Founded in 1995, PLANT Architect is an interdisciplinary firm that branches into the domains of architecture, landscape, ecology, furniture, art and graphic design. Synthesizing the insights and expertise of related disciplines, the practice responds to and embraces the increasing complexity of the world and the ambiguity of where landscape, built-form and design intersect. PLANT’s integrated approach fosters a collaborative spirit, a multi-layered design solution and enriches each project with a fine grain of detail.
The firm’s name is dually inspired by a place in which things are made, reflecting an emphasis on process, craft and construction, and by a deep-rooted connection to the environment, to a sense of place, landscape and natural materials.
PLANT’s work is exemplified in a diverse range of types and scales, including public parks and intimate garden spaces; residential, corporate and institutional architecture; site-specific art installations and furniture; identity, print and exhibit design. Through these projects, the studio highlights the interconnectedness of architecture and landscape, openness and enclosure, unaffected beauty, colour and texture, material and light, as well as the possibility of extracting history and memory in inventive and poetic ways.
The practice is best known for creating work that resolves difficult site conditions or highlights conditions that might otherwise be overlooked. This is a result of PLANT’s philosophical regard of every environment as a complex and fluid ecology that flourishes when given an appropriate set of conditions. PLANT seeks opportunities to recognize and accentuate the virtues of both natural and unnatural elements, to carefully control usage, and provide well-considered materials in order to create projects which are self-sustaining and conditioned to improve with time and experience.
The design process begins with a highly experiential approach, unearthing meaning by tapping into the specific qualities and inter-related histories, cultures, uses and identities that are latent in each project. PLANT uses design to bring these characteristics into focus and to reframe them, creating unique solutions that stem from the project’s core elements.
With each project, PLANT seeks opportunities for experimentation and a high degree of involvement in the construction process. This stems from a joy in the art of making and building things, as well as the belief that uniquely and beautifully crafted places, spaces and objects have enduring resonance with their users.
PLANT Architect’s Toronto studio was founded in 1995 by Chris Pommer, Lisa Rapoport and Mary Tremain. Graduates of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, and having worked together in various architecture firms, the partners came together out of their shared desire to explore the convergence of architecture and landscape architecture. The partners are active volunteers in various charitable organizations, provide lectures about their unique approach to design and the environment, and have served as adjunct professors at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto, and the Waterloo School of Architecture, and were the Driehaus Visiting Professors at IIT in 2009. PLANT employs licensed architects and landscape architects, experienced graphic designers and cultivates ongoing collaborative relationships with engineers, trades, contractors, and LEED accredited professionals.
Highlights of our urban design and landscape, design projects include: the winning schemes for the Stratford (Ontario) Market Square International Design Competition, the Dublin Grounds of Remembrance, and Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization Design Competition; all three leading to commissions for execution (now in progress); Foote’s Pond Wood in Morristown, New Jersey, a 14-acre park with wood and pond, for contemplative and educational use; Liza's Garden, the award-winning green roof at the Royal Ontario Museum; contemporary exhibition gardens for the inaugural edition of the International Garden Festival at the Jardins de Métis in Québec’s Gaspé region, and Ephemeral Gardens for Quebec's 400 year anniversary; ongoing work on Sweet Farm, an 85-acre private park in Southeastern Québec; and numerous domestic urban gardens including the award-winning Tranby Garden, and Ravine Forecourt, and Screenplay awarded the Protegé Award in 2003 by the Toronto Arts Council. Projects under development include architectural hubs for bike trails in the Don Valley, and renovating the Spadina Quay Wetland.
New building projects include Camp Arowhon Head Office in Toronto, a full scale renovation of the Elizabeth Fry Society Headquarters as well as numerous award winning house renovations and additions and small projects for repeat clients like the Royal Ontario Museum and Town of Oakville. Buildings under development include the RARE education centre, assisted housing for Margaret Frazer House; and Sweet Farm Pond House, a linear pond house which attempts to dissolve in the landscape.
PLANT engages in ongoing research through installations including Bluenote, an installation performance co-production with Nightswimming; Macroscope for Canada Blooms; Backbone, a floral carpet for Nathan Philips Square; and Paperstone Scissors, for the Interior Design Show. In 2004, PLANT created Conversation Piece for the Interior Design show, which won both Canadian and International awards. In fall 2006, PLANT installed Peripheral Sitings, an installation at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.
Graphic design and furniture projects include: un_seated which was on display during the ICFF in New York in the spring of 2005; an exhibition at the Secaucus Junction rail station based on our work in the Meadowlands; and building signage and exhibit graphics for the Waterloo Regional Children's Museum. Recent graphic work for the Faculty of Architecture Landscape & Design, University of Toronto includes the faculty’s donor wall, and exhibit and catalogue design for Eric Arthur: Practical Visions, the inaugural exhibit for the new Eric Arthur Gallery. PLANT’s Superlegible Furniture was developed for an exhibit at Toronto’s Design Exchange entitled New Landscape: Design Transforms Canadian Furniture, which was also exhibited at Canada House in London, UK in 2003. In 2003, our proposal for a collection of musical benches in Milan called City Instrument was on exhibit at the XXI Milan Triennale and in Toronto, and garnered a 2005 OAA Honourable Mention Award.
PLANT’s work has been on exhibit across Canada and internationally, and has been widely published locally and internationally in Architecture, Architectural Design, Azure, Canadian Architect, ID Magazine, Landscape Architecture, Architectural Review, Gardens Illustrated, Gardening Life, Canadian House and Home, Toronto Life, Ville Giardini, ZOO, and the Toronto Globe & Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, and New York Times newspapers. Our work is included in many books, including HYBRIDS by Lesley Johnston, New Landscape: Design Transforms Canadian Furniture by Rachel Gotlieb, Garden Design edited by Paco Asensio, Small Spaces Gardens by David Stevens, Chambres Vertes/Garden Rooms by Hubert Beringer and Radical Landscapes by Jane Amidon. We have been the recipients of numerous awards from the CSLA, DX, Best of Canada, and Canadian Architect, as well as several Canada Council for the Arts Awards, including a mid-career grant to develop an art installation in the gardens at the Oakville Galleries entitled Conversation of Views. In January 2000, we were named as one of the year’s “Emerging Voices” by the Architecture League of New York. PLANT was awarded the Protegé Award by the Toronto Arts Council for 2003.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1962, Chris Pommer has been paying attention to minutiae since growing up on the expansive planar landscape around Winnipeg. Chris pursued a parallell course for four years to work intensively exploring type, book, exhibition, and identity design. Chris has too many pebbles.
Born in Auckland in 1961, Mary Tremain grew up in New Zealand, the U.K., Italy, France, the USA, and ultimately Canada. Over the years, Mary has developed a fascination with culture and with the organic form in crafts that connects one to the culture of a place. Mary has an abiding interest in spoons.
Born in Montréal, Québec in 1962, Lisa Rapoport has been an adjunct professor in design studio for twelve years, frequent visiting critic and invited lecturer on the work of PLANT across Canada and the USA. Lisa enthusiastically absorbs the landscape as completely as possible – she likes the way the earth feels underfoot.