10 Best Landscape Architecture Projects That Showcase Sustainability

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

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With the limited space on Earth, there’s a compelling need to strike a balance between the natural and built environments when constructing functional spaces. Schools for landscape architecture have produced professionals who are capable of integrating human structures with nature in order to develop sustainable and harmonious spaces for future generations.

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How Does Landscape Architecture Showcase Sustainability?

  1. Green architecture prioritizes energy efficiency, utilizing sustainable materials and passive design.
  2. Sustainable buildings often incorporate renewable energy sources like solar panels.
  3. Green architecture aims to minimize environmental impact throughout the building lifecycle.
  4. Sustainable designs emphasize natural lighting and ventilation to reduce energy consumption.
  5. Green roofs and walls mitigate urban heat island effects and enhance biodiversity.
  6. Sustainable buildings integrate water-saving technologies such as rainwater harvesting systems.
  7. Green architecture promotes the use of recycled and locally sourced materials.
  8. Sustainable buildings are often designed to optimize resource efficiency and minimize waste.
  9. Passive solar design principles are key in green architecture, maximizing solar gain.
  10. Sustainable buildings are designed to promote occupant health and well-being.
Best Landscape Architecture Projects That Showcase Sustainability - fact

What is Landscape Architecture?

Landscape architecture is essentially the planning and design of outdoor spaces and land to improve public and individual health as well as strengthen communities. It typically involves the integration of organic landscapes and man-made structures, like in the cases of parks, streetscapes, event spaces, campuses, and residences.

Enrolling in a traditional or online landscape architecture degree program equips you with the knowledge to address land use issues fully and identify appropriate plants and trees to nurture and comprehend the impact of various construction practices.

The best online landscape design courses should include a thorough understanding, discussion, and application of landscaping and construction techniques that foster not just ecological sustainability but also social sustainability as well.

If you aspire to this profession, make sure to complete your Bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture online or through a traditional learning format, as all states in the US will require licensing.

According to the country’s Labor Statistics Bureau, limited growth is expected for the employment of landscape architects until 2032.

Making Sustainability Happen in Landscape Architecture

With the Earth deteriorating and natural resources depleting, the demand for sustainability initiatives is paramount. To address this, landscape architects work closely with other professionals, including engineers who have earned advanced education and experience.  

The important work that landscape architects do also hinges on the fundamental principles of architecture, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Urban planners with a graduate degree in their belt and who have earned the license to practice professionally may also be involved in the process. It pays to work with an expert who obtained a Sustainability graduate degree as well!

Top 10 Sustainable Landscape Architecture Projects in the US

These superb landscape architecture projects in the United States showcasing sustainability will definitely inspire generations to innovate for a more eco-conscious future!

Atlantic Wharf Park in Boston, Massachusetts

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Designed by Halvorson Design Partnership Atlantic, the Atlantic Wharf Park is a 2.2-acre mixed-use redevelopment that revives the historical Boston district with functional and sustainable design solutions. Opening its doors to the public in 2011, it comprises a green roof terrace, an open events space and park, and a redesigned segment of the Boston Harborwalk.

The developer of this project, Boston Properties (BXP), utilized the country’s standards for green building in order to make the Atlantic Wharf the first sustainable high-rise in Boston. In fact, the project received several recognitions for its sustainability, including the LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Queens Botanical Gardens in New York

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Located in Flushing, Queens, this botanical garden is a 39-acre urban haven that showcases an arboretum and a wide variety of gardens, e.g., Bee Garden, Herb Garden, Rose Garden, and Perennial Garden. The project is New York’s showcase of real-world environmental stewardships put into action.

Although the concept for the Queens Botanical Gardens started in 1939, the master plan to incorporate sustainable energy features began in the late 20th century with Atelier Dreiseitl in collaboration with Conservation Design Forum as the landscape designers.

Railroad Park in Birmingham, Alabama

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Spanning 19 acres of green space in downtown Birmingham, Railroad Park showcases the artistic and historical heritage of the city with venues perfect for family activities, cultural events, and local recreation.

This project, also known as Birmingham’s Living Room, was designed by landscape architect Tom Leader Studio and developed by the local construction firm Brasfield & Gorrie. The park is maintained with the joint effort of the Railroad Park Foundation and the City of Birmingham.

