Gail Wittwer-Laird

Gail has over 20 years of experience designing the public realm. Working as an industrial designer in Milan alongside Ettore Sottsass early on in her career, Gail executed designs for companies such as Alessi, Artemide and Knoll, and oversaw the custom fabrication of limited edition furniture for private clients and galleries.

Gail’s 18-year tenure with New York City Parks began in 1997 as the Landscape Architect and Deputy Administrator for Riverside Park, followed by Director of Greenstreets in the Division of Forestry from 1999 to 2002, Senior Designer for Capital Projects from 2002 to 2010, and Design Director for Staten Island Capital projects from 2011to 2016.

Ms. Wittwer-Laird is an award-winning designer whose built projects in New York City include the Irish Hunger Memorial (2001) a collaboration with Artist Brian Tolle and 1100 Architects for the Battery Park City Authority, CaVaLa aka Albert Capsuto Park (2007), which received an award for excellence in design from the Public Design Commission, the renovation of Bleecker Street Sitting (2012) which received an 2012 Village Award from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and in 2016 an award for excellence in design from the Public Design Commission for Van Pelt Plaza, a joint project of NYCDOT and NYC Parks. In 2004, together with architect Aaron MacDonald and Philip Johnson, she renovated the courtyard for the Morningside House Senior Center in the Bronx.

A native of Northern California, Gail received her Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo before migrating east to obtain a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. In 1996, she was chosen as a Fellow in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome. In the Summer of 1997 and 1998, Gail was an artist in residence at the Corporation of Yaddo in Saratoga Springs.

Representative Projects

  • StuyTown Fitness Park and Play Areas, New York, NY
  • Mill Brook Senior Housing Center Terrace and Gardens, Bronx, NY
  • Story Avenue Apartments, Bronx, NY
  • Compass Residences Affordable Housing, Bronx, NY
  • Phipps Lambert Houses, Bronx, NY
  • Freshkills North Park Wetland Restoration, Staten Island, NY*
  • Morrison-Golden Residential Garden, Rhinebeck, NY*
  • Van Pelt Plaza/Richmond Terrace Wetlands, Staten Island, NY*
  • Crescent Beach Park Plan and Storm Resiliency, Staten Island, NY*
  • Bleecker Street Sitting Area Renovation, New York, NY*
  • Tompkins Square Park Playground, New York, NY*
  • Peter Minuit Plaza, New York, NY*
  • Morningside House Senior Center Courtyard Renovation, Bronx, NY*
  • Irish Hunger Memorial, New York, NY*
  • CaVaLa (Albert Capsouto Park), New York, NY*
  • Greenstreets Design Citywide, New York, NY*
  • Cooke-Levy Residential Garden, Riverdale, NY*
  • Klein Residential Garden, Riverdale, NY*
  • Hudson River Valley Greenway Bronx Link Study, Bronx, NY*
  • Garden Parterre in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Jacob came to Starr Whitehouse with close to five years of experience managing the design and implementation of residential, institutional, and commercial landscapes in and around New York City. These efforts led to the completion of over twenty roof terrace and green roof projects, thus establishing his expertise in over-structure design and construction. He has lectured on the topic of urban roof gardens at various garden clubs and design symposia, and he was featured in a June 2014 Wall Street Journal article for his design of a private rooftop arboretum in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Since joining Starr Whitehouse, Jacob has expanded his design and project management acumen to encompass a broad range of project types including multi-family residential amenity spaces, public and private institutional site designs, and waterfront developments. By combining his acute knowledge of site design and landscape construction with his broad understanding of urban and landscape theory, he is able to move across project type and scale with skill and confidence.

Jacob believes that the unique context of each site should inform design decisions, and that the most productive landscapes exude a distinct sense of place while simultaneously lending cohesiveness to the urban fabric. He strives for authenticity and simplicity in terms of both legibility of form and means of construction, ensuring that what is designed can also be built.

