The Profiles feature of our blog highlights companies we are inspired by. We are excited to feature LLG International in Cheri’s article written for ASLA’s “The Field“.
At LLG we recognize that attaining sustainability means respecting the reciprocal relationships inherent in living systems. As we all know, our species has leveraged our economy with industrial thought models and fossil fuels to its detriment. An alternative is hinted by ecologist Stephen Harding when he says, “You start with life, with human life and the life of the planet, and ask, how we generate the conditions for life’s flourishing?” I think it summarizes well the obvious limits to quantitative physical and economic growth. With these ideas, LLG is developing international planning, design, and construction solutions modeled on the integrated processes of living systems. We provide ecological planning, urban design, and landscape architecture services to clients – from traditional land and formal organizations to fully integrated on-site biologically organized production and purification systems. We are looking to design sites to sustain people with closed loops of energy, water, food, waste, and wildlife, on-site. Our target clients are primarily those who are operating facilities at a significant scale and aim to meet stringent net-zero sustainability goals such as: the generation of renewable power, the production food edibles while eliminating fossil fuel toxicity, processing of waste materials locally and on-site to be used as a resource for heat, fuel and soil development, wastewater biosystems that support plant and animal life while providing on-site clean water sources for a variety of uses.
Tell us how your practice started, how it is organized and how you created a work culture.
I worked as a planner and integrative design strategist for an unusual variety of organizations after receiving my degree in Landscape Architecture from Oregon State University and Harvard. My most important lesson from this experience was to design based on a central idea, not unlike writing, where the idea is the arbiter of a designs clarity and strength. I also learned to appreciate the multiple solution authorities present in all projects from key faculty in landscape ecology and colleagues of Ian McHarg. These experiences shaped my thinking of LLG’s organization and mission.
The culture of our firm evolved over time to encompass international projects that integrate a systems view of life into the design of cities for human health, well being and ecological integrity. Especially projects where design development was founded on a life paradigm, driving the project focus and ultimate solutions. Our firm is small and our structure is intimate, diverse and multi-cultural, best described as integrated groups, with a strong emphasis on a balance of talent and diversity. While our teams began international projects starting in Egypt in 2005, it was not until 2009, through several sponsored competitions overseas, that our international focus became a reality. The firm was founded the following year in 2010 and in response to what I perceive is an urgent international need for idea-driven design to integrate living biological support infrastructure within developing cities. We continue to be involved in projects on an international scale in Egypt, India, China and the US.
How does your practice take a leadership role on projects and establish collaborative relationships with multi-disciplinary partners?
We look for opportunities to work with professionals that share our fundamental goals and philosophy, no matter their original discipline. My favorite architectural client in Denver says of me, “Jeff is the only landscape architect I know who gets it.” By that he means I understand idea-driven design, but also that I understand their team roles and organization. At LLG, our core vision allows us either to take on team leadership, share it, or stand under others, depending on the nature of the project, the site, the client, and everyone’s roles.
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