Increasing awareness in the sanctity of life

Posted: July 7th, 2017 | Art on the Land, Columnists, Featured | 1 Comment

By Delle Willett | Art on the Land

“Our creativity and innovative applications continue to result in award-winning landscapes with a genuine ‘spirit of place,’” said San Diego landscape architect David Reed.

Reed’s first year studying engineering at Rutgers was very difficult; while he managed to survive, he became very disenchanted.

Casa del Rey Moro Gardens historic reconstruction, Balboa Park

“Then I met some bohemian-type guys who were doing fascinating drawings,” Reed recalled. “I said, ‘What is this?’ and the most bohemian one of them said, ‘Hey man, this is landscape architecture.’

David Reed, principal of David Reed Landscape Architects

“I was hooked,” he said. “What I didn’t realize at the time was that, since I grew up spending most of my youthful time in a park designed by the Olmsted Brothers, I had already been greatly influenced by the magic of landscape.”

Reed changed his major at Rutgers to landscape architecture, and graduated cum laude in 1972.

Forty-five years later, he still believes the landscape can be a very special and powerful place.

“I view my art and profession of landscape architecture as a vehicle for improving not just the quality of life, but increasing the awareness of its sanctity,” he said.

Reed has been practicing landscape architecture in San Diego since 1980 and founded his own firm — David Reed, Landscape Architects ( — in 1982.

He started his company at the height of the “stagflation” era when he was laid off with the rest of the staff.

“I had a little ‘side job’ of my own,” he said. “One thing led to another and here we are.”

Now, with seven full-time employees, the award-winning firm has gained a reputation for excellence in all aspects of the landscape architecture profession, and is known for their high-end creative design for difficult projects, custom hardscape, parks, and habitat re-vegetation, highly detailed construction documents, extensive knowledge of masonry and horticulture.

In the early days, Reed spent several years as an apprentice to master carpenters and stone masons, working under Eleanor Pedersen, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright. His extensive construction experience helps facilitate the implementation process on every project.

“Careful site planning and the command of elements, such as stone, water, wood and plant life collaborate to evoke that sense of unique spirit in each landscape,” he said.

He also spent time as an apprentice at Pacific Beach Gardens and worked as a gardener in La Jolla; his horticulture experience is often sought after by colleagues and even nursery personnel.

Reed studies the natural environment wherever he finds it and has become well versed in both the native and cultivated flora of California. For over three and a half decades, his firm has created beautiful landscapes that continue to thrive.

The Harbor Club Sixth floor roof gardens renovation

The firm’s reputation has earned them design projects in prestigious venues like San Diego’s Crown Jewel, Balboa Park — including the successful completion of the new plaza for the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center at the Old Globe; the Veterans Memorial Garden; the historic reconstruction of the Casa del Rey Moro Gardens; and most recently, work at the Mingei International Museum.

“Our work runs the entire gamut of the built works, from large-scale habitat restoration and re-vegetation to research facilities, streetscapes, parks and plazas, ecclesiastical work, HOA renovations, and custom residential projects,” he said.

Reed remains the sole principal of his firm, though he is looking to expand. For 32 years, his offices were in Little Italy, but two years ago he moved the business to 3585 Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest.

His long-range goals are to work on his company’s succession plan, start on his “bucket list” and toil in his own garden at his home in San Carlos near Lake Murray, where he lives with his wife, Carolyn.

He has also been editing his book, “Uphill and into the Wind,” chronicled in journals, from his 5,420-mile bicycle ride across the U. S. to study its natural history and flora first hand. Watch for it on the New York Times best-seller list.

—Delle Willett has been a marketing and public relations professional for over 30 years, with an emphasis on conservation of the environment. She can be reached at

One Comments

  1. Mo Bailey says:

    Great article. Love this type of landscape – beauty and meaningful purpose. Truly an asset to San Diego!

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