Olmsted 200 mourns the loss of distinguished urbanist and friend, Alexander Garvin, who died Friday at his home in Manhattan. Mr. Garvin was a member of the Olmsted 200 Honorary Committee. In an article in the New York Times, architecture critic Paul Goldberger outlines Garvin’s service to New York City under five mayors, his inspired work to reimagine Ground Zero after 9/11, and his governing belief that the “public realm is the framework around which everything else grows.” Garvin’s consulting firm – appropriately named Public Realm Strategists – supported that conviction.
It’s no wonder that Garvin loved Frederick Law Olmsted and especially Central Park where he walked daily, taking photographs.
New York taught him, [Garvin] would say, that cities work best when they are both dense and diverse and have ample public space. He saw Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Central Park, as heroes.
In an email to me, dated November 30, 2020, Garvin noted proudly his collection of Olmstediana and over 1000 images of Central Park. “Yesterday was a particularly beautiful day, so I got some marvelous images.” We are honored to illustrate this blog with those photos.
Garvin brought candor – and good humor – to his work as a city planner. By promoting the built environment and the responsibility of the government to invest in vibrant public spaces, he powerfully advanced Olmsted’s vision in the 21st century.
We will be forever grateful for his commitment to our cities and for his immense contributions to American civic life.