John Wong Chairman and Managing Principal

Public-oriented projects (campuses, places of work, places of living); creative problem solving; collaboration with the best minds in the design field “to push the envelope, raise the bar.”

Since joining SWA in 1976, John has directed an array of projects, from the design and crafting of small gardens to the large-scale planning and design of neighborhoods, towns, and new communities. He has extensive experience in North America, the Middle East, and Asia—particularly in Japan, Korea, and China. Over the past two decades, John has led more than 150 campus improvement projects at Stanford University, including the award-winning DAPER Master Plan and the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts. He and his teams have designed the groundscapes for 12 of the 100 tallest buildings in the world.

John also became a Principal at SWA/Balsley in New York City, in December of 2016.

Inspired By

Great design, in whatever form: the French gardens of LeNotre; 15th- and 16th-century Italian gardens; 20th-century Minimalist artists (Richard Long, Sol Lewitt, Donald Judd); Japanese Zen gardens.


MLA in Urban Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design; BS Landscape Architecture, with Honors, UC Berkeley; AAS, with Honors, City College of San Francisco

Design philosophy

Collaboration is key. Stay open to suggestions and design ideas from all the project's players—clients, architects, artists, engineers—and let the best idea move forward.


Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects; Institute of Urban Design; American Academy in Rome; Member, Urban Land Institute.


2016, Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Best Tall Building Worldwide, Shanghai Tower; 2014, Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa, Cayan Tower; 2013, Pearl River Tower

2015 Center for Active Design (CAD), Award of Excellence, Guthrie Green

2014 ULI Urban Open Space Finalist, Guthrie Green

2013 ASLA NorCal Chapter, Honor Award, Guthrie Green; Merit Award, UC Davis West Village

2013 WAN, Best Urban Design, Guthrie Green

2010 Global Icon Award and Best Town Building Middle East and Africa, Burj Khalifa

2006 ASLA National Honor Award and Northern California Chapter Award of Excellence: Lite-On Headquarters, Taipei, Taiwan.

2005 ASLA National Merit Award: Tokyo University Foreign Studies, Fuchu, Japan.

2002 AIA, San Francisco Chapter Honor Award: Stanford Graduate School of Business-Knight Building, Stanford, California.

2002 Pacific Coast Builders Conference Gold Nugget Merit Award: Stanford West Apartments, Palo Alto, California.

2001 AIA California Council Merit Award for Historic Preservation/Renovation: Toyon Hall, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

1999 ASLA National Merit Award: DAPER Master Plan, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

1999 The Governor's Historic Preservation Award, California: Stanford University for Encina Hall; Green Library; and The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford, California.

1998 AIA California/East Bay Honor Award: Bentley School, Lafayette, California.