Richard K. Webel and Umberto Innocenti met each other circa 1930 while working at the landscape architectural office of Vitale & Geiffert in New York City. In 1931, with the great depression unfolding, they took a chance and started their own firm in a small studio in Roslyn, NY.
For the most part, Webel would visualize and draw the designs, and these were often quite formal. Innocenti would then interpret and implement them in the field – often tempering them through his considerable knowledge of plants. It is this mixture of underlying structure softened through planting which gave their designs their appeal and longevity.
Good work speaks for itself and the firm received many more commissions. Their client list grew. Several new clients were well positioned socially and financially, and this opened up new doors. Eventually, the firm relocated to a larger building in near-by Greenvale, NY – within walking distance of Innocenti’s home. The nature of the work expanded beyond residential to include institutional and corporate projects. This collaboration continued for more than three decades until Umberto’s death in 1968.
Despite the loss of Mr. Innocenti, Dick Webel kept his design team intact and continued a robust practice. Occasionally, a new member was added, and this included his son Richard C. Webel who joined the firm in 1977. Father and son worked together for the next two decades on a on a broad spectrum of projects. Rick’s strong interest in land planning and conservation added another important dimension to the firm and produced several very successful projects.
Ever thinking, Rick saw a need to broaden the firm’s services and added an architectural component. In 1980, Kenneth A. Dowd joined the firm. As principal architect in charge, Ken has designed many successful residences and institutions in New York, Connecticut, and Florida.
While residential work was still the firm’s bread and butter, their corporate work expanded. This was exemplified by a long and rewarding relationship with Milliken & Co. in Spartanburg, South Carolina; which in turn led to many new clients in this area.
With lots of work on hand, the firm partnered with Mark Byington in 2001, and eventually opened an office near Spartanburg, SC. This office continues to serve a broad range of corporate and institutional clients in the South Carolina region.
Also of note was the firm’s work in the Hobe Sound / Jupiter area of Florida. Several of the firm’s northern clients owned houses there and sought the design services of Webel. Others followed, and Mr. Webel cultivated this new market with great success. In 1992, the firm hired Linda Zylman and opened another office in this area to serve its growing clientele. With years of successful projects under its belt, the Florida office has flourished and continues to offer a full range of landscape architectural services.
Meanwhile, the New York office continued to thrive, and in 1991 moved to its current location in Locust Valley, NY where it continues to offer a full scope of landscape architectural services.