- Philosophy Statement
My goal as a practicing landscape architect has always been to create and build landscapes that transcend – that honor the inherent qualities of a site – and anchor themselves in the hearts and minds of the people who experience them. There is always something inherent to a place that wants to be expressed, augmented and validated. But a great idea or a unique design isn’t enough. In my long career, I have become increasingly emphatic about execution. For me, physicality rules.
I incorporate the discipline of a professional practice in all my studios and challenge students from both a conceptual and practical standpoint. My lectures and my crits are theory-based but I insist on a level of inquiry and rigor that leads students to think more critically about everything they do, whether it’s expressing an idea or choosing a material. And yes, I make people draw. No matter their ultimate goal, I sincerely believe that students leave the semester energized by a greater awareness of their aesthetic and a much stronger appreciation for how to transform ideas into the physical realm.
A practitioner recognized for both his artistry and his ability to build the hell out of stuff, David is principal and founder of Meyer Studio – Land Architects. Prior to launching his small yet fierce Berkeley, California studio, David was a longtime partner at PWP and co-founded both Schwartz Smith Meyer and Meyer Silberberg.
Winner of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture, David has distinguished himself through a rigorous approach to both design and execution. He credits his Iowa origins for his love of simple, sensual, deliberate designs that employ nature’s palette judiciously.
David’s greatest contribution to the profession of landscape architecture is his profound and unwavering respect for what he calls ‘right physicality’. He loves to build and he loves to build well. Throughout his career and through collaborations with architects, artists, engineers, developers, contractors, public agencies and students, David has demonstrated that if you want an artistic outcome – if you want poetry – you have to go beyond the pragmatics. He has brought his signature integrity and rigor to projects ranging from a temporary installation at the American Academy in Rome to a 9,000-acre national park in China.
David knows that well designed places serve to empower people, unite them, delight them, and of course, move them. He believes that landscape architects are in the business of beauty and that despite the challenges we face building in today’s world, we must reach for a higher standard. He says that rather than just solving problems and making useable spaces, we owe our world beautiful, lasting, important, sustainable places. He pushes himself and the people around him to see what Luis Barragan called the intangibles of architecture….inspiration, magic, sorcery, enchantment, serenity, mystery, silence, privacy and astonishment.
David has lectured and taught throughout the world, and has been an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley for the past 20 years where he currently teaches the graduate-level Capstone Studio. He incorporates the discipline of a professional practice in his studios and challenges students from both a conceptual and practical standpoint. He insists on a level of inquiry and rigor that leads students to think more critically about everything they do, whether it’s expressing an idea or choosing materials. In the end, his students leave the semester energized by a greater awareness of their aesthetic values and a stronger appreciation for how to transform ideas into the physical realm.
- Courses Taught
LA 204 Advanced Design
- Awards + Recognition
- ASLA Honor Award, The Citadel Grand Allee, Commerce, CA, 1991
- ASLA Honor Award, Becton Dickinson Atrium, San Jose, CA 1991
- "Interpretations of Nature", The McMichael Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, 1993
- ASLA President's Award of Excellence, Village of Yorkville Park, Toronto, Canada, 1997
- ASLA Honor Award, Principal Life Headquarters, Des Moines, Iowa, 1998
- Design Achievement Award, Iowa State University, 1998
- Rome Prize, American Academy in Rome, 2000
- School of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition, American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy, 2001
- Appointed to the GSA's Commissioner's National Register of Peer Reviewers, 2004
- New Italian Blood, Architecture Interactive Exhibition, 2005
- Finalist, 587 Memorial Competition, Queens, New York, 2005
- Finalist, Brandywine Park Public Art Competition, Wilmington, Delaware 2005
- Finalist, Courthouse Square Competition, Santa Rosa, CA 2007
- AIA Merit Award, Lang Fang Eco City Master Plan, Lang Fang, China, 2011
- ASLA Landmark Award, Village of Yorkville Park, Toronto, Canada, 2012
- ENR California Best Projects Award of Merit, Foothill College Physical Sciences and Engineering Center, Los Altos, CA 2013
- AIA East Bay Design Honor Award, Foothill College Physical Sciences and Engineering Center, Los Altos, CA 2013
- Shanghai National Parks Competition, Finalist, Shanghai, China 2013
- ASLA-NCC Honor Award, Foothill College, Los Altos, CA 2014
- ASLA-NCC Merit Award, Airbnb Headquarters, San Francisco, CA 2014
- AIACC Honor Award, UCLA Edie and Lew Wasserman Building, Los Angeles, CA 2014
- International Wynwood Gateway Park Competition, Miami, Florida, 2nd Place, 2014
- SCUP Honor Award for Excellence in Design – PSEC Foothill College, 2015
- SCUP Honor Award for Excellence in Planning – Ohlone College, 2015
- St. James Park Competition, Finalist, San Jose, California, 2016
- ASLA Fellow, 2016
- ASLA-NCC Merit Award, Battery East, San Francisco, CA 2017
- AIASF Design Award, Rainwater Collection + Recycling Special Commendation, 2018.
