Longwood Gardens announced today the selection of West 8, one of the world’s most preeminent landscape architecture and urban design firms, to design and oversee a 40-year Master Plan for the Gardens. The firm was selected following a unanimous decision by a Special Committee of Longwood’s Board of Trustees and Senior Management.
As one of the leading horticultural centers in the United States, Longwood Gardens has commissioned its first Master Plan to guide the physical growth and development of its expansive campus of more than 1,000 acres and 180 structures. Completion of the final master plan is projected for July 2011.
Adriaan Geuze, Founding Partner and Design Director of West 8
Longwood Gardens’ Selection Committee made its recommendation to the Board on May 6, 2010 following a nearly year-long process of meticulously reviewing submissions and meeting with finalists.
“Our vision for the next 40 years is to leverage the innovation and timeless spirit of horticultural excellence at Longwood, elevating our stature as one of the great gardens of the world, right here in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. West 8 will be the perfect complement to Longwood Gardens in realizing this vision,” says Paul Redman, Director of Longwood Gardens. “West 8 has demonstrated a genuine sensitivity to our heritage, the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont. We are confident that, with this sensitivity and ingenuity, West 8 will develop a plan that is respectful of our heritage and deeply rooted in our commitment to innovation, design excellence, environmental stewardship and sustainability.”
“The idea of Longwood Gardens as a ‘garden as a paradise’ in the context of the regional urban landscape was an attractive aspiration for West 8. Pierre du Pont’s contribution to the legacy here – as a place of imagination, delight and innovation – reflects West 8’s values as designers and is very inspiring,” says Adriaan Geuze, Founding Partner and Design Director of West 8. “We are honored to be able to contribute our team’s ideas for Longwood’s next 40 years, fortifying its place as one of the world’s great gardens.”
In developing and directing the Master Plan, West 8 will work with a team of architects, designers, civil and environmental engineers, artists and other specialists convened from around the world, including WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, the multidisciplinary design practice based in New York City and founded by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi.
The master plan will address: expanding the Longwood Gardens experience; providing a more centralized route for pedestrian traffic; and relocating operations to the outskirts of the property. It also will consider the evolving needs of visitors and participants in Longwood’s educational programs, as well as identifying ways to develop the technology infrastructure of the Gardens.
West 8 is an award-winning international office for urban design and landscape architecture, founded in 1987 by Founding Partner and Design Director Adriaan Geuze. Over the last 20 years West 8 has established itself as a leading practice with an international team of 70 architects, urban designers, landscape architects and industrial engineers. West 8’s main office is based at the port of Rotterdam, and has three branch offices in Belgium, New York and Toronto. West 8’s New York office was established after winning an international design competition for the design of Governors Island Park – a 172-acre island in the New York Harbor. West 8 has gained recognition for its work on the Kröller Müller Museum Sculpture Garden in Otterlo, The Netherlands; Chiswick Park in London, U.K.; and Parque Lineal de Manzanares in Madrid, Spain.
With a multi-disciplinary approach to complex design issues, West 8 has extensive experience in large-scale urban master planning and design, landscape interventions, waterfront projects, parks, squares and gardens. West 8 also develops concepts and visions for large-scale planning issues that address global warming, urbanization and infrastructure.
Amongst the numerous awards received by Adriaan Geuze and West 8 are the Prix-de-Rome Award, Dutch Maaskant Award, the Rosa Barba First European Landscape prize, the Veronica Rudge Green Prize for Urban Design and recently the American Society for Landscape Architecture Honor Award.
In 1906, industrialist Pierre 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, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and a 4.5-acre conservatory.
From its origins, environmental stewardship has been a priority of Longwood. Every plant used in the seasonal displays is composted in Longwood’s robust composting program, producing soil for future plantings. The Gardens limit the use of pesticides through a leading Integrated Pest Management Program that uses natural means whenever possible. To conserve energy, Longwood’s innovative root-zone heating system in the conservatory planting beds enables heat to be concentrated on the roots of the plants without having to heat the ambient air.
For more than half a century, Longwood Gardens has been educating tomorrow’s horticulture leaders. From curriculum-based programs for ages K-12, to high-school and college internships, to a Master of Science Degree program, Longwood’s educational programming is internationally recognized for its academic breadth, depth and experiential learning. Graduates from these programs go on to assume leadership positions at public and private gardens around the world.
The garden settings of Longwood 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 Open Air Theatre stage in 1922, Longwood has hosted some of the finest artists from various performing genres, including Martha Graham, Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn, as well as Van Cliburn Medalists, Symphony Orchestras, Grammy-winners and more.
Patricia Evans, Longwood Gardens
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