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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

April 2007 Issue

The Firm That Plants Built
By embracing horticulture, Douglas Hoerr Landscape Architecture has found success in the Midwest for everything from high-end residential work to campus design.

By Susan Hines

The Firm That Plants Built Photo Courtesy of Shirley Remes

No architect is going to hire you to design a plaza," Douglas Hoerr, ASLA, says bluntly. "It is fun for them; they want to do the plaza. But when they start thinking, ‘I wonder if a tree will live in this pit?’ they call the landscape architect. That’s an opportunity. Plants give you entrée. Then you know that architecture firm and they see what you can do. And they will call you. You may not get their plazas all the time, but you have marketed in a very smart way."

It’s worked for Hoerr. After founding his firm in 1990, he has seen it grow from a small, mostly residential practice working mainly in Illinois to a company with 27 employees whose commercial work is now eclipsing the high-end residential side of the business. A year ago, the firm relocated to a snazzy downtown studio.

It’s an unusual trajectory for a landscape architecture practice, but Hoerr’s training and experience are also unusual—they combine traditional landscape architecture training, years of design/build experience, and a two-year apprenticeship with some of England’s most renowned landscape gardeners. And it all started in Peoria.

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