Our Approach

We face tremendous challenges in the 21st century, but also have a remarkable opportunity to remake our world. The problems of environmental destruction, social inequity, and climate change are global in scope, but they will largely be addressed at the scale of the garden, the park, and the street. We can view our cities as an Urban Ecosystem, an ever-evolving synergy of culture and nature that sustains our way of life. Our work is focused on designing green infrastructure systems that change the way people think about the nature of cities. By blurring the line between what is “human” and what is “natural”, we can manage our landscapes in ways that increase the resilience, vibrance, and adaptability of our civilization. We believe the nature of cities can be a catalyst for improving and sustaining the quality of life and preparing our communities for the changing environment of the 21st century. 

We employ the tools of science, art, and design, to make strategic interventions that regenerate our urban landscape. Our approach is based on collaboration, education, and partnership. We take care to understand the needs of our clients and project stakeholders while cultivating a thorough understanding of each landscape. Every landscape is unique, and we adapt our approach to ensure that every project is well-crafted, respectful of its context, and brings new life to a place.

 

THE TEAM

SamGeer.jpg

samuel geer, MLA, MURP, Leed ap

Sam is a design professional and projective thinker dedicated to building urban landscapes that can meet the evolving needs of cities and ecosystems.  His knowledge of emerging technologies within stormwater design and geospatial mapping and analysis provide a foundation for our practice.  As Director of Operations, Sam coordinates our strategic planning efforts, project delivery, and landscape performance modeling.  Sam graduated from the University of Minnesota with Masters degrees in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning.  Sam also teaches coursework in geospatial design at the University of Minnesota's College of Design.

Email:  sam@urbanecosystemsinc.com

MK_nyc.jpg

michael keenan, ASLA

Michael is passionate about plants, water, and how people interact with them.  His knowledge of natural processes inspire the creation of dynamic gardens, landscapes, and green infrastructure systems.  As Director of Design, Michael leads our site design projects and manages our field operations.  Michael holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota.  He also teaches design studios in planting design, landscape analysis, and ecological design for the Masters of Landscape Architecture program.

Email:  michael@urbanecosystemsinc.com

DSC_0311 copy.jpg

John Koepke, RLA

John Koepke is our Principal Landscape Architect and a Professor of Landscape Architecture in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and the Department’s former chair. He has over thirty years professional experience in urban design, the planning and design of education centers, zoological gardens, interpretative centers for Native American sites, and community design workshops. His research interest focuses on culture and ecology in Native American and other communities. He currently oversees our design studio, creating dramatic drawings and visual communication, and innovative planting design and construction details.

 

RACHEL VALENZIANO

Rachel Valenziano is an Urban Ecological Designer and third year graduate student in Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota. She is passionate about dynamic geological processes that create Earth's landforms and ecosystems. Much of her interests also lie in discovering the relationships between cultural heritage, wildlife, and the built environment. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Email: Rachel@urbanecosystemsinc.com

Claire Hoffman

Claire is our field ecologist and project manager. She specializes in experiential design, wilderness landscapes, and the interwoven relationship of vernacular architecture with outdoor aesthetics. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota. Claire holds a B.S.A. from University of Minnesota Duluth in Environmental Education and has several years of wilderness guiding experience. This drives her interest for outdoor experiences and exploring our connections to nature. Claire balances her University coursework with hunting, fishing, and camping in the great state of Minnesota.