WERK is a regional, national, and international, Phoenix-based landscape architecture and urban design practice. The design firm is a collaboration between Jesse Westad and Charles Anderson with a goal of creating places for civic expression which reveal ecological and social phenomena, processes, and relationships. This strategic partnership brings together vanguard design with youthful energy and with decades of field tested practice. WERK has an extensive record of award-winning multi-disciplinary park, plaza, and open space projects. Many of our projects involve extensive public participation, including collaborations with community and neighborhood groups and public presentations. Examples of our civic-scale projects include the 2 acre Anchorage Museum Common, the 8.5 acre Olympic Sculpture Park for the Seattle Art Museum on Seattle’s downtown waterfront, enormous scaled projects like 500 acre Metropolitan Park in Athens Greece and the 2,400 acre, International Peace Garden Project Canada/USA. Whether small or large, our work is always tailored to the people who will use it.
Our studio is composed of passionate designers committed to creating places that are artful, unique, articulate, site specific and well-crafted while remaining adaptive and open. Our firm’s practice is guided by a land ethic of stewardship, diversity, and sustainability. Our knowledge of native plants and natural systems is field-tested and thoughtfully employed to ensure that each design is appropriate to its place in the neighborhood, the city, and the region.
Our commitment to art, ecology, and the exploration of landscape form is complemented by an extensive background in all levels of the design and construction process, from site analysis and master planning to design development, construction documents, bidding and on-site construction review. We provide creative, efficient, and highly personalized professional services in the art and practice of landscape architecture.
Practicing landscape architect for over 25 years, Charles Anderson has crafted numerous award-winning projects recognized for their ability to integrate art, nature and cultural elements. With degrees in Landscape Architecture from Washington State University and Harvard and a penchant for teaching, he continues his query of art and science on his chosen profession. His work is grounded in horticulture and ecology which forms the basis for an evolving body of work that highlights the transformative processes of ecological systems, creating socially-relevant spaces and galvanizing the energy of others to advocate for landscape and open space.
There are two distinct threads that are part of every project and which also define the trajectory of the larger body of work. The first is a genuine love of nature, rooted from growing up out-of-doors, on the rolling plains of North Dakota. The second is a passion for the arts, particularly land art, and sculpture. Pivotal are the works of Robert Smithson and James Turrell who share a fascination with the study of light, landscape as art, and metamorphosis. The love of wild landscapes and contemporary art inform the work philosophically and provide a lens through which the projects can be understood. Using a palette of predominantly native plants and materials, Charles brings wild, dynamic landscapes into the city—elevating the “wild garden” to urban art.
Arizona Landscape Architect License #63436
Growing up with a father in the Army allowed Jesse Westad the rare experience of forming a global lens to view the world and its many cultures. These early experiences living in different countries would mold the personality he would later become while facilitating his love of travel. He would follow the family business and spend 6 ½ years as an Army Paratrooper as well as an 18-month deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan during this time.
Upon his departure from the Army Jesse Westad would go on to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication from Arizona State University and a minor in Sustainability. It was during this time that he learned about a fellow paratrooper/landscape architect by the name of Ian McHarg. It was this personal story that would push him to pursue a Master’s degree also from Arizona State in Landscape Architecture along with certifications in Permaculture : Drylands, and Advanced Smartscape : Irrigation.
It was McHarg’s idea of designing with nature that would aid Jesse into his signature style of utilizing natural systems to decrease infrastructure costs while in turn boosting local flora and fauna on a site. Through his unique experience he has the ability to provide knowledgeable, holistic design solutions in areas such as xeriscape, stormwater management, green walls, and wildlife habitat.