James A. Lord and Roderick Wyllie of Surfacedesign, “Wet + Dry: Landscapes of Resilience and Material Exploration”

Lush garden with a stone pathway leading to an opening in the hedge.

A recording of this event is available with audio description.

Event Description

Surfacedesign is a landscape architecture and urban design firm based in San Francisco, California. This internationally award-winning practice focuses on creating dynamic parks, campuses, plazas, waterfronts, civic landscapes and private gardens. The firm’s approach emphasizes and celebrates the unique context and imaginative potential of each project. The studio’s design process is rooted in asking novel questions and listening to a site and its users – a process that has led to engaging and inspiring landscapes that are rugged, contemporary, and crafted.

Increasingly, water has become a central focus of all landscape interventions. Holistic, systems-based design thinking that actively engages water extremes—from drought to flooding/sea level rise— is at the core of Surfacedesign’s practice. Challenging the formal manifestations of municipal guidelines and standards for water management, each project engages water as an integral design element. James and Roderick will share a range of work from the residential to the infrastructural. These works celebrate water systems and explore how planting, topography and cultural narratives can reinforce water resiliency.


Headshot of James Lord.James A. Lord, FASLA 
Partner, Surfacedesign Inc 

James A. Lord is a founding partner of Surfacedesign, Inc. James’ innovative design approach and stewardship of the firm’s design practice has established Surfacedesign as an international leader in urban design and sustainability. He leads projects in New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. James received his MLA from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and his BARCH from the University of Southern California.  

Headshot of Roderick Wyllie.Roderick Wyllie, FASLA
Partner, Surfacedesign Inc 

Roderick Wyllie is an award-winning landscape architect and a founding partner of Surfacedesign, Inc. Roderick has led a variety of complex projects within the office, including the Uber Campus in Mission Bay, San Francisco’s Bayfront Park, The Land’s End Visitor Center, The Barnacles at Pier 9 and Expedia Global Headquarters in Seattle. His horticultural knowledge and passion for material authenticity reinforce craftsmanship and attention to detail into each project at Surfacedesign. 

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