Case Studies

Studio39 Landscape Architecture

Planning, design and landscape architecture based in Alexandria, Virginia

Joseph Plumpe has been passionate about landscape design his entire life. As a native of Ohio, he discovered Landscape Architecture Magazine in his teens and attended Ohio State University to put his passion to practice. In 1993, he established STUDIO39 Landscape Architecture PC as a sole proprietorship in his residence in northern Virginia. Over the years he has built up the firm to a leader of urban design in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Working directly with developers, community groups and local governments, STUDIO39 has built a strong portfolio of unique and sustainable spaces. The company’s target market includes multifamily residential and urban mixed-use, schools and federal properties, adaptive reuse and green roof projects, among others – all geared toward aesthetically minded, value-added sustainability.

Studio39 Landscape ArchitectureSTUDIO39 currently employs 16 people, including Plumpe, four additional principals, a skilled design staff and a small administrative team. With a single location in Alexandria, the business’ geographic footprint is concentrated in the D.C. metropolitan area, although Plumpe notes that his team has contributed to projects along the eastern seaboard and as far west as Texas.

Sustainability by design

Each project is designed to better serve communities and end users while reducing environmental impact. While some sustainability initiatives are obvious, such as solar panels and rooftop gardens, others are more subtle. Many of the company’s designs are oriented toward urban transit – making it easier for people to access their homes, businesses, schools and entertainment via walking and public transportation.

STUDIO39 provided initial conceptual design and is providing additional services for the design and construction of three outdoor classrooms in Washington, D.C. The project will be completed by fall 2016 in time for classes. “The idea is to teach additional skills outside of typical classes,” explains Plumpe. “These classrooms are geared toward environmentally conscious learning while still teaching about sciences. They will also be used for traditional classes. The biggest challenge is that it’s a very quick deadline. We are a very efficient design firm when it comes to creating quality spaces in short time span. From a sustainability standpoint, there is a lot of interest in using solar power and integrating rainwater reuse capabilities in these facilities. The goal is to have them run as passively as possible using minimal energy”

Transportation-oriented design (T.O.D.) has become one of STUDIO39’s growing market sectors as community planning shifts toward a model of low-impact access to homes, work and amenities. Recent work in this sector includes the Residences at Tyson II close to the Tyson Corner Silver Line subway stop. STUDIO39 performed land entitlement, common for many of the firm’s projects, which includes rezoning and positioning existing land for development often working alongside zoning attorneys and county planners. The team also performed amenity roof top design and public streetscapes/plazas related to the projects. “This project has an extensive resort-type amenity character,” Plumpe explains. “Sustainability is always a factor. There will be approximately an acre of green roof amenity area on top of the parking structure for this project.”

Also in the T.O.D. market, STUDIO39 worked on Rhode Island Row in northeast D.C. near the metro stop. “We do a lot of development around existing and proposed subway stations and this happens to be one of the largest commuter parking facility in the District,” says Plumpe. “It has revitalized and spurred off new growth for D.C. in a blighted area with restaurants, pharmacy, grocery store, apartments and other aspects. This location serves as a major transportation hub in the city for busses and subways. The project involves a good percentage of affordable housing with market-rate mixed among each other. It’s a work-live-play community, which is sustainable from the standpoint of pedestrian and public transit movement.”

Additional work includes 440 K Street, known as The Lyric, where STUDIO39 is designing rooftop amenities for the high-end, resort-inspired apartment building. Its green roof features a two-tiered swimming pool, fire pits, water wall and extensive landscape designs placed among a lower courtyard on the rooftop. In Alexandria on the waterfront, STUDIO39 provided adaptive reuse design services for the Oronoco Condominiums, high-end residential units that make use of former office space.

Staying green

STUDIO39 continues to take on new challenges with the strong support of strategic partners and fellow sustainable architects, designers and contractors. As a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the business benefits from networking and recognition as a leader in green building and design.

Plumpe expects steady, measured growth over the coming years. As sustainability remains at the forefront of the construction industry and national issues, he predicts growth in green building incentives that will perpetuate opportunity for STUDIO39 and its industry peers.

With a strong portfolio and growing backlog, STUDIO39 will continue to provide value and innovation to its clients in the commercial, institutional and multifamily residential sectors.

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Spring 2018



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