PHS in Venice: Sharing Stories on Greening a City

Last week we brought you part one of PHS’s epic adventure in Venice for the Biennale. This exhibition uplifting progressive thinking in urban design has allowed staffers Nancy O’Donnell and Linda Walczak to spread the PHS message far and wide. Read on!

Our next day at the Biennale proved just as interesting as the first few. Many of the pavilions were hosting openings, and the place was jammed with insiders. We spotted many celebrity architects, including David Chipperfield, the British architect who curated the Biennale. Other luminaries include Todd Williams and Billie Tsien, well-loved by Philadelphians for their work at the Barnes, and the Indian architect Anupama Kundoo.

The highlight of today was the series of “relays,” panel discussions held in the courtyard of the US pavilion.

1. Nancy was excited to be part of the “productive landscapes” panel…

1A. …but first we heard a discussion on public-private partnerships, and the many ways these can occur. Most every PHS initiative involves multiple partners, so this was great info to absorb.

2. At the Productive Landscapes Relay, Nancy engaged in a conversation with a broad range of people from across the country. Gordon Douglas, one of the exhibit curators, presided. Participants were from Denver, St.Louis, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Some were single guerrilla interventionists, while others were from larger firms or academia.

3. The vacant lands discussion was enlivened by the creator of the red swing project, Andrew from Austin. Since his is an anonymous project, that’s all the info we can share, Check out the website reswingproject.org.

4. Another great project was led by John Southern, of Urban Operations. His firm is taking back medians and turning them into green space in Los Angeles.

5. The cafe sported an op-art look. We chose to eat outside.

6. Sallie and Bert Korman, and their adorable grandchild Isabella, were spotted at a Venice watering hole. It was great to see a PHS member so far from home!

That’s it for now. If you’d like to read more about the U.S. pavilion and some of the other countries involved, click here.

Local Landscape Designer Wins Top Awards at Singapore Garden Festival

Joe Palimeno of Ledden Palimeno Design-Build Landscape Company in Sewell, New Jersey,  is celebrating two victories for his exhibit, “The Modernist Garden” at the 2012 Singapore Garden Festival.  Because of Joe’s 20 years of experience creating 46 exhibits—and winning five “Best in Shows” at the Philadelphia International Flower Show—he was invited to Singapore to compete against the world’s top garden designers.

“Being involved in the Philadelphia Flower Show for the past 19 years really prepared me for this event and I was proud to represent not only the United States, but also PHS,” Joe said.

The Singapore Garden Festival is a biennial event and the first and only international garden show in the tropics to showcase creations from the world’s top award-winning garden and floral designers all under one roof.

Joe’s exhibit used innovative materials inspired by modern art and social ideas as the driving force in his design work, with the ultimate goal to provide an outdoor living space for the delight, joy, and serenity of the people that inhabit the space. The design included a contemporary shade structure and a soothing plunge pool.  Custom cushions added softness to the stone walls by providing a comfortable place to sit. A path leading through the garden incorporated long, sweeping lines of turf. Plantings acting as walls helped to define the space with color, texture, and scent that brought the exhibit to life.

“Much like the Philadelphia International Flower Show, the 2012 Singapore Garden Festival put us in front of 300,000 international visitors over an eight-day period, showcasing all the possibilities of what one can have in their own backyard, but with the difference being truly among international designers,” said Joe.

“I am looking forward to the 2013 Philadelphia Show and I can’t wait to show our designs for both EP Henry and Subaru,” he continued. “I am drawn to contemporary design with modern clean lines and materials. My ideas changed from what I thought I was going to do since my time in Singapore. This trip filled me with so much inspiration and creativity that is starting to pour out onto paper. We are showmen! Designing and building garden displays is what’s exciting and drives us all at Ledden Palimeno.”

And we can’t wait to see what he has planned. Congratulations, Joe!

PHS Partner Wins Prestigious Conservation Award

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), with whom PHS is a proud partner, is one of six entities to be honored by The Clean Water America Alliance with its 2012 U.S. Water Prize for their watershed-based approach toward water sustainability.

“These six water champions are showing America how to innovate, integrate, and educate for water sustainability and economic success,” explained Alliance President Ben Grumbles. The other U.S. Water Prize winners include the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, PepsiCo Frito-Lay, Project WET Foundation, Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

PWD provides integrated water, waste water, and storm water service. Its mission is to address complex environmental, demographic, and financial challenges, as well as to become the steward and protector of Philadelphia’s rivers and streams through a program call Green City, Clean Waters (GCCW). The vision behind GCCW is to unite the city with its water environment, creating a green legacy for future generations, while finding a balance between ecology, economics, and equity. GCCW’s commitment is to “green” more than 34% of the combined sewer area’s impervious cover in the coming 25 years.

