Our Mission

At the APDW studio, we believe that design is about the enhancement of human experience and the integration of natural and man-made systems to create beautiful, resilient and eco-literate places.

Our work is grounded in design thinking and sustainable systems as a way of practice.

A Holistic Vision – Design matters . Nature matters . Humanity matters

The passion of our firm is based on the belief that design matters, nature matters, humanity matters. We are passionate weavers of story and place to create meaningful spaces that contribute to the environmental, cultural, and social fabric of the community. The firm’s philosophy includes the combination of sound science with visionary ideas to push the design envelope and design with nature– design that is a fusion of nature, art, technology, and science.  We celebrate the merging of images with ideas to create the foundation for design – the seed of a future project to be developed with our client and design team.  We use tools such as storytelling, sketching and 3D modeling to communicate an instant reality that adds cache and believability.

At APDW, we do not just create landscapes, we create places: outdoor rooms, environments for living and working in. We shape communities and spaces for enjoying life. Our integrated approach to design is infused with our passion for walkable and dynamic public spaces, an intimate knowledge of the built landscape, participation in a collaborative design team, and the balance of sustainability and economics.

We connect people with nature. Humanity Matters.

We create beauty in the world. Design Matters.

We practice being good stewards of the planet. Nature Matters.


Urban Ecology & Sustainability – “Systems Thinking”

At APDW we believe that Designers must act as Change Agents to shift the paradigm towards a regenerative landscape ideology and to build a collective consciousness towards a beautiful, resilient and eco-literate future.  An environmental and socially responsible approach is incorporated in all aspects of our designs. As the world becomes more urban there is an urgent need to rethink man made urban systems as ecologically intelligent systems and integrate the human experience, social responsibility and technology into the equation.

We view “thinking green” as integral to our process and fundamental to our solutions, beginning with a thorough understanding of the environmental dynamics of the site, and consideration of the systems and opportunities for urban ecology and sustainability. Ultimately, the most successful designs are the ones that best balance nature, culture and economics. We integrate a climate positive design approach into every project.

Recent examples of sustainability in our projects include designing for sea level rise at the Alameda N.A.S. waterfront, the incorporation of food landscapes and endangered species habitats into the urban realm, as well as the first high density mixed use SITES Pilot project – 38 Dolores, which integrates site systems into the urban fabric. Current projects are now integrating a decarbonization strategy to reduce their carbon footprints and offer us a  Climate Positive Design decision making tool with our Clients.


“Creativity is just connecting things” – Steve Jobs

What We Do

April Philips Design Works is a full service design firm in landscape architecture, urban design, sustainable design, planning services, illustration, and digital media production. While providing the highest quality of design service during the design process, APDW creates places that understand and integrates the community, site, innovative research, and the Client’s program to create dynamic projects. Sketching, visioning, storytelling, empathy, observation, experimentation, materiality, and understanding issues play a fundamental part in the unique problem solving toolbox we harness to create beautiful and insightful site specific work for every project.

Landscape Architecture and Planning Products:

  • Large-scale Site Master Planning
  • Landscape Site Design (from Conceptualization to Construction)
  • Post-Occupancy Services (Maintenance plans, climate resiliency plans,etc.)
  • Design Guidelines
  • Project Visioning, Story telling
  • Conceptual Feasibility Design

Illustrative + Digital Media Products:

  • Comprehensive Illustration and renderings
  • Hand drawn and Computer aided Perspectives
  • 3D Digital Modeling
  • Animated Multi-media Presentations
  • Video Documentation

Sustainability Products:

  • Green Roof + Living Wall Design
  • Low Impact Development + Sustainable Planning Strategies
  • Rainwater Harvesting + Water Conservation Design
  • Sustainability Consultation, Strategy, and Certification Services (LEED, Green Point Rated, CALGreen, Bay Friendly Guidelines, and SITES)
  • Decarbonization analysis for Landscapes
  • Climate Positive Design & Seventh Generational thinking strategies



Cultivating Our Roots + Evolution

if a plant spreads its roots, its roots become strong and established; connecting places to each other forms a vibrant network of diversity, growth and stability.

evo.lu.tion:  noun ;  · a process of change in a certain direction : unfolding.

April Philips Design Works, Inc (APDW) is excited to announce the opening of a new (visual arts) studio in Talent, Oregon and a new partnering with the SWA Group in San Francisco and Sausalito as April and Gary begin a new chapter for APDW 3.0 – an evolution to pursue artistic endeavors, travel adventures, and sustainability passions.  APDW is spreading our roots to serve all of our valued clients on the West Coast and beyond as this journey on our APDW 3.0 transformation/evolution unfolds.


Gary Scharlach

April Philips


Our Story

About Us

April Philips Design Works, Inc. is an award winning Landscape Architecture and Sustainable Planning firm specializing in creating fresh and innovative landscape works. We are dedicated to creating innovative spaces by integrating the art and ecology of landscape architecture with cutting edge technology.  Through critical thinking, we seek to incorporate the enormous complexity of issues and opportunities of each site into a unique design solution. This integrated approach considers the myriad of factors that support the range of the project’s objectives, the client’s goals, and the site’s natural potential.

With over two decades of works the firm has flourished. Current project typologies include plazas and parks, urban infill, high density residential and mixed use, retail, workplace environments, hospitality, urban agriculture, green roofs, living walls, and educational landscapes. The studio embraces new technology as integral to the creative design process. In our ideas lab we are forging an interactive connection between design and technology developing the use of video and animation as design communication tools.

Our founder, April Philips, is a design thought leader, creative systems thinker, author, artist, and unique problem solver. She has an extensive background in a broad range of projects throughout the United States, Pacific Rim and Middle East that have involved design coordination with multidisciplinary design teams for both public and private sector clients. April was honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects as a fellow in 2010. She has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University, and is licensed in multiple states. She is also a Climate Reality Leader.

Giving Back

Leading by Doing

At APDW we believe that the key to a successful business is to not just serve your Clients, but also to serve the Community. We like to do our small part to help the environment through our research development ideas. Our passion for the integration of sustainably responsible choices into our design works is a way of life, not a design adjunct. We strongly believe along with giving back to the planet, we must also give back to the community.

April Philips is a national leader in both research and practice associated with sustainable sites and urban agriculture. April was instrumental in leading the charge within ASLA for the Sustainable Sites Initiative which has culminated into the recently released national SITES rating system. She provided key input to ASLA’s Designing Our Future’s Sustainable Landscapes animation series for The Edible City. Her recently published book Designing Urban Agriculture is a comprehensive guide to urban agriculture, from initial planning and design through successful construction, maintenance and management.

Dixie Rain Garden, Dunphy Park, Point Bonita YMCA, Mission YMCAMiller Creek Edible Garden