mooool团队聚焦景观设计行业，致力于传播全球优秀设计理念，本期mooool专辑带来的是STIMSON STUDIO董事Lauren Stimson的专访。mooool每季度约访全球知名设计公司，传播展现优秀设计理念！
STIMSON STUDIO was founded in 1992 by designers Stephen Stimson. The studio has since evolved into a collective led by five Principals. This diverse and intelligent team composed of designers, planners and horticulturalists has gone through more than 30 years, with the love of land, respect for the site history and environment, to connect the present and the future with ecology.
We focus on landscape architecture industry and devote to spreading the excellent design ideas around the world. In today’s interview, we introduce Lauren Stimson, Principal of STIMSON STUDIO.
总策划：陈科君 / Producer: Kejun Chen
主编辑：陈科君、王兰芳、王维佳 / Editor: Kejun Chen, Via Wang, Weijia Wang
Interview: Mooool x Lauren Stimson
右一/Right one：Stephen Stimson；右二/Second from right：Lauren Stimson（受访人）
Please briefly introduce your work experience and background to Chinese readers.
I am a Principal at STIMSON. We are a landscape architecture practice comprised of designers, planners and horticulturalists. Our core studio of thirty designers is located in the city (Cambridge, MA) and our innovation lab is located at Charbrook Farm (Princeton, MA) where we have a working farm and plant nursery. Our studio is led by five Principals. We think of ourselves as a collective that shares a common respect for the land and love of our craft. Our work is eclectic and ranges from public parks to museums, academic campuses and residential gardens. We design at all scales and every geography. The culture of our studio is nourishing; we feel very strongly that work and home must be balanced. It is not always easy to achieve this balance, but we have a young family and strive to be mentors within the design world that too often pushes people to their limits. Our studio has been practicing landscape architecture for almost three decades. We are very grateful for the longevity and proud of the breadth of our work.
How do you think your background and experience have potentially influenced your work? What kind of design are you good at?
I was raised in the northeast, have lived abroad and in other parts of the country, but have always come back to New England. This place is my home and where I feel most comfortable. I spent a lot of time outdoors as a child—with my father in the woodlot, gardening with my mother, berry picking, snake hunting in the meadow behind our house, maple sugaring, cross-country skiing, and building tree forts. I was rarely inside—I spent even my high school and college years outside for every summer job. I have always gravitated towards experiences that enable me to develop a relationship with the landscape around me.
New England is the oldest part of America. With some of the first settlements, design on the land, and the most historic landscapes. I have always loved history. In college I majored in Theater with a focus on ancient Greek drama. For my thesis I directed a modern interpretation of Euripides’ Electra. Digging deep into a 5th century BC literary document for some present-day meaning. This kind of approach is similar to the way I approach site analysis and the design of landscape. I am always searching for some forgotten or silent story about a site that is waiting to be told. A way to make a connection to a modern audience.
I also create scenes in my mind—compositions. If you metaphorically squint your eyes and look at a site, ask yourself what is really important and visible? What is missing that could strengthen this scene? I suppose it may come from working in theater or perhaps from painting. I am an amateur with oil painting but it helps me during site analysis. I spent a year working on abstract studies and paintings for our farm during the initial site design while my husband meticulously did measured drawings. Today, we are lucky to have both the scene I envisioned with the precision of his drawings. I gravitate towards conceptual thinking. When painting landscapes, I tend to distill down to the simplest forms and ignore the excess. Abstraction in painting helps me think about simplification on a larger scale with landscape architecture.
▼Lauren的油画作品 Lauren’s oil paintings
▼弗洛伦萨格里斯沃尔德博物馆项目的手绘效果图 Hand-painted renderings of Florence Griswold Museum by Stephen Stimson.
▼弗洛伦萨格里斯沃尔德博物馆项目概念草图 Concept sketches of Florence Griswold Museum by Lauren Stimson.
