Thursday, November 18, 2010

Green Roof Garden Design

Green Rooftop Garden

I belong to the Landscape Design Alumni group through the affiliation with The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG).
The most recent meeting featured Barbara Geller, Gardens by Barbara, LLC, www.and a member of the group, who provided a top-notch presentation about the creation of a green roof at her country house in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 
It ‘s a beauty.

I knew it was going to be a good lecture when Barbara started off by saying she had a “story” about Green Roofs. 
I respect and relate to a garden designer who emotes this way.  
I can feel their artistic soul.
I tell my garden design clients and lecture audiences, that every great garden tells a story

So no tutorial from Barbara, but rather, a story.  A compelling garden story.  The challenges and the triumphs. 

Barbara has told this story on several previous occasions. 
You immediately sense she is knowledgeable and passionate about this subject. 

Maybe it was from her previous job as an IT director at Deutsche Bank or just maybe it is her devotion to the subject and self-described attention to details.  
Or a combination of these elements.
Whatever the motivation, the presentation benefited from her professional research and documentation. 

She also brought samples of the green roof construction materials.
And provided informational handouts,  complete with resources that she secured from an NYBG symposium on Green Roofs, plant lists, roofing materials and growing medium – and costs.  And reference books: “Green Roof Plants – A Resource and Planting Guide” by Edmund C. Snodgrass, Lucie L. Snodgrass from Timber Press.

It was all very impressive.

And so is the green garden roof she produced. She and her architect, Jane Wilson, who are now friends, hails from Ford3 Architects, LLC, won an award for its sustainable design.
The garden has been a feature stop on local garden tours.

She began her story -- at the beginning! 
She started by defining what a green roof is. 
It is not a painted “green color” roof as one of her construction managers first guessed she wanted!
Green roofs are insulation. They improve the aesthetics of the environment. 
She pointed out that most people don’t think of the flooding that occurs in towns and cities when it rains because of the storm water run off and impermeable surfaces.

And of course, the green roofs sporting their plant profile much as a fancy hat shows off its saucy, sexy accoutrements.
Green roofs also reduce the Heat Island effect by 15-20 degrees.  The Green roof reduces cooling needs by 25% and in winter cuts heating loss.
Barbara showed amazing infrared photos that showed the difference in temperature

From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to hospitals and corporate green roofs, and the preponderance of successful green roof design in Europe, particularly Germany where 10% of residences sport green roofs according to Barbara.  
She demonstrated it’s good business and good aesthetics to produce more green roofs. They are a major solution for a sustainable future.

She had me at Green.

Barbara told us she wanted to be able to look out her home office window and enjoy looking at the green roof garden.
She wanted the shape to mimic the undulating landscape.
She wanted to be able to see the green roof garden as she walks up to the house from the garage.

She told us how she searched to identify an architect who would even take on the project.
If green roof designs are all still new now, imagine the challenge of locating a pro who could it in 2008! 
She showed us the design and construction stages of the addition to the their once-upon-a-barn home. 

I love all that indigenous Pennsylvania stone that supports the walls and homes -- so gorgeous.  
And that stone is Barbara’s home and the addition where the green roof is the jewel in the crown.
The builder bought a local retaining wall, took it down and reassembled on site in order to match the existing stone. 

She walked us through the procedure of constructing the curved glulam beams: stronger than wood. These beams provided just the right pitch for the design too.
She suggested every vertical inch of green roof growing medium requires six pounds of square foot structural support.
"You will need a structural engineer," Barbara advised more than once. 

There are many elements that go into a smart green roof and Barbara had done it all: separation fabric, mesh layer, rubber layer, plywood, plastic anti-slip cleats to “hold” and stabilize the 4-6 inch layer of growing medium.

The cleats were secured from a German resource.

A green roof needs to be watertight. No holes from nails. 
The roof must be able to withstand the weight of the plants and snow - in our area. 

She had samples of everything for us to see firsthand.

