American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Professional Awards
ASLA Home  | ASLA Honors and Awards  |  Call for Entries  |  Awards Jury  | Awards Press Release  |  News Room & Publications

<< back to main page

Spatial Organization Diagrams (Image: Reed Hilderbrand)

Planting Organization Diagrams (Image: Reed Hilderbrand)

A pathway at the lower end of the garden connects the new garden with the Arboretum entrance and the historic collections. (Photo: Andrea Jones)

A primary pedestrian spine extends in a single arc along the sloping landform and links the main garden with the Arboretum proper. (Photo: Andrea Jones)

Further into the garden, the terraces unfold as the walls torque against the shape of the drainage way and the adjacent esker. (Photo: Alan Ward)

The main terrace provides four types of supports for vines to accommodate climbing, clinging, and clambering species. (Photo: Alan Ward)

Traditional garden ramps provide accessibility between terraces. (Photo: Alan Ward)

Click here for printer-friendly version


M. Victor and Frances Leventritt Garden at The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Reed Hilderbrand, Watertown, Massachusetts
client: Harvard University

"A project of love, you can just see it in the details. It's exquisite, contemporary yet traditional and unique in how it's presented. It looks very sustainable and appears low maintenance. The accessibility is addressed subtly and effectively."

— 2007 Professional Awards Jury Comments

A Contemporary Parterre for Shrubs and Vines

This garden realizes the Arnold Arboretum’s evolving scientific and public mission by bringing landscape architects together with research scientists to develop a flexible and engaging shrub and vine collection. Applying horticultural display traditions—bedding and terracing—to a 3.5-acre irregularly shaped hillside, the project develops a contemporary, fully accessible framework for changing collections emphases, educational programs, and daily enjoyment. By fusing the primary concerns of topography, plant culture and habit, spatial character, and interpretation, the project advances the collaborative legacy of Charles Sprague Sargent and Frederick Law Olmsted.

The Organic Parterre: Integrating Curators, Gardeners, and the Public

To establish a new demonstration garden for over 150 species and cultivars of shrubs and vines, the Arboretum set forth an open-ended collections policy without a specific curatorial direction. The scheme therefore depends on a flexible bedding layout that dynamically responds to the site’s thirty vertical feet of grade change and its irregular outline. The result is a torqued organic parterre that integrates cultivation and experimentation with public walks, a gathering space, and an outdoor classroom pavilion. The parterre contains a central lawn that expresses an arcing, moving gesture down slope and toward the adjacent historic collections areas of the Arboretum.

Movement: Integrating the Garden with the Arboretum

The circulation scheme for the project was conceived as a continuous, connective itinerary that re-scales the experience of the Arboretum for more intimate interpretive activity than may be found elsewhere on the 200-acre property. With thirty feet of vertical change, a traditional expression of garden ramps and steps links terraces to achieve universal accessibility—turning the barrier-free ethic to a distinct asset for the project.

Sustainability: Integrating Growth, Maintenance, Moisture, and Drainage

Soils on the project, blended on site to exacting specifications, were designed to provide uniformly suitable growing conditions and all-season vehicle support. The scheme addresses microclimate effects of exposure and dry conditions at terrace walls for drought-tolerant species, and a supplemental irrigation infrastructure provides capacity for hand watering in areas of greater moisture demand. These provisions satisfy the client’s low-input maintenance goals and helped form the interpretive collections framework for the project.

Collaboration: Integrating Science and Pleasure

With the terrace and bedding structure finally in place, the team of designers, horticulturists, and educators have continued to develop an evolving framework for ordering the collections. Curatorial, interpretive, cultural, and spatial criteria are balanced. Changing thematic organizations structure the site, grouping a sub-collection of endangered plants, plants introduced by the Arboretum, collections of taxonomic affiliation, and special endowed collections on individual terraces. Within those collections, plant locations are determined by cultural requirements, habit and size, seasonal change, horticultural tastes, and—eventually—turnover and replacement, after research or interpretive activity has concluded on a particular sector or individual. The shared expertise that shaped this framework integrates the landscape architect’s spatial and historical perspective with current scientific and practical aims. In turn it produced a set of guiding principles for planting instead of a fixed planting plan—recognizing the dynamic, flexible needs of living collections.

Project Resources

Maryann Thompson Architects

Environmental/Civil Engineer:
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Geotechnical Engineer:
Haley & Aldrich

Structural Engineer:

Irrigation Design:
Irrigation Consulting, Inc.

General Contractor:
Lee Kennedy Co., Inc.

Landscape Contractor:
ValleyCrest Landscape Development

M. F. Construction Corp



The central lawn exploits the arcing gesture back toward the Arboretum proper. (Photo: Andrea Jones)

The outdoor classroom/garden pavilion, integrated with terrace walls and vine supports, provides an overlook and a comprehensive view of the garden's order and structure. (Photo: Alan Ward)

Precise grading and masonry create the armature for flexible garden plots and varied itineraries among the terraces. (Photo: Andrea Jones)

Terraces and ramps negotiate thirty feet of elevation. (Photo: Charles Mayer Photography)

One of four types of vine support. (Photo: Andrea Jones)

Movement defines the experience of the garden. (Photo: Alan Ward)

ASLA Home  | ASLA Honors and Awards  |  Call for Entries  |  Awards Jury  | Awards Press Release  |  News Room & Publications