Five Under 40 Award: Landscape Architect Ashley Allis

The 2014 and 2015 Five Under 40 Design Awards were so overwhelmingly positive that it looks like the tradition is here to stay. This year, the mass and magnitude of talent that arrived in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles’ inbox was both exciting and inspiring.

We called on the 2015 Five Under 40 award winners to help us with the difficult task of selecting five of the finest from a pack of worthy contenders. 

Here we get to know one of the award recipients, landscape architect Ashley Allis of Design Workshop, Aspen, and see some examples of her work.

Portrait photo by Jennifer Olson

Ashley Allis
Landscape architect
Design Workshop, Aspen

“I have a job where I get to travel to new places and meet people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. At least once a week, I think, ‘This is where I belong.’ ”

Photo by D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop, Inc.

Innovator. Leader. Environmental steward. That’s how colleagues describe Ashley Allis of Design Workshop, an Aspen-based landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm with offices all over the world, from Chicago to China. Since starting at the firm in 2005, Allis has worked on everything from the historic preservation of the Hunter Creek Garden near Aspen to the planning and project management of a 100-acre private compound near the ghost town of Ashcroft.

“With each project, she strives for excellence in crafting context-sensitive solutions,” says Mike Albert, a partner at Design Workshop. For Allis, who has a master’s in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia, it’s all about “telling compelling stories of a certain time through design.” She is grateful for the support at Design Workshop: “At a lot of firms, there’s one person’s name on the door, and everything trickles through that person. But as our name implies, we’re based on a standard of collaboration. Everyone has a meaningful say in the process. And the sum is always greater than the parts.”

Photo by D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop, Inc.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER: In junior high, I started helping my dad, who was a teacher during the year, with construction in the summers. He’s a woodworker and craftsman, and we would build little vacation cabins. I liked seeing how buildings came together, and I slowly realized that landscape architecture—the combination of the environment, architecture and design—was a good fit for me.

THE BEST ADVICE SHE EVER GOT: The best way to learn is by doing. I get to do something absolutely different every single day. I’m in Design Workshop’s next generation, and just as the firm’s leaders made mistakes, they’ve given us permission to make mistakes, too.

DESIGN CRUSH: The Fallingwater house [in Mill Run, Pennsylvania] by Frank Lloyd Wright. I worked there as a landscape intern when I was an undergrad majoring in landscape architecture at Penn State, and I got to really experience the house beyond what a normal visitor could, to climb up the sides of the walls and see where the flaws were. Wright had the guts to make big decisions and do things no one had done before.

WORKING WITH THE PUBLIC: I get inspired by working with communities and being on the ground talking to people about what their vision is, then creating special places that can be enjoyed by a lot of people. While working on a park project in Bozeman [Montana], I held a workshop for kids where we made a board game and told them to design their playground on that. That was really fun.



Categories: Stylemakers