She passed around a sample of the growing medium that we could touch.  It was selected specifically for the shade tolerant plants on her green roof.

It is gravel that is 25% compost and 75% expanded mineral aggregate or shale.
It’s expensive at $110 per cubic yard.  It is lightweight.
The way the growing medium is produced is fascinating.  It is put in a kiln to create cracks and fissures so the compost will “settle in” there. 

A typical green roof uses about 5% compost, she commented. 
She said she knew she needed more organic matter, as the plants she was using in the design were not the typical sedums that need less organics. 

Her green roof is what is referred to as “Semi Intensive.” 
See?  Every artistic genre has its own nomenclature.
The “Intensity” here refers to the depth of the soil.

How to get up to the roof, you ask? 
Initially, she had the builder provide her with a scaffold. 
(Curiously, she admitted she doesn’t like heights ^:^)
Later, and with obvious pride, she was beaming as she showed the spiral staircase she found on eBay for $500. 

The plants she chose for the green roof garden are a combination of native and tried plants from her garden cuttings that would provide a full, four-season display of color and bloom.
The plants needed to have fibrous roots. She used a lot bulbs.
She only has 2-4 hours of sunlight on the roof so that was a consideration too.
She was able to produce a “naturalized design.”

The plant palette included ajuga, phlox stolonifera or creeping phlox, geranium macrorrhizum or bigroot cransebill and yes, some sedum.

Almost all the green roof designs I’ve seen include sedum exclusively. 
It was refreshing and inspiring to see Barbara’s bold foray toward using a mix of seasonal plants – and using them to great success.

She is a leader in residential green roof design. Her home was a test. 
She passed with flying colors.

Her design is elegant.  The plants and the green roof complement the native landscape.
Contact her for your design. 
Green roof gardens are so glamorous.  (Just don’t tell them they are efficient too)

Another Green Roof source guide, according to Thomas Powell's "The Avant Gardener" is Green Roofs for Healthy Cities  and at 416-971-4494.

Our finished cornucopia centerpiece by Nancy Burton from @int... on Twitpic

Our finished cornucopia centerpiece by Nancy Burton from @int... on Twitpic

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Night in Gotham: NYBG Garden Lecture and The Mayor's Awards for Arts & Culture

The final lecture in the 2010 New York Botanical Garden’s (NYBG) Landscape Design Portfolio Series was held Monday, November 8th and featured Kate Orff. 
As described by NYBG literature, “Harvard Graduate School of Design alumna Kate Orff is the founder of the award-winning studio SCAPE. With a background in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia, and intensive training in ecology and the fine arts, her approach to the landscape merges strong form with community-based and participatory-change models.” 

Sounds fancy, but Orff talked a lot about relevant topics like urban biodiversity as it relates to her firm’s projects: Oyster-tecture, Safari 7, Bird Safe Design Guidelines, and the 170-acre Blue Wall Environmental Center. 
She is creative.  She even coins her own words.  Dr. Seuss-like.
There is the charming and disarming “Flupsificastion” for starters.
She is witty and urban.  And scrappy.
I loved her "start small with gardeners" approach to harness the power of the landscape strategy. 
"Start small and with what you know," she advised.  
She jokingly said she starts her projects with a Bake Sale!

She described the Big Fuzzy Rope catalyst for one project. 
The rope inspired her to create a series of futuristic Robinson Crusoe-looking pens or breeding areas for the oyster spats

She referred to oysters as “My obsession.”
By way of explanation, she said she is from Annapolis originally and her sister works on waterway preservation there.  
She employs the fascinating oysters to helping her clean up the Gowanus waterway. 
In addition to working with oysters, she also cited the workhorse grasses and mussels.
See how brilliant this is? 
Orff works WITH nature to build sustainable environments. She partners with them. She does not impose a man-made solution.

I loved all her passion for the oyster.
She said she is inspired by oyster life!  (Gotta get one of the “I Oyster NY” or Oysters Working t-shirts, she talked about.)

