profile

Our work aligns daily life with the visible phenomena and the invisible systems of nature. We give shape to land and the city, and in doing so we shape lives, build communities, reinvent institutions, and enrich urban neighborhoods. We see sites for what they are and what they might become. We create landscapes of cultural consequence.

Origin

Douglas Reed and Gary Hilderbrand launched the firm in the mid-1990s to formalize years of close collaboration. Their vision of a design practice driven by investigative reason and speculative invention has drawn together a highly dedicated team of landscape architects, young designers, and staff. Based in Cambridge’s Central Square, and operating with the expanded leadership of six principals, Reed Hilderbrand is engaged in diverse commissions—urban centers, museum landscapes, academic campuses, commercial developments, and private residences—throughout North America and in Europe. More than seventy design awards distinguish this growing body of work. ASLA named Reed Hilderbrand its 2013 Landscape Architecture Firm of the Year.

Seeing

Life offers its most ennobling experiences when we perceive a deep connection with our surroundings, whether at home, or work, or in recreation or play. Our work sharpens this perception, reveals things that you otherwise wouldn’t see, and obscures what we choose to suppress in favor of that which we foreground. Our medium offers nearly infinite choices for how to engage a problem; we narrow those choices through abstraction, analysis, iteration, and informed intuition. The precedents we call upon endow our work with cultural continuity and frame significant achievements in humanist terms. We exploit nature’s phenomena and amplify its natural systems. From the kinetic dynamism of an urban plaza to the intimate sanctuary of a wildlife observatory, our works come to life for today and for generations to come.

Seeing Beyond

We are as interested in what you can see as what you cannot. Many realms and scales of the invisible conspire to imbue meaning to a landscape. In varied proportions, these include what’s beneath the surface, what came before, and what’s behind the shapes or patterns, below the horizon, past our cone of vision—all beyond sight. Of these, the most provoking and potent is the indeterminate, the future. Even as we honor a site’s design heritage or an urban neighborhood’s ethos, we are aware of a responsibility to its future. We acknowledge the implications of rapid social transformations, climate change, and pressures to use resources wisely. Though our medium is often ephemeral, we approach landscape construction with an artisan’s passion for fine craftsmanship and durability. We design for high performance. Always we aim to transcend a project’s initial goals, to contribute enduring value to a community, and to enhance the value of our environment and our culture as a whole.

Renaissance

Our work participates in a current renaissance of an American tradition of city-making in which business, infrastructure, culture, and government complement one another in union.

In 1931, the American art critic Lewis Mumford, writing on the great urban reform works of Frederick Law Olmsted and others of the late nineteenth century, refined our understanding of the landscape as a product of civilization in The Brown Decades: A Study of the Arts in America, 1865-1895:

“The influence of the land is sometimes looked upon as significant only in primitive conditions in life. With the coming of civilization—that is to say trade, manufacture, organized cities—the land is supposed to diminish in importance. As a matter of fact, the importance of the land increases with civilization. Nature, as a system of interests and activities, is one of the chief creations of civilized man.

To understand the land, to appreciate the landscape, to turn to it for recreation, to cultivate it for food and energy, to reduce it to an orderly pattern of use—these functions belong more to an advanced state of society, than they do to a primitive one.”