Design Process

Our landscape architectural services are organized around the process of understanding the client’s wishes and needs, overlaid with an inclusive analysis of the site conditions, architecture, design parameters and the end goals for the project. We approach each project with fresh eyes and open ears, allowing for a deep, foundational understanding of the influencing factors. With each step in the process, we are building on an accumulated knowledge base, inspired by a deep understanding of the site and open communication with the owner, design team and builders.

We engage a design process rooted in a thorough understanding of the site and active collaboration with the owner and design team. The process begins by exploring and documenting the natural and contextual influences that will lay the foundation for the landscape design to come. While each site is unique, the primary influences typically include views, climate and aspect, site hydrology (stormwater), soil, existing vegetation, topography, and historical influences. We interpret all of these factors, along with the owner’s program and architecture, to inform innovative and sustainable design solutions.

Experience + Vision

Michael is the Founder and Design Principal of BLA. With over 25 years of professional experience designing award-winning landscapes, Michael brings an exceptionally keen, grounded and expansive vision to every site. Michael takes an active role in all projects and is passionate for creating site-responsive landscapes that reveal the latent, elemental beauty of a place, while inviting deep personal enjoyment and a sense of home within it. Michael’s deeply attuned presence to each landscape yields delightfully nuanced and unpredictable design expressed in moments of boldness as well as exquisite subtlety. The intuitive California modern landscapes that Michael creates belong to a legacy of landscape architectural design defined by a marriage of timeless functionality with robust sensuality. A California native, Michael studied at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he received the Award of Merit for excellence in his field. As a licensed landscape architect, Michael prides himself on being a well-balanced collaborator, practicing impeccable communication with project teams, and exceeding client expectations with the delivery of exceptional service and innovative design solutions.


Managing Principal | RLA 6388, ASLA

Jessica is a licensed landscape architect and artist with over a decade of experience in professional practice through which she enjoys helping cultivate a sense of kinship and belonging to nature, place, and each other. Her dedication to creating beautiful, meaningful, and nourishing landscapes in central and northern California springs from her deep affection for the bold beauty and intricate subtlety of these beloved coastlines.
A breadth of experience in sustainable land use planning, ecological restoration, civic, commercial, and residential design informs her practice, gained through past work at Rana and The Johnson Hill Land Ethics Studio. Most recently, Jessica’s work through her own practice at JMLA includes residential as well as interpretive design. In addition to project management, Jessica helps oversee growth and vision for the firm while upholding BLA’s core values, team culture, and wellness.

Senior Landscape Architect | RLA, ASLA

Brian joined BLA in 2019 where he exudes his passion for the profession, executes complex and sophisticated projects with ease and excitement, mentors junior staff, and oversees high standards of excellence for the firm. Brian received his education at the Knowlton School of Architecture at The Ohio State University. Upon graduating with Design Honors, Brian moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to commence his career with the renowned Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. Brian’s passion and interpretations of the land were heavily influenced and molded throughout his time in Cambridge. After seven years in Cambridge, Brian relocated to raise a family in Vermont. There, he dedicated thirteen years as a Design and Studio Director at the office of Shepard Butler Landscape Architecture. While in Vermont, Brian solidified his design niche, and expanded his experimentations. His work can be described as soulful, meaningful, and exploratory. Brian has received numerous academic, local, and national design awards for his residential and civic work over the past 20+ years. He has been a guest studio critic at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, Boston Architectural College, and Vermont Technical College. Brian is a licensed Landscape Architect and enjoys standing in open fields, gardening, furniture design, surfing, and being a Dad.

Landscape Designer | ASLA

Jae's focus and love for Landscape Architecture is directed towards sustainability and how it shapes and influences the quality of life. He enjoys designing sustainable, functional, and aesthetic residential landscapes at BLA, since he became a wonderful part of the team in 2019 after completing his Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. Jae loves to be outdoors and to do hand sketches of the landscape. He enjoys bringing ideas and visions that begin on paper into reality, and taking part in design from conceptualization to construction details. He appreciates the spectrum of high-end residential projects that BLA shoulders, and loves how the firm approaches projects at a variety of different scales and programs through the lens of sustaining healthy ecology.​ Outside of the office, Jae enjoys cooking, photography, soccer, basketball, and bowling.

Senior Landscape Designer

Owen began his professional experience with KMCM and FRC Design Studio where he focused on high-end residential and civic landscape projects. He quickly emerged as a talented designer within these offices before moving to Illinois in 2013 to pursue a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. During his graduate study, he received the ASLA Honor Award (Illinois Chapter) for excellence in designing the Vermillion Riverfront Landscape for the City of Danville. Owen relocated to the Monterey Peninsula in 2015 and fell in love with its robust, coastal landscape. After years of collaboration with Michael, Owen has developed into invaluable member of the team, both in design and overall direction of studio operations. Owen is well-studied in the history of classical Asian gardens and has published articles in garden history and garden accessories which explore historical and philosophical contexts of human nature. Owen’s work in the area has cultivated a passion for outdoor furniture design. His eye for detail, composition, and sense of place are well showcased in his custom work for site-specific furnishings.

Landscape Designer | ASLA

Morgan initiated her career in Landscape Architecture with BLA in 2020. Her passion for landscape design comes from a desire to honor wildlife and ecology through sustainable and ethical design, while creating outdoor spaces for people to enjoy nature. She finds a deeper meaning through design when people feel a sense of harmony within nature. This philosophy drove her to pursue her career at California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo, where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture. Morgan loves to explore natural environments to better understand the harmonious way plants live and how she can replicate it within a designed landscape. The opportunity within residential design allows her to push the boundary into a more sustainable and ecology focused future where plant communities, wildlife, and people can all enjoy the same spaces. When she is not designing, Morgan enjoys hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, and creating jewelry.