The architectural design team behind the revitalization of the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens was the recipient of a 2018 Preservation Achievement Grand Jury Award. Beyer Blinder Belle, a premier architectural firm specializing in historic preservation, joined Longwood to receive the honor from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. The Alliance recognizes historic building projects that have been restored or renovated in an exemplary way. The five-year, $90 million restoration was the largest fountain preservation project of its kind in the United States.
The 80-year-old Main Fountain Garden is a hallmark of the Longwood experience visited by more than 1.5 million people each year. In 1931, Longwood’s founder Pierre S. du Pont debuted the Main Fountain Garden, which was inspired by 20th century technology from the world’s fairs and the beauty of renowned European gardens. As Longwood embarked on preserving the Garden, the team looked to the future to honor his vision and ensure the continued enjoyment of the fountains with an original concept of “adaptive restoration” guiding thousands of design, restoration, and technology application decisions.
The scope of Beyer Blinder Belle, whose portfolio includes Grand Central Terminal, Ellis Island Museum of Immigration, and the New York Botanical Garden, focused on the restoration of the original design; repair and improvements to mechanical and electrical systems; introduction of a series of new architectural elements such as the Grotto, Grand Stairs, and a series of subterranean service structures; and enhancements to the plantings, fountains, and visitor amenities.
Additional project highlights included a complete restoration of 4,000 pieces of limestone; improved guest access with enhanced pathways; an elaborate boxwood hedge and inviting alleés; and cutting-edge fountain technology, all making the revitalized Main Fountain Garden a truly unmatched visitor experience.
“The revitalization of our beloved Main Fountain Garden was the largest and most complex project to date for Longwood,” said Paul B. Redman, Longwood Gardens President and CEO. “To respect the Garden’s 80-year-old history while embracing 21st-century technology and innovation was a fine line. We were successful thanks to the efforts and skills of our incredible design teams who were led by Beyer Blinder Belle.”
In addition to Beyer Blinder Belle, Longwood collaborated with more than 80 design teams and firms across the globe including West 8, a world-renowned landscape architecture firm; Fluidity Design Consultants, a water feature design and engineering firm; and L’Observatoire International, a lighting design firm.
Following the May 2017 return of the Main Fountain Garden, the project and its design teams have been the recipient of more than a dozen awards including a 2017 Best of Design Award from Architect’s Newspaper and 2018 Palladio Award from Traditional Building Magazine.
Miriam Kelly, Senior Associate for Beyer Blinder Belle and Penny Person, Director of Construction Management at Longwood, accepted the 2018 Grand Jury Award during the Preservation Achievement Awards Ceremony held on June 6 in Philadelphia. The event was hosted by the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, who actively promotes the appreciation, protection, and revitalization of the Philadelphia region’s historic buildings, communities and landscapes.
For information about the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood visit longwoodgardens.org.
About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870–-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Today, Longwood Gardens continues this spirit of stewardship and innovation. As one of the great gardens of the world, Longwood is home to the most significant fountain collection in North America, the jewel of which is the recently revitalized 1,719-jet Main Fountain Garden. Encompassing 1,083 acres, Longwood combines horticultural artistry with natural lands, grand architecture with diverse garden design, and the performing arts with informal and formal education programs to create an extraordinary experience. Open daily, Longwood welcomes more than 1.5 million guests each year and is located in the sublime countryside of the Brandywine Valley, 30 miles from Philadelphia. For more information, visit longwoodgardens.org.
About Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
Founded in 1968, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners is an award-winning architecture, planning, and interiors practice of 165 professionals in New York City and Washington, D.C., with a longstanding commitment to design excellence, social integrity, and sustainable practices. The firm’s multi-faceted portfolio encompasses preservation, urban design, and new construction projects that span a wide spectrum of building typologies and sectors, including cultural, civic, educational, residential, and commercial. For more than four decades, the firm’s work has focused on the design and revitalization of nationally celebrated buildings and sites— including Grand Central Terminal, Ellis Island Museum of Immigration, the U.S. Capitol, The Morgan Library & Museum, Lincoln Center Promenade and Fountain, and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum—as well as such international sites of cultural significance as the Shanghai Cultural Plaza in China and the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.