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.
LA 204 Advanced Design
ASLA Honor Award, The Citadel Grand Allee, Commerce, CA, 1991
Shanghai National Parks Competition, Finalist, Shanghai, China 2013 AIACC Honor Award, UCLA Edie and Lew Wasserman Building, Los Angeles, CA 2014 International Wynwood Gateway Park Competition, Miami, Florida, 2nd Place, 2014 St. James Park Competition, Finalist, San Jose, California, 2016 ASLA Fellow, 2016 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 Appointed to the GSA's Commissioner's National Register of Peer Reviewers, 2004 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 School of Fine Arts Annual Exhibition, American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy, 2001 New Italian Blood, Architecture Interactive Exhibition, 2005 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 ASLA-NCC Honor Award, Foothill College, Los Altos, CA 2014 ASLA-NCC Merit Award, Airbnb Headquarters, San Francisco, CA 2014 ASLA-NCC Merit Award, Battery East, San Francisco, CA 2017 SCUP Honor Award for Excellence in Design – PSEC Foothill College, 2015 SCUP Honor Award for Excellence in Planning – Ohlone College, 2015 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
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