Architect stays true to her vision - East Valley Tribune: Business

Architect stays true to her vision

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Posted: Sunday, January 8, 2006 5:51 am | Updated: 3:03 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The parking lot at Christy Ten Eyck’s architectural landscape company was once covered with traditional black asphalt.

Ten Eyck, 46, a landscape architect, had the asphalt removed and replaced with a more appropriate surface — decomposed granite, a sandy-substance that is smooth, and, she believes, environmentally-correct.

The pavement transition is symbolic of Ten Eyck’s philosophy of protecting and restoring nature to urban areas, particularly growing communities in the East Valley.

"The granite is more stable than asphalt, and it reflects our goals to make cities people-friendly," Ten Eyck said.

Ten Eyck, a graduate of Texas Tech University and a registered landscape architect in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, was working for architectural landscape firms in Dallas when she and some friends visited the Grand Canyon in 1986.

It changed her life.

"We took a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon and I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling," Ten Eyck said. "I fell in love with the wild nature of Arizona."

Ten Eyck quit her job in Dallas and moved to the Valley, where she worked for several landscape architectural firms until starting her own company in 1995 and later moving into her renovated building at 808 E. Osborn Road, Phoenix.

Since then, she and her firm has been involved in dozens of public and private landscape projects, including:

• Steele Indian School Park — a 78-acre park that was the historic site of the Phoenix Indian School.

• The Heard Museum — designed the entrance and courtyard for the museum.

• Desert Botanical Garden — as master planner, Ten Eyck created landscapes that provide visitors with educational trails, assorted desert plants and a new administrative area.

Among the other projects include the Rio Salado Restoration Project, Chaparral Park in S cottsdale and numerous other landscapes in the Valley and throughout Arizona for both public and private companies.

One of her more challenging is the upcoming light rail line going from Phoenix to Mesa. Ten Eyck is responsible for preparing a landscape plan along the line that will run through Tempe and Mesa.

"My goal is to design a plan for trees and plants, but the light rail designers want to keep the trees away from the cars," Ten Eyck said. "That will be difficult, since the roadways going through Tempe and Mesa aren’t that wide."

Ten Eyck said the light rail project will probably use desert landscaping such as Palo Verde and mesquite trees.

The landscape architect traces her interest in structures to her late grandfather, George Christensen, a Dallas architect for many years and her father, Jim Ten Eyck, a civil engineer whose work resulted in his wife, Louanne and five children, including Christy, the oldest, to travel a lot.

Besides Dallas, the Ten Eyck family lived in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Seattle.

"I was always interested in marine biology, horticulture and architecture and, during my visit to Arizona — and while on that rafting trip — it seemed like all three came together," Ten Eyck said.

Ten Eyck recently was awarded a contract by Scottsdale aimed at conserving water by transforming six acres at Chaparral Park into a showcase of biodiversity of desert plant life.

The Scottsdale Desert Xeriscape Garden will contain several thousand individual plantings representing at least 120 plant species.

Ten Eyck has been honored for her work by the American Society of Landscape Architects, Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards, the 2001 Distinguished Alumna Award by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and in 2003 was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

She has been featured in dozens of magazines and journals, including Landscape Architecture, Phoenix Home and Garden, Vogue, Sunset Magazine, Landscape Journal and House and Garden. She has also appeared on television and is a guest lecturer at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Texas Tech University and the University of New Mexico.

Q:What does the future hold for landscape architecture in the Valley?

"There will continue to be plans for downtowns in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa," Ten Eyck said. "The goal is to make the cities’ downtowns places for people to go. Places where nature is integrated with human beings."

Q: What’s happening in Arizona and cities in the west?

"In the west, including Arizona, the concentration is on building buildings and not so much the areas between the buildings."

Q:What about the water shortage in the desert? How are we dealing with it?

"Just one of many conservation approaches is the bio sponge — a system of taking rain water off roofs and airconditioning condensates and re-using it. The idea is to connect the people with the water. Its just one of the many water conservation steps we can — and should take — to save water."

Christy Ten Eyck

Family: Husband, Gary Deaver, land developer; a dog, Lucy and a cat, Purrrl

Resides in: Phoenix

Business: President and founder, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, 808 E. Osborn Road, Phoenix

Key achievement: Established a landscape architectural firm in 1997 with two employees and at first earned about $400,000 in gross revenue. Today, the company draws more than $1 million in gross annual revenue and employs eight architects.

Designed landscapes for more than a dozen community facilities, including the Rio Salado Restoration Project, Scottsdale Chaparral Park and the Arizona State University Innovation Center and Biodesign Institute

Information: (602) 468-0505 or

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