About Us



Two Universities. One Goal.

The University of Idaho and Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey came together to provide sustainable design advisory for the United States production and tour of Earth From Above.

EMERGE Studio, the team led by Elizabeth Graff (UI) and Wolfram Hoefer (RU), formed as a merging of disciplinary expertise to realize responsible design and technical innovation desired for the exhibit in NYC. Made up of educators, scientists, designers and students, EMERGE Studio creates a model for working in the realm of the built environment in the 21st century with collaboration and environmental stewardship at the fore. Following William McDonough's Cradle-to-Cradle dictum as taught in the university classroom, EMERGE oversaw site selection, worked with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Central Park Conservancy, and other public and private stakeholders in evaluating the ideal location in NYC for the United States debut of this critical exhibition.

From the perspective of landscape architecture, while tapping student coursework and research opportunities, EMERGE helped facilitate an extensive research process with strict exhibition criteria. Before determining a beneficial fit at Bryant Park and immediate environs such as the New York Public Library, multiple sites (including Central Park, Battery Park City's North Cove, Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Empire Fulton Ferry State Park and Madison Square Park) were compared for spatial suitability, accessibility, contextual support, green potential, emotive response, and event logistics.

Upon determining Bryant Park as a feasible venue, landscape architecture research and design studios informed the event's layout plan, conceptual design of exhibition elements, and sustainable materials and construction guidelines. Consequently, the process opened the student's view to the breadth of contemporary landscape architecture, as motivated by the exhilaration of an actual project they are integrally a part. Subsequently, the preparatory materials become a launching point and means for collaboration with a chosen professional architectural design firm to bring forth the project's realization with a strong philosophical foundation. Thus, the long-term implications of this integrated and collaborative approach lends toward the continued development of theoretical pedagogy linked directly to the pragmatics of responsible design and management of the built environment in which we all live, work and play, with Earth From Above as precedent.

Elizabeth Graff, Principal Investigator

As Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Idaho, Elizabeth merges the art and science of landscape architecture in teaching methods of design and site engineering. Born and raised in New Jersey and having studied and practiced across the United States for over 20 years, she informs her service-learning teaching and holistic approach with cross-disciplinary professional practice experience in landscape architecture, architecture, and engineering. Her design firm experience includes Presley Associates in Cambridge, MA, Mohr & Seredin Landscape Architects in Portland, ME, and Lake/Flato Architects in San Antonio, TX.

Elizabeth currently holds the position of assistant professor in the department of landscape architecture at the College of Art & Architecture, University of Idaho. Her research foci include Sustainable Development, Green Building, Environmental Art & Design, Youth-Inspired Community Design, and Experiential Learning.

She received an MLA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BSLA from Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey. She also studied advanced design principles at the Frank Lloyd Wright School for Architecture at Taliesin and Taliesin West. Elizabeth is Principal Investigator and co-founder of EMERGE Studio, formed in 2007. She is Principal Investigator and co-founder of EMERGE Studio, formed in 2007.

Dr. Wolfram Hoefer, Principal Investigator

In January 2006, Wolfram joined the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers as an Assistant Professor. His research and teaching foci are the cultural interpretation of brownfields as potential elements of the public realm and the semantics of urban situations in the relation of temporary events.

In 1992 he earned a Diploma in Landscape Architecture at the Technische Universität Berlin, Thesis “Post-Industrial Landscapes - a Discussion on the Example of IBA Emscherpark.” He later earned a Doctoral degree from Technische Universtät München, Thesis “Nature as a Design Question. On the Change of the Idea of Nature and Landscape within a service oriented Society.”

Wolfram has teaching experience at Technische Universität München and Universität Kassel. His professional experience includes employment in a Berlin landscape architecture firm and as a free lancer. In 2004 and 2005 he was responsible for managing regional aspects and traffic organization at the “Bundesgartenschau München 2005” (Federal Garden Show Munich). He is Principal Investigator and co-founder of EMERGE Studio, formed in 2007.

Ashley DiCaro

Currently an associate at Interface Studio, a collaborative urban planning and design firm in Philadeplphia, Ashley was the original founding and renegade intern of EMERGE Studio. With a BS in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers - The State University of NJ, she is pursuing her Master's Degree in Sustainable Design at Philadelphia University, cultivating her interests in the multidisciplinary approach to ecological design and planning. Most recently, Ashley was at the fore of a team effort that won the Putting Lot design competition in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Zachary Caruolo

Zachary joined EMERGE Studio in 2007 as a student intern and played a rather extensive roll in the onsite analysis and site selection phase of the Earth From Above project. He is currently a part of the Design and Construction Project Management Team at Princeton University where his primary goal is to oversee the implementation of ongoing landscape construction projects that are driven by the campus Master Plan and sustainability initiative. This roll allows Zachary to combine his passion for detailed design with the technical art of the construction process to gain a better understanding of how landscapes are formed and continue to successfully function. Zachary holds a BS in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers where he was awarded the Student Merit Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Bryce Olberding

A graduate of the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Idaho, Bryce significantly contributed to the research efforts of EMERGE Studio with his 2008 senior thesis, "Sustainable Materials: analyzing key components to define sustainability of materials, Case Study Earth From Above NYC." He is currently practicing in Coeur d'Alene.

Joel Slocum

A graduate of the University of Idaho, Joel significantly contributed to the research, design, and graphic communication process as a student intern of EMERGE Studio in 2008. He is currently living in LA with plans to move to NYC, furthering his education in architecture and design. His recent focus is publishing a book of poetry.

Ellis Cucksey

Currently pursuing his Master of Science in Landscape Architecture at the University of Idaho, Ellis contributed research development of solar and lighting technology informing the design process of EMERGE Studio in 2008. As an undergraduate, he was a part of the junior landscape architecture design studio developing site potential and analysis for EFA/NYC. Sophomore Landscape Architecture Design Studio, University of Idaho, Spring 2009 Junior Landscape Architecture Design Studio, University of Idaho, Fall 2007.


Images from previous exhibits

view photos


What is Cradle to Cradle?

read more