In New England, we have so much diversity with our farms, colonial villages, and gritty mill towns. And even more contrast with the wildness of our woods, mountains and ocean—all of these overlapping landscapes overlaid with the mosaic of our different plant communities, is something that will always resonate with me. The ruggedness of our four seasons is so fundamental to the way I think about design; whatever we build needs to be tough and durable, and most of all, contextual. It needs to feel like it belongs. That only comes from knowing a place really well. I am a regionalist at heart and really believe a designed landscape should feel embedded and resonate with the character of the region. I think it is important to take on different strategies for site analysis and research, from painting, drawing, diagramming, photography, collage…there are so many ways to understand and convey a site’s history, condition and meaning. I think getting to know a site, it’s real identity, is probably what I am really good at. I love creating a sense of nostalgia; whether through materials or plants—and giving someone a sense of the familiar, something they may remember from another place, usually a wilder or unexpected reference.
In your project, I saw many projects belong to renovation design. Is this type of project attractive to you? How do you design for this type of project?
These days, it is very rare to work on a green site, or one that has not been altered. I think it is very challenging to come into a pre-existing condition, whether in a university campus or urban core and be presented with a site that needs reconditioning. These types of projects comprise almost all of my recent work. These projects are like surgery; great care is taken to understand the current condition of the landscape, what has shaped the site over time, what the current issues are and what the potential solutions can be. There is often a major collaborative process between the landscape architect and the owner/client. We rely heavily on them for guidance and feedback along the way. Restoring these kinds of landscapes are often a mix of preserving some historic identity, while introducing a distinct and forward-thinking attitude that addresses the current and future needs of the user groups. These projects are some of the most interesting because they can be the most dramatic—improving sites that were previously forgotten, abandoned or derelict and transforming them into something new, but familiar.
▼威廉姆斯学院设计手稿——源自场地地理特征的改造设计 Williams college design manuscript — Inspired by the local geographic features
▼行走或停留在“岩层”空间 Walk or stay in “the ledges” space
You are very cautious when dealing with the landscape boundary. How do you intervene in the appropriate landscape, restore the site edge ecology, and complete the transition from artificial to natural?
I find the most interesting design comes from this kind of contrast—between the designed and the natural. Doesn’t every landscape architect identify this tension and reinterpret it in some way? In our studio, we try to push the wild into boxes, rather than think about it as simply an ‘edge ecology’, we invite that wildness into the heart of the space, but give it distinct boundaries. Sometimes we like to blur the edge or interface by sharing a plant palette that references the indigenous ones that are already on the site. Wild plants enter our composition by invitation from the edge conditions. Often, we insert our own built elements into the natural context. Much of our work has this attitude about fluid integration and we use walls, edging, curbs—linearity or solidness to define, restrain and control natural elements.
▼模糊边界的处理方式-将自然原生的东西融入场地中 Blur the edge or interface by sharing a plant palette-“push the wild into boxes”.
▼哈德伯杰公园概念设计研究 Hardberger Park Concept Study
▼哈德伯杰公园远眺 Hardberger Park Overlook
Every time I look at your works, I have the impression that “Wow, design can be so simple”. In your works, we see new and old materials, rough and delicate practices, artificial and natural plants are often deliberately arranged together. What kind of feelings or site memories do you want to convey to the users?
My husband and I live on a farm that we have been building for a decade. It is a modern homestead in aesthetic, but at the same time reflects an age-old attitude about living off the land. The house was built from trees we harvested and milled from the land we cleared. We planted gardens for vegetables and fruit. We restored pastures for our livestock that we raise for meat and wool. We planted thickets and hedgerows from our nursery plants for wildlife cover. We have a very straightforward philosophy at home—Yankee ingenuity. Take cues from our land. Use ordinary materials. Have cleverness in design. Be resourceful. Try to do things frugally. This isn’t always the case, but we try to follow these guidelines so that we don’t stray from our mission to craft a place that both feels like it belongs to our colonial town and demonstrates innovation in design in a rural setting.
I really feel that nothing we do is ever new, it is just a different physical exploration of these timeless themes—rural and urban, rustic and modern, wild and tame. The duality of these contrasts is what is most memorable. And again, this desire to draw upon the familiar—through materiality, history and site ecology—this is very important to me.
▼Stimson夫妇在农场自然生态的日常生活 Natural ecology of farm life
▼哈德伯杰公园——设计结合场地原有的元素，融合人工与自然。 Hardberger Park – The design combines the original elements of the site, fusing artificial and natural.
