Designing Mind

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David Young’s firm, DWY Landscape Architects, won an award of honor from the Florida chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for his design of the tranquil new Girl Scouts campus in Sarasota. A Florida native, Young also has redesigned the landscapes of several Sarasota School of Architecture homes. Being from Florida: Helps me […]


David Young’s firm, DWY Landscape Architects, won an award of honor from the Florida chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for his design of the tranquil new Girl Scouts campus in Sarasota. A Florida native, Young also has redesigned the landscapes of several Sarasota School of Architecture homes.

Being from Florida: Helps me make better, more informed decisions. I can [remember] when plant material had to be more steadfast, more insect and disease resistant and drought tolerant; when every landscape didn’t have an irrigation system.

My design philosophy: We do a lot of editing; it’s about finding the essence of the project and trying to arrive at an aesthetic that’s not overdone. I’m considered a modernist, but we do design some Spanish historical gardens with water features and plant materials that are a little bit more over the top.

What’s new: People are telling us their exterior environment is just as important as their interior environment. There is a willingness to spend money on elements that make these environments enjoyable.

I’m excited about: An old Jack West-designed bayfront house on Siesta Key being renovated by Jonathan Parks. The house itself is almost a glass box. We developed the entry pavilion and water gardens using a lot of tropicals and subtropicals, like bamboo, bromeliads and Australian tree ferns.

I’m also working on: Healing gardens on the five-acre campus of the planned Wellness Community headquarters in Lakewood Ranch—a mind, body, spirit garden with a water element; a courtyard meditation garden with private niches for intimate family meetings; a children’s play garden; a tai chi-yoga lawn; wildlife pond for refuge for local turtles, birds and plants with an overlook pergola; a spiritual labyrinth garden; hands-on medicinal and herb garden; and a bird and butterfly garden.

My favorite plant: I tend to navigate toward [the] tropical: bamboo, palms, bromeliads. But I love all plants; it’s like asking, ‘Who’s your favorite child?’”