Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

New Castle County, Delaware

In 2021, NBW completed a Cultural Landscape Synthesis and Strategic Implementation Plan for Winterthur. The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) proposed design, planning, and circulation interventions for future phases of Winterthur’s life as a Museum, Garden, Library, and significant agrarian landscape.

Winterthur boasts globally renowned ‘wild’ gardens designed by H.F. du Pont, as well as the built legacy of one the first female landscape architects in the United States: Marian Coffin, who designed Winterthur’s formal gardens and terraces during the 1930s and helped to guide the estate’s landscape developments for decades after, paving the way for generations of female landscape architects.

Alongside the impact of trained designers, thousands of horticulturists, farmers, craftsmen, and laborers built, maintained, tended, and gave life to Winterthur as a model scientific farm and eminent horticultural masterpiece. In the early 20th century, this community of laborers and their families created a kind of self-sustaining agricultural village. Their legacy lives on in the largely agrarian landscape, hand-crafted stone walls and stairs, and the carefully preserved gardens woven into their naturalistic surroundings and enjoyed by millions.

Winterthur’s Cultural Landscape Synthesis (CLS) provided a schematic examination of the physical development of Winterthur’s landscape from 1810 to the present, graphically synthesizing documentation gathered from Winterthur’s archives. This process yielded an iterative mapping of landscape manipulation, showing the development of roads, construction of buildings and walls, and alteration of Clenny Run, over 200 years of the site’s history.

The CLS and SIP together propose strategic interventions for clearer arrival and circulation and the revival of Winterthur’s historic agricultural structures and productive landscapes while providing key insights to preserve and promote Winterthur’s legacy of horticultural excellence, its profound impact as a work of garden art and its ecologically rich old-growth forests.