Calvert Vaux

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Vaux, Calvert (1824–95). London-born American architect and landscape-designer, he assisted A. J. Downing in laying out the grounds of the Capitol, Smithsonian Institution, and White House, Washington, DC (1850–2). He formed a short-lived partnership with Downing in 1851, and after the latter's death in 1852 he collected the partnership's designs for houses (some carried out with F. C. Withers), and published them (1857) as Villas and Cottages (prompted by Downing's successful pattern-books), and in the same year approached F. L. Olmsted to work with him to prepare an entry for the competition to design Central Park, NYC, which they won in 1858: their professional partnership was to last until 1872. Their plan, combining aspects of the English Picturesque style with ideas taken from Loudon and Paxton, and embracing ingenious segregation between vehicles and pedestrians, was very influential. Following this success, Vaux prepared further plans for landscapes (including Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NYC (1866–73) ), which introduced the concept of parkways and was assisted by the English-born Jacob Wrey Mould (1825–86), a pupil of Owen Jones. It was Mould who designed many of the architectural features in Vaux's parks, including the Ruskinian Gothic Terrace (1858–71) at Central Park. Vaux and Mould worked to-gether on designs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1874–80) and the Museum of Natural History (1874–7), both in New York, but only part of each was realized. Although Vaux's greatest achievements were in the field of landscape-design, (e.g. the grounds of the Parliament Buildings, Ottowa, Canada (1873–9) ) he was an accomplished domestic architect. He designed the Gothic Revival Tilden House, NYC (1881–4), later the National Arts Club. His pupils included his son, Downing Vaux (1856–1926).


AAAB, Papers, v (1968), 69–106;
W. Alex (1994);
C. Cook (1972);
Francis (1980);
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vi/1 (Jan.–June1947), 1–12;
Placzek (1982);
Reed & and Duckworth (1967);
Roper (1973);
D. Schuyler & Censer (eds.) (1992);
Jane Turner (1972);
van Vynckt (ed.) (1993);
Vaux (1970)

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Calvert Vaux (vôks), 1824–95, American landscape architect, b. London. He emigrated (1850) to the United States, and assisted A. J. Downing with the U.S. Capitol grounds and a number of Hudson River estates. Later he worked with Frederick Law Olmsted and with him developed Central Park in New York City, the state reservation at Niagara Falls, N.Y. (now a state park), Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., and other parks. He made the plans for the Metropolitan Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. His published work includes Villas and Cottages (1857).

See biographical studies by W. Alex and G. B. Tatum (1994) and F. R. Kowsky (1998).