Kevin Shanley, Principal

When Kevin applied for a job at the Sausalito office of SWA in 1973, he knew something about engineering (his father was a civil engineer in heavy construction) but little about landscape architecture: “In my interview I was asked if I knew how to do irrigation and I replied that I knew about canals and siphons and pumps. They laughed and said, ‘no, we mean sprinkler systems.’ I said I would be willing to learn.” He soon became the firm’s irrigation designer, and then—as he absorbed the craft and art of landscape architecture and urban design in SWA’s highly charged design environment—eventually took on project production and design responsibility, focusing on water elements at every scale, from intimate water gardens to natural watersheds. In late 1979 he moved to the Houston office and in the mid-80s became Managing Principal, taking on many large-scale master planning and regional infrastructure projects. In 2003 he became President of the firm.

Kevin has worked in many locations, from North America to the Middle East to the Far East. He is particularly talented at solving “three-dimensional site-planning puzzles,” whether in complex natural landforms or in urban environments. “I know how to shape dirt,” he acknowledges, “and perhaps because of the engineering blood running in my veins, I can make difficult sites look simple.”


Place-making; working with water; large-scale landforms; creating spaces that can transform a person’s daily experience of the world. “When I consider taking on a project, I ask myself: does this project have the potential to transform people’s daily experience of the world? Can it move them the way a good book or a piece of melody can?”


Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Urban Land Trust; Honorary Member, American Institute of Architects, Houston and Texas; Chairman of the Board, The Bayou Preservation Association, Houston.


Graduate courses in landscape architecture, urban design, environmental psychology, and art at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and MIT; Undergraduate courses in philosophy, art, and science at University of Santa Clara


2005 ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award.

2005 ASLA National Service Award.

2004 K.E.E.P. Environmental Educator Award.

2003 Citizen’s Environmental Coalition Synergy Award.

2003 Project of the Year Award, National Commercial Builders (NCBC) Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB): National Civil Rights Museum Expansion, Memphis, Tennessee.

2001 ASLA National Honor Award, Analysis and Planning: San Antonio River Improvements Project, San Antonio, Texas.

1999 American Planning Association of Texas Honor Award: TxDOT Green Ribbon Project, Houston, Texas.

1998 ASLA Texas Chapter Excellence in Design Award: Baytown Nature Center, Baytown, Texas.

1995 ASLA Texas Chapter Outstanding Professional Achievement Award.