NAM Planning & Design, LLC
NAM Planning & Design, LLC, established in 2002, is an award-winning landscape architecture and environmental planning firm, located north of Philadelphia. The firm creates healing gardens, restorative environments, and spaces used for horticultural therapy by combining evidence-based design with clinical expertise and an in-depth knowledge of environmental restoration/management, horticulture, and the U.S. healthcare system. NAM is one of a few firms nationally whose principal is both a licensed landscape architect and a registered horticultural therapist.
With over 30 years’ experience, principal, Nancy Minich, HTR, RLA, ASLA, has published articles on healthcare, human ecology and design, and how to work with specific therapeutic populations. She is also a university professor teaching horticultural therapy and is a frequently requested speaker for both healthcare and design affiliated organizations. In addition, she serves on the board of directors of the American Horticultural Therapy Association and provides consulting services. Other professionals with the firm include Donna Dahringer, MLA, MBA, MPP, whose in-depth understanding of the U.S. healthcare system is the product of over 20 years’ experience as a healthcare public policy and business analyst. Her design work focuses on farm and garden wildscaping using ecosystem biomimicry to enhance ecological function and environmental health. The firm has extensive experience collaborating with municipalities, non-profits, and individual landowners and creates inspired designs at scales ranging from master plans to small, detailed garden spaces. NAM staff includes landscape architects and designers, a horticultural therapist, a vocational education teacher, a conservation biologist, and a health care policy planner.
Higbee Park Master Plan Bethlehem, PA
NAM developed the master plan for the 1-acre urban park to accommodate a new Kaboom playground and to incorporate passive recreational areas into the park. Higbee Park was formerly an elementary school until it was razed in the 1970’s and converted to a playground. NAM worked with the Kaboom committee throughout the four month process to incorporate their specific playground planning process into the park master plan. A separate neighborhood meeting was conducted by NAM to present concepts for the park and develop consensus among the residents for the overall park design.
The park master plan strives for a mix of program areas for all ages and abilities and for an increased neighborhood presence. The park layout defines public and private spaces that show signs of neighborhood ownership to deter the vandalism and illicit activities that have occurred historically. Legitimate users experience a sense of welcome with trellises at all three entrances, punctuated by plaza artwork, benches, movable seating, and lawn and landscaped areas. More than 50 percent of the impervious macadam surface was removed and planted with open lawn, and native trees and shrubs. Community gardens and other neighborhood-maintained planting areas are located throughout the park to encourage visibility and ownership of the park. Other site amenities include an accessible path looping through the central and eastern sections of the park. Multipurpose lawns are adjacent to the existing playground and basketball courts and next to the gazebo. A children’s maze winds through the native wildflower meadow to allow children to explore and experience nature. A labyrinth offers mental relaxation and quiet, private space. The plaza area provides much needed shade and passive recreation while it also allows for surveillance down over the playground and lawn areas. All park plantings are native Pennsylvania species and were selected for their ability to increase biodiversity based on D. Tallamy’s twenty most valuable woody plants that support biodiversity in the mid-Atlantic region.
Bucks County Audubon Society Healing Garden New Hope, PA
Since 2014, NAM’s principal had been conducting bimonthly horticultural therapy programs for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities at Bucks County Audubon Society (BCAS). To further this successful program, NAM developed a grant proposal to design and implement a healing garden at BCAS to address the specific needs of the individuals participating in the program. It was funded by a local private foundation for two consecutive years, and focused on building the healing garden with the individuals in the program and developing a year round program manual of horticultural therapy activities. NAM’s principal utilizes the program as an internship site for horticultural therapy students completing their internship to become registered horticultural therapists.
Delaware Valley University (DVU) Veterans Garden Doylestown, PA
As part of a privately funded grant, NAM worked with Delaware Valley University (DVU) and veterans attending DVU to locate and design a garden to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Using soft, native flowering trees, shrubs and ground cover, the site was designed to buffer visual and acoustic inputs from passers-by while enhancing sensory stimulation with four seasons of interest. Semi-private spaces were created for additional visual privacy and use by study groups and to reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD such as hyperarousal. In addition, porous brick paving was used to help reduce stormwater runoff and provide DVU and the township with MS4 credits. The garden will be built and enjoyed by veterans and other students at DVU.
Curtis Arboretum Conservation & Landscape Management Plan Cheltenham, PA
Curtis Arboretum is 85 acre township-owned park designed in the 1930’s by the Olmsted Brothers. NAM had a significant role in developing its first management plan, which was funded by PA DCNR and completed in 2016. Responsible for preparing the inventory and assessment of the site, NAM drew attention to its significant natural, cultural, and man-made features, which became the guiding forces in the development of the plan. NAM also identified and evaluated each the tree in the arboretum and designed a brochure highlighting the most significant, in particular, surviving trees planted by the Olmsted Brothers. An Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) documentation was conducted by NAM and placed in the Library of Congress by the National Park Service in 2017. In addition to these assessments, a collaborative process involving surveys, key person interviews, and steering committee input, resulted in a plan that preserved all the significant features of the site. Guided by stormwater best management practices, the plan also put forth recommendations that addressed Tookany Creek headwater rise at Curtis Arboretum and led to a more sustainable landscape. In 2017, the township was awarded a grant to daylight a first order stream and develop an environmental education area initially designed by NAM in the plan.
School Master Plan Philadelphia, PA
Leading a five member design team from the Community Design Collaborative and working with the Powelton Village Civic Association, NAM developed a master plan for the Powel School in West Philadelphia. The vision for the plan was to engage students at every level - emotionally, socially, physically, and cognitively - while creating a more sustainable site and making the Powel School an even stronger neighborhood asset. The team outlined a strategy for greening the outdated, paved schoolyard in phases, starting with a habitat garden, vegetable garden, and an outdoor classroom. Deliverables included a detailed report outlining the implementation process and detailed illustrations of each specific garden area.
Playwicki Farm Accessible Trail Plan Lower Southampton Township, PA
Funded in part by a PA-DCNR grant, NAM created a 3.2 mile trail system at Playwicki Farm, a 110 acre site made up of important historic and natural resources. The system was designed to accommodate all ages and abilities by providing a selection of trails with various levels of accessibility, including: a paved ADA accessible walking and jogging trail through an orchard and meadow with wide, scenic views; a preservation trail through woodlands with views of wildflowers, a limestone quarry, creek and limekiln; a wetlands trail along the creek; and meadow and wildlife trails. Using GPS and GIS mapping technology, a color coded map was generated to provide visitors information on the location, level of difficulty, and surface material of all the trails making up the system. The paved 1.1 mile walking trail through the meadow area is highly used by residents in the area.
Project management of community service individuals in construction of riparian buffers NAM provided opportunities for youths with behavioral and mental health issues to participate in more than 60 municipal streambank restorations projects over a 15 year period. Youths were from a private organization and court-ordered to perform community service. NAM provided training in specific restoration installation tasks such as measuring areas, removing invasive plants, tree and shrub planting, and installing deer fencing. In addition, individuals were taught to focus on project tasks, and work with others appropriately. NAM staff provided the structured support in conjunction with community service counselors. When individuals returned to their facility, counselors reported attenuation of disruptive behaviors and more engaged group discussion of how to work with others.
Consulting Services NAM also provides consulting services which include: healthcare garden assessment and management; horticultural therapy program development and implementation; staff and volunteer training for allied professionals as well as in-service/workshops; and educational services that include vocational training and development of educational materials, signage, and way-finding systems.