McCullough Landscape Architecture creates positive places

Posted: May 5th, 2017 | Art on the Land, Columnists, Featured | No Comments

By Delle Willett | Art on the Land

David McCullough opened McCullough Landscape Architecture, Inc., in June of 1999 with a vision of creating passionate design and user-oriented spaces. “My goal is to create positive, comfortable places for people to live, work and play,” he said.

With offices located at 703 16th St. in San Diego’s East Village, McCullough Landscape Architecture is staffed by two landscape architects and nine support and technical staff. More than 50 percent of their portfolio consists of projects Downtown, Uptown and in the Point Loma area.

David and Catherine McCullough (Photo by Mike Torrey)

David, 48, was motivated to open his own business because he always felt that he could have a larger impact on the world around him as owner of a landscape architecture firm rather than as an employee.

His wife, Catherine, helped form the firm from the sidelines while she worked as marketing director of shopping centers for Westfield Corp. She joined the firm in 2001 while David was a sole proprietor for just over two years and they incorporated shortly after she came on board.

As president/CEO, Catherine runs the operations of the firm: marketing, business development, finance and human resources.

She has successfully increased the firm’s image through a social media and content-marketing plan, along with sponsorships and advertising.

As principal landscape architect, David runs the design house and supervises all project managers.

A big picture thinker, David said, “I’m always exploring ideas that push the envelope outside of the normal realm of a landscape architect.”

Within the last few years, McCullough Landscape Architecture has been hired as the on-call campus landscape architecture firm for San Diego State University (SDSU) and has significantly increased its higher-education portfolio.

“Piece by piece, we are working to significantly transform the SDSU campus. We have also recently completed two of three larger projects around the campus core of Mesa College,” he said. The third is currently under construction and at completion will dramatically transform the campus as a whole.

The firm has also done work at SDHS. (Courtesy McCullough Landscape Architecture, Inc.)

Another project that the McCulloughs are especially excited about is the San Diego High School modernization. After the successful passing of Proposition I in the recent election, allowing for the high school to renew the lease of the Balboa Park land from the city, the San Diego Unified School District has begun the process to eventually update the campus.

Currently, the design team is working with the district to conduct pre-schematic Design Task Force meetings to begin in the coming months to collect input from students, parents, staff, neighbors and community members for future plans. For more information on these meetings, email the district at

David and Catherine are especially honored to take part in this project since both of their children attend the school, and they believe in the high school’s premier standards in education.

In addition to campus landscape architecture, the firm has been recognized for a large amount of hospitality work both in San Diego and around the world, as well as retail, mixed-use and communities in the Southern California region.

The Sixth Avenue Henry Hester Apartment Building in Bankers Hill (Courtesy McCullough Landscape Architecture, Inc.)

The McCulloughs are most proud of winning an Orchid Award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation program for David’s work on the revitalization of the Sixth Avenue Henry Hester Apartment Building in Bankers Hill. “This is one of my personal favorite buildings and landscape in San Diego. It was designed by one of San Diego’s most notable modern architects, Henry Hester,” David said.

Self-described as a very passionate landscape architect, David truly believes that what he does on a daily basis is and should always be in anticipation for a better, healthier human experience. “I am not concerned about a legacy for myself, but I am concerned about leaving behind a better world than the world I was born into,” he said.

What Catherine enjoys most about her role in the firm is helping to further their family business. “I believe our staff, led by my husband, can make an impact on our built environment and am happy to support in making our community a better place,” she said.

David has been an active member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, San Diego chapter, serving as a past president and serving on a variety of committees.

He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1992 with a degree in Landscape Architecture, and moved to San Diego from Camarillo, California, in 1994. Catherine has a degree in marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in 1992 and spent most of her childhood and adolescent years in the Orange County city of Yorba Linda.

The McCulloughs live in North Park with their two children, Will (16) and Molly (14), their dog, Roxy, and two cats, Sunny and JellyBean.

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

Leave a Comment