People first. Whether it’s working with community members or our own staff, professional enjoyment is largely a result of the personal interactions and experiences that are created through our work. That’s why creativity and service are invaluable attributes of Callander Associates staff so that the process is just as rewarding as the goal.
Our Principals – In their own words.
Brian Fletcher, President
Since the start of my career I have been fascinated with the design process. Nothing excited me more than creating alternative after alternative on seemingly never ending rolls of tracing paper. My day wasn’t meaningful unless the trash can was full of crumpled attempts and my hands were covered in ink. However, it wasn’t until I experienced my first community workshop that I began to realize how dependent strong communication skills were to the design process.
Design and communication have continued to be my passions. Over the years I have been able to build confidence in my own abilities as well as develop a great set of tools and techniques. By working closely with our clients to determine their specific project goals, Callander Associates is able to develop customized outreach strategies to maximize input and consensus. Now my most meaningful days include personal interactions with community members and well supported designs as they reach Council.
Now we are all challenged with continuing to build upon Peter Callander’s legacy. I have the opportunity and responsibility to shape the direction of the office and of the careers of our staff. My goals moving forward are to foster an environment that people want to work and grow in while providing exceptional service to our clients and building great communities.
A. Mark Slichter
Landscape Architecture is a field that really helps you start seeing the connections in the world we live in. Just driving around it’s easy to spot not only the work of others, but sometimes the process is apparent as well. People often come to us with projects at loggerheads. Typically there’s a difference of opinion as to what the best use of a site is, or if it needs to be changed at all. Recent examples: dog park people vs. park people, soccer people vs. baseball people, natural turf people vs. artificial turf people. We aren’t there to tell them what the right answer is. We’re there to hear out all opinions and find a way to achieve consensus that goes furthest to meeting everyone’s goals. It’s surprising how often we succeed! Certainly prior experience in addressing similar issues makes a big difference. It gives you credibility at the outset. But that’s only good through the first meeting or two. After that it’s how well we managed THEIR project. If we demonstrate thoughtfulness, bring a different perspective and are not overtly partial to a particular solution most folks will ultimately be ready to ‘come to the table’. It originates with a belief in public outreach (warts and all) as still the best way to come up with solutions that will stand the test of time. We believe in the process. I think the sheer number of public sector projects that Callander Associates has ‘delivered’ is testament to that.
The busier life gets the more folks value public spaces. Landscape Architecture improves lives by providing an escape from the grind and technology that drowns them, making places where we can be human together, be families together.
Having started at Callander Associates as an intern, my biggest influence was – and continues to be – Peter Callander. He took what I learned while at Cal Poly (‘learn-by-doing’, context-oriented design, form follows function, the importance of site analysis – all that good stuff) and nurtured and refined it in such a way that it continues to shape my career. He taught all of us that being honest and likable goes far and that building trust is everything. Most challenging about being a principal at Callander Associates is balancing the desire to do anything for our clients and staff with the reality of running a business. On the flip side, it’s important to not take ourselves too seriously and I enjoy reminding myself and others to laugh on a daily basis.
Creating and running a small design practice is a constant balancing exercise: balancing client design programs with budgets, sites and reality; balancing staff expectations and growth with resources and time; making sure the business is balanced with the professional practice, balancing personal time with endless professional demands. Each of those has good parts about it, even the business portions. My career has always been a solid foundation for me, my family and certainly rewarding from a personal and professional growth perspective. I used to measure [accomplishments] in terms of signature projects, such as the Monterey Recreation Trail, Coastal Trail in Half Moon Bay, etc., but there is also the influence I and the firm has had on training other LA’s to have their own practice and do even more projects elsewhere.