- Governor’s Historic Preservation Award, Livermore Depot – Livermore CA, 2019.
- ASLA-NCC Honor Award – Analysis and Planning, Heartwood Preserve, NE, 2020.
- APA Award of Excellence for Green Infrastructure, Heartwood Preserve, NE, 2020
- Selected Publications
Handmaker, Linda. “Setting the Landscape in Motion.” Garden Design Magazine. August 1984.
Freedman, Adele. "Putting up Paradise in a Parking Lot." The Globe and Mail, October 1, 1991.
“Cumberland Park.” Interpretations of Nature, Contemporary Canadian Architecture, Landscape and Urbanism. 1993.
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place Grows a Garden of Myriad Detail." The Globe and Mail. November 6, 1993.
Freedman, Adele. “Lighting Lanterns in the Wilderness.” Toronto Globe and Mail. January 1, 1994
Potteiger, Matthew and Purinton, Jamie, “Landscape Narratives; Design Practices for Telling Stories.” John Wiley and Sons. 1998
Ashcraft, Michael. “Designing Iowan.” The Des Moines Register. September 6, 1998.
Kirkwood, Niall, “The Art of Landscape Detail: Fundamentals, Practices and Case Studies” John Wiley and Sons. 1998
Tate, Alan. “Great City Parks” Spon Press, 2001.
Donald, Caroline, “Daring to be Different.” The London Times, June 15, 2003.
Richardson, Tim. “Plunge into the Trails of the Unexpected.” The Daily Telegraph, July 12, 2003.
White, Hazel. "How to Celebrate a Tree." The San Francisco Chronicle, September 27, 2003.
"Westonbirt Review." Garden Design Journal, October/November, 2003.
Perez, Luis, "Memorial Finalists Eyed", Newsday, July 20, 2005.
El Jardin en la Argentina, Augosto, 2005.
Benefield, Kerry. “A Plaza with Pizazz”, The Press Democrat, August 28, 2007.
Dulin, Michael, “Focus on the Center: Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square Competition”, Competitions, Winter 2007/2008.
Gardens Illustrated, “In Praise of Conceptual Gardens”, October, 2008.
Richardson, Tim. “Avant Gardeners”, Thames and Hudson, 2008.
Jost, Daniel, “There’s No Place like Rome” Landscape Architecture. September 2009.
Lam, George, “Ideas and Concepts – Landscape Architecture, Pace Publishing, 2009.
Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, “Limelight”, October – December, 2009.
Rihan, Xing, “Public Landscape”, H. K. Rihan International Culture Spread Ltd., 2010.
Landscape World, Vol. 42, “Landscape Architecture Environment Design, Choseok & Archiworld, 2011.
Landezine, “Presenting Contemporary Landscape Architecture Works”, January, 2011.
Ground Up 01, “Landscapes of Uncertainty”, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2012.
Global Sustainable Landscape Masterpieces, Eco Landscape Today – Volume 2, Dopress Books, 2012.
Amoroso, Nadia. “Digital Landscape Architecture Now”, Thames and Hudson, 2012.
The Atlas of World Landscape Architecture, Braun Publishing AG, 2013.
Jia, Song, “Public Landscapes”, Artpower International Publishing Co., Ltd., 2014
Hunt, John Dixon. “Historical Ground: The Role of History in Contemporary Landscape Architecture”, Routledge, February 13th, 2014.
Ground Up 03, “Here”, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2014.
Architecture and Design, “35 Amazing Landscape Designs That You Would Love to Have in Your City”, July 20, 2015.
World Landscape Architecture, Edition 32 - Battery East Vista, WLA Magazine, September, 2017.
World Landscape Architecture, 270 Brannan Street, WLA Magazine, October 5, 2017.
Ground Up 08, “Home”, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2019.
Beardsley, John and Bluestone, Daniel. “Landscape and the Academy”, Harvard University Press, May 14, 2019.