Representative Projects

  • St. Mary’s Park Master Plan and Reconstruction, Bronx, NY
  • Atlantic Chestnut Affordable Housing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Lexington Gardens Affordable Housing, New York, NY
  • Greenpoint Terminal Market Master Plan, Brooklyn, NY
  • Greenpoint Terminal Hotel, Brooklyn, NY
  • NYPD 40th Precinct Station House, Bronx, NY
  • St. Barnabas Hospital Annex, Bronx, NY
  • West 58th Street Development, New York, NY
  • Duane Street Co-op Amenity Terrace, New York, NY
  • East 149th Street Development, Bronx, NY
  • EF Academy, Thornwood, NY

With over ten years of design and project management experience in multidisciplinary environments, Wendy’s work ranges from green infrastructure to fine art. For Wendy, good design works on multiple levels: it is responsive, reaching out to community members and incorporating their visions; it is functional, meeting the demands of city infrastructure and people alike; it is aesthetic, blending elements of form and concept; and finally, it is contextual, drawing out the unique character of each location. Her multi-faceted approach and experience make Wendy a valued member of the Starr Whitehouse team and a capable leader on multidisciplinary projects.

In her volunteer work outside Starr Whitehouse, Wendy introduces members of the community to new design possibilities through an investigative, hands-on approach. She is an active member of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, where she develops outreach initiatives that focus on creative applications of ecological restoration. Wendy also heads her own projects for the GCC, such as the Square Foot Stormwater Module Initiative, and the Floating Gardens Workshop which explores phytoremediation of contaminated water. Wendy has also worked as a visiting instructor of landscape architecture at the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Her research interests are in both nuclear landscapes and mapping supply chain geographies of landscape materials used in New York City.

Representative Projects

  • Southwest Park, Hoboken, NJ
  • E 92nd Street Terraces and Bonus Plaza, New York, NY
  • Freshkills South Park, Staten Island, NY
  • Harlem River Greenway, New York, NY
  • The Battery PlayScape, New York, NY
  • Alexandre Dumas Development, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 375 Pearl Plaza, New York, NY
  • PS342 Courtyards, New York, NY
  • Caton Place Housing, Brooklyn, NY
  • 626 Flatbush Avenue Housing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Clinton Commons, New York, NY
  • Bronx River House, Bronx, NY
  • VIA 57 West, New York, NY

Michael Haggerty is an architect and certified urban planner with a focus on environmental sustainability and leading the urban development process to improve the public realm. He began his career with the public art organization Creative Time in New York, and subsequently practiced as an urban planner, working in diverse cities including New York, Newark, and New Orleans as well as in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Michael’s urban planning and design work includes a broad range of project types including master planning, redevelopment planning, campus planning, urban design guidelines, and public realm design.

Michael is also a design instructor and has been visiting faculty at Pratt Institute School of Architecture since 2010. At Pratt, he has taught planning studios on neighborhood development in Red Hook, Gowanus, and East New York, Brooklyn, and courses on climate change, urban design, and graphic visualization. Community engagement is at the forefront of Michael’s teaching and professional activities, and his work in participatory design and post-disaster planning has been widely recognized by, among others, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the SEED Award for Public Interest Design, and the American Institute of Architects New York and San Francisco chapters.

Representative Projects

  • East Harlem Coastal Resiliency Project, New York, NY
  • Harlem Greenway Link, New York, NY
  • Re-envisioning Branch Libraries, New York, NY*
  • Newark Master Plan Revision, Newark, NJ*
  • Harlem River Promenade, Bronx, NY*
  • Future of the Gardiner Expressway Environmental Assessment and Integrated Urban Design Study, Toronto, Canada*
  • Bard College Campus Framework, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY*
  • NYU Plans 2031 Phase 1, New York, NY*
  • Unified New Orleans Recovery Plan, New Orleans, LA*
  • Padang Housing and Vulnerability Assessment, Padang, Indonesia*
  • Ger Area Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Action Plan, Ulaanbaator, Mongolia*
  • Global Program for Inclusive Municipal Governance, Luanda, Angola*
  • Cities Development Strategies (CDS), Solo, Pekalongan, and Banjarmasin, Indonesia*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Rana is a licensed Landscape Architect with international experience on project types as diverse as residential courtyards, academic campuses, public streetscapes and plazas, master plans, city parks, brownstone backyards, and green roofs. With six years of experience in public and private space design, Rana is interested in the relationships people have with the landscape—how they inhabit it and how they shape it by their use over time. In turn, she believes these spaces perform an important role in the vibrancy of our cities and communities, reflecting while also shaping the daily rhythms of the places we inhabit. Rana finds inspiration in the challenges of designing with ever-changing and dynamic systems—both ecological and social—and believes successful designs build on the richness and interconnectedness of the natural, cultural and built systems in which they are situated. She has a strong interest in plant material both for its aesthetic value and for how it shapes our cultural values and connectedness to places. With expertise in a wide range of project typologies and all stages from concept to implementation, Rana is a flexible designer and a valuable member of the Starr Whitehouse team.

