Upon immediate departure from Knoxville to Philadelphia, I came to the realization that I had not seen many “high caliber” landscapes. Aside from walking along the High Line during my year in New York, many of the precedents that I have studied during my time in the MLA program have been examined only through the digital. After cataloguing the various firms and projects that would be covered during our trip, I began to remember why I chose to study landscape architecture: experiencing movement within the landscape. Now that I am equipped with a more critical mind for design, my excitement about the trip’s itinerary intensified.
As primer for the site visits, hearing from and talking with OLIN studio, Andropogon, and WRT established a deeper connection with their superb Philadelphia-based projects, as well as nation/world-wide projects. A benefit from these visits was their deconstruction of various projects. During the OLIN visit, hearing about the process of reusing excavated land to construct a parking lot by the Philadelphia Museum of Art gave a fuller understanding of projects specificities. Moreover, I think the benefits of OLIN’s in-person process presentation provided excitement to a project that might have been an otherwise banal overview online.
Furthermore, I was somewhat surprised by the diversity of the offices that we visited. While the projects ranged in aesthetics and location, the workplace feel of the offices ranged in demeanor. At Andropogon, there was a warmness to the office and the employees. Exposed piping and hanging plants gave a familiarity to the open-floor plan of the office. The welcoming aesthetic of the office also showed amongst the employees. This was exemplified when a principal stopped in during our visit and talked candidly with us and showed us around; they blended the high quality work with high quality attitudes. Transitioning from Andropogon to OLIN Studio was a gradual shift in office culture and work quality. Situated on the top floor of a business building overlooking the Liberty Bell, OLIN’s studio represented a hybrid between Andropogon’s vibe and a more contemporary, corporate environment. Other than the overall atmosphere of the office, I enjoyed the thoroughness of their project presentation.