Beyond the Edge_01Landscape

As professional practice becomes more collaborative, so must approaches to practice and academia. Meaningful mentorship can establish a sense of culture, encourage explorations in design, and facilitate rapid growth for employees at all levels. SWA Laguna Beach has committed to creating successful public/private partnerships in order to leverage mentorship through outreach, education, and giving back to the landscape architecture community.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Laguna Beach office and the department of landscape architecture at Cal Poly Pomona are collaborating to expand the design curriculum and deliver an intensely focused and tailored experience that closes the real-world gap for students. The SWA Studio is centered on large-scale urban design projects. The partnership grounds a studio agenda in professional culture and expertise while helping students to develop their creative process, technical discourse and applied thinking. By linking the professional and academic worlds through design exploration, the partnership also creates the perfect academic laboratory to test urban design ideas of significant commercial, cultural, and environmental impact.

For SWA, this process is an ideal way to reinvigorate practice and strengthen the connection to design-based academic research while supporting the growth of our culture and staff. For the students, this collaboration is an invaluable educational and professional development experience. The exposure and relationships they gain by interacting with SWA principals and associates is very unique in the academic environment, and provides professional resources, networks, and experience for an unparalleled level of mentorship and commitment.

The 2018 professional-academic collaboration, Beyond the Edge: Water + Urbanism in Wuhan, is officially underway. Along with Cal Poly Pomona, this partnership has expanded to include Huazhong University of Science and Technology’s department of landscape architecture in Wuhan, China. The studio collects 20 students from CPP and 20 students from HUST who are divided into six teams made up equally from each university. The teams are assigned one of two project sites to research and design: the Yangtze River Waterfront and the Huxi River, at HUST’s Campus. Both projects are focused around issues of water and urbanism.

In order to make a studio collaboration in China possible, SWA was required to provide funding for a field trip to visit the project areas and cultural sites, as well as facilitate a workshop with HUST students and faculty. SWA reached out to various industry partners to solicit donations on behalf of the students and successfully raised funds from a generous group of vendors, contractors, and designers. Their support allowed for a 10-day excursion to China to visit Wuhan and Shanghai, resulting in a successful, sponsored studio experience that won’t be forgotten.

CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO JOURNEY in 90 seconds, or follow us on Instagram @swa_laguna or by using the hashtag #swa2018wuhan for more insights into the studio and China travel experience.

Pavel Petrov is a designer in our Laguna Beach studio.

A special thanks to our donors who made this memorable experience a reality:




mm cite

Pierre Landscape



Bison Innovative Products


id metalco




Shaw & Sons






Coast Recreation


David Silverman & Associates

Dynamo Playgrounds

Forms + Surfaces

Glasir Design

Landscape Structures


Sweeney & Associates

Hunter Industries

Modern Outdoor

Tri-C Natural Soilutions


Netafim USA



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