▼自然与人工的对比和融合，体现在校园中的细节。The contrast and integration of nature and artificiality are reflected in the details of the campus.
Many design firms express some core values of their designs by using natural material elements. However, how do you achieve breakthroughs, create differences and find your own material style characteristics?
All of our work is in response to our understanding of the site, the program and the user needs. Any perceived breakthroughs are simply our way of expressing some unique character that is manifested through design. We often do multiple options and studies to get to a final outcome. I would say we don’t have a distinct style, because all of our work is so site specific. I have heard many other designers say at some point in time ‘I didn’t know STIMSON did that project’. This is a compliment. Isn’t that important? To not have a set style that you stamp across the world? Instead, we remain contextual. Making great effort to get to know each site and project carefully, so as not to repeat a pattern language that is not appropriate.
▼马萨诸塞大学——从伯克希尔山脉的种植中获取设计灵感 Take design inspiration from the planting of the nearby Berkshire Mountains, each one with a particular function relating to the site’s hydrology and topography.
I think this unique naturalistic design with strong identification is not only limited to respect for nature or restoration of marginal ecology, application of materials and other issues. It must be the core value of your deeper awareness of design. Can you give us an in-depth talk about your design philosophy?
We have a love affair with the land. And it extends into the way we think passionately about design, details, and the craft of our landscapes. I have touched upon this, but in essence, we really strive to allow each site to have history and ecology amongst other elements, play important roles in our design expression. While at the same time, solving important client program requirement and creating forms through materials and plants that result in strong spatial and even emotional experiences. We really want people to love being in our landscapes, whether it is a 300-acre public park or a ¼ acre residential garden. And to gain some appreciation for the environment by being there.
Q：在您的作品Williams College New Quad and the Ledges，Pulaski Park中， 植物搭配透着原始与粗狂。在Cider Ridge Farm和Cove House中可以看出植物是被精心设计的，⼈工中透着永恒的⾃然感受(虽为人作，宛⾃天开)。在植物的种植审美方面，您提倡的是什么样的种植审美？
In your work Williams College New Quad, The Ledges and Pulaski Park, the plant collection is original and wild. However, it can be seen from Cider Ridge Farm and Cove House that the plants are carefully designed. In terms of plant planting aesthetics, what kind of planting aesthetics do you advocate?
我们认为每一处景观都是一个花园。虽然每一个项目的规模和环境都不尽相同，但其实我们都可以将其理解为一个为周围环境提供喘息和放松的花园空间。除了材料、地形和水，植物对于在项目中创造一种空间感也非常重要。Cider Ridge Farm 和Cove House 这两个项目都是带有一系列户外房间的花园。这两个项目的种植形式都是在加强这些空间，所以项目中的植物通常是线性和建筑性质的，它们的形式都相当大胆——以便界定场地边缘、走廊，和强调场地地形和水文。
We consider every landscape a garden. The scale and context always changes, but every project has the potential to be interpreted as a garden that offers respite and relief from its surroundings. In addition to materials, landform and water, plants remain so important to creating a sense of place. Cider Ridge Farm and Cove House are both gardens with a series of outdoor rooms. The planted form of both of these projects reinforces these spaces. Often linear and architectural in nature, the plants in these projects take on forms that are quite bold—defining edges, corridors and reinforcing landform and hydrology.
▼Cider Ridge Farm——通过场地特性，植物种植形式来加强空间感，界定场地边缘。 Through site characteristics, plant planting forms enhance the sense of space and define the edge of the site.
