Landscape Architecture Firm SWA Group Names 2 Principals, 3 Associates; Two Partners Named Fellows of the ASLA

Nathanial Owings Award for Environmental Excellence also Noted for SWA’s California Academy of Sciences Design

SAUSALITO – SWA Group, one of world’s leading landscape architecture, planning and urban design firms, announced today naming two people as Principals of the firm, David Gal in SWA’s Laguna Beach office and Chih-Wei Lin in Sausalito.  Three new Associates include Michael Hee and Natalie Sandoval in Los Angeles and Jessica Bacorn in Houston.

Chih-Wei Lin

SWA also announced two principals who are being named Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and that the firm was honored with a first-ever award from the California Architectural Foundation.

Gerdo Aquino, President and Principal of the firm in Los Angeles, and David Berkson, a Principal in Laguna Beach, will be honored in September as Fellows of the ASLA. They are among only 33 members elevated to the 2012 ASLA Council of Fellows, one of the highest honors in the profession.

SWA Group’s work on the highly-successful California Academy of Sciences, designed by architect Renzo Piano, was awarded the first Nathanial Owings Award from the California Architectural Foundation. It recognizes excellence in honor of Owings, a venerated founder of SOM Architects, and reflects his spirit in the “meaningful cooperation with nature as well as with one another.”

SWA’s promotions include:

David Gal

Principal David R. Gal, ASLA, is a registered Landscape Architect with over 25 years of professional experience in design, project management, and site observation.  He joined SWA in 2005, and specializes in Construction Administration for the firm throughout the Middle East, China and the U.S.  He received his Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and BSLA degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.  Recent notable projects include work on the Tower Park at the base of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai; and Main Street at Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City, CA.

Principal Chih-Wei Lin, who joined SWA in 2003, is a licensed landscape architect in California active in landscape design throughout the U.S and internationally. She received a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Harvard School of Design, and has worked on recent projects including the Stanford University Campus Center, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Beth El Sanctuary, SIP Administrative Center, Suzhou Center, Ningbo East Town Eco-Corridor, Pearl River Tower, Bangalore Varthur Residences and Jakarta Senayan Square.

Associate Michael Hee joined SWA in 2008, and specializes in Construction Administration and project management.  Hee received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree and Sustainable Environments minor from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. His projects/professional interests include innovative materials and detailing, implementation, and natural systems represented by work in Southern California and China.

Associate Natalie Sandoval joined SWA in 2008, with an interest in landscape architecture.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from Bard College in New York and later took landscape architecture classes at UCLA extension in Los Angeles. Her professional interests include public projects in Los Angeles, the Complete Streets Initiative, and parklets that utilize tiny spaces for park respites.

Associate Jessica Bacorn joined SWA in 2007, and specializes in landscape architecture.  A graduate of Louisiana State University, she has projects and interests including large scale design work in the Middle East represented by her work in Dubai, Cairo, Saudi Arabia, and most recently the Lusail community in Doha, Qatar.

SWA Group (, established in 1957, is an international landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm with offices in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, CA, Sausalito, CA, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston and Shanghai. Since its inception, SWA Group has worked in over 60 countries, and its projects have garnered more than 600 awards.

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