Promotions Summer 2022: Congratulations
to New SWA Leaders!
Join us in congratulating the promotion of 16 SWA professionals! These talented designers and planners are instrumental in advancing the firm’s mission of designing for a livable world. This Spring, we our asked promoted staff about the places that have inspired them, and here is what they shared.
Design inspiration and influences are personal, and arise from a variety of sources. What has influenced our new leaders’ thoughts about design? Here are their reflections on a place that inspires them.
View Peiwen’s Bio
I have always found interesting cities to be like dense, ever-changing ecosystems, with a healthy mixture of old and new components. When visiting the surreal Uyuni salt flats on Bolivia’s high plateau, I found Fish Island so inspiring! Its dramatic, thriving landscape represents the experience I intend to create within the urban context: my project sites include challenging hillside developments and complex post-industrial waterfronts. To tell the stories of those landscapes, my design embraces curated spatial experience with theatric elements, blending the old and new to form a memorable tension.
View Haifeng’s Bio
I’m inspired by Shanghai Alley. Sometimes the attraction of a space is not how beautiful it is, but its constant state of flux. The same space will vary from person to person and from time to time; it is constantly changing. Design is a magical arrangement of space, time and people, and trying to provide possibilities for different combinations, making the space more interesting, meaningful, and resilient.
Associate Principal, Sausalito
View Taizo’s Bio
Local residents, including myself, enjoy the meandering parkway flanked with large eucalyptus trees and gently undulating swath of lawn at Golden Gate Park: finding a peaceful, relaxing moment in their busy lives and enjoying varying activities, such as running, biking, picnicking, or just simply sauntering under the tree shade. The park reminds me how much positive impact a public open space can have on our lives and public health.
I’m inspired by artful landscapes for play that offer opportunities for children to learn and interact: critical for inspiring their creativity, curiosity, and ability to learn. Bringing interactive art pieces or artful designs into a landscape elevates the meaning of art as a part of children’s lives. Compared to a traditional playground that directs children in a fixed manner, a “brush of art” provides opportunities for them to discover, learn, and develop.
Rittenhouse Square is one of the five key urban parks located in the heart of Philadelphia that were planned in 1682 by William Penn. It’s not only a historic landmark but also a popular neighborhood go-to place for urban retreats. To me, Rittenhouse is a clear example demonstrating what makes an urban park successful and vibrant – a well-defined and protected edge condition, allowing for easy pedestrian access, that also supports a variety of events, like farmer’s markets. Its carefully designed tree layout and grading concept provide visual clearance, minimizing safety concerns; The adjacent buildings provide spatial enclosure, and the support program includes restaurants/cafes.
Guicheng Riverfront Park (Southbank) which is located in Foshan, China, was my first full-scope project after joining SWA in 2018. It has additional significance to me because Foshan is my hometown! Although I have been working with the Houston team since 2019, I still work remotely on projects in China. Despite my multiple roles as designer, project manager, project manager, and working in construction observation, this park remains an inspiration. It was completed in 2022.
The Highline Park in New York definitely inspired me to become a landscape architect. It broadens my understanding of the importance of landscape architecture in transforming modern cities. The park has became a tourist attraction, and stimulated adjacent real estate development values along the route. It is amazing how a urban landscape project can be a catalyst in urban revival and in serving such a broad audience group.
Coronado Beach in San Diego is always an inspiring place for me. It is a beach I grew up visiting, and where I like to return time and time again. I go there to search for serenity and beauty, yet I find so much more every time I visit. Being under the sky, close to the water, with sandy feet and that perfect wind, gives me enormous joy. My latest delight is seeing how effortlessly vegetation grows and dances around the dunes: where land, sand, and sea beautifully work together to create a welcoming haven.
Perched along the hills of the 405, the Getty Center in Brentwood continues to hold a special place in my heart. The juxtaposition of built environment and curated plant collections work together as a framed piece of art. As an amateur artist, I enjoy blending architecture, nature and art, as mediums on a landscape – something I continue to strive to perfect as I progress in my career.
The place that inspired me most is Hangzhou City, where I was born and raised. I am inspired by its unique landscape, lake and mountains, arched stone bridges, and winding trails; and by how the urban environment is wisely integrated into this great natural space.
I could not deny that my principal source of inspiration comes from when I am at home. Family conversations at the inner court; sunlight piercing through the tall trees surrounding my house; the sounds of birds chirping; the seasonal monsoon rain and fallen leaves; and the smell of seasonal flowers all fuel the powerhouse of my imagination. Because my father, my sister, and I are all landscape architects, endless conversations were spurred by this environment until our family set the rule of not discussing work while at the dining table. Nonetheless, it’s my house, my place, and my “everyday landscape!”
XL Labs Researcher
I spend a lot of time observing the ways that communities and landscapes stitch themselves together along the outermost edges of metropolitan areas. These transitional zones between developed and undeveloped lands are often sites of intense conflict and negotiation, where the rigid forms and infrastructures of the built environment overlap with the dynamic ecologies that prefigure them. In my work as both a researcher and designer, I am committed to engaging with these unwieldy socio-ecological thresholds in ways that advance sustainable development while enhancing the health and well-being of the surrounding environment.
A place seemingly outside of time, Lotusland, inspires my practice to be imaginative and transformative in an often-dull world. This exotic collection of gardens, created by self-proclaimed “enemy of the average” Ganna Walska, tests one’s perceptions through dramatic forms, bold textures, and ethereal light. The playful series of spaces are strung together in a chaotic but beautiful way, bringing an otherworldly charm to each visit. In the end, don’t we all want to experience just that?
My father (who is in the interior design and construction business), grew up in rural settings, and has a strong connection to the land. After the pandemic, step by step, he built up this rural resort for our family. This gave me the precious experience of getting close to nature and learning farming, landscaping, and construction: everything that is so far away from urban life. There, I gradually grew to revere nature. Humans need to follow its rules to find a balance for better living conditions.
Yipu, also known as The Garden of Cultivation, is not the most well-known of Suzhou’s gardens; it is small and hidden deep in the alleys. But in its limited site, the designers created a vivid sense of delicacy. This includes the experience of multiple spaces, richly shifting light and shadow, subtle imitation of nature and mountains, and the intimate simplicity of the everyday. The experience brought by Yipu goes beyond the site itself: it evokes my rethinking of the Oriental poetic way of life that I’m familiar with.
I’m passionate about multidisciplinary interaction and 3D-styling, and like to remain in creative mode from concept design to detail control. I also like to catch inspiration from the field, as well as from art or film. I concentrate on making a unique impression with every project!