Project Types

commercial work

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Recently Completed Projects
Projects Originally Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, sr., the Olmsted Brothers, or Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot

Olmsted Expertise

KZLA has a particular experience with master planning and designing for, rehabilitating, and restoring Olmsted-designed landscapes. This included not only those landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., but also the subsequent firms which later became Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot and then the Olmsted Brothers. In the years since KZLA was established, we have worked on at least 14 projects that were designed by the Olmsted firms. Most recently we have prepared rehabilitation plans for Franklin Park and Jamaica Pond Park – part of the Emerald Necklace in Boston, as well as the Western Promenade Historic Landscape Master Plan for the City of Portland, Maine.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. is known as the father of American landscape architecture. In his lifetime, he developed comprehensive park systems for Boston, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Louisville. His practice as landscape architect began with the competition design for Central Park with then-partner Calvert Vaux in 1858 and continued until 1895. Olmsted used the style of the pastoral landscape to sooth and restore the spirit. The urban park was an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Edges of parks were heavily planted to separate traffic and the constructed from the pastoral. In all cases, the subordination of details to an overall composition was the goal.

 “We want a ground to which people may easily go after their day’s work is done, and where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets, where they shall, in effect, find the city put far away from them...What we want most is simple, broad open space of clean greensward, with sufficient plan of surface and a sufficient number of trees about it to supply a variety of light and shade...We want depth of wood enough about it not only for comfort in hot weather, but to completely shut out the city from our landscapes” 

- Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. related to the Arnold Arboretum

The orchestration of views was especially important. Vantage points were identified very deliberately with a heightened sense of drama through the procession down a carriage road or path leading to that vantage point. The Olmsted firm also manipulated landform to shape spaces and then accented them with planting to play with the patterns of light and shadow. 


To create the illusion of space, the Olmsted firm often used large greenswards punctuated by groves of trees. Planting was often multi-layered with canopy, understory, shrub, and herbaceous layers heavily inspired by native plant communities. 
The Olmsted design ideology separated incongruous uses. Parallel routes for were carefully crafted for through-traffic, pleasure drives, bridle use, and pedestrian strolling. Most projects went well beyond aesthetic considerations incorporating sanitation improvements, drainage improvements, and health benefits for the park users.


Structures were situated within the landscape to appear subordinate to the larger landscape setting. 
Olmsted was profoundly influenced by his travels through the South during the Civil War, and his early life as a farmer in New York. He sought to design landscapes that were respites from dense and dirty city life, and places that welcomed all people: democracy in design.

Western Promenade

Portland, ME

2018 to Present

Medal of Honor Park

South Boston, MA

2017, 2021

Jamaica Pond Pathways

Boston, MA

2017 to Present

The Gardens at Elm Bank

Wellesley, MA

2017 to Present

Winfield Robbins Memorial Garden Landscape Rehabilitation

Arlington, MA

2017 to 2018

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South Park

Buffalo, NY

2016 to 2018

Franklin Park

Boston, MA (Roxbury)

2016 to 2018

University of Rhode Island

Kingston, RI

2016 to 2017

Emerald Necklace

Boston + Brookline, MA

2013 to Present

Bulfinch Hall

Andover, MA

2013

Phillips Exeter Academy Ford and Academic Quadrangles

Exeter, NH

2012 to 2013

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Stonehurst: the Robert Treat Paine Estate

Waltham, Massachusetts

2005, 2016

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Project Listed Below Were Completed while with Former Firm

Genesee Valley Park Brooks Landing Landscape Restoration

Rochester, NY

2010 to 2011

Arlington Town Library

Arlington, MA

2010

Mary Baker Eddy Home

Lynn, MA

2010

University of New Hampshire

Durham, NH

2009 to 2010

Amherst College, James and Stearns Halls

Amherst, MA

2007

Commonwealth Avenue

Allston, MA

1993 to 2010

Arnold Arboretum

Jamaica Plain, MA

2008

Beacon Street

Brookline, MA

1994 to 2008

Acadia National Park, Multiple Projects

Bar Harbor, ME

2004

Dey Mansion

Wayne, NJ

2004

Bunker Hill Monument

Charlestown, MA

1998

Delaware Avenue

Buffalo, NY

1996