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Moment of Silence--Peta Raabe, March, MLA, ASLA

Friends and associates of Peta Raabe planted a red maple in Aviator Park at Logan Square in her honor. She led the redesign of Aviator Park.


Peta Raabe's friends and associates planted a red maple in Aviator Park at Logan Square in her honor.

In communicating with Bill Menke, RLA, CLARB of menke & menke, Swarthmore, Pa., we learned he just returned from Philadelphia where he attended the memorial services for prominent Philadelphia landscape architect Peta Raabe, 56, who passed away January 7 following a recurrence of breast cancer.

She leaves behind husband, Peter Bloomfield, daughter Jessie and son Gabriel, and her mother, Cindy.

She also leaves behind her partners at Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects of Philadelphia, Anita Lager and Karen Skafte. The Philadelphia firm has been designing landscapes for 17 years.

Her friends and associates planted a red maple in Aviator Park at Logan Square in her honor. She considered the red maple a tree of great class, calling it the "black dress and pearls of urban trees." Her memorial services were held January 17 at Moore College of Art and Design, just across the street from Aviator Park and the planted maple.

Peta Raabe was born in New York City and enjoyed her childhood at a camp owned by her parents in Columbia County, New York. She earned her B.A. at Bennington College (1973), a masters in architecture from Washington University (1977) and a MLA from the University of Pennsylvania (1982). She also served as an adjunct and visiting faculty member at Drexel University, Temple University and the University of Oregon.

In 1991, Anita Lager and Peta Raabe formed a partnership, and in 2000 Karen Skafte joined the team. While the firm has worked outside Philly--projects at Penn State University and streetscapes in Wilmington, Del., for instance, her legacy has been design work in Philadelphia:

  • many playground redesigns for the Philadelphia Rec. Department
  • landscape master plan for Old City
  • landscape design guidelines for the Ben Franklin Parkway
  • design of Aviator Park at Logan Square
  • contribution to the Logan Square master plan
  • open space Plan for Center City
  • "bridge to bridge" master plan (the regatta area on the Schuylkill River from the Strawberry Mansion Bridge to the Columbia Railroad Bridge)
  • contributed to the Centennial District master plan
  • design of various streetscapes, including12th Street near the Convention Center and 15th and Spruce Streets

"That she not only survived long enough to see her children grown and successful, her firm flourish with challenging and important work, and at times, to have the concept that she had put the thing into remission says it all about this most determined person," Bill Menke, RLA, CLARB told LASN. "Peta, we heard from the memorial gathering, was a woman who didn't cook, although it seemed that in every other way she was the take-charge person.

"To hear at the gathering of the friendships she forged in her extended family was enlightening. The people at the gathering, it seemed to me, were for the most part strangers, but certainly were drawn to help celebrate the life of one who touched so many. Even when sick, she made significant contributions to landscape architecture, often opening the office door to parties, strategy events and seminars.

"Over the years, we referred clients to their office if we felt that they were better suited to the work, and I believe that they did the same for us.

"Among the many recollections at the gathering was the reminiscence that at some formal gathering, Peta came not in a formal dress, but in a pantsuit with red Converse sneakers! It has always been a pleasure to share issues with the firm, and we'll miss Peta's white shirts, dark pants and red sneakers."

Mark Focht, FASLA, executive director of Fairmount Park, told PlanPhilly: "Peta was an incredible person and wonderful landscape architect to work with. In every encounter, Peta was upbeat, engaged and excited by the work. Even during her illness, Peta brought a sense of quiet and dignified determination to everything she did. The improvements that Fairmount Park and our partners will bring to the Parkway over the coming years will be a fulfillment of Peta's vision and dedication. It will be an honor to do this work."

Donations in Peta's memory can be made to the Fairmount Park Conservancy or the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.


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December 10, 2019, 6:59 pm PDT

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