Counts Studio Recognition, 8th International Biennial of Landscape Architecture | The Penn State Stuckeman School Skip to main content

Counts Studio Recognition, 8th International Biennial of Landscape Architecture

Two of the Landscape Architecture faculty from Penn State, Christopher Counts, (Stuckeman Professor in Design) and Maria Debije Counts, (Visiting Instructor) will be featured for their firm’s project, “Elevated Ground: A 300 Year Vision for a 200-Year-Old Square” in an upcoming exhibition for the 8thInternational Biennial of Landscape Architecture, “A Landscape for You”. The international exhibition will be held September 25-27th in Barcelona, Spain of this year. The exhibition announces that, “due to our circumstances most territorial and cultural disciplines are ranging from anxiety and emergence. Thus, the VIII Biennial of Landscape Barcelona claims to be both a catalyst for doubt and a driver to illusions and changes in the field of Landscape Architecture.” Christopher and Maria Counts are both excited to share the project with a wider audience and see the project gain international recognition as well.

The same project is their firms’ first project, which also won National Recognition last year with the American Society of Landscape Architecture’s prestigious Professional Awards Programs’ Honor Award in Analysis and Planning. ( It was noted by the 2013 Professional Awards Jury that, “The representation and symbolism are unbelievably beautiful and incredibly well distilled. The project is a fascinating proposition for such a small one-block site. The depth of analysis was immediately clear and usable. It would work well for community groups”.

Christopher Counts Studio focused on principles of sustainability as a major driver of the design for Moore Square Masterplan. This informed a wide array of elements including long-term tree management, site program and material selection. The projection and longevity of existing trees informed aspects of the design and led to several innovative design features such as elevated pavement details, a pier stabilized perimeter edge system to protect tree protection areas, an above-ground infrastructure core embedded inside the central landform, and a dynamic circulation system of unfolding views. The landform collects and re-uses storm water on the site while enriching habitat through native plantings. The historic oak perimeter is preserved and enhanced through protective construction techniques, which safeguard the trees while allowing for greater occupation and enjoyment of the Square. This comprehensive Master Plan aspires to create the framework for a respectful and forward looking design that elevates the 220-year old Square into a world class public space of civic dignity fitting of its honorific past. Extensive dialogue was conducted in collaboration with the North Carolina State Historical Preservation Office, more than 30 city and state agencies, and the design team. The extensive analysis and planning helped to articulate a more nuanced and project-appropriate understanding of the character defining features of Moore Square as a constantly changing living landscape. This enhanced “landscape specific” understanding helped to transform initial reluctance and concerns into broad public support for the project.

The Counts’ were happy to hear the news that the project had been selected as it had always been a major goal to expand the programmatic range and use of the site and believe this fits well with this year’s theme titled, “A landscape for you.” “This year’s event suggests interest in discovering new ways of action, while exploring inhospitable areas and guiding discussion towards rethinking old certainties and providing new sensitivities certitudes. A landscape for you wants to be present at the discussion of what should be the landscape design and planning, aiming to provide a plausible (and exciting) future.

Since its first edition, the European Landscape Biennial has expressed its desire to intently study and discuss landscape interventions, as much from the perspective of landscape architecture as from other disciplines that are linked to its study and evolution…. Barcelona will open itself to international landscape architecture in a symposium adapted to contemporary circumstances. This symposium will last three days and will include talks, presentations by those finalists competing for the Rosa Barba Landscape Prize, sponsored by Banc de Sabadell, papers, roundtable discussions, exhibitions and samples from which we will be able to track and discuss the evolution of landscape architecture world wide’

More info can be found on the following website:


Image of the project