Evening at Morgan Hall

This YouTube video by Connor Griffin of  Wandering Films captures what may be just another autumn night at Temple University’s Morgan Hall terrace, but that’s what makes it special. The rhythm and diversity of activity, the ebb and flow through the plaza, and the relaxed fun on the lawn—it shows how Temple students embrace campus life in the heart of Philadelphia.

One Year Later, Resiliency in the Making

In Toms River, New Jersey, the team explored new and adapted uses to properties most vulnerable to future flooding, including greenways, expanded conservation lands, and alternative building typologies. Image © PennDesign/OLIN

In Toms River, New Jersey, the team explored new and adapted uses to properties most vulnerable to future flooding, including greenways, expanded conservation lands, and alternative building typologies. Image © PennDesign/OLIN

After more than three months of research, site visits, and charrettes, and nearly one year to the day from when Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge hit Manhattan, the PennDesign/OLIN team revealed their initial findings for HUD’s Rebuild by Design competition to audiences in New York City and Newark, New Jersey. The team focused their attention on four distinct Design Opportunity sites: Jersey City/Hoboken, Staten Island’s East Shore, Toms River, and Hunts Point in the Bronx, presenting contextually specific analysis for each study area. Yet each of the approaches centered around a common theme: that by empowering people within their own communities to affect change, cities can become more adaptable and resilient not only in terms of their infrastructure but in their economic health and cultural vitality as well. To read more about these proposals, visit the PennDesign/OLIN team page on the Rebuild By Design website.

Function and Form in Rainwater Design

Video Courtesy of Penn State University Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

As part of the Stuckeman School‘s Artful Rainwater Design Symposium, Partners Susan Weiler and Steve Benz explore the rich history and modern applications of water receiving landscapes. From the Babylonians who sought to irrigate crops and bring beauty to their cities, to today’s post-industrial cities facing deadlines to upgrade their gray infrastructure, the concept of water as both a precious resource and a social connector has long been evident. OLIN has spent more than thirty years finding new ways to integrate water function and conservation into our designs, but now, with government leaders and policymakers eager to meet EPA requirements, it’s vital for landscape architects to make the case for solutions that not only meet the mandates but also create places of social value and engagement.

Celebrate Design this October in Philly

This October, several OLIN projects take center stage at events around the city, including (clockwise from top left) Meeting Green, City Branch, the Barnes Foundation, and Dilworth Plaza. Images © OLIN; Barnes Foundation image © OLIN / Will Belcher

This October, several OLIN projects take center stage at events around the city, including (clockwise from top left) Meeting Green, City Branch, the Barnes Foundation, and Dilworth Plaza. Images © OLIN; Barnes Foundation image © OLIN / Will Belcher

October signals many things: shorter days, baseball playoffs, pumpkin flavored everything…but in Philadelphia, this month is all about design. Get your fix at any of these events happening throughout the city.

The Power of Healing Gardens

OLIN Partner Susan Weiler describes the history and importance of healing gardens, such as the ones designed by OLIN for Johns Hopkins Hospital. Video © Voice of America

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.

At New Exhibition, Philly = Green

The Barnes Foundation is being featured in the Philly Green Exhibition at the Center for Architecture. While the museum has drawn much praise, few visitors to the Barnes realize that it is in fact a LEED Platinum certified project. Image © OLIN / Sahar Coston-Hardy

The Barnes Foundation is being featured in the Philly Green Exhibition at the Center for Architecture. While the museum has drawn much praise, few visitors to the Barnes realize that it is in fact a LEED Platinum certified project. Image © OLIN / Sahar Coston-Hardy

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.

Santa Monica Gets Ready to GLOW

Rendering of The Space Between Us, artist Janet Echelman's contribution to GLOW 2013 in Santa Monica. OLIN is designing and building a sand landform that will support the artwork. Image © Studio Echelman

Rendering of The Space Between Us, artist Janet Echelman's contribution to GLOW 2013 in Santa Monica. OLIN is designing and building a sand landform that will support the artwork. Image © Studio Echelman

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.

Transforming an Urban Schoolyard

This 1,400 square foot plant bed at the Henry C. Lea School was designed and built by volunteers in 2012. It is a pilot project for more widespread schoolyard improvements, slated to take place in 2015. Image © Jennifer Martel

This 1,400 square foot plant bed at the Henry C. Lea School was designed and built by volunteers in 2012. It is a pilot project for more widespread schoolyard improvements, slated to take place in 2015. Image © Jennifer Martel

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.

Disney / ABC Studios at The Ranch Receives Approval

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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.

Italian Fountain Grand Reopening

The restored Italian Fountain will be turned on again for the first time in years at the opening ceremony today. Photograph Provided by The Lighting Practice

The restored Italian Fountain will be turned on again for the first time in years at the opening ceremony today. Photograph Provided by The Lighting Practice

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.