Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Architects of an American Landscape

Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Reimagining of America’s Public and Private Spaces

by Hugh Howard

A dual portrait of America’s first great architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, and her finest landscape designer, Frederick Law Olmsted—and their immense impact on America

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 416
  • Publication Date January 25, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5923-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $30.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date January 04, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5924-3
  • US List Price $30.00

As the nation recovered from a cataclysmic war, two titans of design profoundly influenced how Americans came to interact with the built and natural world around them through their pioneering work in architecture and landscape design.

Frederick Law Olmsted is widely revered as America’s first and finest parkmaker and environmentalist, the force behind Manhattan’s Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Biltmore’s parkland in Asheville, dozens of parks across the country, and the preservation of Yosemite and Niagara Falls. Yet his close friend and sometime collaborator, Henry Hobson Richardson, has been almost entirely forgotten today, despite his outsized influence on American architecture—from Boston’s iconic Trinity Church to Chicago’s Marshall Field Wholesale Store to the Shingle Style and the wildly popular “open plan” he conceived for family homes. Individually they created much-beloved buildings and public spaces. Together they married natural landscapes with built structures in train stations and public libraries that helped drive the shift in American life from congested cities to developing suburbs across the country.

The small, reserved Olmsted and the passionate, Falstaffian Richardson could not have been more different in character, but their sensibilities were closely aligned. In chronicling their intersecting lives and work in the context of the nation’s post-war renewal, Hugh Howard reveals how these two men created original all-American idioms in architecture and landscape that influence how we enjoy our public and private spaces to this day.

Praise for Architects of an American Landscape:

“Hugh Howard’s tandem biography of two American visionaries—the polymath Olmsted and the Rabelaisian Richardson—ranges across the intertwined fields of nineteenth century American design, innovative architecture, and the infant art of landscape preservation, ranging from the staid precincts of Boston, to the churning commercial metropolis of Chicago, to Washington, D.C. as it stood at the cusp of imperial grandeur, to the near-wilderness of California’s Yosemite. Erudite and propulsively readable, it vividly captures the driving energy of its principal subjects and their circle of remarkable friends as well as the larger creative spirit of the post-Civil War nation as it began to shape the physical fabric of America as we know it today.”—Fergus M. Bordewich, author of Congress at War: How Republican Reformers Fought the Civil War, defied Lincoln, Ended Slavery, and Remade America

“In this beautifully written book, Hugh Howard reveals how two brilliant American artists melded their creativity to reinvent America’s architecture and landscaping. The parks of Frederick Law Olmsted are rightly treasured, but it is wonderful to see the Falstaffian Henry Hobson Richardson again getting his due as one of the towering giants of American architecture. Richly detailed and filled with deft character sketches of nineteenth century celebrities, Architects of an American Landscape is a delight.”—Edward Achorn, author of Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln

Praise for Architecture’s Odd Couple:

“Distinguished by clarity, narrative energy and evocative description . . . An appealing primer in 20th-century American architecture, with myriad insights into the vanity and interpersonal politics of the two men who dominated American architecture for a century.”Washington Post

“This informative dual biography argues that despite their difference the two architects influenced each other’s work.”New York Times Book Review

Architecture’s Odd Couple satisfies an American need for gigantic personalities in adversarial postures . . . There [may] have been better books about Frank Lloyd Wright, but never a better account of Philip Johnson.”Spectator

“Read Architecture’s Odd Couple for an introduction to Wright’s beautiful buildings, his spectacle of an ego, his architectural-political philosophy, and for his influence on Johnson—the younger, fame-hungry architect who ends up serving as Wright’s aperitif.”Washington Free Beacon

“Howard’s prose is fluid, and he deftly explains technical terms without slowing the story. The result is narrative non-fiction of a high order, enlivened by anecdotes and quotations from two very outspoken and colorful characters.”Publishers Weekly

“An in-depth portrait of two ‘grand men of American architecture’ . . . New light is shed on both architects in this absorbing, well-organized, delightfully told story.”Kirkus Reviews

“Hugh Howard’s nimble narrative . . . is about the on-again off-again relationship between Wright and Philip Johnson, a pairing that a novelist couldn’t have improved upon . . . Howard moves fluidly from Wright to Johnson and back in chapters that alternate between key moments of intersection between the two men and their major works . . . A lively and insightful chapter of American architectural history.”Buffalo News

“Howard, a noted historian and author of eleven architecture titles, paints an expert picture of the relationship, during which the architects challenged each other and ultimately produced some of the nation’s most enduring architectural works.”Architectural Digest