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Culture, History, and Context: Inspiring Contemporary Landscapes

Dumbarton Oaks
April 30, 2015
05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Garden and Landscape Studies Public Lecture, Thomas Woltz, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

The landscape at the new Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship House was designed by Thomas Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects with close attention to Beatrix Farrand's working methods and her designs for the Bliss family. This inspired the use of specific materials, patterns, and plants. The resulting courtyard and roof garden are decidedly contemporary and avoid recreating a Farrand design, yet generate a respectful and resonant echo of the masterpiece only one block away.

Woltz will discuss this project and three others at a range of scales in which contemporary designs emerge from the firm’s extensive cultural and historical research. Projects include The Cedars in Old Brookville, New York, Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee, and Citygarden in St. Louis, Missouri. For each of these projects, the design team first conducts extensive research into the region’s geologic, ecological, and historical contexts. From this broad view, the research then focuses on the specific uses of the site to discover historical and cultural traces through maps, letters, photographs, and archaeology.

Thomas Woltz was named Design Innovator of the Year by the WSJ. Magazine in 2013. In 2011, he was invested into the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows, among the highest honors achieved in the profession. He was educated at the University of Virginia, receiving master's degrees in Landscape Architecture and Architecture. Current work includes projects at Hudson Yards (NYC), Memorial Park (Houston), Devonian Botanic Garden (Alberta, Canada) and Cornwall Park (Auckland, New Zealand). Woltz serves on the Boards of Directors of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Washington, D.C., and the Municipal Art Society of New York.

Citygarden, St. Louis. Image: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing 2009