Skip to main content

TBG | get to know Colin Stanley, Principal & Director of Design Technology

Colin Stanley

We are thrilled to announce the addition of a new Principal and Director of Design Technology to the firm. Colin Stanley, AIA will deepen the TBG Principal leadership team and expertise across the firm by leading the development and implementation of design technologies and their seamless application within TBG’s workflow. We look forward to the breadth of knowledge he brings to the firm, steering TBG to new heights within the landscape architecture industry and beyond.

Firmwide Design Technology team members, Colin Stanley and Chris Gentile

Journey to Landscape Architecture

Some would say Colin’s journey was less of a straight path and more an adventurous detour. While always operating in adjacent realms of design and planning, he found himself weaving in and out of projects that allowed him to collaborate with friends in various design sectors. Yet, it was the realm of landscape architecture that finally captured his full attention. “I realized the field was teeming with untapped potential—ripe for technological innovation and bursting with philosophical design thinking,” Colin said. “I saw an exciting niche and a landscape, if you will, rich in opportunity for advancing the practice. It was an invitation to innovation I couldn’t resist.”

Specialization and Expertise

Throughout Colin’s career he believes the most prolific and staid theme on expertise has been about the removal of barriers. Certainly, in terms of a resume in the design industry, he has had engagements as a healthcare architect, becoming quite adept with the mechanics of operating rooms and cardiology department functionality, aviation, critical facilities and more. There were long stints as a construction administrator, a lighting designer, and even working on educational facilities. However, design technology as a practice area and a practical career path really captured his imagination. Here he was able to focus his specialization on what really seemed to drive him – removing barriers and exposing creativity. Solving big technical problems to get technology out of the way where appropriate, balancing an exposure to the kinds of technologies that allow designers to perform at their best, and putting techniques into their hands that move them and the business forward with the best design decisions they can make. This has been the driving force in the arc of his career and experience.

If Colin hadn’t chosen Design Technology as his career path, he believes he would have gravitated towards automotive design. “It’s always been there in my personality, longer than just about anything else. But likely not with an elegant design house or larger company,” Colin said. “I’m a hot-rodder at heart, and always have been.” For as long as he can remember, it’s been the struggle of two personas: one striving toward elegant design solutions, the other just bent on customization and “what-ifs.”

Other things to know about Colin

1. Describe your design philosophy in two lines.
Simplicity of form, clarity of purpose, joy in the experience. Or, the straightest line that accomplishes the goal with the most delight. This doesn’t mean machined precision, neglect of charisma or personality in the design, but rather crafting solutions steeped in authenticity.

2. What’s the best lesson that a mentor has ever taught you?
A wise mentor once told me, “Your best tool isn’t your software or your pencil; it’s your ability to listen.” It transformed how I approach design, collaboration, and leadership. Listening to the client, to the practitioner, is the best tool I’ve made use of in my career, and it imperative to possess in my position. It’s not about me, or making my life or process easy, right? My clients are practitioners, and my role is to make them the most effective they can be. Every decision I make, every solution I investigate has to be an improvement in the practice and capabilities of the designers.

3. What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Obtaining my professional architecture licensure was a watershed moment for me. It was the culmination of years of hard work, sweat, and inspiration, validating my commitment to the craft. When I became a registered architect, it was the slaying of the dragon. And it continues to serve well, aiding my ability to place myself in the shoes of the designer, the practitioner, and an advocate to their interests.

4. What is next in design technology and the profession of landscape architecture?
Looking ahead, I see the continued democratization of transformative AI in our processes, a dynamic confluence of generative design, real-time simulation, and augmented reality. Considering the untapped power of AI, which will not only augment our imaginative capabilities but also refine our processes and bring unparalleled clarity to our design solutions, I’m very excited about what we’ll see in just the next year, five years and so on.

5. What are you currently beta testing?
Picture this: a closed AI system of our own in Stable Diffusion, our own curated training data (LORAs) and a dash of ControlNet technology. What’s cooking? A cutting-edge fusion where hand-drawn sketches serve as the maestro, orchestrating a symphony of AI-driven results. It’s not just beta testing; it’s a glimpse into the future of design. But it’s only the beginning, and admittedly a bit of a parlor trick. It’s low-hanging, but it’s a fantastic way to introduce concepts to practitioners in a way that subverts the fears and concerns running rampant throughout our hype cycle. This is where I’ll continue development, along with the rest of the Design Technology team to bring us closer to moving from idea to intent to product, with the least amount of friction and highest fidelity of the designer’s ethos.

There are more straight-forward betas ongoing as well – perennial efforts and tests to improve our AutoCAD, Revit, and other design application implementations – not nearly as exciting, but will affect more people more positively.

6. How do you define success?
Success for me is a layered concept. On one level, it’s about achieving your goals. But equally important is the room for serendipity—those unexpected delights that engage and humanize the experience. In essence, it’s a balance between vision and the gift of the unplanned.

7. Who’s your celebrity doppelganger?
I used to imagine myself with Steve McQueen’s charisma, minus the cool, Sean Connery’s grace but with a high level of unsophistication, and Gene Wilder’s looks without the comedy. Essentially, the endearing misfit of Hollywood legends.

In college, my wife gave me a hard time about looking like Justin Timberlake – quite the stretch now as we can all surmise, but in reality, I hope there’s no one like me.

8. In rush hour traffic, what song is likely to be playing from your speakers?
Fun question! I love music, just about every kind. I’m not really hard to figure out, and most people that know me could probably make a pretty close guess. You might catch me with Rage Against the Machine, or maybe the Dropkick Murphys. Depending on where I’m headed, it could easily be Reckless Kelly, Steve Earle or if I’m feeling particularly agitated it could be Le Tigre.

But in reality, there is only one correct answer to this question: Taylor Swift.