HOW ECOTOPES HAPPENED
An ecotope is an actual thing…call them earth-pixels or something. For our purposes, an ecotope is a bundle of attributes that factor into design at a given location in the landscape. They are the accumulated characteristics surrounding + intermingling with each spot on the terrestrial surface. Sometimes an ecotope is teeny-tiny. Move a couple feet in one direction or another, the conditions change + boom, you’re in a different ecotope. Sometimes they’re enormous, think about the landscape surrounding Marfa, Texas.
The concept for Ecotopes (the company) emerged from intensive graduate study at the University of Texas at Austin’s Landscape Architecture program from 2003 to 2007, which honed our insight into ecological influences in design, relationships in the cultural landscape between Mexico, Europe + Texas, fostering environmental stewardship + a thoughtful design process to tie everything together. While keenly influenced by global design legends, such as Isamu Noguchi, Garrett Eckbo, Ian McHarg + Roberto Burle Marx, a debt of gratitude is owed to our School of Architecture, but in particular Fritz Steiner, Jill Nokes, Juan Miro, Mario Schjetnan + Steve Ross.
The founder of the company is a west Texas native, raised in a small town just north of Abilene. As a boy at home, Steve would help tend to the family’s small ranch + garden, building all sorts of practical structures + imaginative contraptions. He also spent a fair amount of time sketching + making MacPaint illustrations on his 1984 Mac (the original Mac with a minuscule 128k architecture).
Today, Steve is an award-winning landscape designer with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from UT-Austin. He was in the very first class of landscape architecture at the University + launched the company during the first semester in 2003.