▼小康普顿花园——特定于场地的庭院景观 Little Compton Garden – Site-specific courtyard landscape
而在威廉姆斯学院(Williams College)，这些岩石壁是对场地山脉的一种有形表达，以及对当地标志性材料大理石的致敬；利用山毛榉，檫木，山核桃，枫树，云杉和各种高山灌木和地被植物的种植则反映出附近格雷洛克山的一种典型的裸岩生态。Pulaski 公园的河岸植物雨水花园激活了Mill河的健康生态系统，这是一种通过城市景观表现现代北安普顿市的环境伦理的方法。这两个项目都是城市规模类的，但同时也是另一种意义上的花园，所以就利用这些野生植物群落重新诠释并强化项目场地原本的区域生态。
At Williams College, in the Ledges were conceived as a tangible expression of the mountains and a nod to marble, the iconic material of Williamstown. The planting reflects an expression of an outcrop ecology typically found on nearby Mount Greylock; beech, sassafras, hickory, maple, spruce and a variety of alpine shrubs and groundcovers. At Pulaski Park, the health of the Mill River ecosystem was evoked through an expansive stormwater garden of riparian plants. A way to make the present-day environmental ethic of the City of Northampton visible through the civic landscape. These projects are both civic in scale, but remain gardens at the same time. These wild plant communities reinterpret familiar, regional ecologies that reinforce the site context.
▼Pulaski Park——通过当地的野生植物群落重新诠释了当地区域生态，强化场地环境。 These local wild plant communities reinterpret familiar, regional ecologies that reinforce the site context.
What planting methods are widely advocated in the landscape industry in American? Has plant aesthetics changed over the years?
Olmsted was restoring wild ecosystems within urban environments in the mid 1800s. Our country seemed to ignore the ‘eco’ part of this system for two centuries while we paved over and obliterated nature time and time again. Since the 1970s, there has most certainly been a resurgence in designing with an environmental ethic in mind. And even greater effort in the past decade to push a wilder approach to planting within the institutional, academic and public realm. We are finally moving beyond the tree and lawn landscape and embracing a more diverse attitude about plants that reflect communities rather than individual specimens. Again, I remain unconvinced that we are doing anything differently (than Olmsted), but our modern world is much denser and more complicated. Today’s projects are pushing for wildness at so many different scales, from the city-wide to the pocket park, that the tensions are greater between the natural and the manmade. With so much surrounding development, our introduced and designed interventions become more dramatic and recognizable.
I think the most successful approach to planting design is comprehensive and holistic—engaging everything from soil science and horticulture to cultural and environmental significance and resulting landscape character. We are finding that many of our projects benefit from approaches to planting that really take cues from what is already found on the site. In other words, interpreting the inherent or latent site ecologies and amplifying them. This usually means cultivating ordinary plants, that ironically, may not easily be found in nurseries. We end up finding these plants through other means; collecting them from disturbed sites or transplanting species from adjacent properties. Or even growing them ourselves in our own nursery or contract growing with other nurseries. I think the desire to embrace wild planting has finally been accepted as the new normal in both the private and public realm. We are constantly testing our clients’ tolerances for how much wildness they are willing to embrace.
▼利用场地原有的野生植物，建立场地特有的生态环境。 The original wild plants of the site are used to establish the unique ecological environment of the site.
Is this seemingly ecological planting method effective in solving environmental and ecological problems? What are your test criteria and have you done any evaluation?
Restoration planting and the wildness that we explore on many of our projects is another step in the direction of a larger mission of restoration ecology that we are just starting to embark upon. On almost all of our projects, we have an attitude, for example, about stormwater that results in some visible manifestation of a bioswale or rain garden. Surficial expression has so much potential to reinforce the character of the landscape and to alleviate conventional drainage systems that are almost always already in place.
We have so much more to learn about the plants that we specify and the ability of plants to evolve as a community over time. Establishment takes many seasons and mortality rate can be tenuous depending on the weather and the maintenance. We know that planning for succession is part of the process. Landscape design is a commitment. The evolution of our landscapes involves curation and management. Establishing a post-evaluation process for benchmarking the performance of our landscapes is something we have been working on in recent years.
What research is going on at your studio’s “charbrook farm”? What are the practices and applications in your project?
Charbrook is our laboratory. We are in the process of constructing a wood/model shop so we can study mockups and prototypes for site furnishings, lighting and other custom elements. Test plots for meadow seed and grass mixes help us learn about the viability of many of the species we are specifying, but struggle to really feel confident about because meadows, for example, take many years to fully establish. Long-term monitoring really is essential to the success. At our nursery, the concept is to focus on the cultivars of native species that are already thriving within the farm landscape. We learn about the hardiness of hybrids and cultivars, and experiment with planted form, growth rates and even habitat value for wildlife. Most significant is the spring and fall dig season that our studio is able to experience. Designers are able to experience the planting of whips and bare root linestock and digging trees of all caliper sizes, the art of hand-lacing rootballs and pruning for plant health rather than form. All of this hands-on experience is so important for designers who spend so much time inside a studio in front of a computer. Fieldwork is part of the culture of our studio and we encourage people to get outside and get their hands dirty. It connects us to the land.
