAIA, FASLA!

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) spent ten years— from the age of 25 to 35— on and off his 130-acre Tosomock Farm on Staten Island, with its extraordinary views of Raritan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This talk explores the seeds sown there, from 1848–1857— and the voyages that departed from and returned to this island— that were critical to his pursuit of what is now called “landscape architecture.” Olmsted explored his identity on Staten Island as a farmer, a writer, and an editor. Indeed, Olmsted’s point of view as an author was that of a farmer; albeit a well-heeled, gentleman farmer. And his ideas of the connection of the landscape and public health, evident in his later work, would emerge from this experience on the farm.

Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, FAIA, FASLA, is professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design, where she holds the Meyerson Chair of Urbanism. She is the co-executive director of the Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology and creative director of LA+ Journal. A registered architect and landscape architect, she studies urban landscapes, post-industrial sites, toxicity, and inventive plant knowledge, with a focus on actionable responses to the climate crisis and decarbonization. Seavitt’s books include Depositions: Roberto Burle Marx and Public Landscapes under Dictatorship; Structures of Coastal Resilience, with Guy Nordenson and Julia Chapman; and Four Corridors, with Guy Nordenson and Paul Lewis.

Presenter portrait by Gilbert Santana. Olmsted-Beil house photo by Adriano Chinellato.