01-26-22 | News

WA Landscape Architects

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Founded in 2013, WMWA Landscape Architects is based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and provides high quality, regionally significant planning, site design, project administration, and consulting. Underlining our work is an extensive knowledge of ecological systems, the built environment, fiscal responsibility, and a collaborative design process. WMWA works across a wide variety of scales and project types, which provides valuable opportunities for every member of our office to gain a diversity of experiences. Matt Whitaker is the founder and principal of WMWA. Our office employs two licensed landscape architects and two project designers.

Market + Georgia
As one of Chattanooga's most transformative urban planning projects, the Market + George Public Space design process featured a collaboration between WMWA and local artist, Genesis the Greykid. Focusing our attention on the public right-of-way around the historic Patten Towers, which is the downtown's densest residential block, our process prioritized thoughtful public engagement as a means of delivering flexible and testable design solutions to those who regularly inhabit these spaces. WMWA worked with Genesis to organize an engagement framework that was adapted from Genesis' "Words in Gray" creative workshop, where open and informal conversations between designers, stakeholders, and community members built trust, consensus, and a clear vision for the future. Over the span of eight weeks, these numerous "Micro Sessions" provided an opportunity for members of the community to voice their concerns about past economic inequalities and systemic marginalization, while creating a constructive space for those who wished to envision a more equitable future. Much like the structure of our engagement, the framework of our design process prioritized the input and participation of the community. After working through a series of initial concepts, interactive engagement strategies, like the "Resource Allocation Exercise," distilled our abstract ideas into a tangible experience and immediately gave voice to the community's feedback. Ultimately, this approach was instrumental in formalizing a hierarchy of design interventions and created an opening for the community to forge a sense of ownership of the final product. From colors and patterns to site furnishings and material palettes, the resulting design was a direct reflection of the needs and desires of the community.

Hunter Museum
WMWA was tasked with reimagining the landscape around the historic mansion at the Hunter Museum of American Art. The design addressed the Museum's need to provide an accessible route that would safely move visitors from the plaza space below the mansion to the event terrace behind it. Although relatively small in scale, the site presented several constraints that informed the design, including a conflict between the three distinctly different architectures of the Museum, the presence of steep topography within a limited amount of space, and the need to preserve the existing historic landscape elements around the mansion. In addressing these considerations, our design proposed a series of arching ramps that sweep across the site, guiding pedestrians along an accessible route from the lower terrace to the elevation of the mansion. Mimicking the arching form of the ramps, a secondary set of concrete stairs provides a more direct route to the front of the mansion. Accompanying the hardscape elements of the design is a diverse planting plan that reflects the artistic context of the museum and works to create an expressive dialogue between landscape and architecture. Flowing bands of perennials creep along the front of the mansion, while clusters of shrubs and small trees soften the surrounding buildings. Our design employs an expansive list of native plants that offer several ecological benefits and aesthetic interest throughout the year, breathing life into the space and providing an additional asset that attracts visitors to the museum.

Patten Square
Situated in downtown Chattanooga, Patten Square reimagined the transformation of the city's historic market square into a vibrant urban plaza. The design concept took inspiration from common architectural features of markets, as large oak trees arranged in a grid mimic the columns and canopy of market buildings. To meet the needs of the city to continue to provide parking when the space is not being used for events, WMWA developed several elements that direct vehicular flow and access without the harsh visual appearance of typical traffic control devices. For example, rough stone benches act as wheel stops, metal sculptures protect trees, and rough stone bollards mark turning radii. Drawing inspiration from the local material palette of Chattanooga, concrete walls capped with sawn and sandblasted stone caps reflect the relationship between the industrial and natural materials found across the city. Adding visual interest to the ground plane, a mosaic of clay pavers are patterned after the image of a forest floor littered with leaves. The use of clay pavers unites the site's material history with the city's commitment to sustainable urban design. Creating a focal interest, the new plaza will include Radiance, an art piece by Futureforms Lab, which will attract and captivate users as they enter and pass through the site.


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