From left: Andy Dawson, Jenny Jones, and Professor Richard Weller
As the sun began to set on a chilly February evening, folks filtered into the studio’s lounge for our presentation titled “The Intersection of Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Design,” the latest symposium in OLIN’s Theoretical Basis series. Pencils were put down and wine was poured as we introduced our topic and welcomed our guest speaker Professor Richard Weller, the newly appointed chair of PennDesign’s Department of Landscape Architecture. Our colleagues took in our presentation with quiet attentiveness, and we figured we were in for an easy night. Little did we know that within ten minutes the conversation would be swirling with allegations of surreptitious power, advocacy for subversive design, laments at the depressing experience of APA conferences, and the fact that “we had to kill Ian McHarg in order to resurrect him.”
What had we gotten ourselves into?
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From left: Jon Capacasa, Water Division Director, EPA Region III; Dominique Leuckenhoff, Associate Director, Water Protection Division, EPA Region III; Joanne Dahme, General managers, Public Affairs, Philadelphia Water Department; Richard Roark, Partner, OLIN; Tavis Dockwiller, Principal, Viridian Landscape Studio; Steve Benz, Partner and Director of Green Infrastructure, OLIN; Howard Neukrug, Commissioner, Philadelphia Water Department
We’re thrilled to announce that Meeting Green, the OLIN team’s entry to the Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up! design competition, has been named the winner of Greening the Grid. Nine finalists across three categories presented their proposals last night to a crowd of 350 supporters at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Following rapid-fire presentations from each of the finalist teams, 23 jurors from Philadelphia’s design community, academia, city leadership, and press selected the top honorees in the categories of Greening the Grid, Retail Retrofit, and Warehouse Watershed. For Richard Roark, who led OLIN’s multi-disciplinary team in collaboration with fellow Partner and Director of Green Infrastructure Steve Benz, the announcement was at once a thrilling shock, a humbling experience, and a validation of all the hard work the team had put into their proposal. “I’m amazed at this outcome, especially being here tonight and getting the chance to see the amazing work that all of these finalist teams have put together,” he said. “I’m so proud of every single person who made our submission happen—at the end of the day, all of us who poured our effort and time—lots of time—into Meeting Green ultimately just wanted to find a way to make Philly a better place to live.”
OLIN’s Meeting Green team included Steve Benz, Richard Roark, Darrell Campana, Ari Miller, Henry Moll, Jessica Henson, Allison Kaye Harvey, Nick Mitchell, Andrew McConnico, Chris Landau, and Ed Confair, as well as invaluable contributions from many other talented OLIN landscape architects, designers, and staff. Our multidisciplinary collaborators included SMP Architects (architecture and planning), Gilmore & Associates (civil engineering); MM Partners (development consulting); International Consultants, Inc. (cost estimating); and Penn Praxis (policy, funding, and implementation consulting).
Founding Partner Laurie Olin has been honored by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation with the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. The award is the highest accolade bestowed by the Foundation and recognizes the achievements of individuals who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard. Recipients in the categories of architecture, law, and citizen leadership accept the award each year on April 13th, Jefferson’s birthday.
For more information on the award, each recipient, and event details, click here.
Millions of tourists visit Independence National Historical Park every year, including the massive crowds that gather for the annual Fourth of July concert. Image © OLIN
Sooner or later, politics hits a little too close to home. As the federal government sequester looms, set to hit this Friday unless a deal is reached, government agencies in cities across the U.S. are bracing for spending cuts. In Philadelphia, this will affect operations at the local Department of Labor and FBI offices, as well as at the U.S. Mint. But the most visibly impacted—at least to us—will be the National Park Service. Independence Hall, Independence National Historical Park, the Liberty Bell, New Hall Military Museum, the Todd House, the Bishop White House—all are expected to cut hours during the summer months.
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One site envisioned in the OLIN team's finalist proposal is Play Green, a recreation field which becomes a community hub through the incorporation of green infrastructure.
OLIN’s team has been named a finalist for our entry to Infill Philadelphia: Soak It Up!—a design competition to re-envison stormwater management throughout the city as pilot green infrastructure projects. The competition, organized by the Community Design Collaborative, Philadelphia Water Department, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, challenges designers “to explore how green stormwater infrastructure can revitalize urban neighborhoods.” Partners Richard Roark and Steve Benz led OLIN’s multidisciplinary team of local consultants, including SMP Architects, Penn Praxis, Gilmore & Associates, MMPartners, and International Consultants, Inc., in the development of our entry to the competition’s “Greening the Grid” Category. The design proposal, titled Meeting Green, positions the Philadelphia neighborhood of Queen Village as a model of both high-quality stormwater management practices and green urbanism. The plan meets goals of increasing pervious surfaces, managing runoff, ensuring resiliency against intensive runoff events, and preventing combined sewer overflows. All of these goals were met while simultaneously creating community-driven spaces of common use for enjoyment and recreation.
