Category Archives: News

Gardens Rising Wins ASLA-NY Merit Award

Our Gardens Rising Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study was selected for a Merit Award from the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects! Tricia accepted the award during the ASLA-NY Design Awards Ceremony and Reception, sponsored by Victor Stanley, at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan. All of the winning projects are on display at the CFA through the end of April.

“From projects that examine a site’s historic and cultural influences to those that explore innovative design approaches, this year’s winning award submissions showcase the full range of the landscape architectural profession. There is a clear theme of resiliency and sustainability with the award winners that show appreciation for the long term value of landscapes – again embracing changing conditions of climate and urbanization in the urban projects to appreciation of seasonal characteristics of plants, light and weather in the residential projects.”


Brooklyn Greenway Case Study featured in Coastal Change Book

Tricia Martin’s essay on the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is included as a case study in chapter 5 of “Coastal Change, Ocean Conservation and Resilient Communities” (eds Marcha Johnson and Amanda Bayley). The chapter explores how New York City is integrating storm protection and other climate change strategies into ongoing planning and design efforts in response to the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Book Synopsis

This collection of essays and design case studies explores a range of ideas and best practices for adapting to dynamic waterfront conditions while incorporating nature conservation in urbanized coastal areas. The editors have curated a selection of works contributed by leading practitioners in the fields of coastal science, community resilience, habitat restoration, sustainable landscape architecture and floodplain management.  By highlighting ocean-friendly innovations and strategies being applied in coastal cities today, this book illustrates ways to cohabit with many other species who share the waterfront with us, feed in salt marshes, bury their eggs on sandy beaches, fly south over cities along the Atlantic Flyway, or attach themselves to an oyster reef. This book responds to the need for inventive, practical, and straightforward ways to weather a changing climate while being responsible shoreline stewards.

Tricia Helps Architects Procrastinate

The AIA New York Chapter’s annual Procrastinators’ Days benefits members of the New York design community by arranging a full day of AIA/CES registered educational sessions, allowing them to meet their AIA membership and state licensing education requirements before the end of the year. Tricia participated in a panel discussion with the Design Trust’s El Space team, sharing her passion for both community engagement and activating underused urban spaces.

Transforming El-Space Across New York
Provider: Design Trust for Public Space (via AIA New York)

Speakers: Susan Chin, FAIA, Hon ASLA, Tricia Martin, RLA, LEED AP, Leni Schwendinger, and Wendy Feuer

Elevated infrastructure divides communities across New York, from train lines in the Bronx to highways in Syracuse. Negative impact of this infrastructure is well documented, but less well known are nascent attempts by nonprofits and municipalities to reclaim this ‘el-space’ for the public. Creative design and extensive cooperation between design disciplines and government agencies can transform these unique urban sites into safe, attractive, and environmentally friendly connections between communities.

See the full list of courses offered here.

Brownsville Youth and Community Clubhouse

Brownsville Community Center and Clubhouse

During the summer of 2015, Tricia Martin, Kaja Kühl (youarethecity) and urban design students and faculty of Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) Summer Studio had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of young Brownsville, New York residents on the design for a pop-up community clubhouse at Marcus Garvey Village. The residents, part of a program at Brownsville Community Justice Center (BCJC), developed a set of mental maps of their neighborhood to identify potential sites for the community center. Made in Brownsville, a local design not-for-profit, led the initial effort with BCJC that included the retrofit of a shipping container. Nicolas Fernando Del Valle Russell, one of our Columbia students from the summer 2015 studio, continued to assist WE Design with the project once a site was approved by L&M Development Partners, the owners of the housing development. Nicholas developed a site plan that included a stage for events, porous paving for paths, and a row of constructed nooks with custom benches and planters to be used for seating or other pop-up activities. The new facility will host a range of events such as movie nights, classes, and panel discussions.

This project demonstrates how collaboration between many experts and people of different backgrounds can have a meaningful impact in underserved communities.

Recent press on the project:

Brooklyn Eagle



Tricia to Discuss El-Space Project at AIANYS Design Conference

AIA NYS Design Conference 2016
This Thursday, Tricia will be participating in an interactive panel discussion at the New York State Design Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. Her session, “Transforming El-Space Across New York State,” will explore the opportunities and challenges of reimagining the underutilized spaces beneath elevated infrastructure. Building on the theme of interconnected relationships between a range of design professionals, she shares the stage with Susan Chin of the Design Trust for Public Space, Neil Gagliardi of NYCDoT, and Leni Shwendiger of Arup.

Elevated infrastructure divides communities across New York State, from train lines in the Bronx to highways in Syracuse. The negative impact of this infrastructure is well documented, but less well known are nascent attempts by nonprofits and municipalities to reclaim this ‘el-space’ for the public. Creative design and extensive cooperation between design disciplines and government agencies can transform these unique urban sites into safe, attractive, and environmentally friendly connections between communities.

