Miller Company announces with mixed emotion the departure of Kyla Burson, who will soon be moving to Portland, Oregon with her husband Barry and son Raymond. We want to use this space to reflect a bit on the past eleven years of working together with Kyla.
Kyla Burson’s mother was the first to mention the profession “landscape architect” by name to her. Until then, Kyla was a history of ideas major who graduated from the University of Washington and went to live off the land in upstate New York.
“We had 100 acres of old farm land with a wood lot, a pond, and a creek, and I really liked being able to live off our resources,” she recalls. “We were always thinking through problems and making the best use of what was there, which is essentially what design is. Living there in a yurt, I learned that I like practical stuff. Landscape architecture is a practical art. There’s a utility to it that appeals to me.”
Kyla responded to her mother’s suggestion and earned a landscape architecture degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Soon after, she took a job with the Miller Company in San Francisco.
Jeffrey was looking for someone with 10 years experience to join the company. Kyla was not sure why he picked her: “Maybe because of the yurt?” It was much more than that....
“I was impressed with Kyla’s experience beyond her training as a landscape architect,” Miller recalls. “I felt that her maturity, combined with her awareness of the world and her excitement regarding what could be accomplished, was an asset to the firm and had no doubt that she would grow into the position rapidly. Her desire to work on urban projects fit well with the direction that was well underway in the company.”
Her manner with clients was always a strong point, Miller says.
“Kyla is a very good communicator. She has an ability to focus and refine complex issues that require resolution and she does so with respect for the dynamics of group decision making. She is very strong and works hard at achieving the important matters in the design of projects.”
Kyla was first hired as a landscape designer, but quickly took on a broader range of responsibilities. “Working in a small office has been great for me,” she acknowledges. “We’re almost always solving some new thing.. There's really no opportunity to be pigeonholed - everybody in the office pitches in. The access I’ve had to manage and be really involved in projects and the running of the office has been far greater than it could be in a big firm.” During her tenure the company has more than doubled its staff and expanded the office space, but “It’s always been a very peaceful group,” Kyla says. “There has been plenty of work, and nobody is territorial. There’s never been any conflict. I hate to leave it.”
Environmental concerns play a formative role in the Miller Company’s landscape design. The company welcomes and embraces the state and local and state regulations affecting parks and buildings. The firm designs landscapes for open space, institutional, and private projects improving existing site conditions and systems, bringing forth solutions that educate the public about the role of landscape design in managing stormwater within the urban environment. Kyla has contributed significantly to the firm’s focus and has continued to engage and educate herself with LEED acreditation and professional licensing.
“We’ve designed and built upwards of30 green schoolyards supported byboth public bonds and private funding,” Kyla says. “The idea is to teach kids that if you gather roof water in a cistern you can then use a hand pump to utilize that water for your garden, and even for play. Kids dig it because it's like Rube Goldberg device. Our projects are pro-environment both as a design and as an ethical choice.”
“Kyla’s work on both Opera Warehouse and Avalon Ocean Avenue stand out as good examples of her ability to find unique solutions in the context of housing development,” Miller says. “Her contributions to the redesign of San Francisco’s Kezar Triangle (Golden Gate Park) and the design of Fallen Bridge Park were significant. Her work on the Google campus in Mountainview proved her ability to explore many design strategies in the context of evolving program requirements of the client.”
“Kyla has been an important contributor to the growth of Miller Company,” Miller affirms. “She has been a steady mentor to new employees and has helped instill an open, creative atmosphere within the office. She has grown tremendously over the years we’ve worked together and we are sorry to see her go, with the understanding that there many good things ahead for Kyla and for the people who are fortunate enough to work with her.”
Wishing Kyla all the best, thanking her for her efforts and sending her off witha big hug from Miller Company.