College of Environmental Design
Mike Abbaté, ASLA, LEED™
Class of '85, Landscape Architecture
GreenWorks Landscape Architecture
In 1981, Mike Abbaté had just left the United States Navy and was ready to get on with the rest of his life. Higher education was part of the plan, but at that point, Abbaté was not sure which school to enter or what profession to train for. He met Mark Naylor, a landscape architecture student at Cal Poly Pomona, and the course of his life was set.
"I picked landscape architecture because it seemed to allow me to engage both sides of my brain simultaneously," says Abbaté. "I have always been interested in graphic design and drawing as well as in the biological sciences. This profession seemed like the perfect blend of
science and creativity."
A registered landscape architect and founding principal of GreenWorks, P.C., in Portland , Oregon , he has spent more than 20 years perfecting his focus on sustainable design in both public and private sectors. Prior to joining GreenWorks, Abbaté spent seven years with
the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, working on the design of major recreation and interpretive facilities throughout the Pacific Northwest . He credits Francis Dean and John T. Lyle, for whom the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona was named, and other environmental design professors for inspiring his lifelong interest in sustainable design.
"They were the pioneers of the whole emphasis on and practice of sustainability," says Abbaté. "They were doing it 30 years before anyone else was, and their work continues today. They were a huge influence on me."
He and his co-founding partner, Mike Faha, strongly believe that human beings are merely the earth's stewards. To this end, the GreenWorks philosophy is to be a firm that does not use the concepts of sustainable and ecologically sound site design as a marketing tool, but rather as a way of life that drives both personal and business decisions. GreenWorks is truly "green," promoting cheap, fun, and healthy commutes for its workforce via alternate modes of
transportation. Metro bus passes are provided to employees, and everyone is encouraged to walk, skate, or bike to work. GreenWorks has participated in Oregon 's Bike to Work Month since 1999, winning for companies of its size five times. In addition, office supplies and food containers are recycled, and recycled paper goods are used whenever possible, thus lessening the company's carbon footprint on the earth. GreenWorks is a major leader in promoting environmentally friendly designs at local, state, national and international levels. The firm is lauded for creating a growing body of work that is ecologically sound, visually beautiful, and
"Some of my best moments are when I go back to projects that I guided through the construction process, and I see people using them," says Abbaté. "I get the most satisfaction out of creating aesthetically pleasing, ecological places that people love to work and play and think in."
In the past decade alone, GreenWorks has been honored by its peers, educational institutions, professional organizations, and entire communities for its contributions to sustainable design. A few of the major projects and awards are: the Confluence Project, with artist Maya Lin, national awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) as well as the American Institute of Architects for the Lloyd Crossing Sustainable Urban Design Plan, a national ASLA award for the Willamette Riverbank Design Notebook, National Association of Home Builders award for the Pringle Creek Sustainable Community, and a Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow Award from the City of Portland for its design of the American Honda facility.
Abbaté serves on an ASLA panel regarding sustainable sites and frequently works with Portland 's Office of Sustainable Development. As a volunteer, he is assisting a Portland-area neighborhood association develop a creative site design that will convert a derelict property
into a viable community center and is volunteering to make an international Peace Garden come to fruition in downtown Portland.