GRETCHEN WHITTIER, RLA
Gretchen grew up weeding her mom’s organic garden and helping her father build brick chimneys. Becoming a landscape architect was inevitable.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire were her childhood playground, as she hiked, skied, swam and tubed down the rivers. She then attended Phillips Academy Andover where she found comfort in the sprawling campus, stone walls, allées and picturesque hilltops. From Eastern Massachusetts, Gretchen headed North to Burlington Vermont where she studied studio art and literature and received a BA from the University of Vermont. While in Burlington, she fell in love with Shelburne Farms, an estate on the lake turned into an inn and sustainable farm.
New England treated Gretchen well, but the Bay Area was calling. After her move out in the late 90s, she stumbled across the landscape architecture program at Berkeley Extension and finally found the perfect career. Through these studies, she realized that some of her places, like the Andover Campus and Shelburne Farms, weren’t as natural as the woods she grew up in. They had been designed and sculpted by the founder of the field of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted.
A designer with Arterra since 2005, Gretchen brings her east coast influence and environmental sensibilities to working with the natural landscape to create dynamic spaces that are comfortable and whimsical. Her fondness of mid-century modern aesthetics keep her designs uncluttered with clean modern lines.
Gretchen is a member of the ASLA and a volunteer and board member for a non-profit animal rescue group in the East Bay. Outside of the office, Gretchen bounces between her Oakland home and her getaway tucked in the woods of Healdsburg. Her design and environmental aesthetic extends to her home and garden, which are an eclectic blend of mid-century modern furniture, found objects and re-purposed materials. She can often be found rummaging through salvage yards for the next great inspiration, planning elaborate birthday parties for friends, snowboarding in Tahoe or hiking in the Oakland hills.