Guthrie Green in Tulsa, Oklahoma

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An urban community park and performance venue in the middle of Tulsa’s emerging art district, the Guthrie Green was once a 2.6-acre truck-loading facility. Thanks to landscape architect SWA Group, what was once an industrial space is now a sustainable public green space that draws more than 3,000 people into the area each week.

Hailed as one of the great public spaces in the US by the American Planning Association, this park features multipurpose lawns, urban squares with fountains, and an outdoor stage with vine-covered waiting rooms.

The major component that makes Guthrie Green an innovative, sustainable project is its geo-exchange system, which provides 600 tons of cooling and heating to buildings through underground pipes. This system helps reduce cooling/heating costs by around 60%.

Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square in Santa Monica, California

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The Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square are a 7.4-acre landscape of active urban spaces, Mediterranean meadow gardens, and rolling hills. It’s located between the city’s popular palm-laden Ocean Avenue, the City Hall, and the Interstate-10 freeway.

With landscape architect James Corner Field Operations as the lead designer, the former parking lot was transformed into an innovative, active urban landscape that embodies sustainability through its ecology, water management, and social use.

Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York

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The Brooklyn Bridge Park, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, spans 85 acres on the Brooklyn side of the East River. This special waterfront park features vibrant programming, expansive piers, and rich ecology that highlight this project’s sustainability not just at the environmental level but at the social level as well. 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus in Seattle, Washington

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus is considered a socially and ecologically sustainable hub that meets the Foundation’s mission to foster local engagement and global collaboration. The site was once a badly degraded bog in wetlands that had been isolated from its neighboring areas over time.

With the works of Seattle-based landscape architect Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN), the area was transformed into the gathering place that it is today. Through water edges, pathways, and other landscape features, this functioning space now integrates into the surrounding dense Uptown neighborhood of Seattle, a reflection of the Foundation’s role as an active member of the community and steward of the land while promoting collaborative works on a global scale.

The High Line in New York

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The High Line is a long public park stretching 1.5 miles from Manhattan’s Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards. With the collaboration of architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, garden designer Piet Oudolf, and landscape designer James Corner Field Operations, an abandoned elevated railroad was transformed into a public space with several urban microclimates situated along its entire length.

The High Line was once an area where freight trains ran on street-level tracks in the mid-1800s in the West Side of Manhattan. Due to the dangerous conditions for pedestrians, an elevated rail line was created, and in 1933, the first train ran on it.

Beginning in the 1960s, the use of trains waned, and the area slowly became an eyesore for many people throughout the decades.

Navy Yards Central Green in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Located in the middle of the 1,200-acre waterfront urban development, Philadelphia Navy Yard Corporate Center is the 5-acre Central Green, which features distinct circular areas that are all surrounded by a 20-ft wide social walking track.

Bird habitat, wetlands, and meadows historically marked the area, but with the help of landscape architect James Corner Field Operations, it was transformed into an open-spaced, outdoor activity hub. With its innovative design that integrates urban development with its natural habitat, the Navy Yard Central Green now promotes ecological and social sustainability.

Lafayette Greens in Detroit, Michigan

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Lafayette Greens is essentially an urban garden and green space that allows Detroit residents to plant food in the area. It is located on the site where the Lafayette Building, one of the many high-rise offices in downtown Detroit, used to stand. The building was demolished in 2009 after being abandoned for more than a decade.

Designed by Kenneth Weikal Landscape Architecture, the Lafayette Greens is conceptualized amidst the city’s urban agriculture movement as a response to the residents’ limited access to fresh food despite the many abandoned spaces. 

Before You Go…

In conclusion, embracing green and sustainable practices within landscape architecture is not merely a trend but a necessity for our planet’s future well-being. Through conscientious design, thoughtful material choices, and strategic planning, landscape architects have the power to mitigate environmental degradation, conserve natural resources, and foster healthier, more resilient communities.

By prioritizing sustainability, we can create landscapes that not only enhance the beauty of our surroundings but also contribute to the preservation of ecosystems, mitigate climate change impacts, and promote a harmonious relationship between people and the environment.

As stewards of the land, it is our responsibility to prioritize green and sustainable principles in all aspects of landscape architecture, ensuring a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come.

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