Great campuses designed by Frederick Law Olmstead or his partners
One of Olmsted’s earliest campus projects was to create a master plan for the College of California on a dry, dreary hill in Oakland. He wanted the college to blend with the character of the neighborhood, and also to allow for later expansion and modifications. For these reasons, he argued for a picturesque rather than a formal plan. He placed the college buildings four miles away from Oakland’s orderly, square village lots, and he divided the land into large wooded areas with tranquil winding roads. The 1865 plan proved flexible years later, when the College merged with another school to create the University of California, Berkeley.
When he was commissioned for the campus design at Stanford University, Olmsted again argued for naturalistic plan. He wanted buildings nestled into the foothills, with a road meandering though the forest. However, it was necessary to compromise with the Stanfords and the architects. Sandstone buildings with red tile roofs were placed in an orderly rectangles on flat land. The resulting design, completed in 1914, does not entirely reflect Omsted’s original vision, yet it is certainly one of America’s most memorable schools.