David Thompson

Co-CEO, Managing Principal

“Recent events have brought a renewed appreciation for outdoor space and recognition of why our streets, parks and plazas matter. Design that makes room for people to come together and find common ground and that rekindles their connection with nature helps in creating a more livable world.  Landscape is the essential infrastructure that defines equitable and resilient cities.”

David Thompson, FASLA, is the firmwide Co-CEO of SWA and the Managing Principal of SWA’s Shanghai Studio. He is a landscape architect and urban designer who finds inspiration in the cultural, social, and environmental influences that shape contemporary cities.

His particular interest is helping cities realize the potential of forgotten or challenged urban sites and he has participated in many vital transformations. Building on the unique characteristics that distinguish each site, David considers how design can reveal an authentic narrative for the place and elevate the richness of experience. This interest has led to project work in many parts of the world and at a variety of scales. His approach engages the essence of a place, whether design of an agrarian community that showcases the cultural arts of ethnic minorities in China’s Yunnan province, the reclamation of an industrial site and creation of a new town along the banks of the Moscow River, or the transformation of a toxic superfund site into one of Dallas’s iconic urban entertainment centers. David also works closely with leaders of tech companies to determine how outdoor spaces can enhance the vitality of work culture and meet their vision of environmental stewardship.

David has participated in China’s unprecedented transformation for almost 20 years. The various private and public projects he has led in locations throughout the country have become models of best practices for development, and include Asia’s first LEED-ND Platinum community. Current work includes OCT Baoan Waterfront Park, TenCent Headquarters Campus, Henyang Waterfront Park, Shenzhen Dong Hu Park, Kunming Fuxian Lake Art Valley and Hangzhou Grand Canal Industrial Core Renovation. His work focuses on creating livable cities that reflect who we are, how we live and the collective values that we share.


Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana State University, 1981


Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects


Hangzhou Grand Canal Industrial Core Renovation Competition: 2020

OCT Bao’An Waterfront Park Competition, First Place: 2017

Shanghai UBPA Post-Expo Development Competition, First Place: 2012

Shenzhen Prince Bay Waterfront Park Competition, First Place: 2015

Haicang New Town Master Plan Design Competition, First Place: 2002

IH35W/IH30 Interchange Design Competition, First Place: 2000


David has received over 100 professional awards, including:

National ASLA Awards:

Honor Award, The Better Blocks Project, 2014

Award of Excellence, Westlake Corporate Campus, 2003

Excellence in  Communication and Marketing, Las Ventanas Plant Guide, 2001

Merit Award, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, 1999

ASLA Texas Chapter:

Classic Award, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, 2011

Classic Award, International Center, 2011

Classic Award, Court of the Toads, 2019

Excellence in Design Award, Qingdao Horticultural Exposition, 2011

Award of Excellence, Analysis and Planning, Beijing Wenyu River Master Plan, 2011

Award of Excellence, IDEA Green, 2016

Award of Excellence, Deloitte University Corporate Campus, 2013

Award of Excellence, Shanghai Urban Best Practices Project, 2012

Award of Excellence, South Ren-Min Blvd., 2005

Award of Excellence, Tunica River, 2005

Award of Excellence, Las Ventanas al Paraiso – Plant Guide, 2003

Award of Excellence, Las Ventanas al Paraiso, 1998

Award of Excellence, Yoido Park, South Korea, 1997

Award of Excellence, Christina Gateway Park, 1989

Other Awards:

Conde Nast Traveler Award – Best International Resort (Las Ventanas al Paraiso), 2016

China Real Estate Design Awards – Extraordinary Designer of the Year, 2015

China Real Estate Design Awards – Gold Award, OCT Bay, 2015

Dallas Business Journal – Project of the Year, Chase International Plaza, 2002

Dallas Urban Design Award, International Center, 2001

Los Angeles Business Council – Urban Beautification Award, Rolex Building, 1999