Laura Starr

With over 25 years’ experience working in the New York City area, Landscape Architect Laura Starr is 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, and as a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 1, serves on the Board’s resiliency taskforce. 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. He formerly served as Chief of Planning for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, where he managed the expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows and launched the City’s Greenway system. Since co-founding Starr Whitehouse with Laura Starr, he has worked with public and private clients to create dynamic urban districts and engaging landscapes that connect people to nature.

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 at the end.” He describes his role 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.”

Jeffrey Poor brings more than 20 years of experience in the conceptualization, formulation and implementation of sustainable and compelling site design to Starr Whitehouse. His award-winning work spans a wide range of project scales and types, and consistently contributes creative solutions to the challenges faced in the implementation of sustainable design. Beginning with his work in New York’s Central Park, Poor’s interest in environmental, social and aesthetic considerations dovetailed neatly with the foundational design framework of the Greensward Plan. His work for the Central Park Conservancy emphasized the use of natural materials, native plant communities, and the creative treatment of stormwater. In projects such as the Great Lawn, Harlem Meer, North Meadow, and the Reconstruction of the West Side, Poor, in collaboration with Laura Starr, transformed the landscape and reinvigorated the Park’s ideals of social and environmental stewardship through the implementation of sustainable design practices long before the term gained its present currency.

Such innovations have become a staple of Poor’s career. For the Wildlife Conservation Society, Poor oversaw the design and implementation of an environmental restoration project along the Bronx River. The project restored portions of the riverbank, captured, detained and polished stormwater and implemented a graphic signage system explaining the hydrologic cycle as a public education resource.

As Partner and Studio Director at Starr Whitehouse, Poor plays a lead role in making the design team’s vision a reality. His experience and technical mastery weave together diverse and often competing variables into fully integrated and innovative design solutions, resulting in successful and memorable spaces. His forward-thinking design with Stephen Whitehouse for the Bronx River House in Starlight Park employs landscape and horticultural strategies to mitigate heat loads through controlled evapotranspiration using a layered green wall. In another collaboration with Whitehouse, his DEP Maintenance Facility design introduces stormwater retention swales within the public right of way to capture and polish roof runoff for use in maintenance operations, an innovation that would later be incorporated into the DEP’s manual of best practices.

Partner and Atlanta Studio Director Jacob Lange leads Starr Whitehouse’s work in the Southeast, where he focuses on waterfront parks, pedestrian-centered urban districts, and community-focused green infrastructure for public, private, and institutional clients. Under Jacob’s direction, the Atlanta Studio leads the design of a multi-phased park system along the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, GA. In Alpharetta, GA, his team is working on a range of projects to transform a historically vehicle-oriented downtown into a green and multi-modal public realm. At Georgia Tech’s campus, Jacob is leading an ambitious study to transform North Avenue from a vehicle-dominated thoroughfare into a welcoming, pedestrian friendly “front door” for the Georgia Tech community. Previously, Jacob led two of the City of Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure Design Challenge projects, integrating stormwater management with amenity and education to support economic development and environmental advocacy in underserved communities.

Jacob is an active member of the ULI Atlanta Chapter and a graduate of the chapter’s 2020 Center for Leadership program. He has volunteered for Park Pride’s Park Visioning program, he is an annual guest lecturer at Clemson University’s School of Architecture, and he has served as a guest critic at Georgia Tech’s School of Architecture. He remains active on projects in the Northeast, where his recent work includes historic St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx and public open space components for mixed-use developments by The Durst Organization in Queens and Philadelphia.

