Earth Day 2020

On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, as days and weeks merge into timelessness, our need to experience nature and greet the earth grow stronger. A tiny virus has disrupted each of us in dramatic ways – not unlike how we have each disrupted the earth in dramatic ways. Our cities have been calmed, and nature moves into these now quiet places.

This Earth Day is an opportunity to consider how each of us are affected by nature and how we can nurture its revival in our cities and in our lives.

SWA’s work is guided by the human need to go outdoors and to seek joy and solace in nature; nature protected and nature created. We make places for people, and we make places for the earth.

We are conscious of the earth every day, and share a reverence for nature and its value in the work that we do. Now, more than ever, we find that #natureworks to refresh and invigorate. We asked our staff to share a view about Earth Day. Read on and see more on our Facebook Gallery.

Conservation of undeveloped land helps sustain broader ecosystems…

… and reinforce the symbiotic relationship between large-scale open spaces and cities.

Nature’s functional genius can reduce the impact of flooding in urban waterways…

… while integrating parks in urban areas serves to reduce heat island effect, offer health benefits to city dwellers…

… And encourage kids to dig into the dirt.

The love of the earth starts at home.

We asked our staff what they had to say about Earth Day. Here are some of their voices:

Roberto Astudillo
Landscape Designer, San Francisco

In a time when we’re forced to stay apart, we begin to realize how close we are. It took a global pandemic to re-invite wildlife to our urban realms. It took a global pandemic for us to once again see how clean our cities can be. In this uncertain time, let us realize how together we are in this struggle, how few differences we have, and how our tiny blue stage connects us to the beauty around us. We are not alone, we are not separate – we are one planet and one life.

Gerdo Aquino

Gerdo Aquino
CEO, Los Angeles

Nature is having its moment right now. With world industries on hold and few people on the road, the amount of particulate matter in our skies is at an all-time low. The result? Cleaner air and water. With national parks closed, wildlife is thriving. Scientists are busy collecting important data that will forever change the way we plan and design landscapes. Let’s use this once-in-a-lifetime moment to positively inform our work now and for generations to come.

Matt Baumgarten
Landscape Designer, Houston

Over the past few months I’ve come to better appreciate perspective and empowerment through patience. Instead of rushing to meetings and playing email catch-up, my lunch break has been spent tending to my pollinator garden. We have hatched over a hundred monarch butterflies in my backyard.

Scott Cooper
CFO, Sausalito

Throughout my life I’ve been powerfully inspired (and sometimes mesmerized) by the interplay between rock and water. Whether by way of a trickling mountain brook in the Mayacamas Mountains, the thunderous, frothy beaches of the Mendocino coastline, or a fresh, pristine lake found in a granite basin in the High Sierras, the sight, sound and feel of rock and water have brought me much joy and refreshment.

Heidi Engelbrechten
Office Manager, Sausalito

The importance of open spaces in densely developed areas has never been more clear to me. I can’t imagine living through this without being able to hike with my dog! I’m intrigued by the possibility of more urban zones that are vehicle-free; zones with trees, that provide peaceful places to spend time outside. (Hopefully we can be closer to one another than six feet in the near future.)

Jinhee Ha
Landscape Designer, San Francisco

Evidence of geological processes,in stratified rock formations or waterfalls, makes me appreciate how things are shaped, formed, and constantly changing. The lumpy marks on a granite face are a product and process of slow weathering and movement from external elements. No matter what is being weathered, transformation is inevitable with each passing second.

Eric Marshall
Landscape Designer, Houston

Quarantine has given me a lot more time to spend with my houseplants – I have learned to really appreciate the details and intricacies of plants themselves. This is also a concept I explored in our idea wall at the office, but I am really interested in how the patterns and lines of biology can be applied to design.

Adam Scott
Landscape Designer, Houston

I’m captivated by the movement, the fluidity of the Earth at all scales – the textures, how they interact and change. The trace of color in a bud, the languid flow of a river, a 19th-century bridge showing its age, fog framing a momentary stillness: expressions of a dynamic earth, signatures of the continual formation and abstraction of countless mosaics.

Shuntaro Yahiro
Associate Principal, Sausalito

I’ve heard that the residents at SunCity Yokohama are enjoying their garden and safe open spaces more than ever! I myself find that having visual and physical access to nature helps a lot for both my mental and physical health, and I’ve resolved to be even more sensitive about it when I design for the next project. We’re all experiencing this together, and the ways “nature works” have never been more evident.

Kerri da Silva
Associate, Houston

I’ve recently been struck by the basic social nature of humans and animals — our co-dependency on our fellow beings for social support. There is undeniable pleasure in life’s vigor and zip when surrounded by others, but it’s important to leverage these moments of downtime to reflect and to inspire a love of nature and preservation in Earth’s future stewards. Slow down; savor simple beauty.

What’s your view? Join our conversation on Facebook and Instagram