With over 25 years’ experience working in the New York City area, Landscape Architect Laura Starr has emerged as a local champion for sustainability, collaboration, and design excellence. As Chief of Design for the Central Park Conservancy, Starr worked intensively to forge consensus among diverse groups of stakeholders, renovating major destinations such as Harlem Meer, the West Side, and the Great Lawn. Entering the private sector, she collaborated on lauded landscape transformations exemplified by the Battery Upper Promenade, the award-winning designs for the Battery Bosque, and a pair of historic courtyards on Front Street at South Street Seaport. Starr’s leadership was transformative for the ASLA-NY, which she led as president from 2013 to 2014. Under her guidance, the ASLA-NY built new relationships with professional organizations and the press, ran a successful fund-raising campaign to hire a full-time director, and rebranded itself into the optimistic, highly-connected, and urban organization it is today.
As a founding partner of Starr Whitehouse, Ms. Starr continues to nurture ties between the public, the city, and professional organizations. She has negotiated public/private partnerships both internationally, on master plans for Tel Aviv’s Park Ariel Sharon and Gazelle Park in Jerusalem, as well as locally, collaborating with BIG Architects on the innovative VIA 57 West development, just one of a series of innovative housing developments that make density livable and high-quality housing affordable for thousands of New Yorkers. Ms. Starr has contributed significantly to Sandy recovery efforts through her work with the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, as the Landscape Architect on The BIG U, a winning Rebuild By Design team, and leading the East Harlem Resiliency Project. She has run numerous public outreach workshops that gather vital community feedback and build informed consensus around a series of implementable plans that refortify lower Manhattan while strengthening neighborhood identity. Today, Starr is seen as a leader in the field of sustainable landscape design and a strong advocate for a city that is greener and more responsive to the needs of a twenty-first century public.
Stephen is a landscape architect and urban planner whose diverse pursuits share a concern for the environmental quality and social vitality of places. Raised in Cleveland and educated at Harvard, his professional training and practice has been based in New York City’s environs. He formerly served as Chief of Planning for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, where he was instrumental in many facets of New York’s physical rejuvenation: launching the City’s Greenway system, nurturing public-private partnerships, acquiring natural lands and neighborhood parks, setting standards for park creation and operation by private developments such as Riverside South, and managing the expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center. As a co-founder of Starr Whitehouse, his urban work has expanded outward to address the planning and design issues of suburban and developing exurban communities. Starr Whitehouse represents a step to join together a group of people who can serve clients, embrace complex planning issues, and deliver responsive, innovative design.
Rather than focusing on a single aspect of the work, he’s always been most fascinated by the juncture points. “Natural systems, patterns of settlement, infrastructure – seeing all these come together to make a place is interesting to me, not just as abstract concepts,” he says, “but in terms of seeing good results in the end.” He describes his role at Starr Whitehouse in terms of junctures as well. “I’m the translator,” he says, “I serve as the mediator between the specialists and the public. I like communicating with people, and seeing things shaped by the creative interactions of people and institutions.”
As Principal and Studio Director, Jeffrey brings more than two decades of experience in the design and creation of sustainable and compelling landscapes to Starr Whitehouse. After graduating from University of Pennsylvania, Jeffrey’s time at the Central Park Conservancy remains to serve as his foundation for sustainable endeavors in his work. As former Director of Landscape Architecture at Saratoga Associates, Mr. Poor led projects that span a wide diversity of work and collaborative efforts from private gardens and urban design, such as Bronx River Walk and Battery Bosque, to campus planning, RPI, Hamilton, and Remsen, where Jeffrey led the introduction of sustainable measures for water polishing and infiltration—confirmation of his involvement in the application of ecological technologies since the beginning of the bio swale movement.
At Starr Whitehouse, Jeffrey takes the lead role in many of the firm’s projects. His breadth of experience and expertise of requirements for the design process of public, private and institutional projects contributes to the broad portfolio of Starr Whitehouse. Jeffrey particularly enjoys and excels at projects, such as the Jersey City Municipal Service Complex, that present a challenge and require “taking the disparate elements” (scope, program, site history, components and constraints) “and have them emerge as something whole, new and compelling.”
As a LEED certified professional, he designs with attention to environmental missions in addition to programmatic requirements, such as the award winning Bronx River House. Jeffrey’s dedication to the application of sustainability as part of design strategy is palpable in his simple and elemental landscapes. When working on a project he focuses on how things are put together, always looking for ways to bring the design to life through the details: “Through detailing,” Jeffrey says, “design ideas are carried all the way down into the ground.”