Ecology

ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
Places that support self-sustaining natural ecosystems in mutually beneficial and enduring relationships with the built environment

All site developments alter existing natural systems.  Developments that suppress, rather than support, the underlying natural systems are more expensive to build, require continual interventions to maintain, and frequently result in unnecessary long-term environmental destruction. In order to minimize harm and ensure that a resilient, healthy ecological system can be sustained, an integrated approach to site design is required – one in which nature becomes the basis for a new environmental engineering.

As cities change, restoring and protecting the ecological support systems both within and outside urbanized areas is essential to repair past abuses and to establish healthy relationships with nature.  An understanding of the natural processes at a given site is an essential first step to creating an enduring landscape framework for the built environment.  In all of our projects, it is the underlying ecological system that becomes a basis for design of a new physical environment.  Our aim is to create places that allow nature to sustain itself in a healthy condition while co-existing harmoniously with and enriching the human constructions.

No site is too small to encourage natural systems to reenter the built environment – every little bit adds up.  But a balance must be struck among the natural processes, the constraints on developing  a particular site, the urban design context, and the interests of property owners and public agencies.  We have found over the years that the key components of this type of work are the creative and enlightened handling of water on site – the source of life, and the primary recipient of the detritus of our culture – and the integration of the skills of hydrologists, ecologists, and urban design professionals.

Successfully completed ecologically-based projects in urban and rural areas include the following:

  • creek restorations and flood management
  • salt and freshwater wetlands
  • forests and forest understory
  • grasslands and meadows
  • coastal and inland scrub
  • quarry reclamation
  • landfill reclamation