The creative process is at the heart of the work that we do at STA. Whether we are designing a publication, a bench, a private garden, or a master plan for an industrial complex, we use the same series of steps to develop a solution—investigation of the problem in all of its aspects, analytical thinking, synthesis, and decision-making and prioritization. We approach design as a collaborative process and we often “workshop” a project in the studio. We consult with as many relevant disciplines as possible to bring as much information to the table as we can. It is the client who determines the parameters and aspirations of the project; it is the site that is the ultimate client, and ensuring its ecological and cultural integrity is paramount in all of our designs.
Every American locale has important cultural landscapes that define its sense of place. These are not necessarily national parks or the gardens of the elite. They may be industrial or agricultural landscapes that give a regional countryside its visual character, or they may be the places that are sacred to particular ethnic groups. STA has years of experience in research, design, and planning for cultural landscapes, and we are drawn to these kinds of projects.
Our team approaches each project contextually regarding social, ecological, environmental, and natural processes. During the planning of a neighborhood, a parish or county, or a national park, several items provide guidance for a responsible plan: the client and community needs synthesized with the cultural history and natural processes which occur within and adjacent to the study area.
The scale of the individual residential garden, whether estate-size or courtyard, is a design challenge that STA finds particularly attractive. We are life-long gardeners, plant-lovers, and fairly accomplished amateur horticulturists, and relish being able to design gardens for clients who appreciate the fine art of garden design.
Master planning is a comprehensive approach to design and planning that begins with the development of a unifying conceptual direction, often derived from the landscape itself or from the client’s program. The master plan organizes all of the major elements of the project—vehicular and pedestrian circulation, parking, buildings, gathering areas, recreational spaces, water and drainage features, signage, lighting—into a physical plan that has cohesion and unity of expression. The master plan becomes a tool for evaluating a design idea, testing market strategies, approaching investors or donors, and refining an idea further.
Recreational Planning and Park Design
Recreational planning involves a large scale study of a community’s green space assets in order to determine existing assets and future growth recommendations.
Park design is the creation of an individual park site, including the arrangement of roads, parking, buildings, walkways, play areas, water features, conservation areas, and trails for recreational use. Park design begins with the same development of a conceptual master plan as does the design of an individual garden.
Streetscape design may include roadway alignment, ADA accessibility, pedestrian sidewalks and corridors, paving, lighting, planting, street trees, and site features such as bike racks, benches, and litter receptacles. STA supports the idea of ‘Complete Streets,’ a design approach promoting an interconnected network of multiple transportation options including vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Urban design concerns the shaping and uses of urban public space, and the way public places are experienced. Public space includes the totality of spaces used on a day-to-day basis by the general public, such as streets, plazas, parks and public infrastructure, as well as some aspects of privately owned spaces, such as building facades or domestic gardens. Urban design may encompass the preparation of design guidelines and regulatory frameworks, or even legislation to control land use development, advertising, etc.
Research and Technical Writing
The preparation of written documents based upon research—interpretive texts, brochures, reports, book-length manuscripts—is a particular strength of STA. Years of experience in the academic realm and in editing have prepared us for making meaningful literary contributions in the arena of cultural landscape management, landscape architectural history and landscape interpretation.
Cultural Landscapes Reports
Landscapes in the public realm or those whose primary purpose is preservation and education often require the high level of research, documentation, and decision-making that a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) involves. The report contains historical research, inventory and documentation of existing conditions, site analysis and evaluation of integrity and significance, development of a cultural landscape preservation approach and treatment plan, development of a cultural landscape management plan and management philosophy, the development of a strategy for ongoing maintenance, and preparation of a record of treatment and future research recommendations.
The CLR can be a useful tool to protect the landscape's character-defining features from undue wear, alteration or loss. A CLR can provide managers, curators and others with information needed to make management decisions.
The preparation of a CLR is often the first step in a master planning process.
Green Roof Design
Green Roofs are structures covered with a carpet of drought tolerant plants, a growing medium, and a waterproof membrane. They are beneficial in controlling storm water runoff, reducing the urban heat island effect, controlling the temperature of the structure sheltered, and they also extend the life of a roof. View the green roof at our office.