Nelson Byrd Woltz

Nelson Byrd WoltzFounded in 1985, Nelson Byrd Woltz (NBW) is a landscape architecture firm with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, and New York City. Committed to education and conservation, the firm has been involved in a broad array of public and private projects including botanic gardens and zoos, public parks, private gardens and estates, academic institutions, corporate campuses, and town planning. The firm actively seeks this diversity of project scales and types to cultivate the creativity of the professional staff. The varied backgrounds of the staff include studies in the fields of landscape architecture, architecture, anthropology, biology, economics, ecology, zoology, horticulture, art, art history, and architectural history. This broad knowledge base supports the firm’s collective creativity and ability to respond to diverse client needs.

The firm’s work has garnered over 80 national and regional awards and has been widely published. Current projects include Hudson Yards in Manhattan (NY), Memorial Park in Houston (TX), Centennial Park in Nashville (TN), Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Cornwall Park in Auckland (New Zealand), Devonian Botanic Garden in Edmonton (Canada), and Brooklyn Navy Yard Naval Hospital Cemetery Memorial Landscape (NY). The work of the firm has been featured in numerous national and international publications and is the subject of a recently released monograph published by Princeton Architectural Press.

The firm’s philosophy centers on design that honors and reveals the local history and natural context of a site through a process of observation, creative interpretation, and construction. Initial design concepts are driven by attentive observation of site dynamics including prevailing winds, solar orientation, hydrology, geology, soils, and existing plant and animal communities. In the development of a design, the firm employs a vocabulary of primarily indigenous materials, including plants, paving, landforms, and multiple uses of water. We meld the particular - a place, a plant community, a certain landform - with universal archetypal forms such as the mount, the theater, the grove, the parterre - so that the local ethos of a place is never lost or homogenized. It also underscores our great commitment to collaboration as part of a healthy design process. We particularly pride ourselves on our productive collaborations with a wide range of outstanding architects both regionally and nationally.

In late 2012, NBW was engaged to re-envision Overlook, a 320-acre family estate in Dalton, Pennsylvania. A cultural heritage landscape, in the early 20th century the Olmsted Brothers were commissioned to design and implement plans for what was to be a weekend and summer retreat. Now, after over 100 years of continuous family residence and connection to this land, the client has tapped Nelson Byrd Woltz to establish a Stewardship Plan to assure the health, productivity and profitability of the Overlook landscape sustainably into the future. NBW’s Conservation Agriculture Studio are creating a plan for Overlook that strives to preserve the property’s rich ecosystems, celebrate cultural heritage, and establish a model of agricultural production that will maximize production potential in tandem with ecological stewardship.

An integral part of the Conservation Agriculture Studio is the Biological Baseline Survey (Bio-Blitz). This rapid ecological assay joins NBW with a distinguished group of Ecologists from the Roosevelt Wildlife Station in Syracuse, New York. During the beginning of summer 2013, these teams joined forces for a long weekend of camping, collection, collaboration, and observation as they delved into the wildlife of Overlook. Resulting information was then synthesized with possible habitat range to generate population estimates to be designed into the long term plan of the property.