Representative Projects:

Roswell RiverParks, Roswell, GA
North Point Parkway, Alpharetta, GA
Georgia Tech North Avenue, Atlanta, GA
Georgia Tech Alumni Garden, Atlanta, GA
Alpha Loop Downtown Link Trail Alignment Study, Alpharetta, GA
Lakebottom Park and Theo Mcgee Park Restoration Plans, Columbus, GA
Green Infrastructure Challenge: MLK Living Lab, Atlanta, GA
Green Infrastructure Challenge: Continental Colony, Atlanta, GA
Vine Street Development & Park, Philadelphia, PA
St. Mary’s Anchor Park Master Plan and Reconstruction, Bronx, NY
FDR Drive Promenade Rehabilitation, New York, NY
Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, New York, NY
New Rochelle Transit-Oriented Development, New Rochelle, NY
Queens Plaza Park Development & Park, Queens, NY
Greenpoint Terminal Market Master Plan and Development, Brooklyn, NY
Midtown Manhattan High Rise, New York, NY
Covington Town Center Development, Covington, GA
Amy Erwin Memorial Garden, Candler Park, Atlanta, GA
NYPD 40th Precinct Station House, Bronx, NY
St. Barnabas Hospital Annex, Bronx, NY
Equinox Hudson Yards Development, New York, NY
Atlantic Chestnut Affordable Housing, Brooklyn, NY

Ms. Wittwer-Laird 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 2011 to 2016, during which time she helped facilitate early construction phases in the reclamation of Freshkills Park.

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:

Manhattan Greenway Harlem River Waterfront Park Design, New York, NY
Nissequogue River State Park Master Plan, Kings Park, NY
Tibbetts Brook Daylighting, Bronx, NY
Thompson Park Amphitheater Concept Plan, Watertown, NY
Scout Park, Hamlin, NY
Promenade Hill Park Universal Access and Plaza Redesign, Hudson, NY
Dr. Oliver Bronson House Landscape Vision Plan, Hudson, NY
Empire State Trail Design Guidelines and Gateway Design, NYS/Hudson
Valley Greenway
Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, Jones Beach State Park, NY
Jones Beach West Games, Jones Beach State Park, NY
Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, New York, NY
Hudson North Bay Trail Connector, Hudson, NY
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
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
Morningside House Senior Center Courtyard Renovation, Bronx, 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
Crescent Beach Park, Staten Island, NY*
Van Name, Van Pelt Plaza, Staten Island, NY*
Freshkills East Park Restoration, Staten Island, NY*
Irish Hunger Memorial, New York, NY*
Peter Minuit Plaza, New York, NY*
CaVaLa (Albert Capsouto Park), New York, NY*
Morrison-Golden Residential Garden, Rhinebeck, NY*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Michael Haggerty is a Principal at Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners. As Director of Urban Planning and Design, he leads projects related to open spaces, housing, waterfronts, and resilience. His recent work in New York City reimagines connectivity and sustainability in urban systems. The design of the Harlem River Greenway was recognized by AIANY’s Transportation and Infrastructure Design Excellence Award in 2022. The Staten Island Shoreline Parks Plan will integrate five miles of parkland, public beaches, and bicycle paths with coastal flood protection. A Vision for a Resilient East Harlem lays out a framework for making public spaces multi-functional to address climate risks in upper Manhattan. The Streetscape & Lighting Plan for Union Square and 14th Street supports a new vision for downtown Manhattan pedestrian spaces. Michael began his career with the public art organization Creative Time in New York, and subsequently earned professional degrees in architecture and urban planning at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. While at Harvard he was awarded the Presidential Public Service Fellowship to work with MASS Design Group.

Representative Projects:

East Shore Shoreline Resilient Parks Plan, Staten Island, NY
Manhattan Greenway Harlem River Waterfront Park Design, New York, NY
Marsha P Johnson State Park, Brooklyn, NY
A Vision for a Resilient East Harlem, New York, NY
Bear Mountain State Park Restoration, Bear Mountain, NY
Hybrid Industrial/ Commercial Development, Brooklyn, NY
Nissequogue River State Park Master Plan, Kings Park, NY
Union Square Streetscape and Lighting Plan, New York, NY
Sweet Auburn Green & Equitable Framework Plan, Atlanta, GA
Yonkers Climate Action Plan, Yonkers, NY
New Rochelle Transit-Oriented Development, New Rochelle, NY
Williamsburg IBIA Development Public Realm, Brooklyn, NY
Clarkson Estates Affordable Housing, Brooklyn, NY
Bedford Greenhouse Affordable Housing, Bronx, NY
Carroll Park Community Vision Plan, Brooklyn, NY
Luna Corporate Plaza and Marketplace, Sao Paulo, Brazil