On a Quest for Landscape architecture in the USA

16 Dezember 2015

Quest Kees Neven (2)

Together with the new brand ‘CallisonRTKL’ ARCADIS has a worldwide network of landscape architects, architects and planners. The Dutch team of landscape architects is excited to get to know their colleagues abroad. In previous projects, we had the opportunity to work together with RTKL colleagues from London, Dubai and Shangai. I received a LinkedIn invitation from one of the landscape architects, Noel Aveton, from the CallisonRTKL Dallas office. A perfect opportunity for closer acquaintance! Especially after having a look at their portfolio: an impressive collection of malls, retail-, resort- and residential developments. In the Dutch landscape architecture, ‘brandscaping’ and design for commercial locations becomes more and more important. I am specifically interested in how CallisonRTKL designs public spaces for commercial projects, what principles they use and how they work. Noel was very happy to be my host and within 3 weeks I flew to the US!

Quest Kees Neven (5)The team of Landscape architecture and planning is based at a 39th floor of Bryan tower, with splendid views over downtown Dallas. Drawings, sketches and renders meander over the walls. My workspace was in the middle of the team, which was really good. During a pizza-lunch I had the opportunity to exchange our Dutch Landscape Architecture experience on projects as coastal defence, infrastructure, railway stations and the World Horticultural Expo Floriade 2012. A significant part of our projects are carried out in teams with our fellow ARCADIS-engineers. For CallisonRTKL, this is a new way of working so they were specifically interested what the role of the landscape architect is in such integral teams. We found out our portfolios are complementary, and brought together form a strong set of references for acquainting new projects.

The team of landscape architecture at CallisonRTKL has had a fast growth forward the last 7 years. My host started the team in 2008 with a core team of 3 people. At the moment, the team exists of 20 professionals working with clients on developments in China, the Middle East and domestically – collaborating with Arcadis companies around the world. Together with the planning group there are even 70 people. CallisonRTKL has two offices in Dallas in short walking distance: Bryan Tower and Republic Tower. I was stationed at the Bryan Tower, but also visited the other office and talked to people. I even did get the fantastic opportunity to meet the CEO of CallisonRTKL!

Quest Kees Neven (1)My host and his colleagues made sure I would get a taste of the US cuisine: Chili contest at the office, Mexican food, cheese steaks and burgers. They showed me around the architectural highlights of Dallas and Fort Worth, and all the parks from Downtown Dallas. Famous (landscape)architecture of Peter Walker, Renzo Piano and Dan Kiley. They also explained me about the latest urban development of Dallas and took me to the booming old West End and Greenville district, which had a revival during the last five years.

I interviewed several principal landscape architects about their projects. Ken told me the in- and outs of some residential project in Texas: Hollyhocks, Canyon Falls, and Frisco, the booming new part of Dallas. It was especially interesting to see how these projects are based on lifestyle, high-end versus regular. Emily Drake told me about her experience on retail and resorts: Design principles, crowd management, how to base a design on a marketing strategy, how design can influence and strengthen a marketing concept and how to cope with the, sometimes unrealistic, needs of clients. It was nice that I could work along with a project, a storm water buffer Upper Proctor Creek, Atlanta Georgia. I worked on grading and a planting concept, and exchanged Dutch project references of storm water parks.

Quest Kees Neven (4)At home, I will share my experiences by organizing a lunch presentation for my colleague landscape architects and architects, which are definitely intrigued by my Quest experience. A regular conference call with the key persons of landscape architecture offices around the world will strengthen our global network as landscape architects.

I want to thank all the people from CallisonRTKL for making this a great experience!


Kees Neven – Arcadis Apeldoorn