Laura Starr

With over 25 years’ experience working in the New York City area, Landscape Architect Laura Starr is a local champion for sustainability, collaboration, and design excellence. As Chief of Design for the Central Park Conservancy, Starr worked intensively to forge consensus among diverse groups of stakeholders, renovating major destinations such as Harlem Meer, the West Side, and the Great Lawn. Entering the private sector, she collaborated on lauded landscape transformations exemplified by the Battery Upper Promenade, the award-winning designs for the Battery Bosque, and a pair of historic courtyards on Front Street at South Street Seaport. Starr’s leadership was transformative for the ASLA-NY, which she led as president from 2013 to 2014. Under her guidance, the ASLA-NY built new relationships with professional organizations
and the press, ran a successful fund-raising campaign to hire a full-time director, and rebranded itself into the optimistic, highly-connected, and urban organization it is today.

As a founding partner of Starr Whitehouse, Ms. Starr continues to nurture ties between the public, the city, and professional organizations. She has negotiated public/private partnerships both internationally, on master plans for Tel Aviv’s Park Ariel Sharon and Gazelle Park in Jerusalem, as well as locally, collaborating with BIG Architects on the innovative VIA 57 West development, just one of a series of innovative housing developments that make density livable and high-quality housing affordable for thousands of New Yorkers. Ms. Starr has contributed significantly to Sandy recovery efforts through her work with the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, as the Landscape Architect on The BIG U, a winning Rebuild By Design team, and leading the East Harlem Resiliency Project. She has run numerous public outreach workshops that gather vital community feedback and build informed consensus around a series of implementable plans that refortify lower Manhattan while strengthening neighborhood identity, and as a member of Manhattan’s Community Board 1, serves on the Board’s resiliency taskforce. Today, Starr is seen as a leader in the field of sustainable landscape design and a strong advocate for a city that is greener and more responsive to the needs of a twenty-first century public.

Stephen is a landscape architect and urban planner whose diverse pursuits share a concern for the environmental quality and social vitality of places. He formerly served as Chief of Planning for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, where he managed the expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows and launched the City’s Greenway system. Since co-founding Starr Whitehouse with Laura Starr, he has worked with public and private clients to create dynamic urban districts and engaging landscapes that connect people to nature.

Rather than focusing on a single aspect of the work, he’s always been most fascinated by the juncture points. “Natural systems, patterns of settlement, infrastructure – seeing all these come together to make a place is interesting to me, not just as abstract concepts,” he says, “but in terms of seeing good results at the end.” He describes his role in terms of junctures as well. “I’m the translator,” he says. “I serve as the mediator between the specialists and the public. I like communicating with people, and seeing things shaped by the creative interactions of people and institutions.”

As Principal and Studio Director, Jeffrey brings more than two decades of experience in the design and creation of sustainable and compelling landscapes to Starr Whitehouse.  After graduating from University of Pennsylvania, Jeffrey’s time at the Central Park Conservancy remains to serve as his foundation for sustainable endeavors in his work.  As former Director of Landscape Architecture at Saratoga Associates, Mr. Poor led projects that span a wide diversity of work and collaborative efforts from private gardens and urban design, such as Bronx River Walk and Battery Bosque, to campus planning, RPI, Hamilton, and Remsen, where Jeffrey led the introduction of sustainable measures for water polishing and infiltration—confirmation of his involvement in the application of ecological technologies since the beginning of the bio swale movement.

At Starr Whitehouse, Jeffrey takes the lead role in many of the firm’s projects.  His breadth of experience and expertise of requirements for the design process of public, private and institutional projects contributes to the broad portfolio of Starr Whitehouse.  Jeffrey particularly enjoys and excels at projects, such as the Jersey City Municipal Service Complex, that present a challenge and require “taking the disparate elements” (scope, program, site history, components and constraints) “and have them emerge as something whole, new and compelling.”

As a LEED certified professional, he designs with attention to environmental missions in addition to programmatic requirements, such as the award winning Bronx River House.  Jeffrey’s dedication to the application of sustainability as part of design strategy is palpable in his simple and elemental landscapes.  When working on a project he focuses on how things are put together, always looking for ways to bring the design to life through the details: “Through detailing,” Jeffrey says, “design ideas are carried all the way down into the ground.”

