For more than six decades, SWA has been recognized as one of the world’s design leaders in the fields of landscape architecture, planning, and urban design. With nearly 250 firm members, SWA benefits from a highly experienced brain trust. At the core of our work is a passion for imaginative, solution-oriented design that adds value to land, buildings, cities, regions, and to people’s lives.
SWA was originally founded in 1957 as Sasaki Walker & Associates, and in 1973, became one of the first companies on the West Coast to be owned by an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP): a vehicle that has resulted in the company becoming 100% employee-owned.
Despite being one of the largest firms of its type in the world, SWA is organized into smaller studio-based offices that enhance creativity and client responsiveness. Each studio has the autonomy to procure work unique to their interests and conduct research into professional studies that align with their expertise.
Over 75 percent of our work has historically come from repeat clients. In addition to bringing strong aesthetic, functional, and social design ideas to our projects, we’re also committed to integrating principles of environmental sustainability.
Landscape Architecture – Landscape architecture at SWA involves the design of landscapes at a variety of scales—from large, multi-functional sites to small, intimate spaces. Innovative research into materials, lifestyles and landscape technologies coupled with a deep understanding of how people use outdoor spaces informs our unique design process. SWA’s landscape architectural work has received worldwide recognition for its innovative excellence.
Planning – SWA provides land planning and master planning, and we integrate high-level landscape architecture into our planning work. Our plans make sensitive use of topography, landform, natural resources, vegetation, infrastructure, and buildings, resulting in more livable and sustainable projects. This approach can nurture new directions for the master planning of communities, campuses, workplaces, civic and commercial districts, transit-oriented developments, waterfronts, recreation, and natural system restoration. As needed, we pull together teams of consultants ranging from engineers to scientists whose collective experience complements our own. SWA’s award-winning planning work is recognized for creating exceptional places.
Urban Design – Urban design at SWA involves the systematic layering of various cultural and natural systems in order to solve design issues of the city. As with planning, we integrate high-level landscape architecture into our urban design work. Whether it’s decaying infrastructure, a prominent urban district, high-density living, a river corridor, heavily used public spaces, or a series of transit stations, urban design requires a sophisticated understanding of integrating nature into dense urban environments. The multi-functional character of urban design is the key to its success. SWA excels in this regard, and our success can be measured by the quality of our implemented projects around the world.
We are an ideas-first firm. Our designers are driven to create and seek out ideas at each step. We thrive on collaboration; we know great ideas come from a multitude of sources. Experience has taught us that great design is rooted in equal parts innovation, sustainability, and stewardship. Our work is fiscally and environmentally responsible from inception.
We partner with clients to create vibrant places that are at once ecologically resilient, aesthetically compelling and socially beneficial.
From the smallest details at a boutique resort to the large-scale interventions of a multi-layered, eco-corridor in urbanized China, our approach reflects a sensibility that is both pragmatic and imaginative, uniting beauty with purpose in the natural and built environments.
The results are livable, enduring places that are compatible with and considerate of natural ecosystems. We draw on the strengths of both the natural and the human-made environment, and create guidelines to ensure that the attributes that attracted people to a place in the first place will still be there to enjoy many years later.
Published on May 24, 2023