Landscape architect thinks vertical with Green Walls
Posted July 2013
Wendy Andringa, a landscape architect, works at the forefront of public and residential projects in New York City and beyond but it was her interest in designing plantscapes in challenging growing conditions that led her to create Greenlab Studio.
Greenlab Studio is an experimental laboratory that designs, builds and tests green walls, which are basically vertical versions of the more widely used green roof concept. "I wanted to make things and test ideas that I had," Andringa said.
Conducting the research on green walls also helped keep her creative process fresh and active.
"When you're spending as much time as landscape architects do in the office doing drawings, it's good to get out of the office environment to keep your creativity active," she said.
Andringa (MLA, 2004) started Greenlab Studio in 2011 while working in Colorado. Because green walls are vertical structures, they present different challenges than those of traditional horizontal green roofs.
"Green walls are tricky," she said. "The technology is still kind of young and there is a high failure rate that I was curious about." Andringa began building modules and testing them, looking at issues such as drainage and how to get water to the plants. "There are a number of practical concerns," she noted.
When Andringa returned to New York City in 2012 to work as a senior landscape architect at Starr Whitehouse, she brought her research lab with her and expanded it to include more general design research.
"I think the (plantscape) research applies better in New York - there's more practical use," she said. "Colorado is so abundantly green, the beautiful landscape is all around you. What I'm doing applies more to urban environments."
At Starr Whitehouse, she is an associate landscape architect leading of team of designers in creative landscape projects. She is involved in design and development of modular green infrastructure strategies to help mitigate urban stormwater issues in New York City. She also teaches public workshops that create awareness of the need for stormwater mitigation through green walls and green roofs. During these workshops, participants build their own stormwater garden modules and learn how they contribute to retaining stormwater that would otherwise add to the combined sewer system that is contaminating our waterways.
During her time at ESF, Andringa had no idea she would branch off in the direction she eventually followed. " I knew I was going to work in New York City and I never thought I'd leave, but I'm so glad I did. I'm so glad I took that opportunity (to move to Colorado)," she said.
"Going out of your comfort zone puts you in a different mindset where you're willing to try different things," she said. "I was in a new environment with what seemed like unlimited space and resources so I just did it."
ESF Alumni Have an Impact
- Class of '17 Joins ESF Alumni RanksDegrees and ESF flags in hand, graduates celebrate accomplishments
- ESF Alum Honored by White House Science teacher lauded for excellence
- ESF Alumnus Wins Award for Sustainable Dog TreatsFull Circle Feed honored with People & Planet Award
- Verostek to present on Fletcher Steele Famed landscape architect designed over 700 gardens in U.S.
- ESF Education Helps Alumnus Launch Agritourism SuccessCritz Farms expands into craft beverage movement
- Alumna's Career Changes But Environmental Focus RemainsWildlife ecology class earns credit for her mindset
- Alumna Launches Career with Saws and LlamasForest service job takes graduate deep into the Rocky Mountains
- Advice for Graduates: Stay United, 'Enjoy Your Wisdom'Class of 2016 celebrates at Commencement
- Michael AmadoriEntrepreneur makes, sells sustainable dog treats
- Dr. Nancy MathewsEducational leader
- Holly AndersenReshaping a campus through sustainable construction
- Wendy AndringaLandscape architect thinks vertical with Green Walls
- Robert W. HargroveDirector EPA's NEPA Compliance Division
- Zachary WentworthLawyer
- Howard "Bud" RisRetired president of Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) MLA, 1975
- Matt RayoSyracuse Common Councilor
- Ana Maria MenezesUnited Nations Consultant
- Stephen KayGolf course architect
- Delfin Ganapin Jr. Global Manager of the UN Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program
- Douglas G. DellmoreRetired business entrepreneur supports ESF student research
- Scott FonteDirector of aquaculture for Aqua Vita Farms
- Mary GiffordInternational Experience
- Anne PapageorgeVice President of Facilities and Real Estate Services, University of Pennsylvania
- Matthew Thornton Peace Corps Volunteer
- Marc ZeppetelloLawyer receives state honor
- Joe MartensCommissioner of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
- Don MooreSmithsonian National Zoo
- Nicole FormosoLandscape Architecture
- Andrea VanBeusichemMontezuma National Wildlife Refuge
- Cariann QuickDirector of Government Relations, SUNY Student Assembly
- Scott KasprowiczBroke circumnavigation record - One stock helicopter, two guys, 15 countries, 24 time zones, 23,000 miles, in less than two weeks.
- James "Jake" McKennaOwner of Parsons-McKenna Construction Co.
- Jeff LyngColorado Governor's Energy Office
- Ronald J. Eby, Ph.D.Renowned researcher
- Robert R. PageFoundation director for the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation
- Peter J. GabrielsenChief hydrologic services for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service
- Bruce BrownellOwner of Adirondack Alternate Energy (AAE) in Northville, N.Y.
- Stacey L. DoddProgram director, Habitat for Humanity Ireland
- Col. Richard P. WagenaarCommander and District Engineer, New Orleans District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers