Our Second Interview with Landscape Architect Janet Rosenberg Image

Our Second Interview with Landscape Architect Janet Rosenberg

By Lucas on May 08, 2013

Since it’s Landscaping Month on the NewInHomes.com Blog, naturally we had to sit down and chat with our friend and landscape architect, Janet Rosenberg. We had the opportunity to meet with Rosenberg about a year ago, so this was a great opportunity to catch up! This time, we discussed some of her current work, as well as trends in the landscape architecture world.

NewInHomes (NIH): We know you explained this last time we chatted, but for our readers who weren’t fortunate enough to catch that interview, can you please explain the difference between a landscaper and a landscape architect?

Janet Rosenberg (JR): The area is interesting; it’s almost like interior designers. You have decorators and designers. Landscape architects are basically architects. They go to school, they belong to an association, they have legal responsibilities, need to be insured. You work on a technical perspective of information, whereas a landscaper is someone who comes out and performs the work that needs to be done. Now, there are lots of steps to be done in between. There is an association called Landscape Ontario, which is really the contractors – anyone from asphalt paving to nursery growers, with everything in between. Landscape architects are designers; they work in an office, they do sets of drawings, they work in collaboration with other professionals, such as structural engineers, mechanical architects, City of Toronto planning issues, etc.; therefore, we traditionally don’t build – we produce a set of drawings for others to build off of.

NIH: So, what projects are you working on this year?

JR: We are working on some great condominium projects. We have some very interesting historical ones, for example Massey Tower by MOD Developments. It’s an important project because it’s one that respects buildings that have been so close to the public for so many years. They are creatively using the buildings as a lobby to the tower, while at the same time having a relationship with Massey Hall, putting some money into Massey and helping with their expansion.

We are working on Number One Bloor (Great Gulf), which is extremely exciting. It’s going to totally change that area in terms of adding new blood and density to a monumental neighbourhood.

We are also working on some edge projects. We are working on some great Tridel projects, like 1900 Bayview. It’s about people who are moving out of big houses and into that level of intensification. We are also working with Tridel on One and Two Old Mill, which goes the other way to the Kingsway, and it’s that level of project as well, moving into intensification and getting all the wonderful amenities that condos offer. We are also working with a new developer in High Park; it’s an 11-storey infill condo right on the subway line. They have been really cool to work with; they’re called North Drive Investments.

We are working with a wonderful client on the old post office on Yonge, north of Eglinton (a development by Rockport Group). There is going to be a wonderful public square in front of it. Although the building will stay, there will be a building behind it. We are going to give the open space back to the people.

We are currently working with the Remington Group out in Etobicoke, trying to create another level of urbanism. I was out at a public consultation the other day and I think what a lot of people don’t understand with urbanization is the Greenbelt Legislation, and that we need to intensify our cities. They may not like the intensification of the area right now, but it allows better transportation, better transit, and a population that brings better restaurants, stores etc. It takes you down to that European feel. Everyone loves going to Europe; we are starting to see that level of intensification in some areas, and it’s a very important area of economic development.

NIH: Wow, you have a lot of condo developments on the go! What are some low-rise projects that you have in the works?

JR: We are in the middle of a really incredible 350-acre project in Ottawa. It’s an old army site called Rockcliffe. It has a lot of heritage with the Algonquin natives. It’s beside the NCC land and just beside the Ottawa River. It’s a fabulous piece of land with interesting design; there’s a significant amount of parks and tree preservations. We are trying to hold onto water and put it back into the water table, because what happens in development is that all the water is collected and shipped into other waterways, but here we are looking at ways to keep that from happening and ensuring that the land stays very healthy. We are also working with the Algonquin people to ensure that the things that are important to them stay, from a heritage standpoint. We have a great team of people here; Canada Lands is so good to work for. It’s so current with how we approach projects.

NIH: What’s the biggest and best project you have worked on? Why was it so great?

JR: I would say that the Ottawa project is both the coolest and largest project that we have worked on. It’s so cool because we have a client who is allowing us to be flexible. When you look at this project, it’s small things like not taking all the soil and re-crafting it so that everything looks like a suburban model; it’s about being respectful. You try to work with the existing grades as much as possible so that at the end of the day you end up with a great soil stratification, which is the one that was there. It’s not all graded and moved. It allows a strong ecology that is already in existence to thrive. It allows for an ecological transformation that wildlife can transfer through seamlessly, without serializing the environment. It’s about moving the development industry forward by establishing a precedent of being able to develop in a different fashion, where the quality of lifestyle is important. Kids are brought up without knowing what a forest is. We are going back to basic principles. People want that.

NIH: So let’s talk design now. How do you create the perfect outdoor space?

JR: It depends on where you are. In the downtown core, it’s a hip, young group. With the terraces that we are developing there, we have a lot of swimming pools and outdoor fireplaces. It’s about the amenity areas and bringing it into a downtown environment. One of the hardest things is the barbecue; people love to barbecue. That’s why the inclusion of kitchens in outdoor spaces is so critical to a building.

A tower like Massey is different; it’s more about a sophisticated patio. Every building is very different. In a more suburban condo, it’s more about green roofs for views.

Furniture is so important now; it’s so fabulous compared to what we had in the past. There is the magic of sitting outside and reading a book thanks to the chairs and furniture that we have.

A lot of the condos are built so that when you open the doors, you’re opening up into the terrace. At Massey, we are actually giving workshops on how to make your terraces great.

NIH: So, spring is upon us and everyone is thinking about green space in the city. Are there any new trends that we should expect to see this year, or maybe next year?

JR: Right now, the condo market is driven by investment money. The condos are small and on the subway line. They feed a rental market that Toronto desperately needs. We have some clients who are asking us to work on laneways, where laneways need to look cool and act as a secondary sidewalk. They are important; you see restaurants use that space. When you drive down some of the laneways with graffiti on both sides, it’s like driving through an art gallery – it’s fun. Every single space in the downtown area is important, so we are asked by our clients to make every space in their project just as important; as rich as possible.

We would like to thank Janet Rosenberg for taking the time to meet with us again. It was a pleasure as always. Stay tuned for more great features about Landscaping – we have some great pieces that you won’t want to miss!

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