UW Libraries e-news
January 2009  |  Return to issue home

The Olmsted Legacy: Then and Now

In 1906 the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (AYP) Exposition Board of Trustees hired legendary landscape architects the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Mass., to develop a plan for the AYP Exposition, which was to be held on the University campus. The AYP plan was developed under the direction of John C. Olmsted.

The fairgrounds occupied the southern two-thirds of the campus site with the existing campus on the northern third. The plan was laid out along a major axis with a vista toward Mount Rainier that remains one of the major features of today's campus.

UW campus 1909
UW campus today
The UW campus in 1909, at left, and the campus today. Click either image to toggle between larger views of these maps.

When the exposition ended in October 1909 the University received 25 buildings plus the streets and other improvements that had been made for the exposition. One of these improvements, the Geyser Basin, is today Drumheller Fountain. Three of the 25 buildings were intended to be permanent additions to the campus while others were adapted as academic buildings. The Washington Building, for instance, became the Library. Fifteen buildings were used for various auxiliary purposes: the New York Building became the president's residence, and the Hoo Hoo House became the Faculty Club. Since most of the buildings were not intended to be permanent they began to deteriorate rapidly.

In 1911, on the recommendation of UW President Thomas Kane, the Regents once again hired the Olmsteds, this time to develop a new campus plan that integrated the existing campus with the AYP grounds. The 1914 Olmsted plan was reviewed by a joint committee of regents and faculty, whose recommendations included accepting collegiate Gothic as the architectural style for the campus, establishing the library as the central architectural feature, and hiring an architect to revise the 1914 plan. The firm of Bebb and Gould, with Carl F. Gould as the project principal, was hired. (Gould was also hired as a lecturer in architecture beginning in the fall 1914. He was appointed head of the Department of Architecture in 1915, a position he held until 1926). The 1915 Gould plan became the model for the next period of campus development.

Read more about UW campus plans, beginning in 1891.

January 2009  |  Return to issue home

University of Washington Libraries, Campus Box 352900, Seattle, WA 98195-2900
© 2008-2009 University of Washington  | Contact Us  | Privacy Policy