Remnant Nursery

2022 League Prize Exhibit
Dept LLC & The Architectural League of New York

A commission from Dept LLC to document their Remnant Nursery project, which rescued rare and native plants from a Gulf Coast prairie destined for 'development' and distributed them free to Houston residents through a temporary pop-up nursery. 

In addition to being supported by the Rice University School of Architecture, their project was also awarded the 2022 League Prize from The Architectural League of New York and exhibited at Rhode Island School of Design as part of the Sensing the Environment Symposium in 2023. I'm also tickled to be a proud plant parent of several of these endemic and increasingly endangered prairie plant species thanks to Dept LLC's vision, work, and generosity. 

Full project description, courtesy of Dept LLC

In the Houston metropolitan area, rare vestiges of the region’s once-vast Gulf Coast prairie remain. Cared for by local stewards, these remnant landscapes host a diversity of endemic species uniquely adapted to Houston’s hyperlocal climate and soil conditions. However, many of these prairies have been destroyed to create strip malls, gas stations, supermarkets, and residential subdivisions. While protecting endemic landscapes is important, in the context of rapid urban expansion, alternatives to conservation and preservation are also necessary.

Remnant Nursery is a temporary nursery established to rescue plants from threatened Gulf Coast prairies and distribute them to Houston’s residents. The nursery invites community members to facilitate a process of plant migration. In the landscape industry, typical nurseries sell a limited palette of commercially viable individual plant species. In contrast, Remnant Nursery provides sample swatches of excavated plant communities, each containing a multitude of endemic plant species growing together.

In distributing these plant communities, the nursery aims to extend the life of the prairie within Houston’s urban landscape. When planted in backyard gardens, roadway medians, or other urban sites, these rescued plants build up soil health; increase groundwater infiltration; reduce maintenance and emissions affiliated with lawn equipment; and bolster biodiversity and habitats for urban ecosystems.

While rooted in the specific ecology of Houston, Remnant Nursery proposes a model of collectivity and exchange within the broader context of climate adaptation and urban transformation.  

Many thanks to Maggie Tsang & Issac Stein of Dept LLC for their work, their company, and my prarie plant babies. ✨🌱✨