Shortlisted in Offices / Public voting 2018:

Counts Studio

Office Profile All / Illinois / USA /

We approach landscape design as a highly specialized blend of the fine arts, architecture, ecology, and sociology. Counts Studio was founded in 2009 and has offices in New York and Chicago. Our portfolio of landscape-based projects includes a range from large master plans, to urban site design, to campus design and private gardens and installations. Our team includes licensed professionals and leaders in design, implementation and research dedicated to making immersive spaces that expand use and experiential range for all ages.

We believe that how you make effects what you make. Our unique hands-on approach to design ensures that projects are approached from an ecologically and social standpoint to improve the quality of life for people. We have experience collaborating with allied disciplines including architects, engineers, artists and project specialists as team leaders and as a project consultant. In addition to working on speculative and built works, we also engage in public process, community outreach and teaching through our practice. We feel it is our responsibility as designers and stewards of the outdoor domain to be as inclusive as possible not only in the design of spaces, but in how they are exhibited, published, and disseminated for all who wish to learn from our successes and failures.

We believe that landscapes should be more reflective and expressive of the diversity, color, vibrancy, and individuality of the people who use them on a regular basis. We have been awarded with national and international recognition, commissions and publications for our success in generating new landscape typologies, lead rigorous urban research, and emphasized people in our process. We take pride in that our projects are site specific, expand site accessibility, and employ a creative approach to making places that are genuinely timeliness, explore and contribute to improving connections between people and place, and improve well-being for people across the globe, no matter where or within what context.


Beijing Expo

Challenging the historical paradigm of inward oriented gardens, the Beijing Expo looks out to engage adjacent gardens and its context through an outward oriented composition of overlapping paths, swaths of plantings, and sculpted earthworks activated by movement, light, and time. The interrelated composition and compression of garden elements define the Beijing International Garden Expo, offering a new perspective on the potentials of 21st century garden design and contemporary design expression. The garden experience choreographs visitors through a cinematic arrangement of bold chromatic juxtapositions, using plants, topography, and garden structures typically experienced in larger landscapes. Visitors are gradually elevated atop sculptural landforms towards a sky bridge; while the incline of the path is gentle, it raises visitors up 12 feet above the ground level of the entry plaza, immersing visitor in an unusually physically and psychologically uplifting perspective of the garden from above. The interrelated organic logic of the planting strategy creates a living painting, expressed as a flourishing carpet of drifting lavender plants with aromatic properties that heighten the sensual qualities of the garden.


Beijing, China


337 Garden

337 Garden, located in Chelsea, New York City, transforms a rear yard originally laid out in the early 1800s into a contemporary outdoor urban oasis and extension of one of Manhattan’s largest townhouses. The design incorporates 106 Manhattan schist slabs recycled and reconfigured to create a series of new garden rooms and a new cantilevered staircase that provides access to the garden from the remodeled second-floor living room.

Six carefully sited large canopy Tulip Polar trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) articulate the spatial structures of the newly defined garden rooms. Their stately vertical growth habit, dramatic fall color, and high canopy flowers make for a green canopy ceiling, increase shade and are recognized as the number one carbon sequestering tree in New York City. The layout of the garden provides an intimate area for Matthew Ritchie’s sculpture entitled, “Night Drawing (Composition No. 3)”, an added focal point on the upper terrace. The garden walls consist of reinvigorated vine plantings and a painterly mix of ferns, flowering perennials and ground covers carpeting the garden floor. Tow set of stone stairs tie the upper and lower terraces together. Custom accent lighting celebrates the intimate moments found within the garden by illuminating a variety of intricate materials and textures. The cantilevered staircase recedes into tree canopies and lush green planting to provide a smooth transition from the historical brownstone character into the contemporary feel of the garden below. Three sweeping grand windows inspired vey the vision for the garden redefine the remodeled living room on the second floor, providing a visually rich connection between the indoor and outdoor living rooms.


New York, NY


Sandy Hook Memorial

This memorial creates an inspirational and safe setting to instill in visitors a sense of dignified peace and reflection designed around honoring and respecting those who were killed and those whose lives were touched and altered forever. The new space provides a place of solace, peace, and eternal commemoration defined by gravity, beauty and embrace. It is as much a place to grieve as it is a place to come together and celebrate the spirit and joy of the memory of those children and educators whose lives were taken. The general layout is inspired by the natural character of the existing site conditions and maintains a sense of private reflection within the quiet woods enclosed and concealed from neighboring properties by evergreen trees. The formal beginning of a classical allée along an ADA accessible path is articulated through a native canopy tree plantings that frame the site entry. The path extends from the upper arrival area down into the memorial site and is comprised of monolithic granite slabs arranged along a southwest axis aligned with the adjacent school as a gesture to the community of teachers and students who spent their last moments embracing and protecting one another with their lives. The existing grade change of roughly 20 feet is resolved with elegance and purpose through the sculpted earthworks and accompanying trees that provide a seamless entry sequence well integrated into the existing hillsides.


Newtown, Connecticut


World War 1 National Memorial Design | Competition-Stage 2

Stage II- Our proposal title, “Heroes’ Green”, seamlessly blends memorial, park, and garden into a new type of public space. A highly integrated composition of topography, paths, walls, and plants create a landscape of dynamic views, distinguished prospects, shaded valleys, and woodland glens. Five 70-90’-wide bronze surfaced walls embedded in monolithic earthworks render historic imagery. Abstracted life-size images are woven into the landscape and become moments of reflection and commemoration. Memorial Tree Garden is comprised of 116 trees planted within a sculptural composition of earthworks and meandering paths. The landforms reference the iconic landscape of trenches, while the 116 trees give physical scale to the 116,516 American servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives. Washington Monument Prospect rises in elevation, creating a symbolic gesture and dramatic views towards the Washington Monument. Doughboy Plaza, the symbolic heart of Heroes’ Green, is shaded by a leafy grove of canopy trees and animated by movable chairs and sounds of a fountain. Dramatically sculpted image walls, a civic amphitheater, the Capitol Promenade, and robust topography shape this civic gathering space and place of remembrance. The Pershing Statue and walls are relocated to the plaza’s south entrance, oriented southeast over Pershing’s Lawn, the Capitol Building, and the rising sun.


Washington, D.C.


Happy Valley Garden

Winning first place out 900 entries from 30 countries, this innovative outdoor environment inspires visitors with a playful sense of wonder and discovery through an expressive composition of bold swaths of color, dancing concrete ribbons, and dramatically sculpted landforms. An expressive composition of bold colors, dancing concrete ribbons, and dramatically sculpted topography inspires visitors with a playful sense of wonder and discovery with this international design that won first place out of 900 entries from 30 different countries. Happy Valley Garden, the first place winner of the 10th China International Garden Expo, is an installation that instigates play and wonder. It aspires to maximize fun, human enjoyment, and exchange among an eclectic collection of visitors from all over the world. The garden is a celebration of differences between both metaphorical and physical highs and lows expressed through voluptuous topography, flowering ground covers, and imaginative pathway networks. Each visitor is invited along the same path from which they traverse a choreographed experience of cinematic views. Concrete paths become bands of dancing ribbons that guide everyone through undulating topographic elevations, ultimately sculpting a unique, interpretive experience for each visitor.


Wuhan, China


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