Chris Kent

Christopher Kent is a Principal at PGAdesign, where he enjoys working on a wide range of projects serving both public and private clients. Thirty years of practice in the Bay Area informs his experience across the spectrum of design work, including exhibit preparation, detailing and executing projects during the construction phase, and community facilitation. A highly effective communicator, Chris has a talent for engaging people in the design process, integrating their feedback into designs, and presenting solutions both elegant and functional.

Throughout his work, Chris grounds his ideas in succession and the intention of creating spaces that can endure over time. He strives to design places that encourage community and welcome the diverse audience using them, which often means leaving room for future adjustments and evolution at a site. He excels at the conceptual design process, balancing his creativity with his vast practical experience to ensure projects are buildable, maintainable, and affordable.

Chris has an extensive background leading many of PGAdesign’s transportation projects. Currently, he sits on the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commission for the City of Albany. He has formerly served as a member of the City of Albany’s Planning Commission, a member of the ASLA Government Affairs Committee, and an ASLA Trustee.

What do you do at PGAdesign?

I am a principal and one of the owners of the firm. I work on and lead many of our transportation, housing, and open-space projects.

What do you like about the firm?

We take seriously the task of designing spaces that improve the quality of life for those who use it. We work with engineers, architects, and various agencies to improve, soften, and humanize the built environment.

Where did you go to school?

I received a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

What is your favorite landscape space and why?

No matter how well we design we can’t come close to nature, so all my favorite spaces are natural. Where do I begin, it’s an impossible question, like asking who is your favorite person. I am attracted to many types of place, specifically, they include the following. Grasslands pocketed by spruce in south-central Alaska, where the grass is six feet high in late summer, extensive, almost impenetrable and with a slight wispy hush that adds to the surroundings with a mystical quality. Small ponds in deciduous forests (think Massachusetts) teaming with life, intimate, knowable. Rocky slopes of the Sierras with gnarled Foxtail Spruce. I wonder at those ancient gnarled shapes clinging to life on extreme slopes with no soil and little water. It is a rare sight.

Anything, in particular, you remember about your early days in landscape architecture?

Landscape wasn’t as integrated into projects like it is today. Nowadays urban projects are so complex, all disciplines have to be at the table early on. You can no longer just decide to shoehorn an aspect of landscape architecture into the design at the end.

Are there any landscape spaces you feel deserve more attention?

Waterfronts around the Bay. In most places, the coast hasn’t changed or recovered much from the days of fill. We now have great access with the Bay Trail but in many places, the coast is still a jumble of broken concrete. A smattering of restored areas is not significant enough to bring many native species back from the precipice. Now with sea level rise, if we don’t plan well, we may end up adding more fill in the way of levies and walls – further damaging the ecosystem and separating us from the water.