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DaW: TL Studio

November 8, 2018 /// Featuring: TL Studio

November 8, 2018 /// Featuring: TL Studio


Planting for a landscape project in Warren, Vermont

Planting for a landscape project in Warren, Vermont

This week’s special feature ~ TL Studio! TL Studio is a Providence-based landscape architecture studio founded 6 years ago by Tom Lee. Tom had over 20 years of experience practicing landscape architecture in Falmouth, Massachusetts before relocating to Providence to expand his practice in a more urban setting.

TL Studio is located on North Main Street, just a block down from RISD’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. It’s a sunny office with project photos and drawings covering the walls and a table in the middle, where the TL Studio team was working on a scale model. We got to talk to the TL Studio team - Tom, Masha, and Dennis - about the studio, the design world, Rhode Island and more!

Why did you relocate to Providence after so long in Falmouth? “The positive change you can make here is significant. In a way, Providence isn’t finished yet - it’s still trying to tell its story. We have the opportunity to help shape it.”

What projects does TL Studio work on? “We’ve worked on a diversity of project types - mostly residential, but also some institutional, mixed-use, and public projects. We’d like to branch out and do more institutional and mixed-use projects!"

“We do a lot of projects in Rhode Island and the New England coast. We have many projects in a small proximity, but interesting for us - they all have their own characteristics and conditions because it’s such a diverse coastline. For every project, we try to be authentic to the place. We zoom out and understand the big picture, look at each site’s particular constraints, and build specific landscape solutions.”

TL Studio has also worked on projects further away: this year, they designing the landscape for a Superblock in Shanghai, China. For this project, they collaborated with Z+T Studio, a local 30-40 person firm in Shanghai. “This project exposed us to another type and scale of work… Superblocks are high-density and mixed-use, requiring public and private spaces, commercial and residential.“

What do you see as trends or challenges in design coming in 2019? “Working in Rhode Island, we see the hurricane barrier every day.” Masha talked about attending a conference in Newport about how local marshes and communities are already affected by climate change - “The salt marshes are threatened, and as conditions continue to change, they’ll be gone. Sea levels are rising. Coastal communities are talking about their cultural history, when and how to save it and for how long. As a practice, we have to learn how to change fast, because there is no constant in the future.”

WHY DESIGN IN RHODE ISLAND? “As a landscape designer, Rhode Island is interesting and diverse. It’s a small state, but it feels large. The coastline goes in and out, and for landscape, that’s significant.

Rhode Island has it's own unique culture - very different than Massachusetts.The community and general public are interested in design. Lots of people are curious. it’s a small city, but very participatory… we’re all in it together. Plus, it’s centrally located - our projects radiate outwards.”

Images: Jiadu (Shanghai) plan / Jiadu (Shanghai) perspective image / Farbrook School (New Jersey) photo / Juniper Gardens (Brookline) perspective image / Juniper Gardens (Brookline, MA) photo

See more of TL Studio on their website and on Instagram. Watch behind-the-scenes videos of TL Studio making a scale model now ~ tap “At Work #4” on our main Instagram page. And THANK YOU to the TL Studio team for having us in your studio and sharing your work with Design Is Rhode Island!

***Stay tuned for Designers At Work next week - we are releasing the final two behind-the-scenes designer features of 2018!***

Want to get involved in 2019? Reach out to to nominate a Rhode Island designer or design firm who should be featured in Designers At Work.

Katherine Magee