Wild gardens that grew out from Washington

Wild gardens that grew out from washington
A garden at the Baltimore residence of Leo and Pauline Vollmer was among those designed by the D.C. firm Oehme, van Sweden and Associates / Photo: Roger Foley

Washington doesn’t export a lot of aesthetic ideas, and the exceptions only prove the rule. Yes, the city can lay claim to the Washington Color School, more than a half-century ago, but that always feels a bit like the region’s claim to culinary fame, the crab cake: predictable, ubiquitous and uninspiring. But what has become known as the “New American Garden” did indeed take root in Washington before going viral, and its larger impact is so pervasive that it almost goes unnoticed.

The National Building Museum has devoted an exhibition to the local design firm founded by Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden, which popularized the New American Garden, a loose but luxurious style of landscape design, full of layers and texture, and an abstract sense of color, shape and topography. Beginning mainly with private clients in the 1970s — and eventually taking commissions from major public gardens, federal buildings and commercial entities — the firm became one of the busiest and most influential in the country. Van Sweden died in 2013 and Oehme in 2011, but the office continues under its new name: Oehme, van Sweden OvS.

The exhibition underscores the local roots of the company with a painting borrowed from the National Gallery of Art: Pieter de Hooch’s “A Dutch Courtyard,” from 1658-60. Also included is a large-scale reproduction of Helen Frankenthaler’s 1973 “Nature Abhors a Vacuum,” also in the National Gallery. […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
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About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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