Stewarding Cultural Landscapes for Life Today
America’s cultural landscapes include industrial sites, campuses, farms, city parks, and 1950s suburbs…places where people work, grow up and pursue their aspirations. We help clients to integrate landscape history in working with the National Register of Historic Places and in building entirely new and sustainable projects.
Values in our Work
Five Values in our Work
1. Sustainable Solutions for Historic Landscapes
Why can’t historic landscapes be more sustainable and ecologically diverse? While many people assume conflicts between preserving historic character, protecting the environment, and meeting modern needs, we find opportunities. From campuses to arboreta, we identify historic periods and find optimal solutions for improving accessibility, safety, habitat and environmental quality.
2. Community Engagement
Communities of the past built and made their livelihoods in cultural landscapes. We need to involve local communities today to steward inherited landscapes for the 21st century. Many planners speak of “public participation” in their projects, but we take deeper steps to understand local stories, “sense of place,” regional economic challenges and personal hopes for the future.
We stay in touch with our clients for the long-term to advise on decisions large and small and to learn from them about what works. But our goal is to empower our clients to become their own stewards of history, management, and change.
3. Preservation for Economic Viability
Part of our community-based approach involves effective business planning with the community. Ultimately, whether our clients represent a botanic garden or an entire National Heritage Area, we believe that economic sustainability is essential to preserving their landscapes, stories, and character.
4. Preservation for Ongoing Change
All too often, preservation plans for historic landscapes focus on static “styles” and periods of significance. We believe that cultural landscape preservation not about freezing the past, but stewarding meaningful stories and places over time while meeting modern needs. For this reason, a campus like the University of Kansas can portray some of the Midwest’s finest early 20th century landscape architecture while also being home to 21st century research laboratories. A craftsman-era estate can retain its historic beauty and river views while also serving as summer camp and learning site for city kids today.
Our community-based approach helps clients to learn long-term preservation skills and how to document and mange their sites’ essential historic character even as they serve new functions. We help them achieve flexibility while also meeting state and federal guidelines for preservation.
5. Relevance Today & Tomorrow
Most places have stories yet to be told. Part of finding new stories means finding new connections between the past and contemporary concerns such as environmental stewardship and America’s ongoing history of immigration. Encountering historic cultural landscapes can be a transformative experience that helps people to become fascinated by the cultures and individuals who shaped them.
There is an alluring reality of an old farm or garden—smells, changes of seasons, and agricultural practices—that can only be experienced by being there. Because cultural and historic landscapes often have so many layers in time, they are rich in new stories to tell and new ways to connect them with our lives today.