Beatrix Farrand

From Academic Kids

Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872-1959) was a US landscape architect. Clients such as Harkness and Rockefeller commissioned her to design the gardens at their estates and country homes. One of the founding eleven members of the American Society of Landscape Architects, she had an important influence on the profession in the U.S. Her use of garden "rooms" or defined areas, which transition sharply from one to the next has become a hallmark of modern landscape architecture. Extant Farrand gardens are the Bliss family's Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., the Harkness summer home Eolia in Waterford, Connecticut and the Rockefeller's estate The Eyrie in Seal Harbor, Maine. Her papers are archived at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard. Born into a prominent New York family, she married the famous Yale historian Max Farrand in 1913. She was the niece of Edith Wharton. Farrand's main teacher was Charles Sprague Sargent of the Harvard Arboretum.

Beatrix Farrand was the only woman of the eleven founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She was born in 1872 in New York City, Farrand spent a lot of her time in Bar Harbor, Maine at her families Reef Point home. Farrand was an avid gardener in her younger days, and became interested in design and planning after experimenting with different sites at their Reef Point home. At a time when gardening was an acceptable practice, she regarded herself as a "landscape gardener," rather than a landscape architect. Her family was well known socially, including her aunt Edith Wharton, whom would introduce Beatrix to many prominent figures of the time.

At age twenty Farrand was introduced to Charles Sprague Sargent, professor of horticulture at the Bussey Institute of Harvard, and also the founding director of the Arnold Arboretum. Farrand moved to Brookline, Massachusetts where she lived in Sargents home and studied landscape gardening, botany, and land planning. She also learned drafting to scale, elevation rendering, and surveying and engineering at Columbia School of Mines under the direction of Professor William Ware.

Farrand drew influence in her design form her travels throughout Europe where she visited more than 20 notable designs. She was also inspired by Italian, Chinese and other landscape traditions, and often instilled these traditions in her designs. She became influenced in using native plant species from her meeting with Gertrude Jekyll. Jekyll's book Some English Gardens emphasized the importance and value of nature.

She began practicing landscape architecture at the age of 25 from the upper floor of her mothers brownstone home on East Eleventh Street in New York. Her first design were residential gardens for neighboring Bar Harbor residents. With the help her mother and aunts social connections she was introduced, and later designed for J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Her most notable works was at the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Washington D.C. for Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. Her design was inspired by her European venture and Arts and Craft idiom and consisted of terraced gardens, steep slopes, and a connection between the built and natural environments. Dumbarton Oaks is often viewed as one of the best American neoclassicist garden.

Farrand also design the Eyrie Garden for Abby Aldrich Rockefeller at Seal Harbor, Maine, which drew inspiration from Chinese design. John D. Rockefeller sought out Farrand to design planting plans for carriage roads at Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, Maine, which was funded by him. This was at the dawn of the automobile, and she applied principles learned from Fredrick Law Olmsted's drives at Biltmore and the Arnold Arboretum.

Princeton's first consulting landscape architect was Farrand, where she worked from 1912 to 1943. She later went on to improve a dozen other campuses; among those were Yale and the University of Chicago. Her campus design was based on three concepts; plants that bloomed throughout the academic year, emphasizing architecture as well as hiding flaws, and using upright and climbing plants so that the small spaces between buildings would not reduce in scale. At the White House, she assisted in planting plans and designed the Huntington in California. The Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens in California was also a project of Farrands.

Farrand believed in using native plant materials to make a conjunction between the natural and designed landscape. An impressionistic view was used in her designs; the landscape was her canvas and plants were her palette. As new buildings are constructed at Princeton, architects are often referred to Farrand's papers, which are archived at the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard.

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