Philosophy

Viridian Landscape Studio heals ecosystems while making beautiful places for people. 
 

For more than 20 years, Viridian has been designing resilient landscapes that enrich the built and natural environments. Our approach is rooted in a deep understanding of green infrastructure, a passion for native vegetation, and a belief that everyone should have access to beautiful landscapes - regardless of age, income, or ability. From pocket parks to campuses to regional master plans, our work balances practical solutions with lyrical design. By considering issues like flood control and soil remediation alongside strategies for inclusive and impactful placemaking, we help clients realize their goals while uplifting communities. When we restore native landscapes, native landscapes restore us. 

 

Viridian was founded in 1999 by Tavis Dockwiller and Rolf Sauer with the mission to bridge ecological expertise with meaningful design. Today, Tavis leads a dedicated team united by their shared commitment to promoting sustainability and social equity through landscape design. Viridian partners with developers, architects, institutions, and local governments to create enduring landscapes for living, learning, playing, and healing. Through professional partnerships, we leverage our unique abilities and resources to create resilient spaces and places that have the power to transform communities. We work closely with our partners at every stage of the development process, and equip our clients with the knowledge and tools to continue their stewardship long into the future. 

 

In addition to landscape design and ecological master planning, Viridian's services include construction documentation and administration, post-occupancy evaluations, and land stewardship education. Viridian Landscape Studio Ltd. is a Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). Click here to view our firm profile booklet highlighting important projects and clients.

Certifications

 

Clarb Certified

The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB) works to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare by establishing and promoting professional licensure standards. We are registered in the states of: Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania

 

WBE

The City of Philadelphia Commerce Department recognizes Viridian Landscape Studio as a Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) under registration number 8291022GC.

DBE

The Pennsylvania United Certification Program recognizes Viridian Landscape Studio as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise under registration number 9502.

Approach

 

Soils

Water

Vegetation

Healthy soils are the basis of a living landscape. In our forests and meadows, soil is a living body made up of inorganic material, decaying organic matter, water, air and billions of organisms. Most of the soils we encounter in the urban and suburban setting have been impacted by humans through construction of buildings and roads or through imprudent agricultural methods. The first step toward restoring healthy systems is to assess the state of the soil and take the steps needed to repair it.

A majority of rainfall comes in the form of small storm events of 2 inches or less. Living landscapes capture these small storms and reintroduce the water back in to the natural hydrological cycle. Infiltrating rainwater into the soil provides nourishment for vegetation, recharges the aquifer, and reduces the demand on overburdened sewer systems.

Vegetation in a living landscape consists of a multi-layered community of plants. Trees, shrubs, and perennials use and evapotranspire water which creates the appropriate environment for a balanced ecosystem. Native plants are well adapted to local environmental conditions and provide food and habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Clients

Viridian is passionate about great design, social equity, community building and leaving a legacy of environmental wellness - and so are our clients. Our partnerships make lasting positive impacts on people, planet and economy because our work is driven by honesty, integrity and innovation.
 
Viridian delivers professional landscape architecture and ecological planning services –  master planning, concept design, construction documentation, construction administration, post occupancy evaluations and professional land stewardship education. We work with a wide variety of profit and not for profit clients as diverse as arboreta, environmental organizations, religious institutions, health care facilities, government agencies, libraries, parks, research institutes, schools, universities and zoos.
 
Contact us about your project idea(s) and we'll make meaningful, lyrical, functional places together. 

 

Publications

Selected

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Awards

Selected

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2021 American Planning Association PA Chapter: Great Places in Pennsylvania Award

Lions Pride Park

Warrington, PA

Lions Pride Park in Warrington Township, Bucks County, consists of 47 acres and is within one of the Township’s greenways. The Park resulted from extensive community involvement, including students, and a partnership between the Township and Lions Club. This unique, ADA compliant park offers both traditional and nature based recreational and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages and abilities. Among the popular children’s attractions is Kids Mountain, an area for creative free play and winter sledding, that is planted with native species and pollinator plants along the climbing area. For adults, the Grove provides a place to relax and socialize. There is also an array of visual, audio, tactile, and sensory experiences throughout the Park, including a beacon phone application and a music alcove. Usage at Lions Pride Park has continued to grow, resulting in a positive impact on the local economy and quality of life. It provides “a safe and fun place for everyone to play and relax.” 
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2021 American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Honor Award: General Design

Farm for the City

Philadelphia, PA

The Farm for the City highlighted the role community gardeners play in strengthening neighborhoods and the gardens' positive impacts on some of the most pressing issues facing our communities, such as food insecurity. This pop-up project transformed a largely barren Philadelphia plaza into a beautiful production farm with over fifty crops grown. The design is based on the nautilus shape, a symbol of expansion and renewal. The 2000 sf garden swirled around existing giant game piece sculptures and reached its arms out toward the city. The temporary project delivered over 1200 pounds of produce to feed 8600 men and women who are homeless, at risk of being homeless, or of low-income. 
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2021 Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture: General Design

