Timelessness, simplicity and an appreciation for traditional and modern forms are how Douglas C. Smith describes the foundation of his landscape architecture approach.
Smith is the president and principal of EDSA, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Established in 1960, EDSA is a full-service planning, landscape architecture and urban design firm creating outdoor spaces headquartered in Fort Lauderdale with additional offices in Orlando, Los Angeles, Beijing and Baltimore.
The firm is widely recognized for its work in attractions and entertainment, campus and cultural planning, community planning, environmental planning and ecotourism, hotels and resorts and urban design. EDSA helped launch ecotourism by integrating tourism and nature.
Some of Smith’s featured projects include Del Webb’s Sun City Hilton Head, the Florida Nature and Culture Center, the Fort Lauderdale beach revitalization and St. James Island.
In addition to ongoing assignments in Florida and Texas, Smith and his landscape architecture team are also working in Montenegro, Mexico, and Egypt, emphasizing stewardship, human connectivity and more robust green spaces.
“The breadth of what we do is a source of personal pride,” says Smith. “We orchestrate community change, both social and environmental, while balancing very real concerns of cost, livability and aesthetics. By staying engaged in the world around us, understanding how demand is evolving and the interconnectedness of our role as land planners and designers, we are positively infl uencing daily life.”
Client mix: 48% hospitality, 25% residential, 16% urban, 7% attractions, 4% campuses
Service mix: 60% planning, 40% landscape architecture
Business motto: Create healthy living environments.
Proudest moment in landscape business: Whenever EDSA receives a planning or design industry award, it’s a source of pride for us all. This is usually recognition by your peers.
Biggest business challenge: Collecting fees is a constant challenge … and not a lot of fun.
Best sources of landscape design/build inspiration: Travel is the best inspiration and the best teacher.
Favorite plant or plant combination: We work in a lot of international locations, but I have always enjoyed the plant palette of the Mediterranean. The mix of temperate climate and tropical influences makes for a dramatic effect.
Monday morning motivation: Having a productive Monday morning sets a good tone for the rest of the week.
Business worry that keeps you up at night: Keeping EDSA on the leading edge of innovative, high-performance design is a constant challenge for the entire firm. I worry that if we let up on the constant pursuit, we will be outcompeted.
Landscape design/install mentor: Edward D. Stone Jr., founder of EDSA, was a great mentor and role model for many. It was mostly because of the way he connected with and treated everyone he encountered.
Favorite business or landscape design book: The great reference book called “1000 x Landscape Architecture” by Braun Publishing. A great compilation of well-designed and executed projects from across the globe.
Landscape design/install project that makes you smile every time you drive past it: Nearly 25 years ago, EDSA completed a revitalization of the Fort Lauderdale Beach and state road A1A corridor that has since become the visual brand of the City of Fort Lauderdale for tourism. This project has literally changed the quality of life for residents and tourists. It’s a real source of hometown pride for EDSA.
Describe your business in five years: Our mission is to continue to evolve and grow as a company. This translates to new approaches to design, new business practices and new office locations. In five years, I hope to continue to be a part of it all.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2016.
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