The Nexus of Smart Growth and Landscape Architecture

Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes celebrated one year of business this past week. It has been a tremendous year and great strides have been made in building a foundation of business for several years to come.  I have been asked over this past year on a few occasions my ambitions for the business, with the misperception that ‘it is just a temporary option.’  I have assured each that this is not the case, and that business ownership has been an ambition of mine since I was halfway through college at Kansas State University. From the questions that I hear, it seems that I have been categorized with others who involuntarily started a business without an option.  For me, it was a calculated choice to leave a stable company in pursuit of a greater dream during what has been considered to be the Great Recession.  The long-term options seemed much greater in business ownership than to remain in a state of pay cuts as an employee.  It turned out that my calculations paid off as an entrepreneur.

In honor of the completion of the first year in business, I have adopted a new tagline for what the company has been built upon: The Nexus of Smart Growth and Landscape Architecture.

The following are the goals and ambitions that I have set for the company to continue to be a leader in the Pikes Peak Region:

1.       Organization Structure: At this time, the company is structured as a Sole Proprietorship.  The sole proprietorship structure has been the logical structure for year one; however there have been times where I have considered adding staff.  In 2011, I will continue to consider this and at which time that I feel it becomes a benefit to my clients, I will change the structure of the company to a Limited Liability Company (or LLC).  My long-term goal for the company is to remain as a boutique company with less than 10 employees.

2.       SustainabilityI have continued to participate in regional efforts to push for holistic sustainability.  The most notable of these efforts was in participating with Sustainable Fort Carson, considered to be at the forefront of sustainability in the Pikes Peak Region.  At Fort Carson, I assist with the group in implementing its sustainability goals through awareness and design review.  I am also participating with the Installation’s Housing developer, Balfour Beatty, in low water-use landscape alternatives to the conventional high water/ high maintenance Kentucky Bluegrass.  In some instances, this is a retrofit which will save Fort Carson’s Housing money and improve the appearance of the otherwise neglected landscape.

3.       Advocacy: Advocacy for smart growth and continued awareness has been a passion of mine since moving to Colorado Springs.  The blog that I have developed in conjunction with my company is certainly a byproduct of this passion.  As a business owner, I have increased the amount of advocacy that I provide for the community in the first year of business through the multitude of non-profit organizations in which I participate.  I remain as a major advocate for the principles of Smart Growth and New Urbanism statewide as the Treasurer for CNU Colorado.  As a part of CNU Colorado, I will be giving a presentation on context-sensitive landscapes at the Smart Growth for Small Towns and Rural Communities Workshop in Downtown Salida on April 8.  In addition, I continued my service to the Downtown Review Board and also accepted a nomination to become the Vice Chair of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority.  Over the upcoming years, I will continue to provide input regarding holistic sustainability to the region as a whole.

4.       Landscape Architecture: In year one, I had the honorable opportunity to provide landscape architectural services for an amazing Denver-based architectural & engineering company, EVstudio.  EVstudio, for those who are not aware, is an incredible full-service architectural and engineering company that has emerged and expanded in an economic climate when most companies have suffered tremendous losses.

5.       Smart Growth: Smart Growth is and always will remain a pivotal part of how my company will prevail.  As an introduction for my company, I was asked to participate with the Collaborative Design Group in a competition for the Catalytic Downtown Design Competition for Downtown Castle Rock.  The team was selected by the City of Castle Rock as one of four teams from an impressive list of national firms to compete.  We are currently in the process of finalizing our drawings and imagery for the competition with all intentions of winning the grand prize.  Another Smart Growth effort currently under way for my company is an infill project in Arvada, Colorado where a previously commercially-zoned property is being rezoned and developed as attached single-family residential.

 It has been a fantastic year for the company where I have achieved more than I had originally imagined.  I look forward to working with you in year two of Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes!

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1 Comment

  1. At noon each day, a prior blog post is re-posted with the tag #BlogArchive on Twitter, Facebook & Linked In. As I was going through, this post came up and I took the opportunity to review it almost one year later.
    1. Organizational Structure: I have created an LLC for Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes. The LLC for the company will become active at the beginning of 2012 and will act as an entity of ownership for EVstudio Planning LLC. (See Post: Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes is Soon to be EVstudio Planning, LLC: http://olsonplanning.com/2011/11/17/olson-planning-and-urban-landscapes-is-now-evstudio-planning-llc/ )
    2. Sustainability: I continue to serve Fort Carson’s civilians and soldiers as a Sustainability Planner. I treasure this experience, and was recently honored by Fort Carson with an Award at the Colorado Sustainability Conference.
    3. Advocacy: Advocacy continues to be a pivotal mission for me in Colorado Springs. In addition to the items listed above, I am also serving the Mayor of Colorado Springs on the Streetscape Solutions Team.
    4. Landscape Architecture: This year has been a tremendous year for landscape architecture. It has been a pleasure to serve EVstudio as an affiliate and am extremely excited to move Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes to EVstudio Planning LLC. This past year, we provided landscape architecture services for a Main Street in Killeen, TX (http://evstudio.info/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/CHOP-Rendering-lores.jpg) and have recently secured and commenced another large project in Colorado Springs.
    5. Smart Growth: The Collaborative Design Group is still in place. The Castle Rock project actually received First Place from the American Institute of Building Designers for a National Planning Award. I will continue to participate with CDG under the name EVstudio Planning, LLC.

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