Before considering designs for his future home, George Vanderbilt brought Olmsted to assess the potential of the land Vanderbilt had purchased. Olmsted agreed with Vanderbilt that distant views of the Blue Ridge Mountains were pleasant, though the land itself was poor.
Olmsted understood that siting the house presented some challenges, as it was poised on the hill with no windbreak. Olmsted suggested the addition of the Stable Complex to the north of Biltmore House and the inclusion of the surrounding walls as a way to block the strong winds that would otherwise meet family and guests arriving at the front of the house. Architect Richard Morris Hunt had yet to visit the Biltmore House site at this point, but he saw the logic in Olmsted’s recommendation and included the Stable Complex as part of the house’s design.
By strategically placing the house, stables, and South Terrace, Olmsted preserved the wide open western views and helped create sheltered home grounds for Vanderbilt and his guests to enjoy in all seasons.
“A carriage approaching the house will be facing the northward and if nothing is done to prevent it will catch the northwest wind sweeping around the north end of the house and the plateau will have a very bleak character, far from welcoming to guests coming from the north with anticipations of a milder climate and Southern hospitality.”
—Frederick Law Olmsted to Richard Morris Hunt, March 2, 1889