Elizabeth Philbrick DHM Durango | Designer | Master's of Landscape Architecture

"Hands down, if I ever get an opportunity to design a botanical garden, a space where the plant palette is unlimited, I would be all over that like sunshine on a leaf."

From the first five minutes with Elizabeth, you can’t help but smile. She brings thoughtful charm and a quick wit to each conversation, finding commonality in diverse perspectives and inspiration in the connection between people and place. With a Master's of Landscape Architecture degree from Colorado State University and an early career in Washington D.C politics, she draws on a diverse experience to satisfy a life-long craving to engage communities within their shared spaces.

Elizabeth grew up on Lake Tapps in Washington State, miles from the base of Mount Rainier. She remembers a tranquil and adventurous childhood, exploring the island and its unique population of natural bonsai trees that sprouted spontaneously along the lake shore.

“My favorite quote: 'Design is art that solves a problem,' the right and left brain working together. The challenge might be moving water away from a site, but the art comes in redirecting water in the most beautiful way possible.”

The moment she realized she had been in love with plants and the physical space where they thrive created a catalytic shift, from political science to landscape architecture, in her professional and personal life.

"You learn a lot when you go out and talk to people. We cannot only design for one economic or social group; we have to design for everyone in order to make our entire community better. We become different people when we have to share; we really start to care."

Tunisia travel - Elizabeth vows they have the absolute best food!
Drawings and paintings by Elizabeth

This month, Elizabeth is speaking on a panel at the Jane Silverstein Reis Foundation event on the past, present and future of a West Denver neighborhood called Sun Valley. In 2015, she won a state-wide award for her in-depth analysis of this economically disadvantaged area where children outnumber adults. Through months of research, site analysis, and interviews with community members Elizabeth explored how a neighborhood’s history and cultural evolution impacts its ability to weather existential change in a city that continues to explode in population and development.

"Landscape Architecture is an apprenticeship field. You find the best and you pay attention, which is why I wanted to work at DHM. I’ve heard for years that if I had an opportunity to work with Ann Christensen, I would be a fool to turn it down. She has a reputation that she is too humble to acknowledge and I’m so happy to be here soaking it all in."
From starter seeds to backyard gardens that end up directly on pizzas around the kitchen table, Elizabeth takes her love of plants home to share with friends and family.

Elizabeth lives near Vallecito Lake in Durango with her three rescue dogs and her significant other, Jared, who is cultivating a 45-tree cider farm. Never at a loss for ideas, she is growing a high-altitude test garden to find what additional plants can succeed at her home's 8,000 foot elevation.

From top left: Cider orchard at sunset, Calypso in snow, Granola resting, and Topo on hardwood

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