Representative Projects

  • Freshkills South Park, Staten Island, NY
  • Halletts Point Waterfront Development, Queens, NY
  • Bronx Community College Quadrangle, Bronx, NY*
  • Qinglong Lake Master Plan, Nanjing, China*
  • Pudong Streetscape and Site Design, Shanghai, China*
  • Great Pier of the Great Lakes, Chicago, IL*
  • Greenpoint Garden, Brooklyn, NY*
  • “Walking the Lines” Path Design Project, Slavonice, Czech Republic*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Ankita brings five years of project experience in a range of disciplines and project types. Before joining Starr Whitehouse, she created a landscape design framework for masterplanning efforts in Shanghai. Before this, she worked at the Regional Plan Association, where she was involved in developing green infrastructure design guidelines for Ulster County, NY. On the site level, her experience in India and Singapore spans all projects phases, and includes landscapes for mixed-use developments, hotels and residences.

As a landscape designer, Ankita has a strong interest in understanding the relationship between open space and the built environment, and how landscape interventions tie back into the city fabric. Her background in architecture and urban design allows her to work effortlessly on projects of varying types and complexities. She received her Bachelor’s in Architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and her Master’s in Landscape Urbanism from the Architectural Association, London.

Representative Projects

  • Freshkills South Park, Staten Island, NY
  • Compass Residences Affordable Housing, Bronx, NY
  • Phipps Apex Place, Queens, NY
  • StuyTown Fitness Park, New York, NY
  • Bellevue Hospital, New York, NY
  • NYCSCA 375Q Public Shool Playground, Queens, NY
  • Governor’s Island, New York, NY
  • Story Avenue Apartments, Bronx, NY
  • Phipps Lambert Houses, Bronx, New York
  • Ulster County Greenway, NY*
  • Hudson Valley Watershed Management, NY*
  • South Hudariyat Streetscape Development, Abu Dhabi*
  • IGI International Airport, Delhi*
  • Wave City Center, Noida, India*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Janet Broughton’s interests in design revolve around landscape performance, the ability of a space to meet the complex set of separate but interrelated needs placed upon it in the urban environment. She brings two years of experience to Starr Whitehouse, focusing on urban agriculture, flexible design solutions, and strong community engagement in the development of three community gardens in the South Bronx, East Harlem, and the post-Sandy Rockaways.

Janet’s background in soil science has also given her an interest in the edges where hardscape and ecology interact in the built environment, an interest she developed in her thesis at UIUC, which explored the potential of textiles as a material in landscape architecture. Informed by Gottfried Semper’s theory of the origin of architecture, these investigations led to the development of a tectonic theory for landscape architecture that encourages landscape architects to study how the built environment structures the forces and flows that act upon a space.

Representative Projects

  • Battery PlayScape, The Battery, New York, NY
  • Randall’s Island Hell Gate Bikeway, New York, NY
  • Rodman’s Neck NYPD Training Facility
  • Hoboken SW Block 12 Park, Hoboken, NJ
  • DASNY El Regreso Men’s Dormitory, Brooklyn, NY
  • Battery Coast Guard Monument, The Battery, New York, NY
  • Willis Avenue Community Garden, Bronx, NY*
  • La Casita Community Garden, New York, NY*
  • Seagirt Boulevard Community Garden, Queens, NY*
  • Volunteer Leader for MillionTreesNYC projects, New York, NY*

*Projects before joining Starr Whitehouse

As a former Assistant Landscape Architect for the NYC Parks department, Heather brings a wide range of experience in designing the public environment to the Starr Whitehouse team. Her public sector work includes playgrounds, parks, and site design, as well as planting plans, streetscapes, master planning, urban design, and urban planning. She has worked on public projects and community engagement efforts here in New York and in Chicago, Illinois.

Heather is a flexible designer who approaches open space on multiple levels. She completed her Bachelors of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she received the Illionois ASLA’s Undergraduate Award of Honor and the Outstanding Senior Award. With a strong interest in systems thinking and collaborative design, she aspires to build timeless landscapes that solve complex problems in the public realm.

