By Delle Willett
Michael Brennan committed to responsible use of natural resources
Michael Brennan and his business partner, William Carson Joyce, teamed up in 2014 to launch Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture (CDLA).With offices in San Diego and Edgecomb, Maine, their boutique design firm focuses on high-end residential and commercial clients in Southern California and New England. They are also focused on community service and environmental responsibility.
“We are committed to stewardship of the land, responsible use of natural resources, appreciation of the physical landscape, and incorporation of regional materials for the betterment of the local ecology,” explained Brennan.
Walking the talk, Brennan has been a member of Uptown Planners since 2015, being an advocate for sustainable growth and greater mobility options. He was a board member for the Hillcrest Business Association for six years, working on projects including installation of the Pride Flag.
He was appointed by Todd Gloria to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and served for two years, helping craft the city’s Strategic Implementation Plan for bicycle infrastructure. He was also a member of the Uptown Community Parking District for several years, advocating for the adoption of projects that would support the mode shift away from cars and ease pressures on parking in Uptown.
He is currently a member of the Hillcrest Community Development Corporation, where he has been working on a grassroots plan with other local design professionals to create Hillcrest’s first neighborhood park on Normal Street.
Additionally, Brennan, 39 is the current volunteer president of the San Diego chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), where he says he is dedicated to “empowering and engaging the next generation of landscape architects, promoting diversity in all levels of our profession, and elevating the role of landscape architecture in the public realm.”
As part of his ASLA responsibilities, he recently went to Washington D.C. to advocate for Living Shorelines legislation, which resulted in Rep. Susan Davis becoming a sponsor in the House and Senator Kamala Harris introducing the Living Shorelines Act in the Senate. According to messages from their staff, Senator Harris’ and Rep. Davis’ interest in the bill was a direct result of ASLA advocacy efforts.
For his volunteer work, he has received many awards including Circulate San Diego’s Momentum Citizen Award in 2016 and San Diego County Bicycle Coalition’s Advocate of the Year award in 2017 for his outstanding contributions for better bicycling across the region and for leading advocacy efforts that resulted in bike lanes recently being installed along University Avenue in Hillcrest.
Said Brennan, “The completion of these bike lanes will fill the ‘gap’ in SANDAG’s regional bikeway network and will represent a big win for the community that took years of tireless advocating.”
Brennan is the landscape architect of record for the Pride Flag and Monument project that has become a Hillcrest landmark. “As a pro-bono project, I designed the plaza, the monument and championed the project through the planning and approval process in 2011 alongside the Hillcrest Business Association,” he said.
The flag was installed in 2012 and the historic monument completed the following year. Brennan partnered with the Lambda Archives to provide the historic GLBT information inscribed on the four panels of the monument.
Some of Brennan’s notable professional work includes Orchid Award-winning Sofia Lofts, a LEED platinum development centered around a renovated historic residence that has become CDLA’s new office location in Golden Hill; and Alcazar Court, the historic bungalow court renovation and SOHO preservation-award winner in the heart of Hillcrest.
Since the founding of Carson Douglas, Brennan has served as principal and partner. He is well known both internationally and locally in several publications, including Dwell and San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. As he looks ahead, he would like to live his life to the fullest.
“I want to be inspired by my work, by those around me, and to leave the world a better place than I found it,” Brennan said.
—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 firstname.lastname@example.org.