We want to congratulate PWD for its vision, commitment, and dedication to the City of Philadelphia and its water resources.

The PHS Pop Up Garden Earns International Acclaim

Big news from overseas: the PHS Pop Up Garden from 2011 will be showcased at the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale. The theme this year is “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.” What an honor!

The goal of Spontaneous Interventions is to “frame an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from urban farms to guerilla bike lanes, temporary architecture to poster campaigns, urban navigation apps to crowdsourced city planning. These efforts cut across boundaries, addressing architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and the digital universe, and run the gamut from symbolic to practical, physical to virtual, whimsical to serious. But they share an optimistic willingness to venture outside conventional practice and to deploy fresh tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive.”

PHS is proud to be included in such an inspirational showcase. PHS program manager Linda Walczak says “PHS is honored to have our work selected as part of the exhibition. We were thrilled to learn of the theme this year, knowing that the Pop Up Garden would be a good candidate. I hope the project draws international attention to the type of great work PHS does throughout the community.”

And keep an eye out in case PHS decides to pop up again this summer!

Hop Aboard the Trip to Storm King Art Center

PHS is leading a trip to the Storm King Art Center on Thursday, June 14. The group will travel on a roomy coach to the lower Hudson Valley, home to one of the world’s leading sculpture parks.

Storm King Art Center (one hour north of New York City) offers a 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands—the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures. The focus of the collection is large-scale, abstract sculpture, much of it in steel. It also includes figurative work and sculpture in stone, earth, and other materials.

We would love to have you join us. Click here for registration information.

Tall Topiaries at Logan Square

As part of the recent City in Bloom event, PHS oversaw the installation of giant “lollipop” plantings in Logan Square!

Taking a nod from traditional British topiary, these orb-like elevated plantings consist of Coleus ‘Sedona’ and orange lantanas. The PHS Public Landscape Design and Management team had the idea, and Tom Reber and Bernie Pettit from Meadowbrook Farm were commissioned for construction. Both men had experience with planting and caring for hanging baskets—although this project is on a much bigger scale!

Black iron pipe (meant for plumbing work) was fashioned into a globe-like shapes and covered in coconut fiber. Each sphere was then filled with about six bags of soil. Next, the men cut slits into the coconut fiber and plugged in the plants.

As you can see from the photos, the plantings aren’t exactly bursting with color yet, but Tom Reber says the recent warm temperatures will lead to a brilliant pop of orange in a week or so.

When you are in Center City, enjoying everything about With Art Philadelphia, admire these whimsical additions to the Parkway landscape.

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“PHS Pops Up” Garden Wins Award

Baldev Lamba (right), Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Temple University, receives the award.

PHS was recently honored by The Pennsylvania–Delaware Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects with a Merit Award in the General Design Category of the Professional Awards Program for the 2011 PHS Pops Up Garden.

One of the judges commented about the garden: “I love this—this type of temporary urbanism is just fantastic. What a great way to engage the community and get them connected with the city.”

PHS transformed the vacant, 32,000-square-foot lot into a peaceful, temporary oasis with funding from the William Penn Foundation, and additional assistance from the Brandywine Realty Trust and Independence Blue Cross. Six nearby restaurants also participated by offering special dishes that used herbs and vegetables grown at the garden, and proceeds were donated to PHS for future greening initiatives.

The central goal for this downtown destination was to raise awareness for City Harvest, a PHS program that provides fresh produce for Philadelphians in need. Learn more about City Harvest here.

PHS is going to pop up again this summer. Want to speculate about where, when, and how? Sound off in the comments section below.

PECO Green Roof Tours to Begin

In December 2008, PECO teamed up with PHS to install a green roof at its headquarters building in Philadelphia.

The rooftop garden, on the top of an eight-story section of the building at 2013 Market Street, holds growing media of up to eight inches thick, and the vegetative covering reduces rainwater runoff by up to 70%, and also insulates the building.

Spanning more than 45,000 square feet, it is the largest green roof on an existing building in Philadelphia. The planting design for the PECO roof contrasts  low-growing, non-native succulents over the extensive area with native perennials and ornamental grasses in the planting beds surrounding the viewing deck.

PHS leads public tours of the green roof on the third Tuesday of each month, April through October, at 5 pm. The fee for tours is $5 for PHS members and $10 for nonmembers. Pre-registration and payment are required two days in advance of the tour. Participants must be 18 years of age, and there is a limit of 25 people per tour. The tours meet in the lobby at the PECO building, and include a short orientation followed by the tour. For more information, please contact PHS here or call Carol Dutill at 215-988-8869.

See a special video about the PECO green roof here.