Join the Design Trust for Public Space, Design Trust Fellows, and the New York City Department of Transportation, for an engaging conversation on the challenges of el-space design. The session will focus on the lessons learned from Under the Elevated, a comprehensive analysis of the space beneath New York City’s elevated infrastructure, and El-Space pilots, a series of neighborhood-based tests of strategies. The rich design possibilities inherent in el-space will be discussed, along with successful multi-agency collaboration strategies and meaningful community engagement ideas. Innovative urban design, lighting, and green infrastructure solutions will also be shared.

For the full schedule and more information about the conference, click here.

Gardens Rising

WE Design is pleased to have been chosen by the NYC Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) to develop a feasibility study for the design and construction of green infrastructure in 47 community gardens located throughout the Lower East Side. This project, “Gardens Rising,” combines community participation with urban planning, landscape architecture, and engineering to increase the permeability and stormwater capture in these gardens, the majority of which are located within an area that was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy, as well as adding native plants to support habitat and beautify the neighborhood.

We’ve had a blast getting to know the gardeners and their gardens at each of the 47 sites, and are now evaluating the potential for green infrastructure through research of existing and relevant documentation, onsite fieldwork, and extensive community engagement. Based on information gathered from this first stage, we will develop an outcomes-based approach toolkit that matches specific existing garden conditions with various green infrastructure strategies. Working closely with the client and community, we will then develop criteria for evaluating priority sites on which to test the toolkit, creating concept designs for the most at risk gardens.

This extensive project has the potential to demonstrate, through specific hydrological metrics, the critical role community gardens can play in any city’s climate change resiliency plan.




Cooper Hewitt to Feature Superblock Project

Cooper Hewitt Exhibit

New imagery for our Brownsville, Brooklyn Superblock Retrofit project will be featured in Cooper Hewitt’s fall exhibition, By the People: Designing a Better America as part of the “Live” theme. The project is a collaboration with Terrapin Bright GreenCommunity Solutions, and the Brownsville Partnership.

“The third exhibition of Cooper Hewitt’s series devoted to humanitarian design will examine how design is challenging social and economic inequality across America. Curator of Socially Responsible Design Cynthia E. Smith conducted over two years of field research—traveling to shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metro regions, struggling rural towns, along our border, areas impacted by natural and man-made disaster, and places of persistent poverty—in search of collaborative designs for more equitable, inclusive and sustainable communities. Sixty design projects from every region across the U.S. will be organized into the themes of Act, Save, Share, Live, Learn, and Make to showcase the innovative and impactful actions generated through design.”

5th Fabos Conference on Landscape and Greenway Planning

On July 1st, Tricia traveled to Hungary to present a New York perspective on Landscape and Greenway Planning with “Greenways as Resilient Infrastructure: The Brooklyn Greenway Case Study.” The peer-reviewed paper was part of a larger publication titled Landscapes and Greenways of Resilience (Jombach et al, 2016). Tricia shared the stage with panelists from Colorado, Washington, Poland, China, and Serbia.

“The Fábos Conference on Landscape and Greenway Planning is held every three years to bring together experts who are influencing landscape planning, policy making and greenway planning from the local to international level. It is intended to highlight recent trends and expand the literature about landscape and greenway planning. The aim is to explore how landscape architects and planners from different countries have approached greenway planning and to understand how greenways have been tailored to each county’s unique geographical, cultural, and political circumstances.”

More information here.

Welcome, Taylor!

Taylor DrakeWe are pleased to welcome environmental designer Taylor Drake to the WE Design team. With a dual degree in Product Design and Environmental Studies from The New School, Taylor is passionate about research and design for environmental systems. He works to address social and ecological resilience using media ranging from technical 2D and 3D design outputs to digital information systems, data visualization, and project research. Water systems, as a multi-scale global challenge, have been a specific focus in much of his work.

Resilient Waterfront Parks Summit

Tricia Martin (WE Design) – Greenways as Resilient Infrastructure from Regional Plan Association on Vimeo.

On March 16th, Tricia Martin and other leaders in parks design, policy, planning and community engagement participated in the Regional Plan Association’s “Resilient Waterfront Parks Summit.”

According to the RPA, “The goal [was] for participants to collaboratively explore issues and engage in cross-cutting, in-depth conversations about the challenges and opportunities for New York City’s waterfront parks – and the communities of which they are a part – in the face of climate change.”

Watch Tricia’s lightning talk “Greenways as Resilient Infrastructure” online for a 5 minute introduction to the ways in which greenways can protect and enhance their surrounding communities, using the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway project as a case study for resilient infrastructure.

RPA Summit