I love savoring the taste of oysters, of course. But I also am fascinated by its place in history – and Orff showed an early version of today's ubiquitous, twittering food trucks.  
These street vendors offered local oysters  -- if only today… sigh.  
She too lamented our lost connection to local food…

While the history and culture of the oyster is utterly fascinating, it’s the cleansing powers of the oyster that would bust a Mr. Clean any day. 

She also described in practical, conversational style her dedication to solving landscape problems such as pollution that is exacerbated by storm surges in the Gowanus Canal.

I think her most bootstrapped and successful project is Safari 7.
She conceived of the program to provide a tour of New York’s wildlife on and via public transportation. Specifically, the #7 subway line that takes passengers out to Queens.
She worked with New York City’s Mass Transit to produce a Safari 7 Metro Card (which can’t be easy given all the problems with MTA) and she secured mass transit ads through Arts for Transit.  (Yeah for Mayor Bloomberg.  And see following story below)

“I wanted this to be a student ‘Gorilla Project," she said.  Meaning no big, long lead-time effort. Rather a fast track to success ^:^
The #7 subway line was chosen as it encompasses a diverse population and topography.
She described the mapping, social networking experience of this project.
What vision and fun!
And I was thrilled to learn how she was able to produce onsite tours of the landscape featuring such scientific luminaries as Dr. Steven Handel!

How lucky are the tour guests to have Dr. Handel, world-class scientist, as their guide  
I was lucky enough to collaborate with him and Dr. Clements on ecology and environmental projects in the past. Geniuses both. 

But before I got to the NYBG lecture, and this being New York, I was a bit oversubscribed for the evening.
There were two events I wanted and “needed” to attend this night.

First up on the evening’s schedule, following early morning garden design work in the blustery, rainy, early-hello-autumn weather – was the annual New York City Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture.  
The awards “honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the cultural life of New York City” according to the program.  What I didn’t know is that the awards were “presented almost annually until 1994… and the Bloomberg administration revived the tradition in 2004.”  
I was so honored to have attended the 2005 ceremony at Gracie Mansion to support our Botanic Garden president, Judy Zuk, who was an Awards recipient in 2005.   
Judy, we miss you….

This year’s event was held at the recently refurbished and elegantly designed Alice Tully Hall in New York City’s Lincoln Center.  All glass facade captures and reflects the glittering lights of the city.  Here the tables were already dressed for the celebratory cocktails to follow the Awards Ceremony topped by row upon row of glasses, waiting.

The ceremony was held in the theater and the stage was dramatically designed. 

As I was myopically looking for a seat and before things got under way, I got the chance opportunity to meet up with Marilyn Gelber, one of the award recipients.  I also saw Kate Levin, New York City's Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs. 

The event launched with the voice of Alec Baldwin – very god-like.  There was that unmistakable wry, sardonic humor that I love.   
But just voice, no Alec in the physical form.  sigh...   

The event was hosted by the Mayor, naturally. 
Co-hosting with Michael Bloomberg was Meryl Streep.  (and a fellow drama student of my sister’s at Vassar.)  And more than once she and the Mayor referred to her Garden State’s Bernardsville roots.  

But this night was dedicated to celebrating New York.
Meryl highlighted her Mother’s home in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 
This was a segue for the first honoree, Marilyn Gelber, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Community Foundation.   I know Marilyn and she is a tireless supporter of the borough and the community.  In fact, when I congratulated her before the ceremony, she humbly smiled and said, “It’s great for Brooklyn, isn’t it?” 
Very classy.

I very much came to the event in order to honor Bill Cunningham, New York Times photojournalist.

