Axel and Rob had spent much of their lives in the arid southwest. Axel grew up in the New Mexico high desert and intuitively understood both the natural and cultural landscape shaped by that land. Rob had traveled the world and ended up in west Texas where the two met as landscape architecture students. Their values were shaped by the social shifts in the 1960s and 1970s. Their visions were part of a new American humanist and environmental ethos. Joined by Carol, a Wyoming native, the three molded the firm into the exemplary social and environmental studio that exists today.
Design Concepts created parks and schoolyards that replaced much of the standard irrigated sod with native grasses and flowers. Drainage problems that had previously been piped and channeled were redesigned for water to run free. They formed wetlands that became a self-sustaining environment. The school children learned and played differently. This was 1982.
The new type of park that they pioneered began to look like the nature that had existed prior to heavy handed uses. Athletic fields became irrigated oases within the re-naturalized parkscape. Nature and play became intertwined, and the need for water was much less. The drainages now ran clearer. Through this blend of native plantings, paths led to gathering spaces. No longer simply catalogue shelters stuck in mowed flatlands, inviting spaces were built where children’s play, adult athletics and natural woodlands met. Inviting architecture stood as the center of so many uses. Their parks exemplified classic social hubs that draw people together. In the early eighties this re-use of historical form was quite revolutionary.
Rob, Axel, and Carol stood behind their principles of environment, people, society and built places. Thirty-five years later, Design Concepts still maintains this focus which interestingly is now more mainstream. We continue to explore and look forward to the next generation of innovation.