Ellen Monroe

What do you do at PGAdesign? 

I work on a variety of projects in all stages of the design and construction process. I’m especially excited about designing spaces for play that bring joy to visitors of all ages, and moving beyond the ADA codes to create radically accessible landscapes.

What do you like about the firm? 

PGAdesign is a group of knowledgeable, creative people who approach their work with kindness and humor. Our office is at a size where we can stay agile and connected, while taking on interesting, ambitious projects. I’m drawn to PGAdesign’s long history in the Bay Area, and focus on projects that many people can use.

Where did you go to school? 

I earned an Associate’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Merritt College. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College, where I studied Studio Art and Landscape Studies.

What is your favorite type of landscape space?  

I love small, informal spaces and trails. Whether it’s a secret staircase, a desire path worn through a lawn, a DIY art installation, a parking-lot skate park, a makeshift shade structure, or raised beds in a neighbor’s front yard, these spots reflect how people really experience and interact with their environment.

What do you enjoy most about landscape architecture?

Each project is different, and I learn something new every day. I enjoy collaborating with professionals in other disciplines and incorporating the knowledge and feedback of community members into our work.

Working in landscape architecture challenges me to look closely at outdoor spaces, and think about their potential to sustain or divide neighborhoods. Landscape architecture’s position at the intersection of design and science means the field is well positioned to develop creative solutions for addressing a rapidly changing climate. We have an incredible opportunity—and responsibility—to create more resilient spaces that promote equity.

What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

I love sketching with friends, exploring new places (whether it’s by foot, bike, public transit, or car), and experimenting with different plants in my garden.

What was your favorite book you’ve read lately?

I’m a huge sci-fi fan, so during the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis, I returned to Octavia Butler’s Parables series for insights on living in a post-normal world.