ASLA - Principal, Oehme, van Sweden and Associates
Areas of Specialty
- Environmental/Wetland Restoration, Shoreline Stabilization/Revetment
- Planting Design
- Estate Management
Designer Q&A with Eric
What is your design philosophy?
Keep hardscape to a minimum in the vernacular context. Allow plants to perform naturally with little or no water, fertilizer, weeding or maintenance.
What led you to this career?
My father served in World War II as a Marine, and his good friend from the service was a landscape architect for the National Park Service. I knew the moment I met him that I would become a landscape architect.
What has been your favorite project and why?
Definitely Sky Meadow Farm, a residence in Harrison, New York. The main reason I love this project is that it involves not only all aspects of my style, but all aspects of the New American Garden style, the trademark of OvS. This property features four seasons of interest, beautiful hardscape and dramatic plantings. Another aspect of the project I love? It’s on-going. I still get to go to the site and get my hands dirty in its maintenance and upkeep.
Tell us about your most challenging project.
That would be my first project with OvS. I was still pretty green at the time, and I was working with the Jim (van Sweden) and Wolfgang (Oehme) on a residential property. We needed to design a 25’ tall waterfall around an existing house "to natural," as if the waterfall was there before the house. Basically, Jim walked over to my desk, told me about the waterfall and how it should look, said, “Let me know when it’s complete” and turned and walked off.
What is your design process?
I start by getting to know the site, neighborhood and region. On-site, I pay attention to the existing architectural clues and take my cues from them. From there, I collaborate with the client and entire design team.