Representative Projects

  • Green Infrastructure Street Improvements, Brooklyn, NY
  • StuyTown Playground and Fitness Park, New York, NY
  • Halletts Point Waterfront Development, Queens, NY
  • Southwest Park, Hoboken, NJ
  • DDC 40th Precinct Station House, Bronx, NY
  • Atlantic Chestnut Affordable Housing Roof Gardens, Brooklyn, NY
  • St. Barnabas Hospital Annex, Bronx, NY
  • CPI James Weldon Johnson Playground Reconstruction, New York, NY*
  • Kimlau Square Reconstruction, New York, NY*
  • Elizabeth Berger Plaza Construction, New York, NY*
  • Seneca Park Master Plan, Seneca IL*
  • Milwaukee Avenue Corridor Streetscape, Prospect Heights, IL*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Danae brings significant experience in working at the cutting edge of resiliency research. This research, combined with her skills in multiple design and fine art disciplines, gives Danae a flexible facility with both the conceptual and technical aspects of landscape design. Danae’s research for Structures for Coastal Resilience, a multi-university effort funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, particularly focused on communities surrounding Jamaica Bay, New York. The project, for which Danae worked as a Research Associate since its inception, investigated design initiatives to promote coastal resiliency along with strategies for climate change adaptation, supplementing the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Comprehensive Study of vulnerable communities along the North Atlantic coastline. In addition to her research in resiliency, Danae’s thesis focused on the potential for landscape architecture to bridge the gap between the active decay of the built environment through natural process reclamation in order to strengthen new connections within the cultural landscape.

Representative Projects

  • Fresh Creek Coastal Resiliency, Brooklyn, NY
  • St. Mary’s Park, Bronx, NY
  • Harlem River Park Greenway Link, New York, NY
  • East Harlem Resiliency Study, New York, NY
  • Georgia King Village, Newark, NJ
  • Hallett’s Point 7, Queens, NY
  • East 149th Street Development, Bronx, NY
  • 626 Flatbush Avenue Housing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Sag Harbor Cemetery, Sag Harbor, NY
  • EDC Stapleton Resiliency Study, Staten Island, NY
  • Shelter Island Residence, Shelter Island, NY
  • Story Avenue Apartments, Bronx, NY
  • Battery PlayScape, New York, NY
  • Park Avenue Co-op Reconstruction, New York, NY
  • Southwest Park, Hoboken, NJ
  • Compass Residences, Bronx, NY
  • Structures for Coastal Resilience, Jamaica Bay, NY*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Kirk Hiatt is a landscape designer with a background in the visual arts and a graduate degree in landscape architecture. He comes to Starr Whitehouse with four years of experience that includes design for residential gardens, urban parks, art installations, playgrounds, and urban master plans across New England, Ohio, and Arkansas. His graduate thesis focused on the relationship between playground design, landscape, ecology, and their effects on child development, culminating in the construction of a new landscape-oriented playground at the Columbus School for Girls in Columbus, Ohio. He applied many of the lessons learned at Columbus Playground to the design of Burlington, Vermont’s first universally accessible playground at Oakledge Park.

As a designer, Kirk is committed to formal originality and is passionate for work that is concise, intelligent, and poetic while honoring the ecological and cultural context of a given site. With his background in the visual arts, he excels in the production of high-quality and rigorous graphics for Starr Whitehouse and is well-versed in every stage of the design process. With this experience, Kirk brings a diversified set of creative and practical design skills to the Starr Whitehouse team.

Representative Projects

  • Freshkills South Park, Staten Island, NY
  • Catskill Art Center, Livingston Manor, NY
  • Atlantic Chestnut Affordable Housing, Brooklyn, NY
  • St. Barnabas Hospital Annex, Bronx, NY
  • Crossroads Plaza, Bronx, NY
  • Oakledge Park Playground, Burlington, VT*
  • Symphony Park, Somerville, MA*
  • Heritage Park, El Dorado, AR*
  • Grain Mill Alley, Lexington, MA*
  • ArtFarm, Somerville, MA*
  • Hawken School Campus, Gates Mills, OH*
  • Healey Mystic Master Plan, Somerville, MA*
  • El Dorado Entertainment District Master Plan, El Dorado, AR*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse