Urban Arboreta Shares Knight Cities Challenge Experience at PennPraxis Panel

On September 20th, 2016, the Urban Arboreta team, represented by Deenah Loeb, had the opportunity to participate in a panel of other Philadelphia Knight Cities Challenge winners hosted by PennPraxis. The panel ...


The jury of Tom Dalfo of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Professor Sean Burkholder of University of Buffalo, Professor Karen M’Closkey of University of Pennsylvania, Professor Anne Spirn of ...

Welcome to Urban Arboreta

Hello and welcome to Urban Arboreta: Transforming Ground, a 2015 Knight Cities Challenge winning project in Philadelphia. Urban Arboreta is dedicated to transforming vacant lots into hybrid spaces for nursery production and neighborhood use, ...

Request for Qualifications

We're looking for a qualified grower to join our team! In the coming weeks, we will be announcing an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) inviting growers and nursery professionals to submit qualifications ...

Greening the Void

The Knight Cities Challenge asks: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful? For team member Matt Langan, the prompt was different from that posed by the 2005 Urban ...

Urban Arboreta: Transforming Ground will turn vacant lots into hybrid spaces for nursery production and neighborhood use, improving the ecological, social, and economic health of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.

Our Vision

To launch a self-sustaining and environmentally sound business model for nursery production and community open space on Philadelphia’s vacant land. The re-purposed spaces will have a strong community focus, offering educational programs and opportunities for professional job training in the nursery trade.


We have a great team of landscape architects, designers, educators, and community organizations, and are partnering with a wide range of city and community organizations in Philadelphia. The project is co-led by Deenah Loeb and Timothy Baird.

Deenah Loeb

Deenah Loeb has over 30 years of program innovation and implementation experience in the culture and environmental fields. Most recently, as Executive Director of City Parks Association of Philadelphia (CPA), she has revived a significant, historic non-profit into an active organization. Through educational symposia and city-wide programming, CPA forges cross- agency partnerships throughout the region, acting as a catalyst for visionary thinking about Philadelphia’s urban land and water resources.

Tim Baird

Timothy Baird is Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Pennsylvania State University where he teaches design, design implementation, and the history of landscape architecture beyond Modernism. He recently received a 2015 Dumbarton Oaks Summer Fellowship and a 2015 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Excellence in Design Studio Teaching Award.

Scott Quitel

Ecologist and Educator
Scott Quitel is the founder of the Land Health Institute in Philadelphia. Scott has extensive experience in ecologically based master planning and land use planning, ecological analysis and restoration guidance, ecological landscape design and construction, and education focused on ecological analysis, design, and planning. He also holds an array of volunteer-based positions on various boards, committees, and other advisory entities. He also speaks frequently on topics that include planning, design, and ecology.

Andrea Hansen

Web Designer and Cartographer
Andrea Hansen is the principal of Fluxscape, which focuses on data visualization, mapping, and data-driven web applications for community and urban projects. She is also the editor of Visualizing Systems, an online catalog that investigates how we map data to understand complex networks. In addition to her practice, Andrea teaches and lectures widely, most recently at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. In 2014, Andrea was a Code for America Fellow for the City of Atlanta.

Matt Langan

Plants & Nursery Design
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University, Matt has worked in professional practice for nearly a decade for the firms of Sasaki Associates and Reed Hilderbrand. Currently a senior associate at Sasaki, his work experience ranges from urban design and campus planning to detailed site design. Matt’s interest in large-scale tree planting strategies began while at Penn State, where he initially developed the “Urban Arboretum” concept for Urban Voids: Grounds for Change, an international design ideas competition addressing pervasive land vacancy in Philadelphia.

Scott Spencer Jackson

Intern, Summer 2015
Scott is a second-year student in the Landscape Architecture graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Matthew Gindlesperger

Intern, Fall 2015
Matthew is a third-year student in the Landscape Architecture graduate program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Lyndon DeSalvo

Intern, Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Lyndon is a first-year student in the City Planning graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design.

Rachael Griffith

Land Health Institute
Rachael Griffith received her bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Temple University in 2011. While obtaining her degree she worked at several public gardens assisting with garden maintenance and construction, trail work, and garden interpretation including leading tours and creating educational materials. Upon graduating, Rachael worked at a large multidisciplinary engineering firm. There she was responsible for construction document development, planting and lighting design, and project research and graphic representation for commercial, industrial, and institutional projects ranging from university campuses to US embassies abroad. Rachael gained experience in residential landscape design while working at a small firm in Boston. She was involved in all phases of high-end residential design from developing schematic drawings through construction administration. Growing up in the woods in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, Rachael understood the profound healing power of nature from a young age. Nature’s power to heal has recently inspired Rachael to learn about medicinal herbs and their traditional folkloric and modern uses. She enjoys concocting medicines and herbal goodies for her friends and family. Rachael has also recently become interested in permaculture design. Her studies have brought a deeper understanding of the importance of healthy systems; she believes human health is integrally tied to the health of the land, and it is our responsibility to heal the land for the good of all. Rachael enjoys urban exploration and foraging and is very interested in keeping traditional crafts alive like quilting, knitting, cheesemaking and herbal medicine making.

Sarah Endriss

Director of Development, Land Health Institute
Over the past 15 years Sarah has practiced ecological landscape architectural design with a handful of Philadelphia’s most respected firms: Viridian Landscape Studio, Ground Reconsidered, formerly LRSLA and WRT. She has worked on a variety of projects including Germantown Friends School Science Center and Courtyard, Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association Educational Center’s new landscape, as well as the raingardens and woodland landscape at the Molly Dodd Anderson Library at the George School. Sarah believes that nature– from public parks to degraded vacant lands– forms the foundation of healthy communities and provides an opportunity to reveal, reconnect and celebrate natural systems as well as bring beauty and meaning to the lives of all. Sarah’s work places grassroots civic engagement, education and collaboration at the heart of every planning & design project to educate people about the land and its importance.

Our Partners

Want to get more involved with Urban Arboreta? We'll be looking for volunteers soon, so please get in touch with us!

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