Context is the crux of landscape architecture these days—a land’s history and its natural inheritance hold sway over decisions about siting, materials, and, of course, what to plant. Thomas Woltz and his partners at Nelson Byrd Woltz, which has offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and New York City, have sought to embrace that sensibility. Principles of conservation and restoration are a part of nearly every Woltz project, and scientists regularly weigh in on his proposals.
Jens Jensen's masterwork, the Garfield Park Conservatory, suffered hail damage in June 2011, but the disaster only served to make Chicagoans more aware of the landscape architect's legacy.
Yesterday, I had a chance to have a sneak peek at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's new visitor center, which is slated to open to the public on May 16, 2012. The new visitor center, designed by Weiss/Manfredi, was built to create a more formal entry from the street into the garden, creating a place to welcome and orient tour groups, a larger gift store with room for plant sales throughout the year, and an event space.
Rarely has there been a more unprepossessing lot for an extensive residential landscaping project: a scrubby two-acre parcel shaped like a pie slice and dominated by a steep hill bordering a busy and loud thoroughfare in Austin, Texas. When designer Rick Scheen went to examine it for the first time, large culvert pipes stuck up through the ground in a ditch, trash was strewn everywhere, “and there were some really bad views of tear-down houses,” he recalls.
In April 2011, a visit to Piet and Anja Oudolf’s home was an unexpected opportunity for me to watch the couple lay out a new section of garden. Piet and his family have lived in an old farmhouse at Hummelo, in eastern Netherlands, since 1982, and I have been a regular guest there since 1994. As the garden has developed and changed over the years, I have observed how every alteration reflects Piet’s ongoing evolution as a designer. This particular change entailed creating a garden from a patch of land that had been a sales area for their nursery business.