Firm Profile


For over 25 years, Karen Kiest has been providing landscape architectural and recreational planning services to a wide variety of public and private clients. She has gained a wide recognition for her ability to translate the Client’s interests into outdoor spaces that are sensitive to detail and material use, appropriate to place, and distinctive in visual form. Through innovative design and program solutions, excellent communication, and efficient use of resources, she consistently demonstrates the ability to make what some consider “common improvements” unique without burdening the established budget.

Ms. Kiest graduated from Harvard College with a degree in Biology, and went on to receive a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. Since that time, Karen Kiest has worked as a landscape architect on projects throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and Asia. In the United States, she has completed planning and design work in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts and Maine. She is a registered landscape architect in Washington, California, Alaska and British Columbia.

Civic Design

Today, the majority of the firm's work is focused on the civic realm. Inherent in these projects is the recognition that buildings and the site together contribute to defining the landscape; the story line begins at the site approach. At the same time the project must address the needs of a variety of user groups, fit specific program and maintenance requirements, as well as the natural, social and economic conditions that influence the project site.

Community Planning and Design

Underlying all our public projects is the philosophy that community involvement is critical to the success of any planning effort. For most projects, it is our experience that the design team has to lead the public involvement, to get down and dirty, and not delegate too much of this effort to others. The firm employs a variety of techniques -- including community vision workshops, development of a project review team, site tours, and programming and design workshops -- that are closely integrated with the planning process.

Karen Kiest is an active participant in public planning and design efforts in the area. Karen Kiest served as Chair of the Seattle Design Commission, and vice-chair of the Seattle Landmark Preservation Board. She regularly participates in professional development for the University of Washington School of Landscape Architecture. Ms. Kiest serves on the Washington State Licensing Board for Landscape Architects, and is on the Board of Directors for the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB).

Sustainable Sites

Stewardship for the land and the creation of an attractive landscape should be closely knit. Wherever there is civic investment, there is an obligation to showcase that investment in ways that make a contribution back to the larger built and natural community. The firm is currently working on several projects in Washington State that will meet applicable sustainability standards, including: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard, Built Green and the High-Performance School Buildings Standard.