As shy and unassuming as Mr. Cunningham is in his work covering events for The New York Times in New York City (and the Garden State and Long Island, too) for the last 30-plus years he was surprisingly delightful and chatty this night!
He is known for riding his bike to the events despite his age, and when the Mayor called his name at the Awards ceremony,  he practically bounded on stage, camera around his neck.
He playfully aimed his lens at Meryl and the Mayor before taking his place for the photo opp and then behind the podium. 
He is utterly charming.  He exuberantly lauded the Mayor and his tireless support for the arts and cultural events, noting he sees Mr. Bloomberg at the high ticket and small community events alike.
Mr. Cunningham enthusiastically gushed about the vibrancy of New York’s cultural scene.
He said that when he heard the stats or Superlatives ticked off by the Mayor at the start of the night: (NYC has more than 1,200 cultural institutions that host hundreds of special events every year; Arts and Culture is a $6 billion industry); he was astounded.
And remarked that he doesn’t get to even half of the events!
Mr. Cunningham praised all the people who helped support the arts and culture at all the events he photographs -- “The people who give of themselves so that all these places can exist.”
He said he loved taking photographs of New York women. “They are marvelous.”
He also explained that unlike other places where people dress for work and then drive to the job or the day’s calling, in New York, it’s a street show for all to see and enjoy!
Displaying an animated, utter delight, he claimed “It’s what gets my adrenaline running!”
Clearly, this is a man who loves his job – and life.
He reminded us how lucky we are to live here in New York City – and in America.
He also claims he is just the “messenger.”
However, those of us who have been blessed and lucky enough to capture Bill’s eye and be a featured photo in his pictorial essays about life in New York where art, culture, and fashion collide, would counter that while he might be a messenger, it’s more like an angel-as-messenger sent to deliver a gift.
It is without doubt, a high point of life for those selected.  I know.  I speak from experience about this. 
And in no small part, it’s because of the utter, guileless charm of the angelic messenger.
It’s all so unexpected.  As Mr. Cunningham explained, it’s not a celebrity or society page in the New York Times.  It’s all about everyday life in our vibrant city.  I think that’s what makes it so special… It’s that feeling that this is New York and anything can happen here – at any moment. Everything is possible…
And for me, even though there were other awardees, it was time to scoot to the next event.  My chariot waited.  Well, it was really the #1 subway to Times Square, but I was in the bubble ^:^

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Every Tree Tells a Story

From East Hampton Elms to The Garden State's 4,000 Flowering Cherry Trees in Branch Brook Park in Essex County/Newark to the Boxed Pines in North Carolina, the Cultural Landscape Foundation honors America's extraordinary trees - many under threat.

An photographic exhibit will premier at  Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art.
It is an homage -- and a reminder -- to respect our trees.
The Cultural Landscape provides an online exhibit of the photographic art along with a schedule of where to view the exhibit in your area:

What is very cool is that the Cultural Landscape Foundation has partnered with "American Photo" magazine to "create a traveling exhibition of original photography about these seminal trees, according to CLF. 
So far, it looks like the show is booked at the Philadelphia International Flower Show, March 6-14, 2011 and at LongHouse Reserve on Long Island April 4th. (Great place to visit any time!)
In addition, the images will be featured in the November/December 2010 issue of "American Photo" magazine. Get this at your news stand!

At the same time, sponsors Garden Design Magazine feature a news item about this important work:
and sponsors Davey Tree Expert Company

I think we all know and romanticize how important -- and glamorous -- trees are.  
In movies from "Lord of the Rings" to "Avatar" -- not to mention the extraordinary poetry and songs that try to say how much we love our trees, these icons of our culture and the lungs - if not the heart- of our world, deserve no less than our total, unconditional love and support....
What is your favorite tree story or memory?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New York Botanical Garden Landscape Design Portfolio 2010 Features West 8:Lead Designers for NYC’s Governor Island Park

November 1st launched the new month – and autumn in New York.  After what had been an extended Indian Summer, Monday was as crisp as a just-picked fall apple. 

The evening’s New York Botanical Garden lecture was the third in the series.
One more to go.
And I was meeting my horticulture and garden friends there.  Afterwards we planned on dinner at Daniel Boulud’s sexy new db Bistro Moderne restaurant, located across the street.

