Steven Ziegler, , Ziegler Design Associates

Steven Ziegler runs his landscape architecture firm out of a converted garage on his small town of Middleton farm. "We can yell back and forth to one another," says Ziegler, who works with his wife and two others in Ziegler Design Associates. "It makes for much collaboration on all projects, put it that way."

But don't get the idea that this is a fly-by-night garage operation. Ziegler, 63, is a lifelong area resident who followed in the footsteps of his father, a UW landscape architecture professor. Since the 1990s, Ziegler Design Associates has planned landscapes for individuals and organizations, devoting a portion of its work to needy nonprofits.

One of Ziegler's chief concerns is sustainability. "Land development will not be able to continue in the way it has," he says. "We need models where land works more in concert with people and what they need, including open space and a sense of community. We need to sustain a system so that people can grow."

Ziegler has designed "healing gardens" that hospitals use in treating patients. He developed a land-use plan for Safe Haven, a new facility for homeless people that will be run by the local organization Porchlight. "We helped them lay out the buildings, develop spaces where people could be outside, and put in the groundwork for the community gardens," he says. "Porchlight is dedicated to having gardening be a part of its rehabilitation program."

Ziegler's longest-running project is the north side's Troy Gardens, a 26-acre public space that integrates gardens, an organic farm, restored prairie and woodlands. The firm got involved in 1997, developing a master plan that showed how all the components would fit together.

Ziegler is attuned to the unique aspects of our region, and he tailors his designs accordingly.

"Good landscape architecture" he says, "takes the values of the environment and the socio-cultural systems and melds them so that the best opportunities come forth."

- Dean Robbins