Nelson Byrd Woltz: New Boundaries

The idea, says landscape architect Warren Byrd, was to create a beautiful book.

With help from his partner Thomas Woltz (now focused on designs for Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side), editing by Stephen Orr, and an essay by Elizabeth Meyer, he’s done precisely that.

They’ve achieved more than an assemblage of  a series of rich and visually potent photographs.

“Nelson Byrd Woltz: Garden Park Community Farm” is a 240-page opus that draws new boundaries for the practice of landscape architecture in the 21st century.  The 12 projects contained in it are not only beautiful, but insightful and sustainable as well.

“We wanted to define landscape architecture in our own terms,” Byrd says.  “It’s a little frustrating that people don’t know what it is – they think it’s horticulture or something.”

The new book from Princeton Architectural Press, the firm’s first, seeks to establish the nature of what a progressive practice of landscape architecture can be.

“Every project is a collaboration between architects, landscape architects, ecologists, biologists and planners,” he says.  “You need to look at the land with a lot of lenses, for depth.  You need scientists for a better understanding of biology and flora and fauna.”

Four sections show a range of the firm’s current work: one on gardens examines a number of private residences, another on parks analyzes public institutions, a third on communities looks at campuses, and a fourth on farms defines conservation and agriculture.

“That’s the future the book is pointing to,” Byrd says of the farm section.  “It’s about the progressive use of land and the interdependency of agriculture and biodiversity.”

A fifth section at the back of the book illuminates the use of design elements like water, plants, stone and wood, all in crisp and telling photography.

“We wanted to put out a book that represents us well,” he says.  “We’ve done hundreds of lectures, but people want to see the work.”

And now they can.

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