Established in 1992 and located in the rural resort town of Southampton New York the LaGuardia Design Group NY has been consistently produced high quality award winning work for over twenty-five years.
The LaGuardia Design Group is a 14-person landscape architecture firm specializing in high-end residential and commercial site design. Led by head principal, Christopher LaGuardia FASLA, and partners, Ian Hanbach and Daniel Thorp, the firm’s original and effective design solutions have been implemented throughout the United States and Asia and recognized in numerous publications. With a strong belief in creative collaboration between clients, architects, and consultants, the firm works towards expressing the best character of each site while meeting the requirements of program, schedule, and budget. Rather than attempting to mimic nature, LaGuardia Design Groups’ goal with every design is to interpret natural processes as an artistic expression in their work. In 2013, LaGuardia Design Groups received the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) award of excellence in residential design, the highest national award in the profession.
Each project begins with a thorough analysis of the defined objective and the sensitive realities of a site and its context. We devise, test and refine a range of schemes and ideas in accordance to the objective, which helps us to achieve an appropriate fit with the client’s needs and the site. The unique natural beauty of the Coastal community, known as the Hamptons, has attracted summer visitors for over 100 years. The history of resort living alongside a vibrant 300-year-old agricultural economy provides a cultural framework from which the firm draws inspiration.
As a coastal community sea level rise and erosion is a challenge the firm has adapted to by providing resilient and ecological solutions.
Christopher LaGuardia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia. Shortly after leaving Georgia, LaGuardia began working for the internationally renowned landscape architecture firm M. Paul Friedberg & Partners Urban Design, in New York City. After several years with Friedberg, LaGuardia settled in Bridgehampton, NY to work for Norman Jaffe, FAIA, a well-known architect notably known for his modern and environmental compatible residences. Building from a decade of experience under Jaffe, LaGuardia decided to establish his own practice in 1992. Since then, Christopher LaGuardia, Landscape Architect, P.C. and his associates have spearheaded over 100 large-scale projects, ranging anywhere from small garden designs to 30-acre estates and international resorts.
Set on twelve acres, this residential property features a renovated estate house from the early 1900’s set within towering groves of mature existing trees. The concept of the site design was to build a display setting for the owner’s expansive blue-chip sculpture collection. Garden spaces from the original estate that once housed roses, cutting flowers and vegetables have now been re-purposed to exhibit collections of sculptures by Isamu Noguchi and Walter De Maria. Inside each of these spaces are newly design viewing pavilions that act as destinations within the greater landscape. A system of curving gravel paths provides circulation and organization throughout the property so one can stroll in an orderly fashion to view the sculpture collection efficiently. Native tree and perennial meadow plantings add a sustainable element that increases bio-diversity on the property and surrounding context. Set on twelve acres, this residential property features a renovated estate house from 1927 set within towering groves of mature existing trees. The concept of the site design was to build a display setting for the owner’s expansive blue-chip sculpture collection. The Landscape Architect collaborated closely with the artists and their foundations to transform their ideas into the ideal placement of each piece.
The project involved relocating the existing house from its original location, which over the course of 35 years, had become compromised by the natural erosive forces of the Atlantic Ocean. In an emergency measure, the dwelling was cut loose from the existing pilings and moved 400’ further inland. The concept for the design of the new additions was a series of outcropping decks, which would step down from the original structure and feather into the landscape. The natural transition required us to integrate the new house within a coastal landscape of undulating sand dunes and meadows.
The project required a large amount of fill; early grading studies revealed a need for approx. 30,000 cubic yards of fill. As an alternative strategy, the Landscape Architect suggested mining the fill from on site, while building a pond in the process. In an effort to visually minimize the 60,000 square foot pond a unique pond shape was designed which allowed only portions of the pond to be viewed from any given perspective. This “hidden shoreline” helps to create an illusion, leaving the ponds true size unknown. Emergent and submerging plants were placed in and around the pond to develop a healthy, naturalized ecosystem, and native fish species were additionally stocked to increase the ponds overall bio-diversity.
Thickets of native upland vegetation were planted to provide a habitat for local fauna, however exception is taken at the entry garden, where fescues grasses gives way to a rectangular mowed green, set squarely against the house and rolling meadows. A mowed grass path meanders around the pond and occasionally touches the shoreline for access to different viewing areas. This contrasting space serves to highlight the effect of refinement as one enters the home.
The concept for Deerfield Residence was to create a unifying theme through the contrast of the site’s existing vegetation, such as eastern red cedar, black cherry, bayberry, little bluestem and switch grass, and the industrial, modern architecture of the residence. The site design is orthogonal and architectural based on the functional needs of the family. The resultant, leftover areas remained successional vegetation, which is pruned and managed as a landscape. Tight architectural grass slopes efficiently marry the buildings into the existing topography and delineate various spaces including an entry garden, lawn terrace, pool area and recreation lawn/ future tennis court. All turf areas were planted with drought-resistant fescue to reduce irrigation needs, while all run-off from the lawn, driveway and house is collected in natural rain gardens. The hardscape materials are industrial components, cast concrete, un-treated utility poles, galvanized metal panels that achieve both a modern aesthetic and building economy that strives to get the most out of using the least.
The axial arrangement of the site design aligns with the architecture and penetrates the successional landscape through long paths that circulate through the property. The combined effect of the natural plant material and architectonic layout creates a casual, relaxed atmosphere that highlights the indigenous landscape, which once covered the many acres of surrounding farmland yet still lies dormant within the remaining, tilled fields.
Originally Highland Terrace Residence was a vacant farm fronting Sagg Pond in Bridgehampton, NY. Before locating the house, the Landscape Architect studied the surrounding area. Topography revealed a natural rise in terrain adjacent to the Pond, creating a watershed through the project site. Aerial maps show a direct connection between the Pond and the Atlantic Ocean, elevating the importance of mitigating any effects of large scale disturbance. Upland, the site was historically plowed as agricultural land. In order to solve contamination issues, the project team developed a plan to separate the house into two structures, bisected by a bio-swale. The bio-swale would cleanse storm water and dial back years of neglect. The swale’s plantings consist of grass masses that fill the ground plain and drifts of perennials that move between the grasses and bloom with the seasons. Seasonal interest is generated by grasses that stand up through the winter, such as Panicum and Deschampsia. Bayberry and Native trees are used to create light pockets and shade. Sedge grasses run down the center of the swale visually revealing a ‘river’. In an effort to slow down runoff, soils were designed to capture and hold water, aided by low weir walls. Lawn was restricted to circulation paths to minimize the use of fertilizers and irrigation. Highland Terrace reinterprets the use of a traditionally commercial mitigation measure on a residential level to impact big change in the health of our waterways.