The Lawrenceville School Landscape Study (Work Completed at Sasaki Associates)
Role: Lead Landscape Designer
Status: Master Plan Completed 2018 / Implementation In Progress
Location: Lawrenceville, NJ
Learn More: ▶︎Full Project
The Lawrenceville School (TLS) is located in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, a 15-minutes drive away from Princeton. The campus is unique in its character and legacy as an outstanding collection of significant buildings woven together by America’s leading Landscape Architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. The core of the campus value lies in its collaborative environment as well its emphasis on historical preservation. The campus's architectural and landscape heritage enhances the richness of the existing context. We believe that the whole campus should work to reinforce this personalized approach to preservation, education and community building. Asking ourselves how can we highlight the elements that make Lawrenceville special in its master plan for the future?
I was on the core landscape team for the research and analysis phase of the project. Using archives, spatial data and ecologically driven methods, we were able to uncover the Olmsted legacy, understanding current campus canopy conditions, and define a clear direction for our planning and preservation strategies.
The Lawrence Township is situated within the transition zone between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of New Jersey. This condition manifests itself in topography, vegetation, and surface water movement. TLS property is located within the Stockton geological formation. Soil and bedrock properties are conducive to high-quality storage of groundwater in underground aquifers. TLS campus occupies a significant portion of the Shipetaukin Creek sub-watershed. Considered an important “headwater” condition based on position within the larger watershed.
Using ArcGIS to visualize and categorize the existing trees on campus and comparing it to the original Olmsted plan, we soon came to realize the original canopies were grouped based on their horticultural relationships - they were either in the same family or shared similar characters (form, size, evergreen, floral, and etc.). This provided us the benchmark for future preservation plans. Preserving the spatial quality of these "groupings" will override the importance of the individual trees.
For future steps, we would like to develop a strategy for planting the next generation of canopy trees, and goals relative to the use of the campus landscape as an educational tool. This will become a unique feature in the school's curriculum while helping preserve Olmsted's vision. We consider managing tree replacement over time to reflect the historical design intent within the Olmsted original campus. We will develop spatial and horticultural principles to guide planting strategies within other campus precincts.
Diagrams Courtesy of Sasaki Associates