Evan MacGregor

What do you do at PGAdesign?

I am an Associate at PGAdesign. I manage various projects ranging from large multi-family housing developments to downtown streetscape renovations.

What do you like about the firm?

I greatly value PGAdesign’s longstanding local presence in the Bay Area. As a person who grew up here and who has a strong sense of local pride, I feel very lucky to work for a firm that has such deeply rooted and strong ties to the local community.

Where did you go to school?

I have studied landscape architecture at both UC Berkeley and Merritt College. My education provided me with a very well-rounded foundation for my career in this profession. The theoretical approach of UC Berkeley’s program and the hands-on approach of Merritt’s have given me the capacity to simultaneously think very critically and very practically about the spaces I design.

What is your favorite landscape space and why?  

I love streets. Particularly ones with lots of pedestrians, ample seating areas, and lots of shops and restaurants.

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

Something that I noticed very early on in my career in landscape architecture was how many of my life interests became incorporated with my work. Everything from hiking, traveling, building, people watching, drawing, and so much more immediately informed my inspiration and beliefs as a designer.

Why did you decide to go into landscape architecture?

I decided to go into landscape architecture because I wanted to combine my knowledge of plants and construction with my design ability to develop creative solutions to issues of climate change and social justice.

What do you enjoy most about landscape architecture?

I love that I am in the position to create places that bring people together and in contact with the natural elements. I find the idea of providing a landscape in which people can formulate fond memories and appreciate the tiny little moments of life enormously inspiring.

What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

I love to hike and explore the outdoors; to see new plants and wildlife and expansive views, and appreciate the complexity of life that has developed through time. I also love to travel and marvel at the diversity of cultures and their food, music, and architecture.

What’s your favorite recreation spot?

Lake Merritt would be my go-to. I live about a block away and am always amazed at how much it has to offer to so many people. It really is a real workhorse of a park, yet it can also be the most relaxing place to spend an afternoon with friends.

What’s your favorite hiking trail?

Tennessee Valley Trailhead to Muir Beach is a longtime favorite of mine. Steep Ravine on Mt. Tam can be incredibly beautiful, especially when the fog rolls in. The MacDonald Trail between Bort Meadow and MacDonald Gate in Anthony Chabot Regional Park is probably my favorite in the East Bay.

What’s your favorite urban spot?

Latham Square in Oakland is a great place to eat lunch. It is surrounded by some great historical buildings, has great midday sun, and has a great sense of place.

Are there any landscape spaces you feel deserve more attention?

Streets. We spend more time in them in any other type of landscape, and they have so much potential to be wonderful places for us to gather. I really believe that the pedestrian alleys of the ancient cities of the world are some of the most enjoyable places to be, and I believe we can achieve a lot by working to recapture their essence.

What was your favorite book you’ve read lately?

Currently, I’m reading Michael Pollan’s How To Change Your Mind and really enjoying it.

What was your favorite recent vacation?

I went to Greece with my wife last year and we were blown away at what an incredible place it is. It is amazing at how layered the history of the place is. It is also just painstakingly beautiful, particularly the islands. It is about the most wonderful place in the world that I have been to so far to do absolutely nothing.

If you could meet anyone, not bound by time or place, who would it be?

Engineer and physicist Nikola Tesla (1956-1943). I think he would have a lot of advice to offer in our attempt to transition to renewable energy. He made dozens of breakthroughs in the production and application of electric power.