Ms. Wittwer-Laird has over 20 years of experience designing the public realm. Working as an industrial designer in Milan alongside Ettore Sottsass early on in her career, Gail executed designs for companies such as Alessi, Artemide and Knoll, and oversaw the custom fabrication of limited edition furniture for private clients and galleries.

Gail’s 18-year tenure with New York City Parks began in 1997 as the Landscape Architect and Deputy Administrator for Riverside Park, followed by Director of Greenstreets in the Division of Forestry from 1999 to 2002, Senior Designer for Capital Projects from 2002 to 2010, and Design Director for Staten Island Capital projects from 2011 to 2016, during which time she helped facilitate early construction phases in the reclamation of Freshkills Park.

Ms. Wittwer-Laird is an award-winning designer whose built projects in New York City include the Irish Hunger Memorial (2001) a collaboration with Artist Brian Tolle and 1100 Architects for the Battery Park City Authority, CaVaLa aka Albert Capsuto Park (2007), which received an award for excellence in design from the Public Design Commission, the renovation of Bleecker Street Sitting (2012) which received an 2012 Village Award from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and in 2016 an award for excellence in design from the Public Design Commission for Van Pelt Plaza, a joint project of NYCDOT and NYC Parks. In 2004, together with architect Aaron MacDonald and Philip Johnson, she renovated the courtyard for the Morningside House Senior Center in the Bronx.

A native of Northern California, Gail received her Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo before migrating east to obtain a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. In 1996, she was chosen as a Fellow in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome. In the Summer of 1997 and 1998, Gail was an artist in residence at the Corporation of Yaddo in Saratoga Springs.

Representative Projects:

  • Promenade Hill Park Restoration, Hudson, NY
  • Dr. Oliver Bronson House Landscape Vision Plan, Hudson, NY
  • Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center, Wantagh, NY
  • Jones Beach West Games, Wantagh, NY
  • Empire State Trail Design Guidelines and Gateway Design, New York State
  • Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, New York,  NY
  • Hudson North Bay Trail Connector, Hudson, NY
  • StuyTown Fitness Park and Play Areas, New York, NY
  • Mill Brook Senior Housing Center Terrace and Gardens, Bronx, NY
  • Story Avenue Apartments, Bronx, NY
  • Compass Residences Affordable Housing, Bronx, NY
  • Phipps Lambert Houses, Bronx, NY
  • NYCSCA Q375 Playground, Queens, NY
  • Freshkills Owl Hollow Fields, Staten Island, NY*
  • Peter Minuit Plaza, New York, NY*
  • Morris-Jumel Mansion Streetscape, New York, NY*
  • Van Pelt Plaza/Richmond Terrace Wetlands, Staten Island, NY*
  • Crescent Beach Park Plan and Storm Resiliency, Staten Island, NY*
  • Bleecker Street Sitting Area Renovation, New York, NY*
  • Tompkins Square Park Playground, New York, NY*
  • CaVaLa (Albert Capsouto Park), New York, NY*
  • Greenstreets Design Citywide, New York, NY*
  • Hudson River Valley Greenway Bronx Link Study, Bronx, NY*
  • Morrison-Golden Residential Garden, Rhinebeck, NY*
  • Klein Residential Garden, Riverdale, NY*
  • Morningside House Senior Center Courtyard Renovation, Bronx, NY*
  • Cooke-Levy Residential Garden, Riverdale, NY*
  • Irish Hunger Memorial, New York, NY*
  • Garden Parterre in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse

Jacob is a landscape architect and the Director of Starr Whitehouse’s Atlanta studio, where he leads projects ranging from urban open spaces, waterfront parks, and community-focused green infrastructure, to large-scale mixed-use developments and multi-family residential amenity spaces. Under Jacob’s direction, Starr Whitehouse leads two of the City of Atlanta’s Green Infrastructure Design Challenge projects, integrating stormwater management into community-enhancing open spaces and educational and vocational training programs that support economic development in underserved communities. In Roswell, GA, Jacob currently leads the implementation of a new riverfront park on the Chattahoochee River, expanding waterfront access, extending local habitat, and reinforcing shoreline resilience.

