Longwood Gardens today announced that is has commissioned the New York firm of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners to lead the rehabilitation of the Main Fountain Garden. The restoration of this early 20th-century hydraulic masterpiece represents an integral part of a forty-year master planning initiative for what is considered one of the great gardens of the world.
“We are enthusiastic in our selection of Beyer Blinder Belle, a firm widely-recognized for its stewardship of buildings and sites of cultural heritage,” said Paul Redman, Director of Longwood Gardens. “Over the course of the past 40 years, they have worked with many prestigious public institutions and historic sites, including Grand Central Terminal and at Lincoln Center, and we are confident they will bring to our project the same creativity and rigor that contributed to the successful restoration of these iconic landscapes.”
“We are honored to be entrusted with the restoration of the Main Fountain Garden, arguably the masterpiece of Longwood Gardens, which has awed and delighted millions of guests for decades,” commented Richard Southwick, Partner-in-Charge at Beyer Blinder Belle. “Our aim is to restore and recreate the fountains in a manner that respects Pierre du Pont’s original design intent and preserves the garden’s authenticity for generations to enjoy.”
Longwood Gardens, an exquisite horticultural showplace, is the legacy and life-long project of Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954), a descendant of E. I. du Pont and heir to the du Pont family gunpowder works. In the early 20th century, Pierre successfully transformed the family business into a corporate empire and used a portion of the resulting fortune to develop the Longwood property. Since its founding in 1906, Longwood Gardens has matured into a magnificent botanical landscape that provides visitors with countless opportunities for enjoyment and learning throughout the seasons.
Inspired by the 1893 World Columbian Exhibition and Italian and French gardens, the Main Fountain Garden was completed in the mid-1930s and is the centerpiece of Longwood Gardens’ water features. Over the course of it 81-year history, it has continuously evolved to reflect the changing ambitions of its founder and subsequent stewards, and to respond to new technical challenges and opportunities. From an elegant yet more traditional landscape and water design, the garden grew to incorporate allees of trees, specimen plantings, Florentine limestone sculptures and ultimately, elaborately staged light and fountain displays.
The rehabilitation of the Main Fountain Garden will focus on four important design issues: preservation of the legacy of Pierre S. du Pont’s original design; restoration of the architectural and structural components of the Main Fountain Garden; repair and improvements to the mechanical and electrical systems; and enhancements to the planting and fountains of the garden.
In developing and directing the rehabilitation plan, Beyer Blinder Belle will work with a team of experts, including fountain specialists Fluidity Design Consultants of Los Angeles and landscape architects West 8 of New York.
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
Founded in 1968, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners is a collaborative international practice of 130 professionals in New York City and Washington, DC, with recognized expertise in architecture, historic preservation, interior design, urban design and planning.
The firm has been responsible for the restoration and revitalization of many significant buildings and sites, including Grand Central Terminal, Ellis Island Museum of Immigration, the fountains and plaza at Rockefeller Center, the Rubin Museum of Art, and The Morgan Library & Museum (with RPBW). Recent work includes restoration of the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, rehabilitation of the Hoboken Ferry Terminal and renovation of the Lincoln Center Fountain and Promenade.
Beyer Blinder Belle has been recognized with three Presidential Design Awards, the Medal of Honor from the AIA New York Chapter, the national AIA Firm Award, and over 100 other awards for design and planning.
In 1906, industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Throughout his life, Mr. du Pont indulged his passion for gardening, turning his farm into a magnificent horticultural showplace.
Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains and a 4.5 acre conservatory. It is also home to an impressive array of horticulture education programs for all ages and levels of interest. The Gardens also have long-served as the backdrop for showcasing top performing artists. Since Pierre du Pont first welcomed his good friend John Philip Sousa to the Conservatory Gardens in 1922, Longwood has hosted some of the finest artists from various performing genres, including Martha Graham, Van Cliburn Medalists, Symphony Orchestras, Grammy-winners and more.
Longwood Gardens is located 30 miles west of Philadelphia in Kennett Square, PA and is open daily. For more information on the gardens and its programs, visit www.longwoodgardens.org.