Renowned Olmsted scholar Ethan Carr to speak at MSU and at Belle Isle

The MSU Landscape Architecture Alumni Advisory Boardis proud to host a celebration of the Frederick Law Olmsted firm's legacy Oct. 9-10, 2014.

Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA, Olmsted scholar & associate professor of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning from UMass Amherst

CONTACT: Pat Crawford, MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction,, 517-432-1148; or Belle Isle Conservancy, 313-331-7760

Frederick Law Olmsted began designing Central Park in New York City, New York, in 1857, and Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan, in 1882. Approximately 16 years later, Landscape Architecture became an official program at Michigan State University (MSU), the second such program established in the country. In 1915, Olmsted’s sons continued their father’s legacy by designing the north main entry into campus (Abbot Road) and West Circle Drive and its interior on the north MSU campus (then known as the Michigan Agricultural College or MAC). 

It has been more than 150 years since Olmsted started work at Central Park. The MSU Landscape Architecture Alumni Advisory Board, along with the MSU Landscape Architecture (LA) Program with the School of Planning, Design and Construction; are proud to host a celebration of the Olmsted firm’s legacy Oct. 9-10, 2014, with free lectures by Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA, renowned Olmsted scholar and associate professor of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, on Oct. 9, from 6-9 p.m., in Room 128 of the Natural Sciences Building on the campus of MSU in East Lansing, as part of the MSU LA Distinguished Speaker Series, and on Oct. 10, at the historic (112 year old) Boat House on Belle Isle in Detroit. Other generous sponsors and participants include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), the Belle Isle Conservancy, the MSU Jazz Band and prominent citizens and organizations from the City of Detroit.

The two-day mentoring program is highlighted by a half-day design charrette at MSU, which will bring LA students from sophomore, junior and senior classes together to collaborate on a project exploring the principles of Olmsted and urban park design. Other activities during the program include breakfast with MSU faculty and staff and the Belle Isle Project Manager Dan Lord of MDNR; a special commentary on the PBS Olmsted documentary with Ethan Carr and Ken Anderson of Hamilton Anderson (who authored the 2005 Belle Isle Master Plan), at the firm’s main office in Detroit, Michigan; and tours of Belle Isle, highlighting the “Island in the City,” a book authored by Janet Anderson, Wayne State University/Belle Isle Conservancy, who will also be educating students and participating in the tours.

This celebration will commemorate the achievements of Olmsted by providing an educational forum focused on the past and future of the Island and the practice of landscape architecture. Students from MSU will be joined on Friday by students from universities in and around Detroit, along with LA alumni and invited guests, to hear Ethan Carr’s rendition of Olmsted and to celebrate the resurgence of Belle Isle, its volunteers, and its promising future.  

Learn more at MSU LA Distinguished Speaker Series.

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