surfacedesign featured on cover of september issue of garden design journal

September 1, 2019

“The team at Surfacedesign Inc is on a mission to break the grip of global homogenisation on our parks and waterfronts, urban spaces and gardens. “So much of our world is being homogenised by engineers",” says James A. Lord, founder, and one of of the San Francisco-based studio’s three partners.”

Text from Garden Design Journal, click here to view more and subscribe


anaha wins the chicago athenaeum american architecture award

Semptember 1, 2019

Designed with SCB

“Combining history, context, and culture, Anaha is an extraordinary example of contemporary architectural place-making.

The tower begins the implementation of Ward Village, which is the largest LEED Platinum Certified for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) master plan in the country.”

Text from the Chicago Athenaeum, click here to read more


Photos courtesy of Daniel Shipp via The Planthunter

the dirt: Roderick wyllie - featured article in the planthunter

May 23, 2019

“There’s an intangibility to gardens, which cannot be defined in terms of architecture or horticulture. Perhaps it’s a sensory, primal even, human connection to the plants themselves that contributes to this. Thus, a garden cannot be broken down into the sum of its parts – its function cannot be simply defined or valued. “One of the most interesting things about gardens and public spaces and landscapes is that in a way they don’t, even though we try to characterize them as such, have function. They don’t function programmatically in the way that architecture does. A garden is not a place where you cook dinner every night or something like that. And so, there’s something very hard to value about those spaces which, in my mind, is kind of lucky because it’s not so defined.”

Text from The Planthunter, click here to read the full article


Ridge House and Tree House Receive AIASF DESIGN AWARDS

April 18, 2019

We’re excited to share that two of our projects have been awarded 2019 AIASF Design Awards:

The Ridge House, designed with Mork Ulnes Architects :

“Natural landscape and topography drive the design of this compact, sculptural guesthouse in Sonoma County. The guesthouse's siting, form, and materiality craft dramatic, peaceful spaces within three raw concrete volumes. The building becomes part of the site's undulating terrain, tucked into the site's contours and stepping down with the hillside.”

Tree House, designed by Aidlin Darling Design.

“Anchored by monumental oaks and redwoods, this modest sustainably-designed suburban home offers expansive living spaces that extend into the landscape. The existing trees inform a spatial arrangement of framed views, outdoor rooms, and screening for privacy. A metal skin and interlocking volumes obscure the demarcation of inside and outside.”

Link to the 2019 design awards below: 

click here to learn more



April 12, 2019

"Where space is at a premium, a garden’s man-made elements—known as the hardscape—must do double duty. In San Francisco’s Twin Peaks neighborhood, landscape architecture and urban design firm Surfacedesign installed a 16-foot retaining wall faced in limestone. It not only braces the hillside, it incorporates a blackened steel fireplace and scattered LED-lit notches that double as footholds for climbing. Old-school hardscaping can also have dual functions."

Text from the Wall Street Journal, click here to read more


2019 Internship

January 1, 2019

Surfacedesign is seeking interns for summer 2019!

Surfacedesign welcomes designers in landscape architecture and urban design to work in our San Francisco office. This paid internship typically lasts 3-4 months from May to September. Interns will have the opportunity to work on active projects as well as contribute to ongoing research.

click here to read more and apply

Crocker Art Museum


July 12, 2018

"Crocker Art Museum director Lial Jones says while every firm that applied was well qualified, Olson Kundig and Surfacedesign shone with their enthusiasm for the project and how they addressed the design challenges. She also says they were simply the right fit for the project and for Sacramento."


Image and text from Sactown Magazine,

click here to read more


Plan for green space takes shape at former South Hayward quarry

March, 2018

"Plans for La Vista Park drafted by Surfacedesign, of San Francisco, for the former La Vista Quarry site include a yoga area, basketball court, picnic facilities, amphitheater, sports field, water play features, play areas dedicated to science and adventure themes, open spaces for stargazing, a celestial garden, an area for food trucks or a farmers market, and a garden with native plants and flowers."


Text from East Bay Times, click here to read more

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Construction Progress at hooper street - Permeable paving installation

March 7, 2018

When completed, the Hooper Street corridor will provide a 40 foot wide thoroughfare that connects the development with adjacent neighborhoods and the California College of the Arts. The through-way provides natural ventilation and sunlight access to all interior units. In addition to providing exterior amenities for tenants and outdoor eating and gathering spaces, the landscape design supports standalone retail uses at the ground floor and provides a variety of landscape program for tenants of the building. The design emphasizes visual and physical connections to a possible publicly accessible “event” open space to the southwest of the site.


Photos courtesy of the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Surfacedesign Hosts Showcase and discussion for Harvard GSD Studio "Phantom Coast"

February 13, 2018

Surfacedesign hosts event for Harvard alumni and friends to exhibit and discuss current GSD students' work for the Fall 2017 Option Studio "Phantom Coast". James A. Lord and Roderick Wyllie of Surfacedesign taught the design studio at the Harvard Graduate School of Design that explored the imaginative potential of the San Francisco Seawall as both innovative infrastructure and dynamic and engaging public open space.


Read More




Anaha Tower Blessed By Local Hawaiian descendants

October 18, 2017

Surfacedesign's landscape at the Anaha Tower in Honolulu was blessed by the local Hawaiian descendants on the first day of its grand opening. The project began in 2013 and was blessed in October of 2017. The project includes a ground floor entry landscape and a 37,500 square foot amenity deck equipped with swimming pool, spa, volleyball courts, bar, and tropical gardens.


See Project


james a. lord elevated to asla council of fellows

September, 2017

"The designation of Fellow is conferred on individuals in recognition of exceptional accomplishments over a sustained period of time. Individuals considered for this distinction must be members of ASLA in good standing for at least 10 years and must be recommended to the Council of Fellows by the Executive Committee of their local chapter, the Executive Committee of ASLA, or the Executive Committee of the Council of Fellows."


Text from ASLA, click here to read more


Photos courtesy of Cooper Hewitt

Surfacedesign Awarded Cooper Hewitt National Design Award

May 10, 2017

"The National Design Awards were conceived by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum to honor lasting achievement in American design. The Awards are bestowed in recognition of excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life. First launched at the White House in 2000 as an official project of the White House Millennium Council, the annual Awards program celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seeks to increase national awareness of the impact of design through education initiatives.

The National Design Awards program celebrates design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world, and seeks to increase national awareness of design by educating the public and promoting excellence, innovation, and lasting achievement."


Text from Cooper Hewitt, click here to read more



surfacedesign VOTED 2016 Architectural digest innovator

September 6, 2016

"Every year Architectural Digest searches the globe for trailblazing talents across architecture, art, landscape design, product design, and technology. These creatives are redefining their industries with new discoveries, ever expanding the boundaries of their fields. Over the past five years, [Architectural Digest] has celebrated such visionaries as architects Jeanne Gang, Bjarke Ingels, Sou Fujimoto, and Ole Scheeren; artists JR and Janet Echelman; glassblower Thaddeus Wolfe; start-ups Airbnb, WeWork, and Houzz; landscape designer Mikyoung Kim; environmentalist Boyan Slat; art organizations the Art Production Fund and Random International; designer studio Roman and Williams; and even Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen."


Text from Architectural Digest, click here to read more