For Gregory Duckworth, ASLA, the practice of landscape architecture is synonymous with service. Throughout his professional career, he has demonstrated a zeal for helping both his community and industry in many ways: from involving his firm, Environmental Concepts, LLC, in pro-bono projects, to serving in the Boy Scouts of America as Scoutmaster and providing guidance for Eagle Scout service projects, to working for his neighbors as an elected official at the local and state levels. In recognition of his service in the field of landscape architecture, as well as his public service, Duckworth is being elevated to the ASLA Council of Fellows.
Over a decade and a half ago, community members first took notice of Duckworth’s penchant for helping others and called upon him to represent them in an official capacity. On the way to his studio one morning, Duckworth recalls, neighbors stopped him to ask if he’d consider running for City Council. Although he had previously not given the idea any thought, he decided to campaign after more friends in his community encouraged him to serve.
During his 12 years serving on City Council for the City of North Myrtle Beach, Duckworth drew upon his knowledge and skills as a landscape architect to provide insight for policy decisions on land use planning and best management practices. His professional experience also allowed him to see issues from a unique point of view; Duckworth explains that, “We are stronger when we are diverse, and understanding that we can make diversity work for us is most helpful in developing creative solutions.”
Upon deciding to step down from local politics, Duckworth’s friends and neighbors saw a need for both his experience and drive at the state level, and asked him to represent his community in the South Carolina House of Representatives. During his campaign for the South Carolina House, Duckworth was branded a “consensus builder.”
“It’s about bringing different people and perspectives to the table and being able to work together on developing solutions,” says Rep. Duckworth. “It’s pretty much what I do every day as a design professional, so it’s natural to bring those skills to my work in the South Carolina House.”
Duckworth’s talent for mediation and his landscape architecture knowledge have served his constituents well during his freshman term in the South Carolinian House, where he was appointed to the prestigious Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs Committee. Since South Carolina’s devastating 1,000-year flood event in 2015, Duckworth has been assigned to the task force reviewing the incident and evaluating dam safety. He recently brought this issue to his colleagues in an informed assessment and dialogue during a roundtable discussion about dam safety and land use management at the 2016 SCASLA Annual Meeting: Come Hell or High Stormwater in Greenville, South Carolina.
In addition to his impressive contributions as a public servant, Duckworth continues to embody a spirit of service with nearly 25-years of projects with his firm, Environmental Concepts, LLC. Among the community service projects he’s completed, Duckworth says there are a few standouts. “Helping improve the places that are integral to our community, like churches and schools, has been important to me,” says Duckworth. “Giving back and using our skills to help those who help us is very rewarding.”
One highlight is the work completed for the St. Andrew Catholic Church and School. Duckworth’s firm helped the church and school with numerous site development and landscape architectural plans for improvements to their campus including the playground, family life center, and school expansion.
Duckworth is particularly honored to be a part of the work his firm has contributed to Brookgreen Gardens, a designated National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). These premier gardens contain the largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture in the country with over 1,400 pieces. Duckworth explains that he values these projects because of the trust placed in the integrity of his firm’s work. “It’s quite an honor to have a hand in something like this,” Duckworth reflects. “We’re passing through history – Brookgreen Gardens is history.”
Designing the otter exhibit at Brookgreen Gardens was a particularly fun and rewarding project. Duckworth’s team was not only responsible for creating the native landscape of the exhibit, but also for developing a complementary environment from which to observe the otters frolicking.
Environmental Concepts also recently completed design and construction observation services for Anna Hyatt Huntington’s Fillies Playing sculpture plaza at Brookgreen, revitalizing the gardens’ welcome center.
Duckworth and Environmental Concepts, LLC use the industry-driven toolset in Vectorworks Landmark to create their inspired projects. The ability to customize the software in order to meet their needs, along with its powerful presentation tools, help them to better serve their clients and community.
Gregory Duckworth will be recognized along with the incoming class of Fellows on October 21-24 at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in New Orleans. Learn more about the work and service of all the new Fellows here.