The power of open space to connect people and bind communities is unequivocal. For our team, this passion for building spaces that people love to use runs deep and ties us to our clients, partners and to the communities we serve. At Stoss, we specialize in landscape revitalization. We design landscapes and public spaces to respond and adapt to changes in climate, demographics, and economies. Our team of landscape architects and designers are creative thinkers, well-versed in not only delivering innovative concepts and master plans, but highly experienced in bringing conceptual projects to life. Our goal is to ensure that our client’s goals are met throughout the entire lifecycle of a project from concept and design development through the construction process—all of which is driven by tactical and effective verbal, written and visual communication.
Ultimately, our design approach embraces a process that is both inventive and pragmatic. Our team embarks on wide-ranging brainstorming, testing, and scenario-building exercises to study which combinations work best. As we progress through a project, we prioritize the kinds of interventions and redevelopment that might occur, weighing environmental, social, and economic issues simultaneously.
Our urban planning work is focused on creating an active and environmentally sustainable urban realm, socially vibrant public spaces, and diverse, vital neighborhoods in which folks can live, work and play. With each project our team conducts up front, careful reviews of existing plans as well as the on-the-ground conditions. In addition, we meet with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to help us analyze and identify where things are working well; where they need refinement; and where they might need re-thinking entirely.
We look at all site systems together including, open spaces and recreation, ecology, transportation, economics, and other forms of infrastructure. In searching for the most substantive solution, we also look to non-traditional possibilities, including productive landscapes (landscapes that produce food, energy, ecology, or culture), and to entrepreneurial and cross-sector practices (such as art installations), that can inform ways of thinking, ways of engaging broader inputs, generating more creative ways of moving forward. We explore far-ranging solutions, positioning various scenarios against one another and prompting discussions to ensure that we consider multiple scenarios before narrowing our thinking—we believe this results in better outcomes.
It’s critical that public spaces perform in a myriad of ways and support different kinds of uses, so that they continue to be lively and active throughout the day and night (through all seasons of the year). In order to achieve high levels of site activation in the public realm, our team has become invested and well-versed in interactive and robust public processes that step far outside meetings with PowerPoint presentations. Each space is unique, and our public participation strategy is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach; our engagement process is tailored to the specific needs and quirks of a place. Implementation often happens best when the community takes ownership of the planning and design process. Therefore, we take the role of mediators and active listeners, translating community desires and stakeholder goals into implementable projects.
We bring to public engagement an exciting tool box of techniques such as interactive planning games, physical models with moving pieces to facilitate imagination and test scenarios, online surveys, walking and biking tours (to name a few) that allow residents and stakeholders to tell stories and point out specific concerns. And, to support these endeavors, we develop clear graphics that demonstrate ideas and engage participants, building momentum toward implementation while ensuring that it is fun, educational and provides stakeholders the opportunity to have a vested interest in a design that will shape the site’s future.
climate & resiliency planning
At Stoss we approach climate change with an innovative mindset, taking on technical issues of resiliency and going beyond them, to create beautiful and engaging spaces that protect, energize, educate, and set up thoroughly new experiences. We are leaders in the field of designing for resilience and have extensive experience planning for and implementing waterfront projects in regions prone to flooding.
Planning for climate resilience requires an integrated strategy that applies diverse types of protection methods in combination to achieve success—including green infrastructure, gray infrastructure and, ‘living with water’. Our team begins with the foundational belief that infrastructure should do as much as possible, that investments in flood protection should provide multiple benefits including social, environmental and economic. With sea level rise, intensified storms, and more frequent flooding, green infrastructure must be scaled up and considered as fundamental to the planning and design process. In this vein, streets, open spaces, even buildings and infrastructures can be designed to act as a resilient blue/green landscape, directing, collecting and absorbing water while providing equitable social and economic opportunities.