Landscape architect Laura Starr is an expert in the planning and design of urban parks. Her practice began with a twelve-year tenure at the Central Park Conservancy during its formative years as a public-private partnership, giving Starr a rare insider’s experience with the workings of this new park management structure. Growing into the role of the Park’s Chief of Design, Starr mastered the process of consensus building among multiple clients and stakeholders in order to implement a series of award winning designs. Working on projects such as the reconstructing the Harlem Meer and developing a master plan for the west side perimeter, Starr absorbed the Olmsted’s artful choreography and sequencing of one’s landscape experience that has greatly influenced her practice.
“What’s important to me as a landscape architect is to create spaces that capture the essence of the site, and express the culture of its users. Landscape architects have the special opportunity to bring designed nature into cities, creating places of renewal, recreation and relaxation, while increasing biodiversity, managing storm water, and contributing to sustainable settlement.”
Since entering private practice, Starr has developed a client-based approach towards the design of large landscapes. Starr directed the architectural landscaping of the Battery in Lower Manhattan, including the Battery Bosque, an award-winning, naturalistic garden, and the Upper Promenade. In her work in the Battery, Starr relished in building and leading the team in a complex collaboration. Ms. Starr’s leadership in park design, planning, and management has been recognized nationally and internationally, garnering her numerous consulting projects, most recently for the design of Forest Park in St. Louis and for the planning of Ayalon Park in Tel Aviv.
Stephen is a landscape architect and urban planner whose diverse pursuits share a concern for the environmental quality and social vitality of places. Raised in Cleveland and educated at Harvard, his professional training and practice has been based in New York City’s environs. He formerly served as Chief of Planning for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, where he was instrumental in many facets of New York’s physical rejuvenation: launching the City’s Greenway system, nurturing public-private partnerships, acquiring natural lands and neighborhood parks, setting standards for park creation and operation by private developments such as Riverside South, and managing the expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center. As a Principal of Saratoga Associates, his urban work expanded outward to address the planning and design issues of suburban and developing exurban communities. Starr Whitehouse represents a deliberate next step to join together a group of people who can serve clients, embrace complex planning issues, and deliver responsive, innovative design.
Rather than focusing on a single aspect of the work, he’s always been most fascinated by the juncture points. “Natural systems, patterns of settlement, infrastructure – seeing all these come together to make a place is interesting to me, not just as abstract concepts,” he says, “but in terms of seeing good results in the end.” He describes his role at Starr Whitehouse in terms of junctures as well. “I’m the translator,” he says, “I serve as the mediator between the specialists and the public. I like communicating with people, and seeing things shaped by the creative interactions of people and institutions.”
As Principal and Studio Director, Jeffrey brings more than two decades of experience in the design and creation of sustainable and compelling landscapes to Starr Whitehouse. After graduating from University of Pennsylvania, Jeffrey’s time at the Central Park Conservancy remains to serve as his baseline for sustainable endeavors in his work. As former Director of Landscape Architecture at Saratoga Associates, Mr. Poor led projects that span a wide diversity of work and collaborative efforts from private gardens and urban design, such as Bronx River Walk and Battery Bosque, to campus planning, RPI, Hamilton, and Remsen, where Jeffrey led the introduction of sustainable measures for water polishing and infiltration—confirmation of his involvement in the application of ecological technologies since the beginning of the bio swale movement.
At Starr Whitehouse, Jeffrey takes the lead role in many of the firm’s projects. His breadth of experience and expertise of requirements for the design process of public, private and institutional projects contributes to the broad portfolio of Starr Whitehouse. Jeffrey particularly enjoys and excels at projects, such as the Jersey City Municipal Service Complex, that present a challenge and require “taking the disparate elements” (scope, program, site history, components and constraints) “and have them emerge as something whole and new and compelling.”
As a LEED certified professional, he designs with attention to environmental missions in addition to programmatic requirements, such as the award winning Bronx River House. Jeffrey’s dedication to the application of sustainability as part of design strategy is palpable in his simple and elemental landscapes. When working on a project he focuses on how things are put together, always looking for ways to bring the design to life through the details: “Through detailing,” Jeffrey says, “design ideas are carried all the way down into the ground.”