Yvonne Elet


October 16, 2019.

Yvonne Elet, Associate Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Vassar College, discusses her article, co-authored with Virginia Duncan for Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes (39:2, 2019) entitled: "Beatrix Farrand and campus landscape at Vassar: pedagogy and practice, 1925-29."  Farrand, one of the great landscape architects of the 20th century and a path-breaking woman in the field, came to Vassar as Consulting Landscape Gardener in 1925. She is well known for her institutional designs (unusual for a woman at the time), notably at Princeton and Yale; Vassar was her one opportunity to work at a womens’ college. Farrand came to campus at a significant moment when the Chair of Botany and pioneering ecologist Edith Roberts was fostering progressive programs in native plant ecology and landscape architecture – efforts that reformed young women’s training and career prospects, and made Vassar an early center for women and landscape. Yvonne Elet discusses the challenges these women faced, and traces Farrand’s design projects, from the forecourt of Main Building to the so-called Euthenics quad around Blodgett Hall. Most significantly, Farrand established an arboretum, conceiving it to comprise the entire campus: she mixed formal and informal design elements, and native and foreign species, to create a beautiful setting that would serve the instructional needs of students and faculty –a notion that has come to be central to Vassar’s identity.

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