Fairleigh Dickinson University Spirit Bridge

Hackensack and Teaneck, NJ

"This project began as a bridge restoration. After initial discussions, the facilities department and designers quickly recognized the potential for the bridge to reflect, via a holistic replacement strategy, the university’s commitment to ecological health and social wellness. The densely planted garden path replaces a crumbling concrete-and-chain-link walkway to connect FDU’s split campuses. The bridge is designed to reflect and restore the native ecosystem. It affirms the university’s commitment to stewardship of the river and embodies the ongoing transformation of the campus into a sustainable eco-park for increasing landscape resiliency and human well-being. It has become the heart of the campus—a learning landscape delivering a place for formal education, university events, and the chance encounters so important to academic life." - SCUP
(Image credit Sahar Coston-Hardy)
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2018 Montgomery Awards: Excellence in Planning and Design Award Winner 

Lions Gate: Student Apartments at Penn State Abington

Penn State University

Abington, PA

Viridian's Lions Gate at Penn State Abington, in collaboration with SMP Architects, was awarded a 2018 Montgomery Award for Excellence in Planning and Design. This distinguished award recognizes and promotes the best in planning
and design in Montgomery County. According to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, "Lions Gate at Penn State Abington is an outstanding example of successful site reuse and sustainable design. This exemplary redevelopment project transformed a neglected site into a community amenity that helps to complete the fabric of Penn State University and Abington Township. The jury applauds the public process that was undertaken."  
(Image credit Halkin Mason Photography)
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2016 Community Design Collaborative’s International Play Space Design Competition

Conceptual Playscape Master Plan: Reviving Recess
Community Design Collaborative of AIA Philadelphia
Philadelphia PA

Viridian led a multi-disciplinary team of educators, architects and engineers to develop an innovative and inspiring playscape entitled Reviving Recess: Bright Futures Chutes and Ladders. The classic children’s board game is brought to life in three dimensions with the construction of two large scale “ladders” that act as shading devices, and with a lushly planted “chute” the represents the long-buried Mill Creek. The board game is realized with landing spaces represented by eight outdoor playrooms – each with a unique play theme.
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2011 Best Green Design Initiative, Municipal Art Society of New York Awards

High Performance Landscape Guidelines 

Design Trust for Public Space

New York NY

As a fellow for the New York City’s Design Trust for Public Space, Tavis Dockwiller partnered with four peers and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to create a set of sustainability guidelines. Park Design for the 21st Century culminates in the publication of High Performance Landscape Guidelines – the third in a trilogy of sustainability guidelines that are shaping policy and construction for the city’s 29,000 acres of parkland. Awarded the Best Green Design Initiative in 2011, the Municipal Art Society of New York called High Performance Landscape Guidelines, “a model that can be instituted and replicated citywide, with the potential of having a widespread effect on the built environment.”
 
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2009 Philadelphia Community Design Collaborative
Outstanding Firm Award

Landscape Architecture

Conceptual Master Landscape Plan for

Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School
Community Design Collaborative of AIA Philadelphia
Philadelphia PA

The Cook-Wissahickon Home & School Association / Green Committee is aiming to make Cook-Wissahickon the first retro-fitted green school in Philadelphia. The Collaborative volunteer project team was asked to develop a conceptual design for a Sustainable Master Landscape Plan for Cook-Wissahickon School. The plan calls for improving the school’s aesthetics in a sustainable way that provides rich educational opportunities for the students and the community. 
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2006 American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Green Award

Campus Master Plan and Phased Site Improvements
Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Monroe Michigan

“The projects chosen in the Top Ten for 2006 included striking examples of integrated thinking, design excellence, strong energy performance, and mindfulness of water, site, and community matters.” - Henry Siegel, FAIA, of the COTE national advisory group. Jury Comments: “The sisters’ comment that sustainability is a moral mandate was compelling. And here they showed how to be smart with reuse. There is also a strong connection to the neighborhood and a reconstructed wetland, showing how the building engaged in its site and place. There’s a real sensitivity to aging occupants...”
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2005 American Society of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence, Analysis & Planning

Developed with hands-on participation in a three- year community-driven design process – the master plan sets forth guidelines and recommendations to create “The New American City” in North Charleston. The ASLA competition jurors called the master plan a “great example at every scale of investigation” that addresses “important issues for our time” with an “uncliched and compelling presentation”. The Noisette process of “inventorying the asset”, looking at the community’s strengths to determine long-term, sustainable solutions was cited by the ASLA web site as, “Together, these elements form the integrated planning basis for establishing the Noisette Community of North Charleston as the leading sustainable redevelopment of an urban environment in the United States.”
 

Noisette Community Master Plan
North Charleston SC

 

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2004 Green Building Award

First Place, Excellence in Design, Multi-use Residential, NE Energy Association & AIA Pittsburgh, Green Design Citation for Felician

Sisters Convent & School
Coraopolis PA

 

 

The Franciscan nuns of the Felician Sisters Convent set out to renovate their 70-year-old provincial campus to feel less like an institution and more like a home. The Sisters wanted to explore the contemplative and spiritual aspects of their site using principles of sustainability as their guiding force. On the journey to the cemetery, extensive areas of lawn were converted to meadow, with Stations of the Cross sited along a new allee of trees. New athletic fields and open spaces introduce areas where buildings once stood. Landscape courtyards also provide the School with a performance court and the Convent with a prayer labyrinth and Alzheimer’s Court. In clarifying the site’s vehicular circulation and parking needs, areas of asphalt paving were removed to recapture and preserve the historic character of the Convent landscape. The building and site demonstrate sustainable design and received LEED Gold certification.