"Viridian Landscape Studio heals ecological systems while making beautiful places for people."
Founded in 1999 and located in Philadelphia PA, Viridian continues to hold true to the humble mission that sparked the frim genesis: to bridge ecological expertise with meaningful design to strengthen interconnection and harmony between social and built environments.
We believe landscape has the power to inspire potential and influence positive change through experiences – experiences that shape people, communities, regions, nations and the ecosystems within. Our earnest desire to seek new knowledge, listen attentively, communicate clearly, problem solve creatively and collaboratively, and build relationships sincerely is fundamental to our process.
At Viridian we recognize that place-making is integral to the basic framework of society and understanding ecological systems is key to making place. We leverage those two ideas and with our clients, make beautiful, healing, enduring places. Our places give people meaningful ways in which to engage with the environment and each other – to play, learn and relax.
Every day, by way of our client’s projects, we come together to infuse our work with science and art. We foster land stewardship leaders by sharing knowledge and encouraging freedom to research and innovate within the framework of Viridian’s shared values, attention to detail and long-term strategies for successful sites.
Viridian Landscape Studio Ltd. is a Certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), founded in 1999 by Tavis Dockwiller and Rolf Sauer (now retired). Tavis and Rolf met in 1995 when Tavis worked for Rolf at his previous firm. After developing a four-year, highly collaborative, fruitful working relationship, they decided to partner to build a new firm. They imagined and created a firm in which they were both actively involved in helping people plan for and create beautiful, ecologically appropriate, enduring places in myriad settings and at a wide range of scales – from pop-up pocket parks, to small and large campuses, to city-wide and regional plans.
Rolf retired in 2008 and today, Tavis is the guiding influence for viridian landscape studio. She has over twenty years of experience in all aspects of master planning and site design. She provides strategic counsel to organizations based on their long-term objectives and is expert in developing consensus between multiple stakeholders, advocating for full client and stakeholder participation. As a result, projects are built from an understanding of long term strategy and strengthened by client investment in design and land stewardship.
Viridian is staffed by a team dedicated to a smooth client process that yields creative, thoughtful designs on time and on budget. Our staff researches site history and ecology, client needs, desires and budget to develop designs and long-term site management strategies. Sustainable design, environmental education and ecological restoration are key components of our work. We believe that problem solving should be fun; client-consultant teams can make a difference to the world both socially and environmentally; and design solutions must be practical and lyrical.
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
The Council of
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.
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.
2016 Community Design Collaborative’s International Play Space Design Competition
Conceptual Playscape Master Plan: Reviving Recess
Community Design Collaborative of AIA Philadelphia
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.
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.”
2009 Philadelphia Community Design Collaborative
Outstanding Firm Award
Conceptual Master Landscape Plan for
Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School
Community Design Collaborative of AIA Philadelphia
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.
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
“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...”
2005 American Society of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence, Analysis & Planning
Noisette Community Master Plan
North Charleston SC
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.”
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
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.
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)
2018 Montgomery Awards: Excellence in Planning and Design Award Winner
Lions Gate: Student Apartments at Penn State Abington
Penn State University