But first, there was the city’s sexy new park to learn about!

Jamie Maslyn Larson from West 8, was the featured speaker.  
Billed as (new speaker) there was that “uh, oh – understudy moment.” 
But not to worry.  Larson was a happy and proud guest lecturer, keen to share the work of the Dutch-based firm she represents.

She even told a cute anecdote about interviewing with the firm's principal in 2008 and after she got the job he sent a drawing with the words “Kiss me scale girl!” scribbled on the top.  What does he mean? she shrieked to herself.  After some back and forth, he explained he was trying to say  “mermaid.”
It is a water project, after all….

She declared she is Dutch.  Her cats are named are aptly named.  
I am Dutch too.  My mother’s maiden name is Van Voorhees. 
It was a nice lay up to talk about how the Dutch had originally settled New Amsterdam – now New York.  Not to mention their savvy real estate acumen, scooping up the island for a mere $24 that has got to make Donald Trump scratch his furry do-lap of a hair do!
We just marked the Quadra centennial of the Dutch “discovering” New York and Breukelen, New Jersey and the Hudson River. 
I loved all the “going Dutch synergy!
And then I remembered that the first speaker in the series, Bridget Baines, from GROSS MAX talked about the firm’s Dutch connections, revealing the name of the firm was inspired by the ship containers in Rotterdam seaport, stamped Gross Maximum on the side of the containers, explaining it stood for “maximum content.”

After the lecture I leaned over to ask Susan Cohen, Coordinator of the NYBG Landscape Design Program and organizer of the series, if she had a Dutch theme in mind for this year, as I saw a Netherlands thread running throughout.  I wondered if it was purposeful.  She said that GROSS MAX is based in Edinburgh, but chuckled at the unconscious connection.

The speaker, Jamie Larson is the project manager for West 8 in America’s work on Governors Island.
She dutifully took the audience through a few of the firm’s noteworthy projects – from waterfront landscapes in Holland to Lincoln Park in Miami Beach.
Larson described the parasol-like structures planted with bougainvillea there at the Gehry-designed structure.
I couldn’t help think they look all too much like the parasol-bougainvillea structures at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles designed by landscaper architect Robert Irwin.  The bougainvillea arbors at the Getty hug the plaza in the rear of the Richard Meier-designed museum.  Loved them there (wrote about them too) and guess I’ll love them in Miami. But too close in design style for my aesthetic…

Larson took the audience through the winning landscape design for New York City’s Governors Island landscape design look.
I am able to ferry past Governors Island twice a week on my way to and from Manhattan and the Garden State. And no matter how many countless times I’ve made the trip, it’s a rare one that I don’t gaze with adoring love at the nearby Statue of Liberty and the charming jewel that is Governors Island.  Like the remnants of the military at Sandy Hook near us in the Garden State, Governors Island has a rich and well-known history.
Therefore, I was surprised – but delighted – to learn that much of Governors Island was made from landfill brought in from the construction of the Lexington Avenue subway line!
I read about public events in the Sunday New York Times that appear both aristocratic (polo and croquet) and plebeian (concerts and well – everything else.) 
The city also encourages artists to use the island to create for which I think they deserve a round of applause for. 

