James Rose Center Preservation Master Plan

Ridgewood, New Jersey

Design Disciplines Needed
Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Engineering, Sustainability/Environmental

Desired Services
We seek to find a firm to survey the residence and grounds and prepare a master preservation plan that outlines the work that needs to be done to restore the property and the costs that it would take to do so. In a second phase, we will also seek to develop a plan for ensuring the sustainability of the organization by helping various communities, including the modern architecture and landscape architecture, historic preservation, environmental and Ridgewood communities to better appreciate and support this important place.

Project Description

This project--a perfect 1+ one for a prestigious firm seeking to be a part of the restoration of an important 20th century landmark--would be to develop a master preservation plan for the James Rose Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) based in Ridgewood, NJ. In 1993 the property was significantly rehabilitated. The rehabilitation reversed rampant deterioration of the previous decade. Support systems were revamped. Fire damage was repaired. The leaking roof was rebuilt and Rose's roof garden was reconstructed. Salvageable wood was reconditioned and woven with new lumber. Garden pools were rebuilt and important planting edges re-established. Murals and other original artwork were reconditioned. However, time has taken a toll and the house again needs to be rehabilitated, particularly in the aftermath of a recent storm in which a tree fell on and significantly damaged the house's historic zendo. The effort will aim to develop a plan so that funds can be raised to restore the site to its original state so that it can continue to serve students, scholars and the general public as the James Rose Center for Landscape Architectural Research and Design.

Along with Garrett Eckbo and Dan Kiley, James C. Rose was one of the leaders of the modern movement in American landscape architecture. The three attended Harvard University in the 1930s during which time they published a series of provocative articles expounding modernism in landscape design, published in 1938 and 1939 in Pencil Points magazine (now Progressive Architecture). Subsequently Rose authored many other articles, including a series with Eckbo and Kiley, as well as four books which advance both the theory and practice of landscape architecture in the twentieth century.

Constructed in 1953, Rose described his Ridgewood home as a "tiny village" built on an area half the size of a tennis court. It was a composite of three buildings - a main house for his mother, a guesthouse for his sister, and a studio for himself. This experimental landscape achieves a fusion of indoors and outdoors perhaps unequalled by other leading designers of this time. Rose later described it as "neither landscape nor architecture, but both; neither indoors, nor outdoors, but both."

For its unique modern spatial language, its expression of an alternative approach to conventional post-war suburban residential development and as the constantly changing laboratory of one of landscape architecture's most inventive minds, the Ridgewood home of James Rose is one of the twentieth century's most important landscapes and residences. The property is listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places and under consideration for status on the National Historic Register. Some have touted it as worthy of consideration as a National Historic Landmark. Be a part of this important place!


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