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DAA: Douglas Hoerr

Douglas Hoerr

Douglas Hoerr


Chicago, IL


A farm in Milford, Indiana; a design/ build firm in Peoria; English formal gardens; and Chicago cityscapes—these seemingly unconnected spaces led Douglas Hoerr to become a leading landscape architect of projects that continue to grow in scale and impact. The Milford native worked for nine years in Peoria before heading overseas, where his career was hugely influenced by a two-year apprenticeship with three of Britain’s most respected garden designers. When he returned from England in 1990, he established his own company in Chicago. While beautiful gardens grow more easily in other regions, Hoerr understood the Midwest horticulturally, and he thought Chicago would be fair to an entrepreneur. He marketed himself by speaking at garden clubs and botanical gardens. His big break came with a design for the Crate & Barrel store on Michigan Avenue. It caught the mayor’s eye, and Hoerr landed the beautification of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. He approached the job with trepidation. That portion of Michigan Avenue—the main thoroughfare between Chicago’s Loop business district and its Gold Coast— was concrete from curb to curb. Merchants donated the funds that allowed Hoerr to create raised medians filled with naturalistic blends of enormous scale, complexity, and texture. He has since built a reputation for socially responsible and environmentally sustainable public open spaces. He is a strong proponent of green roofs. His “signature” is a final product that looks connected to the architecture on the site as well as to the greater landscape: “It looks honest,” he explains. He partnered with Peter Schaudt in January 2008 to create his current practice. Hoerr’s work and philosophy have been introduced to millions of readers in national publications, and he has designed more than 500 private gardens across the United States. He maintains his own formal rooftop garden at his Chicago-area home and naturalistic, layered gardens at a 100-acre farm in Michigan. Other escapes include hunting and golf. Hoerr and his wife Tracy Taylor have two children, ages 10 and 6. “Purdue gave me that balance of skills and how to think things through—I can conceptualize very rapidly and at the same time, I’m a builder. I hire a lot of Purdue interns and staff because I like the way Purdue educates them; they come out of West Lafayette with ‘batteries included.’”