In the fall term, each student is assigned an individual project selected from property owners in nearby communities who have contacted the school requesting site design and planning services. Although the focus is on a small area, the projects are never simple. Students are expected to learn and use a basic knowledge of geology, climate, soils, hydrology, topography, botany, wildlife, and other natural sciences, as well as skills in surveying, site engineering, construction, planning, and conservation. They follow a rigorous process of site analysis and assessment to develop design alternatives and recommendations shaped by that information. The design solutions strive to fit the particular needs of the clients to the specific ecology of the site and uphold the school’s mission.

At the presentations, the students’ clients and a panel of guest critics provide feedback, which helps guide revisions students make over the next several weeks. This fall, our distinguished guest critics included Hank Art, Rachel Loeffler, and Todd Lynch ’05 on the first day of presentations; and John O’Keefe, Joan Rockwell, and Theresa Sprague ’08 on the second day. All provided insightful, thoughtful feedback that will help the students as they continue to work on their projects in the final few weeks of the term. We are so appreciative!

Henry Warren Art

Henry Warren Art is Director of the Center for Environmental Studies and the Environmental Studies Program and Rosenburg Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, Emeritus, at Williams College. He has taught courses in environmental studies, field botany, ecology and land use planning through the biology department and the environmental studies program. Recent courses include Introduction to Environmental Science, The Ecology of Sustainable Agriculture, and Field Botany. His research includes long-term ecological studies of the Hopkins Memorial Forest. Innovative use of images has been key to both his teaching and research. He served as a Conway School Trustee for many years.

BA, Dartmouth College
PhD, Yale University

Rachel Loeffler, RLA, ASLA, has experience in design, planning, and construction. Her practice began with Hargreaves Associates in Cambridge, MA, where she worked on brownfield remediation, waterfront parks, public parks, campuses, and rooftop gardens. Some of her signature projects included the Children’s Hospital project in Hershey, PA; Long Bridge Park in Arlington, VA; Richmond (VA) Riverfront’s Masterplan; and the London 2012 Olympics. After leaving Hargreaves, she joined Dodson and Flinker in Ashfield where
she led design of the South Hadley Plains School universally accessible nature playground, and trail design and permitting for hiking and cross-country trails at Mt. Greylock. Today she practices with The Berkshire Design Group in Northampton. Notable recently completed projects include a park renovation in North Adams, Nashawannuck Pond Promenade detailing, senior housing studies for Conway and Sunderland, and the recent Vision 2024: A Western Massachusetts Regional Olympic and Paralympic Master Plan in support of the Boston 2024 bid. Rachel is particularly excited about a few projects on the boards today—such as a new a terrain playscape for a local school, the renovation of an old mill building into an admissions center, and a master plan for a local non-profit.

MLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design
BA, Washington University

Todd Lynch ’05 is the principal of Ecotropy LLC, a landscape design studio that integrates medicinal plants, ecology, and art to create outdoor spaces to strengthen and illustrate the connections shared by human and ecological wellness. Each project seeks to empower people to take a more active part in their surroundings and their well-being, while contributing to the health of the planet. Todd is certified in Health Care Garden Design and in Community Herbalism. He served on the board of United Plant Savers, a national organization devoted to the conservation of rare, native medicinal plants, and is an active member of the Conservation Commission in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. Todd has collaborated on health, landscape restoration, and art installations across the US and has won several Massachusetts Cultural Council grants for environmental art installations and science- and art-based education programs. Todd has also lectured at universities, garden organizations, and apothecaries about medicinal plants in the landscape, and has served as a design critic at the Conway School of Landscape Design, Smith College, and UMass Amherst. He blogs about the intersections of landscape, wellness, and art at, and on Twitter and Instagram @ecotropy.

MLA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
MALD, The Conway School
BA, Bowdoin College

John O'KeefeJohn O’Keefe was born and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and received a BA in sociology from Harvard College. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho and a pilot in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, he returned to school and received his MS and PhD degrees in forest ecology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. From 1988 until his retirement in 2009, John was Coordinator of the Fisher Museum at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, home of the renowned Harvard Forest Dioramas. With Harvard Forest Director, David Foster, he is co-author of New England Forests Through Time: Insights from the Harvard Forest Dioramas and Ecological History of Massachusetts Forests.

PhD, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
MS, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
BA, Harvard College

Joan RockwellJoan Rockwell is a licensed landscape architect with over thirty years of professional experience throughout New England. She earned an MLA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Early in her career, Joan worked as the Main Street Project Manager in Northampton, focusing on downtown revitalization efforts and projects to enhance a sense of place and provide for sensible long-lasting planning and design. Later, Joan became Project Landscape Architect for an engineering firm in Greenfield, where she specialized in site and streetscape design. Expanding her professional career took her to the Deerfield Valley in Vermont where she worked with Mount Snow as their Environmental Coordinator and site planner. In 1999, Joan established her own firm, Joan S. Rockwell & Associates, with a focus on site design, planning, and historic preservation. She and her husband, architect Bill Austin, recently moved their offices to an old mill in Greenfield, MA.

MLA, University of Massachusetts Amherst
BS, Colby Sawyer

Theresa Sprague ’08 is President of the Ecological Landscape Alliance, a membership organization dedicated to advocating for responsible stewardship of land and natural resources in landscaping and horticultural practices. She has been a key organizer of their annual conference, which draws participants from the entire Eastern seaboard and beyond. Her business, BlueFlax Design, merges science with the fine art of landscape design to create beautiful, ecologically sound, and sustainable gardens and landscapes, restoring ecological function and integrity to the built environment while thoughtfully creating habitat that supports the needs of both people and wildlife. Previously, Theresa was Senior Restoration Designer at Wilkinson Ecological Design Inc., where she coordinated all restoration, consulting and design projects, including the development of ecological restoration plans, drafting of land management plans, and coordination with other senior staff to successfully permit and implement projects.

MALD, The Conway School
BA, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

> Save the date for winter term formal project presentations: Friday, February 22