A Clearing In The Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century (Paperback)
by Witold Rybczynski
If you have not read this book and you are interested in becoming or even interested in Landscape Architecture, it is a must. I just finished it. I had put off reading it, because of F.L.Olmsted overload. However, it is an inspiration. F.L. Olmsted is one of those over achieving people that have a need to change the world and leave their mark. He obviously left his mark. What I found so inspirational about this book was the similarities in my own life to his. (Not to compare my accomplishments to Olmsted.) It is his late start in life and his interest in numerous subjects. Really I think it is what makes an accomplished LA. The wider your base of knowledge the more apt and capable to solve complex problems. LA's really deal with social problems. If it wasn't so, then engineers would suffice for the complex problems they solve. It is an art of human touch on the environment. It is the manipulation of the environment at the pleasure of the client. (water coming into the house from bad drainage is un-pleasureable. So I would consider grading to be at the pleasure of the client.) If pleasure was not required, then simple, engineered formulas could be easily cataloged and called upon to solve problems. Experience the freeway system of Oklahoma, and you have experienced an environment manipulated by engineers. They are efficient, but aesthetically dead. Our 40 minute a day commute is as stimulating as a structural load formula, and that is a topic for a completely different entry. kudos to Rybczynsky. It is a magnificent, enlightening and inspiring account of Mr. Olmsted's life.