Earth Day 2012 – Sustainable and therapeutic landscapes

Jupiter Medical Center Photo by Michiko Kurisu, courtesy of Studio Spout.

The retention pond at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, FL also serves as large water feature, viewable from the Cancer Treatment Center. Photo by Michiko Kurisu, courtesy of Studio Spout.

Happy Earth Day!

Human health cannot be treated separately from the natural environment.
– Hippocrates, 4th Century BCE

We at the Therapeutic Landscapes Network believe that the best landscapes for health are those that benefit people and the planet. In the most recent issue of Research Design Connections, an article by Naomi Sachs titled “Landscapes for Health: Therapeutic AND Sustainable Landscapes in the Healthcare Setting,” is featured in the Expert’s Corner.  If you subscribe to RDC, you can log in and read the full article on their website. This article will also become a chapter in a book on therapeutic landscapes by Naomi Sachs and Clare Cooper Marcus, to be published by Wiley in 2013.

Below are some excerpts from the article:

Complementary Approaches
Sustainable and therapeutic landscapes complement each other in myriad ways. Facilities have the opportunity to “feed two birds with one seed” by meshing the two design philosophies. Landscape architects are the architect’s and engineer’s best friend here, because they are trained to see the “big picture” as well as details that will best benefit the site and the people served. In many cases, one strategy comes first and the other follows. (more…)

Sustainable AND Restorative Landscapes: Four To Watch from Sustainable Sites Initiative’s Pilot Projects

Sustainable Sites Initiative

Healing Garden at Cayuga Medical Center, one of SITES' case studies

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) has announced its 175 Pilot Projects, and here, from what I can tell, are the ones specifically related to therapeutic landscapes:

Alderwood Longterm Care Facility
Baddeck, Cape Breton
Project Type: Residential
Project Team: Highland Landscapes for Lifestyle; Ekistics Planning & Design; WHW Architects; Alderwood Corporation
Description: The Alderwood Rest Home is a greenfield development that is measuring and evaluating the sustainability goals and deliverables that will contribute to improvements in landscape design, construction and maintenance. Protection, restoration, environmental mitigation, orientation, plantings, walkways, outdoor rooms, and hardscape have been strategically combined to provide an environment that enhances resident wellness, optimizes resident’s outdoor usage and integrates the property’s diverse natural environment.

Health Village Fludir
Fludir, Iceland
Project Type: Commercial
Project Team: Health Village Fludir Ltd. and Vist & Vera ltd.
Description: This 16-acre greenfield project is associated with Iceland’s first health village. Site plans will focus on creating a walkable and ADA accessible environment including health paths, fitness zones, a series of natural open spaces, and a healing garden. Vehicular traffic will be limited and parking placed on the outer periphery. The project is seen as an opportunity to test SITES guidelines in Iceland and serve as a model for sustainable development in the country. (

The People’s Garden (USDA)
Washington, District of Columbia
Project Type: Governmental complex
Project Team: USDA-Office of Operations, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA- Forest Service
Description: The landscape outside USDA headquarters has been redesigned to showcase sustainability, nutrition, and healthy eating through rainwater harvesting, removal of invasives, and installation of working beehives, a vegetable garden, and a green roof among other design elements. This new landscape will support the agency’s educational mission while demonstrating to other public institutions that sustainable practices can be successfully implemented on a high profile, urban site with a rigorous aesthetic design requirement.

The Barn Raising Project
Millington, Tennessee
Project Type: Institutional/Educational
Project Team: Habitat for Hope, PLACE Alliance, archimania
Description: This non-profit organization exists to provide holistic care for families enduring the serious illness of a child. They will transform its 48-acre greenfield campus into a model for sustainability. The environmentally friendly development plan includes cabins, a village center, lodge, chapel, equestrian center, and staff residences. The team believes alignment with SITES will benefit the families that Habitat for Hope serves.

Several other pilot projects are for children, education, and public parks; you can view the entire list here:

These SITES Pilot Projects represent a diverse cross-section of project types, sizes and geographic locations in various stages of development from design to construction and maintenance. SITES Pilot Projects will be the first projects in the United States and abroad to demonstrate the application of The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009, released on November 5, 2009.

SITES has a Human Health and Well-Being component as well as those that are more strictly environmental, which is very exciting to those of us in this field.

For more information about the Sustainable Sites Initiative, visit their website, and here’s a good overview of the Pilot Projects from ASLA’s The Dirt.

The above image is from one of SITES’ Case Studies, the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, NY.