Larson merrily demonstrated the research and the designs that garnered West 8 in America the job.
She pointed out the shared history of New York and the Dutch of course. She also showed how the Dutch landscape architects are imbued with the sense of water and light and sustainability, because of the challenges and opportunities of their native landscape.  27% of their land is under sea level; the relationship of the horizon to the land. All those Ruebens and Rembrandts and the poetic lighting filtering the senses is no accident is the take-away.
Larson points out that while she is here managing the collaboration with other firms and city agencies in New York, the global strength of West 8 is always there as they communicate constantly via Skype and other digital devices so in effect, Governors Island has the talent of the entire team on the job.
West 8 not only channeled the Dutch masters but also the exuberance of another American of Dutch heritage, Teddy Roosevelt and his work on majestic National Parks, along with his cousin, FDR and the WPA work on parks and landscapes.  The firm also studied the brilliance of Olmstead and Calvert Vaux who designed Central Park and Prospect Park.  In both these masterful designs, they brought order and designed space to a wilderness. 
I know, I know, most people think the parks are the native areas that have been left alone and everything else has been built.  But no, the parks are built places too.
Larson explained how their designed parks offer a natural character within the structure of the town, and allow for change.
They are changing Governors Island from a military installation set up more or less as a college campus to a multi-level, multi access park filled with native plants, comfort and safety areas, lots of promenades to exercise on and to view the incredible waterfronts of NYC and Hoboken and Jersey City and Bayonne and Staten Island beyond.

Some of the ideas that impressed me as having great merit for the 87 acres whose tips she described as “prows of a ship” are the Free Bikes! Available to explore the island, especially using the to be developed promenades. By the say, she says the bikes float!
I thought there was going to be another Dutch link, by way of the bikes, but I guess she’d connected all those dots by this time in the talk…
She did show a project they did for Toronto’s waterfront.  One of the profound yet whimsical sculptures there is made from the stolen bikes never retrieved.  On a practical note, Toronto’s waterfront is a lesson in citizens and commerce and traffic all coexisting to great success.

On Governors Island the landscape design must embrace not only beautiful spaces for people to enjoy as individuals or families but also to serve as spaces for the hundreds of public programs on both the North and South parts of the island. The South part of the park is comprised of 40 acres of public space and 2.2 miles of what will be a double height promenade to allow for more activity and viewing space of the iconic Lady in the Harbor.
The North side will have historical landscapes and require areas in which to be “concealed” vs. exposed while waiting for the ferry, for example.  And that unmatched view of Manhattan’s glittering, glamorous skyline.

It is hoped the ferry ride itself will allow visitors to literally “leave their cares behind” generating anticipation for the beauty and adventure that lies on the shores of the park.
There is to be enhanced designs for the two areas of arrival and departure: from the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides.
They will provide cafes, amphitheater, play lawns, seated wall areas and a Bryant Park of Governors Island area complete with video features
To prevent skateboarders and homeless from using the benches the firm will recreate a successful design which is to put cast “pebbles” on the seat benches. 
It’s a barrier – and an armrest!

The landscape architects have designed hills in the middle of the island, and altered the topography to allow the two ends of the island to unite also through the planting and topsoil plan. There is the interaction of light and shadow and borrowed landscapes.  Visitors will be able to glimpse the emerging sights from across the river views as they emerge, creating a sense of mystery and excitement.

West 8 is also working on one of my most favorite public gardens: Longwood Gardens.  Larson explained the Garden is working on a Master Plan for the first time.  “We are thrilled to be working with Longwood Gardens on their 40-year Master Plan,” said Larson. “They are a great group of people.”
Indeed they are.    Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Longwood Gardens’ 2011 Rare Plant Auction weekend.  It’s going to be spectacular.

Larson spoke about the genuine love of the Brandywine River Valley where Longwood is located.  She explained the on site research undertaken by the firm (tough assignment but they had to do it!)
The visited the area in order to discover what clues existed about the history and cultural landscape.  They fell in love with the Wyeth’s cultural references—their tone of their art suggested a somber yet striking connection. “There is that power of landscape expression,” emphasized Larson.
Longwood Gardens, former home of the du Pont family, “was cited high on the ridge and positioned strongly there,” Larson explained.  “So we thought, well, if Pierre positioned the estate this way, this is Site DNA!”

The big idea will be to make the Garden more accessible – it needs to be shared with the public but keep it intimate.

After the presentation, my friends and I walked across the street to Daniel Boulud’s db Moderne restaurant.
It is a very pretty space with red walls and BIG red flower wall designs. 

