Retaining Wall.

Peter Crowley

People Matter: Peter Crowley

Peter Crowley is a storyteller through and through.

If you have the privilege of speaking with LandDesign partner and former president, Peter Crowley, about his career, he will begin by talking about his youth spent in the outdoors of a small town. Recounting one of his first memories, he says, “I vividly remember lying in the green grass, watching the jet stream of an airplane streaked across the sky, and thinking ‘I wonder where that’s going’.” It’s these details of storytelling that are reflected in Peter’s design style.

People, places and the underlying stories that connect them

Before college, Peter had never heard of landscape architecture or urban design, but he was naturally drawn to people, places and the outdoors. When he began attending the University of Georgia, he saw landscape architecture on the syllabus and decided to give it a try. After graduating, Peter worked briefly as a landscape contractor.

He credits a lot of luck and good instincts for how his story has unfolded since then. Through the second luckiest introduction of his life (the first being to his wife, Bit), Peter was introduced to LandDesign founder, Larry Best. Larry and Brad Davis’s entrepreneurial spirits and teacher mentalities were a solid match for Peter’s natural curiosity and experimentation, making the three instant friends. Since then, Peter has spent the last 39 years growing LandDesign and designing places that integrate his first interests—people and places—and the underlying stories that connect them.

Mentoring the next generation matters

Likening his design approach to weaving a tapestry, threading a beautiful narrative into a place, Peter describes how he teaches storytelling to younger landscape designers at a generational firm. “Start with the client, understand their hallmarks and the keystones of who they are. Then, understand the nature, the character of the land and the context of that place.”

But Peter doesn’t believe that a top-down approach is the best way to design. Working side-by-side with teams made up of all levels, he says, “Collaboration is the best way to bring richness to design.” Though mature as a designer, Peter never wants design to be rigid. It’s the ideation of places and the evolution of ideas that bring him joy and challenge him intellectually.

Collaboration is the best way to bring richness to design

Peter’s favorite projects utilize the elements of a place to evoke an emotional response. At times, you might even find a hint of Peter reflected in his designs. Recalling his design work on the master planned community at Willowsford, Peter talks about the idea to include a ginko grove as a marker in the landscape, “One to two weeks in late October, the ground would be covered in golden leaves, and you could lie there and look up at airplanes… and in 50 years, it would be even better than it was.”