▼在农场中实践体验学习 Practice, Experience and Study on Farm
▼项目中的种植体验 Planting experience in the project
What kind of projects have you been involved in recently? What are the gains and changes? Can you give an example?
One of my most favorite recent projects is the work we are just completed at the University of Massachusetts Integrated Design Building. The rooftop garden was conceptualized as a micro-scale version of an alpine summit plant community. Windswept lichens, mosses and groundcovers that one would find atop Mt. Holyoke on a hike. The entire project is a manifestation of experimental design. So many green roofs consist of sedums and grass. Instead, we created a place that mimics the hilltop ecology of the region. It functions as a seasonal gathering space for the surrounding community. It remains modern and consistent with the architectural forms and materials of the new building and above all, is a place for learning. The rooftop courtyard has become woven into the school’s academic programs as a living laboratory for the students to monitor this experimental installation. We recognize the project is both a risk and an opportunity. We have a great partnership with the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at UMass and are dedicated to helping them monitor their landscape. We wrote a management plan for the University and this has been an important contribution that will continue to guide the long-term stewardship of this project.
▼马萨诸塞大学综合设计大楼屋顶花园——将高山峰顶植物群落概念化 The rooftop garden was conceptualized as a micro-scale version of an alpine summit plant community.
最近的另一个项目是佛罗伦萨格里斯沃尔德博物馆(Florence Griswold Museum)的艺术家之路。佛罗伦萨格里斯沃尔德博物馆位于美国康涅狄格州的老莱姆，是美国印象主义的发源地。原来这里是一个农场，后来被拆除了，博物馆花了50多年的时间才把它恢复到原来的大小。2016年，一个关键的土地收购启动了该项目规划，我们提交了一个新的解释性景观体验规划。我们创建的“艺术家之路”是一个为纪念美国印象派运动的根源和最初启发艺术家的边缘地带，这条封闭的环路小径上包含了艺术家们自己居住和记录的风景，但在近一个世纪的时间里，这些景观基本上被忽略了，但这也为我们提供了一个新机会来恢复场地的固有生态，并通过诠释博物馆画作中著名的失落植物群落，将游客的体验扩展到景观中。
Another recent project is the Artists’ Trail at the Florence Griswold Museum. Located in Old Lyme, CT, the Florence Griswold Museum is the home of American Impressionism. Originally a working farm, the original estate was dismantled and it took over fifty years for the Museum to restore it to nearly its original size. In 2016, a pivotal land acquisition initiated a Master Plan, and we provided the site planning for a new interpretive landscape experience. We created ‘The Artists’ Trail’ as a way to honor the roots of the American Impressionist movement and the land of edges that originally inspired the artists. Conceived as an enclosed loop, the Trail includes landscapes that the artists themselves had inhabited and documented, yet had been largely ignored for nearly a century. The edges offer a new opportunity to restore the site’s inherent ecologies, and expand the visitor experience into the landscape by interpreting lost plant communities that are so famously depicted in the Museum’s paintings.
This project is a characteristic example of design exploration that embraces buried history and a site-specific approach to restoration ecology. The planting aesthetic is wild and natural, reinforcing the ecologies of meadow, hedgerow, river and woodland. The built interventions are distinctly modern and materials are regional and constructed in very simple, clever ways. We collaborated closely with the contractor and craftspeople, as we always do, during the construction process. Mockups were done in the field, modified on the fly, and improved. We always underestimate the amount of design that still occurs during construction, and so many changes were made during this phase. With all of our projects, design is never finished; we keep refining our work through every sketch, construction detail and built element.
The process is always just as important as the product.
▼Florence Griswold Museum——恢复场地的固有生态，将博物馆体验扩展到景观中 Restore the site’s inherent ecologies, and expand the visitor experience into the landscape.
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