Gallaudet University is a bilingual research university and the world’s premier higher educational institution for deaf and hard of hearing students.
About Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University’s first and longest-serving president, Edward Miner Gallaudet, was a childhood friend of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., and after seeing Olmsted and Vaux’s work in Central Park, Gallaudet officially engaged the firm in 1866.
Gallaudet wrote to Olmsted and asked specifically that he come to help design the landscape: “It is with no lack of appreciation of Mr. Vaux’s abilities that I express a preference for your coming if you can do so. Memories of my childhood associations with you and your family when our family lived near yours in Chapel St. Hartford, lead me strongly to desire to renew the acquaintances of long ago.” Olmsted wrote back: “It will give me great pleasure to meet you again.”
Olmsted’s design embodied his idea of campus as community— various buildings buffered from the surrounding environment by careful landscaping. The plan called for dense border plantings and a meandering circulation network designed to provide choreographed passages of scenery. To fit Olmsted’s design, Gallaudet engaged Vaux’s architectural partner, Frederick Clarke Withers, who proposed an attractive High Victorian Gothic style featuring red brick, brownstone, and a great deal of external embellishment.
Today, the original Olmsted-designed campus is identified as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. It is safe to say that Olmsted’s work has shaped, and continues to shape, the identity of Gallaudet University.
Historic photo of College Hall
Historic photo of College Hall, Chapel Hall and Flower Hall
Shared SpacesSpotlight on…Gallaudet University
Landscape Architecture & Design
A Combination of Frederick Law Olmsted and Leland Stanford’s MindsStanford University, founded in Palo Alto, California, in 1885, tells a unique story in American landscape history regarding educational institutions....
Research & Writings
Dean Fritz Steiner Explores the Olmsteds & Land Grant College DesignIn a brand new study, spurred by Olmsted 200, University of Pennsylvania Dean and Paley Professor Fritz Steiner explores the...
Olmsted & the Olmsted Firm
The Campus Green: The Olmsted Firm’s Designs for Vassar CollegeThe Olmsted firm has long been recognized as one of the foremost creative forces that shaped the distinctly American typology...
Olmsted helped lay the groundwork for the protection of Yosemite.
Originally called West Park, Washington Park in Milwaukee was designed by Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot beginning in 1891-92.