A letter from a reader: Beatrix Farrand's training and work

July 16, 2008:

I read with great anticipation the cover story (June 11) on Beatrix Jones Farrand's legacy on the evolving Princeton campus. There are several errors and omissions in the article, however, that should be noted. Foremost is the reference to "Charles Sargent Sprague," whose name is Charles Sprague Sargent.

Although mention is made of Farrand's tutelage under Sargent, it was a guided and self-directed program that expanded her studies during visits to the offices of the renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and to the Vanderbilt Biltmore estate with Sargent, Olmsted, and Gifford Pinchot, one of the leading advocates of environmental conservation at the turn of the 20th century. Furthermore, when Farrand returned from her European travels, she was tutored in civil engineering before opening an office, undertaking first modest and then progressively more ambitious commissions within her elite circle of acquaintances, largely due to her influential aunt, Edith Wharton.

  Finally, her design of the Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, concurrent with her early work on the Princeton campus and precursor to her Rose Garden terrace at Dumbarton Oaks, is an outstanding example of her use of geometric frameworks to create places of strength and depth that were diverse in terms of character, vocabulary, sense of enclosure, and contextual associations to their broader settings.

Editorial director, The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, New York

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