Meeting Green is one of nine finalists across three site categories: Greening the Grid, Waterhouse Watershed, and Retail Retrofit. On March 7th, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, the Academy of Natural Sciences will host a public exhibition of all the finalist entries, including full displays of the competition boards, Pecha Kucha-style presentations from each team, and the jury’s final award announcements for each of the three site categories. Tickets to the event as well as donation opportunities for the Community Design Collaborative are currently available for purchase here.
“Lone Star Bohemia.” It’s a fitting description of Marfa, Texas, coined in a July 2012 Vanity Fair article. Deemed an arts mecca after celebrated minimalist artist Donald Judd made it his home in the 1970s, the tiny hamlet in far west Texas attracts expats from urban centers like Los Angeles and New York who seek to follow Judd’s example of free expression—from the avant garde to the downright weird—informed by the harsh beauty of the surrounding Chihuhuan Desert.
Ballroom Marfa is one of many groups in town which continues this legacy of daring creativity, art advocacy, and celebration of the town’s striking landscape. Dedicated to serving arts communities of all mediums, Ballroom Marfa’s non-profit operations are primarily housed in their 1920s dance hall-turned museum/gallery/performance space, but soon they will have a new stage. The Ballroom Marfa Drive-In is part of an expansion of the organization’s film program. The goal: “To resurrect a virtually extinct type of venue and rekindle the spirit of community that existed around the original drive-in theaters.” OLIN is part of the design team led by renowned architects MOS to realize this new destination within a natural yet performative landscape. The video above, originally posted on Ballroom Marfa’s website, explores the context and the concept for the project, and asks Marfa residents how they see the new Drive-In fitting into the ever-evolving, always eclectic fabric of their town.
OLIN is thrilled to welcome two new additions to our Philadelphia studio—Nick Mitchell and Elisabeth Hamill.
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The Master Plan for the Central Delaware reflects an increasingly mainstream acceptance of landscape as the framework for urban design. image © Kieran Timblerlake / Brooklyn Digital Foundry
“What is landscape urbanism? Is it a method, a practice, or a result? What does this term mean to contemporary practitioners of landscape architecture?”
These were questions that inspired the latest installation of OLIN’s Theoretical Symposium, which I moderated with my colleague Katy Martin. Katy and I both knew that this would be a daunting topic, raising all manner of opinions and added questions, so we broke up the discussion into a few key stages. In the days before the symposium even kicked off, we posed these questions to the studio and collected the answers. On the day of the event, we started things off not with the questions, but with a history of “landscape urbanism”—the people, projects, and practices that influenced the concept and led to the coining and popularization of the term itself. We then suggested four definitions of landscape urbanism and used each as a framework for the studio’s theories and questions:
1.) Landscape urbanism as diagnosis
2.) Landscape urbanism as framework and process
3.) Landscape urbanism as green infrastructure
4.) Landscape urbanism as landscape + urbanism
Our format was straightforward, and our goal was clear: to see if our studio could help clarify a potent but increasingly elusive term in landscape discourse.
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OLIN is the lead design consultant for the new plaza at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, recently named for donor David H. Koch. Government leaders and museum officials formally broke ground on Monday, January 14, 2013, symbolically marking the start of construction of the redesigned plaza. Although construction commenced with the excavation last October, the official groundbreaking was postponed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
All of the new design features respect and complement the architectural highlights of the landmark façade and the monumental central stairs. “It’s quite an honor to work on the revitalization of such an important civic space, in front of one of the world’s most prestigious art museums, in one of the world’s greatest cities,” said OLIN Partner Dennis McGlade. “The caliber of the design discourse with the client group was at the highest level regarding aesthetics and the concern for visitor comfort and safety.”
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What is an OLIN internship? We sat down with former OLIN interns to ask them this very question. Over the course of five short videos, interns from 2006 to 2012 describe their experiences. Check out the trailer below, and then visit our Vimeo page to hear more of our interns’ stories. Ready to apply? Click here for the 2013 Internship Program Checklist and Application.