Celebrating 30 Years of Transformation
This fall marks 30 years of HGOR providing clients with solutions that have strategically transitioned places in need of revitalization, development, or analysis to become places that transform communities and enhance the social fabric of a city. As the landscape architecture and planning firm enters this 30th year of practice, a question comes to mind for the five principals.
What makes a GREAT landscape architecture firm?
Industry professionals may say it is a team whose pursuits encompass the desire to make a genuine impact on the environment and people's lives cost-effectively. While this is undoubtedly the traditional endeavor, one may wonder, "Is there more?" For HGOR, there is and always has been more!
In 1992, HGOR set out to design exceptional places for people that provide engaging social spaces and have a solid return on investment for their clients and future generations. Early on, an additional layer of guiding principles emerged, leading to a secondary part of the question. "How can a landscape architecture firm successfully craft solutions resolving specific needs of assignments to produce remarkable places of lasting value while prioritizing a solid return on investment and remaining a steward of the land?"
From day one until today, HGOR has made it a regular practice to look beyond immediate challenges to identify the possible - to incorporate inventive solutions that inspire!
As one of HGOR's first projects, Atlanta's UPS Headquarters holds great significance. This project challenged the team to discover the site's essence and locate the perfect marriage between the fragile forest ecosystem and the corporate headquarters, serving as a guide for future land-preservation projects. The firm's master planning insight earned them a National ASLA Merit Award and an ASLA SE Region President's Award in 1999, and a 1996 GA ASLA Merit Award.
"It is seldom that the final project turns out better than the plans and renderings. This one did."
- Oz Nelson, Former UPS CEO
Projects throughout these 30 years have presented numerous occasions to think outside the box, revealing HGOR's pioneering spirit. Recent notable projects illustrating this include:
- Grant Park Gateway became the World's 1st Triple Certified Project with LEED, SITES, and Parksmart Certifications demonstrating environmental design excellence in public infrastructure.
- Westside Park, Atlanta's largest park, received an Urban Design Commission Award of Excellence for Resilient Infrastructure, boasting a 35.5-acre quarry-turned-reservoir, which serves as Atlanta's major emergency water source.
- Hickory Log Creek Reservoir received a Merit Award for Analysis + Planning from the GA Chapter of ASLA, revealing the incredible value and diversity of the environment and providing sensitive solutions to the challenge of introducing passive recreation within its boundaries.
- Trilith and Assembly Atlanta, uniquely different in design, enabled HGOR the extraordinary opportunity to implement forward-thinking designs to develop an all-new type of mixed-use, film, and entertainment landscape for Georgia, expected to have dramatic positive effects on the economy.
- Gwinnett County, GA's Rowen initiative, a mixed-use research epicenter, has offered another significant accomplishment: aiming to deliver the first-ever SITES-certified roadway and a project that will likely alter the southeast region through environmentally-based site design and research discoveries.
Ultimately, what a visionary landscape architect knows and, given a chance to answer "What makes a great landscape architecture firm" today, after 30 years, the answer may bear a resemblance to the 1992 response. To make the kind of impact that, generally, landscape architects desire means: being unafraid to push past the seemingly impossible, knowing there is the potential to discover game-changing solutions; having confidence and courage to introduce unusual ideas to find they are precisely the concepts needed for site longevity; partnering with other experts who are eager to share successes and failures and work together as a unified team. A visionary landscape architect continuously seeks new strategies without losing sight of the tried-and-true. And a true visionary knows that developing great places comes from listening and understanding the client's needs.
As the firm reflects upon the past 30 years, memorable projects leading to lifelong friendships, noteworthy milestones, and surpassing numerous boundaries must also be recognized. And so, with great appreciation, HGOR celebrates the collaborations, its growth and opportunities, and the institutional knowledge gained along the way.