Chris Pattillo

What do you do at PGAdesign?

As the founding principal at PGA I see my role as helping to guide the firm and cultivate the next generation of professionals. I need to recognize good ideas and provide an environment for them to flourish.

Where did you go to school?

I received my Bachelor and Master of Landscape Architecture degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, campus.

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

I started PGAdesign working from a home-office as a sole practitioner and grew the firm gradually as I brought in new talent—always aiming to hire professionals who could do things better than I could myself. That is how we got our start with AutoCAD earlier than most firms our size.

Why did you decide to go into landscape architecture?

I chose to become a landscape architect by accident. I was about to graduate with an undergraduate degree in sociology. I had completed all the required courses but needed more units to graduate, so I could take any class I wanted. At the time I was living in a student cooperative—Sherman Hall—and a housemate suggested I take Russ Beatty’s plant ID class. That changed everything.

What do you enjoy most about landscape architecture?

What I’ve always like about the profession of landscape architecture is that it is so diverse—there are infinite ways to go with a degree in landscape architecture and myriad types of practice one can have. With each new contract there are new things to know about so you are always learning when you work as a landscape architect. For example, last year PGAdesign won a contract to do a master plan for a pioneer cemetery. I’d always been interested in cemeteries because they are a rich repository for history and also because they provide open spaces in our urban areas, but I’d never worked on one before. We teamed with another landscape firm that specializes exclusively in cemetery design. Together we made a successful team and I learned about a new aspect of the practice of landscape architecture.