Submitted by Palak Shah

Longwood to be reimagined with a new garden experience by WEISS/MANFREDI and Reed Hilderbrand

United States Architecture News - Feb 19, 2021 - 09:49   2686 views

Longwood to be reimagined with a new garden experience by WEISS/MANFREDI and Reed Hilderbrand

On the 18th of February, 2021 the Longwood Gardens has revealed their extensive yet pensive revitalization plan "Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience" to transfigure prominent areas of conservatory gardens. Known for its beautiful and expansive meadows, woodland, and horticultural displays, the proposed project aims to advance its ongoing experiences by marrying its historic roots to its future visions for the 21st Century.

Spread across 17 acres, the estimated $250 million "Longwood Reimagined" project, shall unify the east and the west, offering a fresh, unique, and continually altering experience through the lush formal gardens overlooking the meadows of Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania. Continuing on its founder, Pierre du Pont’s legacy, the admired destination remains dedicated to botany, garden design excellence, education, and art; and through this ambitious project aims to preserve and embrace cherished features of the Longwood Gardens.


West Conservatory, View from Southwest
Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience
Courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens

Originated by the prominent landscape and architecture firms West 8 and WEISS/MANFREDI, in the master plan that was first developed in the year 2010 in alignment with the Visionary goals set by the Longwood Gardens. Longwood has since commissioned the New York firm WEISS/MANFREDI as the lead designer in collaboration with Reed Hilderbrand, a landscape architecture firm based in Massachusetts, both with a notable and impressive portfolio in working towards this historic endeavor. Joining hands in this collaboration will be Bancroft Construction Company, from Wilmington, Delaware.

Mindful of the sensitive landscapes and language of the gardens, Weiss/Manfredi shall be designing a 32,000 square foot (2,972 square meters) Glasshouse, as on ode to the beautiful fountain gardens and horticulture displays of the Longwood. It is known to be one of the prime destinations of the Longwood Project and will be a stimulating conservatory, housing an interior garden inclusive of a wide variety of plants inspired by the wild and cultivated landscapes of the Mediterranean. The exterior of the West Conservatory shall be asymmetrical along with Crystalline peaks and will appear to be floating on pools designed by Reed Hilderbrand.


West Conservatory, View from Southwest, at Night
Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience
Courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens

In a statement, Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, founders and principals of WEISS/MANFREDI, said: "We’re inspired by the sense of discovery and invention that are signatures of Longwood Gardens. We conceived the design as a cinematic journey, a sequence of experiences that range from intimate to grand. The 3 West Conservatory, with its pleated crystalline ridge, appears to float on water and is magically reflected by day and night. The vaults of the new restaurant and event space are carved into the hillside to reveal views of the Main Fountain Garden. A new arcade frames the historic Waterlily Court, and the great Cascade Garden is sheltered in a custom-designed glasshouse. These transformations extend the DNA of Longwood Gardens through the creation of new settings for public enjoyment and delight."


Lower Reception Suite
Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience
Courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens

Popular as one of the only designs in the whole of North America by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, the Longwood’s Cascade Garden will be entirely relocated into a 3,800 square foot (353 square meters) glasshouse conserving Tropical plants. A new Bonsai Courtyard, an intimate gallery space shall exhibit a great collection of Bonsai along with a restaurant and public event space facing the main fountain garden. In addition to this, the project scope will also include an educational and administrative building, a state-of-art library, classrooms, and the preservation of six, 20th-century glasshouses.


Bonsai Courtyard
Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience
Courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens

Reed Hilderbrand’s articulated landscape design will offer visitors a choreographed itinerary highlighting places for public interactions as well as respite, suggesting paths for Grand walks along with various experiences through the new and restored gardens. 

"We felt our first responsibility in reimagining this expansive area of the grounds was to give expression and identity to the idea in the master plan to extend the conservatory complex along the high ridge. We drew inspiration from existing features of Longwood’s landscape, among them tree-lined walks," said Douglas Reed, partner, and principal of Reed Hilderbrand in a statement released by Longwood Gardens.

"The expansion scheme structures trees to define space and direct movement, recognizing Longwood’s origins as an arboretum. Above all, we felt this ambitious project must retain the character and warmth associated with Longwood’s origin as an arboretum and country estate," Reed added.


New Glass House for Historic Roberto Burle Marx Cascade Garden
 Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience
 Courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens

Interior View, West Conservatory
Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience
Courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens

The project is a balanced blend of expansion and preservation and is estimated to break ground by the Spring of 2021. The Longwood Gardens will continue to offer schedules of events and performances and intends on keeping the Main and East conservatories open throughout the transition. More information can be found on the Longwood Garden’s website.

Cover Image: Interior View, West Conservatory. Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience, courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI with Reed Hilderbrand for Longwood Gardens.

> via Longwood Gardens