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
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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