Olana Strategic Landscape Design Plan

Hudson, NY
(2014 - Ongoing)

Located on 250-acres in the Hudson Valley, the Olana State Historic Site is the home, studio and landscape of celebrated Hudson River School painter, Frederic Edwin Church, and is considered one of his greatest works of art. The Olana Partnership commissioned NBW and the design team to assess Olana programmatically, operationally, and ecologically.  The resultant Strategic Landscape Design Plan provides the path for reactivating the historical relationship between the residence, its landscape, and the greater context of the Hudson Valley. It proposes three main areas for intervention, offers site-wide recommendations, and provides a market and financial feasibility analysis. The plan provides a grounded vision that reestablishes a holistic experience of Olana as Church’s designed home and landscape.

Research informed maps and diagrams that allowed the designers to re-establish historical viewsheds, identify the Historic Core, and resolve the siting of the new proposed Olana Center. External views from Olana to areas beyond the historic boundaries - river, neighboring hills, valleys, and distant mountains - were deemed equally important and essential in respecting Church’s understanding of this landscape. 

NBW developed restoration plans for the farm complex - an integral component to the property and story of Olana; Church often referred to Olana as “The Farm”. The goal was to return the landscape to the historical land-use patterns from the latter half of the nineteenth century. This initial phase included a series of discreet and considered interventions: selective thinning of hedgerows and woodland that have colonized former pasture; establishment of low native meadow grasses in the historic Orchard; restoration of pastures; revealing the existing ruins of the Breezie Farmhouse, the shed, the ice house, and the stone walls along portions of the east and north property lines, through the clearing of vegetation; drainage improvements; and the restoration of the Crown Hill Carriage road, one of the pleasure drives designed by Frederic Edwin Church. 

Subsequently, NBW has been engaged to develop the design for the new visitors center alongside architecture firm ARO.

Collaborators: The LA Group, Suzanne Turner Associates, Camoin Associates, Farm Consultant Zach Wolf, ARO