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American Society of Landscape Architects


June 2007 Issue

Landscape architects talk about the ups and downs of small firms.


The first CEO Roundtable on the particular challenges and gratifications of small firms was held last October at the ASLA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. The session was moderated by Joseph Lalli, FASLA, president and managing principal of EDSA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Panelists were Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA, of Reed Hilderbrand in Watertown, Massachusetts; Mark Johnson, FASLA, of Civitas in Denver; Martha Schwartz, ASLA, of Martha Schwartz Partners in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London; Tom Oslund, FASLA, of in Minneapolis and Chicago; and Ray Leone, of the marketing consulting firm Leone Resources Group in Charleston, South Carolina.

  • Why go out on your own?

OSLUND: I worked in a large multidisciplinary office for nine years and I really had this desire to have my own practice, to test out my ideas with free rein and free will, and to create a culture that concentrated on the work but in which we could have a lot more fun.

SCHWARTZ: I was working for a corporate firm for about three years after school and I wanted to have a family and it didnít seem like it would be possible. I also wanted to make art. So I tried to convince one of the senior principals that I would go out and find art opportunities because it seemed to me that there might be just a few people in the United States who might want to do big art and I would go and find them and bring it into the office. He just blew me off and told me I was crazy, so I decided to try it myself.

JOHNSON: To me itís incontrovertible. I couldnít work for anybody else; it would be impossible.

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