Mark Wessels

What do you do at PGAdesign?

I work on a wide range of projects with a focus on streetscapes, waterfronts, and urban public space. I am trained as a landscape designer and an arborist, and I work to preserve and establish healthy trees in challenging urban situations.

Where did you go to school?

I received a Master in Landscape Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in Neuroscience from Oberlin College. I also studied landscape horticulture at Merritt Community College and hold an arborist certification from the International Society of Arboriculture.

What is your favorite landscape space and why?

My favorite landscape is a secret hot spring near Stinson Beach, CA, that only exists during extreme low tides. Hidden at the base of a sheer, rocky cliff at the edge of the Pacific, the hot spring is usually submerged under the ocean. I love this place because it’s a protected pocket of warmth set against a rugged backdrop, existing only for a couple of days each year.

Why did you decide to go into landscape architecture?

I was working as an arborist maintaining urban trees in the Bay Area when I realized the power of trees to transform urban space. I see landscape architecture as a powerful tool to build better, more equitable cities.

What do you enjoy most about landscape architecture?

I love the idea that we can work together to imagine an urban future that is equitable, sustainable, and beautiful. I love the back and forth between visionary and practical, art and science, technical and emotional.

What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

I was a circus performer in a previous life and still enjoy training in Chinese acrobatics. I also love to travel, play music, and cook.

Are there any landscape spaces you feel deserve more attention?

I’m obsessed with the narrow landscape elements that tie our cities together. I think our city streets, urban creeks, and waterfronts deserve to be designed as corridors of public space. Taken together, these narrow corridors of public space can transform how we move through and experience the city.