Jacob is an active member of the ULI Atlanta chapter and graduate of the chapter’s 2020 Center for Leadership program. He has volunteered extensively for Park Pride’s Park Visioning program and served as an advisor to the Candler Park Conservancy and the Friends of Memorial Drive Greenway as they implement ambitious long-term vision plans.

Jacob remains active on projects in the Northeast, where he manages some of Starr Whitehouse’s most ambitious public open spaces. These include St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, the reconstruction of the FDR Drive Promenade at Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan, and public open spaces for The Durst Organization’s new mixed-use developments at Queens Plaza Park in Queens and along the Delaware Waterfront in Philadelphia. He is also lead designer for the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s reconstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, a linear park and multi-use urban trail that weaves its way under, over, and through a complex network of transportation and utility infrastructure.

Representative Projects:

  • Roswell Riverparks, Roswell, GA
  • Green Infrastructure Challenge: MLK Living Lab, Atlanta, GA
  • Green Infrastructure Challenge: Continental Colony, Atlanta, GA
  • St. Mary’s Park Master Plan and Reconstruction, Bronx, NY
  • FDR Drive Esplanade Reconstruction, New York, NY
  • Brooklyn Bridge Esplanade, New York, NY
  • Atlantic Chestnut Affordable Housing, Brooklyn, NY
  • Lexington Gardens Affordable Housing, New York, NY
  • Greenpoint Terminal Market Master Plan, Brooklyn, NY
  • Greenpoint Terminal Hotel, Brooklyn, NY
  • NYPD 40th Precinct Station House, Bronx, NY
  • St. Barnabas Hospital Annex, Bronx, NY
  • West 58th Street Development, New York, NY
  • Duane Street Co-op Amenity Terrace, New York, NY
  • East 149th Street Development, Bronx, NY
  • EF Academy, Thornwood, NY

Michael Haggerty is a Principal at Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners where he leads design and planning projects related to parks, housing, waterfronts, and resilience. Recent work includes community engagement and a schematic design for Marsha P Johnson State Park in Brooklyn; A Vision for a Resilient East Harlem, a climate resilience plan for two miles of waterfront areas in upper Manhattan, certain recommendations of which are currently being implemented by NYC EDC with Michael’s involvement; the implementation of Starr Whitehouse’s Harlem River Greenway Link concept study for NYC EDC; a commercial landscape in São Paulo, Brazil; and a downtown public space for transit-oriented development in New Rochelle, NY.

Michael began his career with the public art organization Creative Time in New York, and subsequently earned professional degrees in architecture and urban planning at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Michael has also worked internationally across several countries in Asia and Africa. His work on participatory design in communities impacted by climate change in Indonesia, in particular, has been widely recognized by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the SEED Award for Public Interest Design, and the American Institute of Architects San Francisco.

Representative Projects:

  • Marsha P Johnson State Park Community Engagement and Schematic Design, Brooklyn, NY
  • A Vision for a Resilient East Harlem, New York, NY
  • Harlem River Greenway Link, New York, NY
  • New Rochelle Transit-Oriented Development, New Rochelle, NY
  • Carroll Park Community Vision Plan, Brooklyn, NY
  • Luna Corporate Plaza and Marketplace, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Re-envisioning Branch Libraries, New York, NY*
  • Newark Master Plan Revision, Newark, NJ*
  • Harlem River Promenade, Bronx, NY*
  • Future of the Gardiner Expressway Environmental Assessment and Integrated Urban Design Study, Toronto, Canada*
  • Bard College Campus Framework, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY*
  • NYU Plans 2031 Phase 1, New York, NY*
  • Unified New Orleans Recovery Plan, New Orleans, LA*
  • Padang Housing and Vulnerability Assessment, Padang, Indonesia*
  • Ger Area Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Action Plan, Ulaanbaator, Mongolia*
  • Global Program for Inclusive Municipal Governance, Luanda, Angola*
  • Cities Development Strategies (CDS), Solo, Pekalongan, and Banjarmasin, Indonesia*

* Work completed prior to joining Starr Whitehouse