City dwellers need only look out their windows to see that landscape architecture is currently experiencing a new golden age. Take, for example, the intricate yet appealingly simple garden designs of Damien and Jacqueline Harrison, principals of the New York-based firm Green Harrison. With inspirations that range from established greenery experts (the venerable Russell Page) to fashion geniuses (read: Marc Jacobs), the husband-and-wife team creates stunning architectural concepts for green spaces in residences and commercial projects, combining unexpected developments with even more surprising vegetation. Case in point: The couple recently completed a rooftop patio in Tribeca that joins, in their words, “perennial plantings that aim to attract pollinators — bees and butterflies — and, instead of traditional ornamental landscape plants, edible and medicinal plants as a means of attracting human foragers. It’s no wonder they topped the list of this year’s Readers’ Choice Innovators in the landscaping category. We caught up with the duo to talk about how they continue to push the boundaries of an age-old practice, as well as the cool new projects they’re planning. Here’s what they had to say.
Architectural Summary: How would you describe your approach to landscaping?
Harrison Green: Our design process is threefold: collaboration, garden as architecture, and evolution. We don’t come up with a preconceived look or style that we “stamp” on every project. Our role is to create a space that our customers want, a space that works with their lifestyle or their brand. We consider outdoor space as a room or series of rooms and how these spaces relate to the existing architecture. Where do we want to create walls? Where do we want to channel views? Where is the living space? Where is the kitchen? For this reason our gardens are quite structured. We rely on the shapes, textures and volumes of plants to provide the architecture of the garden. As a landscaping company that also installs our designs and provides ongoing maintenance, we know that the design process doesn’t end when construction begins; it’s ongoing and continues for years as we bring the gardens to maturity.
AD: How is your approach innovative?
__HG:__We find new ways to design and install landscapes in environments that would otherwise be underutilized. The majority of our work takes place in New York, and by creating gardens in this environment, we are actually adding very real, usable square footage to our clients’ homes or buildings, ensuring that the space is not only functional but also beautiful.