With sun and shade, water and color, durable materials and vibrant flora, a garden can offer a calming experience and a rejuvenating escape from the stresses of life. It’s a concept that’s been familiar to many cultures across the world and throughout history. Now, leaders in modern healthcare are recognizing that gardens can be specially designed to provide these therapeutic benefits to people who need it most: hospital patients, their families, and healthcare staff. In this story produced for the Voice of America news network, Partner Susan Weiler describes the intent behind OLIN’s design of the therapeutic gardens at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and the mother of a young patient explains the importance of having a refuge to escape the confines and stress of a hospital setting. “That’s the healing power of Mother Nature,” the report concludes. We couldn’t agree more.
Move over cheesesteaks—green design is Philadelphia’s new claim to fame. October 17th will mark the opening of the Philly Green Exhibition, hosted by AIA Philadelphia’s Center for Architecture. The City of Brotherly Love has been generating buzz for its forward thinking strategies for sustainable and resilient urban regeneration, such as Greenworks Philadelphia and the Green City, Clean Waters plan, as well as being home to a robust community of world renowned experts in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and planning. The Philly Green Exhibition invites visitors and locals alike to learn more about the strides being taken, through projects both at home and across the globe, to push the boundaries of sustainable design and keep Philadelphia at the forefront of this critical conversation.
OLIN is proud to be a part of five projects being featured in the exhibition: Dilworth Plaza, the Barnes Foundation, the proposed City Branch rail park, the Soak it Up! design competition, and the new U.S. Embassy in London. Stop by to visit the Philly Green exhibition at the Center for Architecture October 17th through November 22nd—and don’t worry, you can still get a cheesesteak afterward.
This weekend, the lights of the pier won’t be the only thing glowing on Santa Monica Beach. It’s time again for GLOW, an all-night exhibition of temporary and participatory artworks. Artists and designers from all over the world and from all different backgrounds make the beach their playground, with original commissions that delight, inspire, and promote visitors’ full participation in the experience of art. This year, OLIN was asked to participate in GLOW by keynote artist Janet Echelman to design and create a large landform of sand that will serve as an interactive foundation for her dramatic, sweeping artwork titled The Space Between Us. Janet is renowned across the world for her massive yet ethereal, net-like sculptures in cities like Phoenix, San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Sydney. She is currently collaborating with OLIN on the revitalization for Dilworth Plaza, where she worked with the design team to create Pulse, an installation of light and fog that will illuminate in tandem with the movement of subway lines below the plaza’s surface.
GLOW opens at dusk on Friday, September 28th at Santa Monica Beach. For more information about the event, click here. You can also follow OLIN on Instagram (@OLINinsta) as we post photos of the setup and event opening.
This summer, as the School District of Philadelphia and public school districts around the country faced shrinking budgets and political turmoil, the Henry C. Lea School in West Philadelphia was awarded a $242,000 grant to install green stormwater infrastructure on its schoolyard. This grant, one of two awarded to public schools in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Water Department, will help to pay for large rain gardens, curb bump-outs, and an infiltration basin under a new basketball court. The hope is that these moves will catalyze the transformation of nearly an acre of asphalt into a vibrant, fun, ecological and educational green space for the Lea students and the community. I have been lucky enough to be involved with this project and it has become some of the most rewarding work of my career.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has approved the development of Disney / ABC Studios at The Ranch, a 58-acre studio production campus on the picturesque grounds of Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch near Santa Clarita, California. The project is one of the most ambitious new studio developments in recent years and stems from a master plan developed by Johnson Fain and OLIN.
The Italian Fountain, Philadelphia’s familiar landmark near the historic Water Works and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has reopened after a meticulous restoration effort and dramatic improvements to the surrounding landscape. OLIN worked closely with the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation to create a park-like setting around the fountain, which for decades had been an isolated island within an unnecessarily wide traffic circle. The design maintains traffic flow in a single lane around the new landscape, which includes a permeable brick-paved plaza, gracious benches, and beds of native plantings. The reopening events began with a ribbon cutting and an official turning on of the fountain.
This past May, The Cultural Landscape Foundation brought together leaders and practitioners in landscape design, city building, and horticulture with the Civic Horticulture Conference in Philadelphia. The event aimed to spur a dialogue on how horticulture can be used in the creation of healthy, livable, and successful cities. Partner Susan Weiler led a discussion on how Philadelphia’s own Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a prime example of this principle in action, leading attendees through the grand boulevard’s history and evolution, culminating in the creation of celebrated places like Logan Circle, the new Barnes Foundation, the Rodin Museum gardens, the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden, and Sol LeWitt’s Lines in Four Directions in Flowers garden installation.
In many ways, it might seem that landscape architects would, more than most other professionals, understand and appreciate the power of diversity. We design singular spaces that must be embraced by many different people at once—local residents, tourists, children, and adults, not to mention the stakeholders, client groups, and governmental entities with whom we collaborate. We value diversity in the environment, knowing that successful ecosystems—designed or natural—are only possible through the harmonious incorporation of myriad plant and animal species. But when it comes to diversity within our own ranks of design professionals, landscape architects have continually fallen behind the curve. Leaders in our field have begun to address this disparity, but it is up to each and every one of us to recognize the issues at hand and work together to find solutions.
The team of PennDesign and OLIN has been shortlisted for the first stage of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design competition. The four-phase competition, led by HUD’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force, seeks to increase resilience throughout the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy with a variety of innovative design solutions that can be implemented across a range of scales throughout the region. Through this competition process, HUD will bring together design leaders, federal and local governments, community members, business and academia, and other organizations in order to understand the intricate network of interdependencies across the region and generate contextual and lasting improvements. This effort also represents a critical policy shift for HUD, which will be directing funding from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program to incentivize implementation of the competition’s winning proposals.
PennDesign and OLIN are joined by a multi-disciplinary core team of collaborators, including PennPraxis, HR&A, Happold Consulting, and eDesign Dynamics, as well as a diverse network of expert advisers. The team is one of ten to be shortlisted for the second phase of the competition, which will focus on research and analysis of the region in collaboration with stakeholders and identification of key design opportunities. To learn more about the competition and follow each team’s progress, visit rebuildbydesign.org.
“It’s sort of what Clausewitz said about politics, “It was war by other means.” It’s architecture by other means, so to speak.”
That’s one way Laurie Olin defines the practice of landscape architecture in this podcast, part of the National Endowment for the Arts‘ Art Works series. In this revealing interview, Laurie waxes on his childhood in Alaska, how he managed to study landscape architecture without knowing it, the profession’s role in the development of cities, iconic OLIN projects, and the moment he found out that he’d been selected to receive the National Medal of Arts.