The Db bistro offers French American cuisine in a cozy casual setting.  The service was very friendly and attentive too.
Soon, the NYBG team of Susan Cohen, Jeff Downing, VP of Education at NYBG and the speaker, Jamie Larson were seated at a table nearby.
The presentation of the food was very elegant from the entrée to the sculpted dessert.

It was a perfectly delightful, glamorous evening.  We talked about the lecture, gardens and interior decorating -- as Donna just bought a New York City apartment - complete with a garden!  This will be fun.

Next week’s final lecture in the NYBG Landscape Design Portfolio series features Kate Orff, founder of SCAPE studio and she will talk about Living Cities.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Landscape Design Portfolio Lecture featuring Carol Franklin

High Performance Landscapes: The Work of Andropogon

Speaker Carol Franklin is a founding principal of Andropogon Associates landscape architectural services, based in Philadelphia.   High Performance Landscapes is a perfect way to characterize their full-impact, revolutionary, astonishing work.

She and her company have been leaders in greenscaping, ecological historical preservation and sustainable landscape design from the time when she says they were laughed at for their ecological designs.  She remembers being hissed off the stage at an ASLA meeting for suggesting they would take children out to the fields out to the fields and pretend we are gardeners.  To design with nature represented a new generation. 
She finds it refreshing to be considered “fashionable” today.   

Discovering and working from a philosophy of the genius loci – or the spirit of place -- is one of the firm’s signature design platforms.  They also boast a portfolio of complex ecological engineering as well as design, utilizing natural elements of water, plant material and stone.  The result is to interface with the area – even if it’s urban.  Or especially if it’s urban. 

Franklin showed the work they did for Center City’s Rittenhouse Square are for the University of Pennsylvania. This is a wonderful example of utilizing rainwater runoff, incorporating water treatment within the design and producing a green space for the students and citizen to enjoy on this almost 2 acres of city life.   Their design changed the landscape to produce an area that had previously been 93% impervious. Now the high performance water treatment cisterns store 20,000 gallons of runoff and AC runoff – within the parking garage.  The soil also stores water. 

To rediscover places, the firm takes makes a habitat work by using breaking attitudes, working with nature’s concepts: composting, cleaning polluted areas, recirculating water and finding those nooks and crannies – even in buildings – that can tell the story of that landscape’s unique place.

Franklin also demonstrated some comic genius!  Her wickedly witty remarks and behind the scenes commentary made me think she must be a sophisticated, fun pro to work with.
Franklin was also refreshing by not only showing Andropogon completed and proposed projects but competing firms’ too. 
My associates in attendance agreed afterwards this was a welcome approach to presenting case studies.  After all just because politics or budgets precluded design selection or job completion, we still have a lot to learn from the landscape architects’ research and design. 

Andropogon’s work on the Sidwell Friends School courtyard in Washington DC is the scout badge for earned honor in my book. Why?  Because the design is comprised of natural, local materials so much that one would swear the campus building were built around the natural look of the grounds.
The courtyard is a working science project the students used for study, such as water sciences, as well as for socializing.  There’s lots of walking around the garden areas. Today, the rain garden and wetland area is the “heart of the school” according to Franklin.
“Complete Streets” is a design concept Franklin espoused that delighted the audience. Here urbanites can “seize the worst parts of their city and find underused or single-purpose use areas for multiple uses.”  She was quite adamant though about making the areas unique and beautiful and not just copying the highly successful Complete Streets of Portland with their Greek keystone-design shapes

Andropogon collaborated on the dynamic holistic work at the Nikko Kirifuri hotel and spa resort hotel in the forest of Japan is magical.  They worked to restore the surrounding woods, produced a waterfall that serves a water treatment function but you would swear is the handiwork of Mother Nature.  In a way, it is.

The works Franklin presented and their attention to sustainable design must surely be the future of landscape design. We can learn much from the holistic, sustainable work that looks to reuse, repurpose and work with natural, elements.