Warm wishes to you and yours in 2018.
Happy New Year from all of us at LAB…
Jon – Erin – Joe – Lanshing – Lyn – Andrea
Marjorie – Mike – Nathan – Payam – Rong – Tim – Xibei
From the History Channel… “Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world. Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.” Happy Halloween from LAB and all LABites!
Today marks the official opening of The Wharf DC. LAB was the Architect of Record for this project with an entire range of facilities for an urban park situated on nearly four acres. They include: areas for seating and free-play; bocce courts; seating both shady and sunny; a large fountain; large glass and vine roofed pavilion; plaza to host neighborhood events; and extensive plantings. The Eleanor Holmes Norton Park, featured below, was officially dedicated this summer ahead of today’s opening. For more details, see our news release of June 1, 2017.
* PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. For details, visit: parkingday.org.
LAB’s Park(ing) Day 2017 installation was among the favorites showcased in this article posted by The Architects Newspaper. Their caption reads, “D.C.’s Landscape Architecture Bureau (LAB) built a small field of artificial tulips from plastic taken from the Anacostia Watershed.”
Join us at LAB’s “PARKLET” this Friday, September 15, at The Yards (Tingey Street SE — between 3rd & 4th Streets SE, Washington, DC). The LAB Parklet will be open to the public 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
LAB’s 2017 Park(ing) Day installation combines plant material and reclaimed bottles from the Anacostia River in an effort to draw attention to pressure on local waterways created by the city’s Combined Sewer System. The sculptural installation abstractly illustrates existing pollution levels in the Anacostia River and the role that vegetation, green infrastructure, and the work of local environmental non-profits play in mitigating stormwater runoff and contributing to a healthier waterway.
Follow us on Instagram (@lab_indc) to see images we’ll be posting throughout the day.
We’ve been noticing recently that in landscape, as in art, fashion and architecture, everything old is new again. Take this pair of images:
On the top is a view of the 17th c. Chateau de Villandry in the Loire Valley, once owned by Napoleon’s brother, and known for its baroque gardens. Below that is a view of Dan Kiley’s 1955 Miller Garden. Notice anything? Clearly, the great landscape architects of the French baroque understood the importance of a strong, clear idea. The modernists, in their reaction to the English landscape gardening style, have come to the same realization: it is critically important to be sparing with our gestures.
In the following pair, the Chateau de Chantilly, a 1680s landscape near Paris by Andre Le Notre, is on the top. Below it is Dan Kiley’s 1965 Milton Lee Olive Park, at Chicago’s main water filtration plant. Clearly, they are both about water—in each, one can imagine a thin layer of earth peeled away to reveal the water beneath.
What’s critical to understand here is that Kiley, the most important early practitioner of Modernist landscape architecture, knew all about the French baroque; he wasn’t afraid to refer to the past while advocating for the future (and he was doing so when his contemporaries were not). Neither should we be afraid to “steal” ideas from whoever and wherever–everyone does that, even the very greatest of us. The issue is: are we stealing the right thing?
So… the critical questions: What is the big idea? What is the atmosphere being created and is it appropriate? Can it be built in a quality manner? Styles in landscape architecture and architecture come in and out of fashion; everyone has gallons of opinions about this style or that. But emotional resonance and quality can be felt in a place, regardless of the decade or century in which they were made. We have not reached the end of history. There is, believe it or not, great post-modern landscape architecture, for example. We are going to continue to draw from our storehouse of impressions, stealing great ideas from even discredited styles.
Last Wednesday, the District Architecture Center (DAC) at 421 7th Street NW, Washington, DC, opened a new exhibit in the SIGAL Gallery showcasing the 2017 Professional Awards of the ASLA Potomac Chapter. LAB’s project entitled “Displaced Ecosystems Uplifted” received a Merit Award in the Design-Unbuilt category.
LABites Mike Smith and Andrea Fitch were on hand for the opening reception held the evening of June 28. LAB’s project is one of 15 award-winning works being showcased in this exhibit that runs through Friday, August 25. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
On Tuesday, June 27, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., LAB will join SK+I in hosting a sold-out tour of The Apollo for AIA|DC chapter members and guests.
The Apollo is a large scale, mixed-use project located in northeast Washington DC in the rapidly expanding H Street corridor. Designed by architects SK+I, the project also incorporates a two-story Whole Foods Market and a three-story We Work facility.
LAB was responsible for The Apollo’s landscape architecture. Led by LABite Payam Ostovar, a total of eight courtyards, gardens, and roof decks were designed to complement the work of SK+I as well as the ambiance and success of the project.
Today, LAB hosted a visit by eight Master of Urban Design students and their faculty member, Assistant Professor, Clinical Teaching Track, Lori Catalano from University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning, Department of Landscape Architecture.
The visit was part of an annual tour arranged by the University each year. This year’s tour was staged in and around the Greater Washington Metropolitan area. Specifically, it focused on commercial properties within the Beltway, including the Ballston corridor in Arlington, VA. In selecting to have her students spend time with LAB, Lori Catalano mentioned the desire to have them visit local urban design/landscape architecture firms to better understand urban design issues in Washington DC. LAB’s waterfront park project at The Wharf — recently dedicated to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton — and LAB’s work for the Ballston Quarter Complex Redevelopment were of special interest, with Lori Catalano citing how “The LAB article addresses emerging trends related to landscape architecture, especially in regards to landscapes that are ‘on structure.'”
LAB Principal Jonathan Fitch, ASLA, met with the group, and included in his discussion points, an overview of the streetscapes workshop in which he participated for the DC Design Forum. We wish our new extended family of “LABites” safe travels with the hope of meeting (and working) together in the future.