There is a dying romance between pencil and paper that cannot be replicated by pen or computers. Choosing the precise pencil among the dozens splayed across the desk can be the most difficult decision to make. The pencil provides a sensual experience, feeling the lead transfer through the weight of the fingers, scratching the paper and marking the unblemished surface. Without complaint, the paper accepts the pencil, translating and transforming ideas and imagination into visual communication.
As the pencil dulls, unformed ideas take shape and rise from the paper. The pencil turns esoteric threads to a manageable fabric, grounding concepts in reality - a tactile process from brain to hand, pencil to paper. Lyon Landscape Architects still elicits the love of pencil and paper, a tactile connection to the world, to explore options, stimulate creativity, and communicate with his clients.
It’s not uncommon today to see kids on their computers, iPads, and smart phones - interacting and keeping in touch with friends and family via social medias, playing games, watching videos or texting. How times have changed!
When Marty was a kid he loved to draw and sketch. He painted his first piece of framed art, a watercolor of an oak tree, as a nine-year old while at a summer art class at Wright Park in Tacoma. For Marty it was the beginning of a life-long passion for art and design and has had a sketch book, pencil, or paint brush in hand, sketching landscapes, doodling structural details, painting still-lifes, or creating visual memories ever since. That first painting is still around and is now hanging in his studio.
About that same period of time, Marty’s family moved into a new home in Tacoma designed by architect, Robert Price, and landscape architect, Rex Zumwalt. The home, overlooking the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, received several AIA Awards and the landscape was often featured in Sunset Magazine. This early awareness and exposure to acclaimed professional design had a tremendous influence and was later heightened as an early teen when he was introduced to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. By the age of 15, Marty was convinced he wanted to become an architect. Through the next years, Marty also discovered an affinity for the outdoors. He then concentrated his career development efforts to blend architecture and the environment – learning the science, craft, and design of Landscape Architecture.
After graduating from Washington State University with a BS in Landscape Architecture, Marty gained a breadth of experience at the multi-disciplinary firm, Kramer, Chin, and Mayo (KCM) in Seattle. He then worked for Conifer Developments, designing for multi-family and commercial development projects. In 1980 he started his firm, Marty A. Lyon, Landscape Architects, P.S.
The real story for Marty, however, is all about pencil on paper. There is a strong tactile experience when one places a soft graphite pencil to paper. Still today, Marty always travels with one or more sketch books, and enjoying and finding inspiration from the classic feel of soft pencil on paper. As a landscape architect for nearly 40 years, Marty still relies upon his favorite tools, pencil and paper, during the early stages of new projects.
Through the years, Marty has drawn and sketched the beginnings of a wide variety of projects - from residential planting designs to estate gardens to tree arboretums, and a biblical garden, to public plazas, memorials, and parks, to sports fields, recreation complexes and school campuses, to commercial and government buildings, to Boy’s and Girl’s club facilities, and to summer camp facilities. When driving around Tacoma, Pierce County, and the greater south Puget Sound area one is very likely to pass at least one – or even a dozen landscape architectural designs by Marty and his firm.
One of the more interesting design experiences Marty had was working with a Japanese development company to design American gardens for Japanese homes. Marty was a featured speaker in Japan at a symposium of designing Livable Communities. In 2007, he came full circle and collaborated with a Japanese landscape architect to design a Japanese garden, a gift from Tacoma’s sister city in Japan, at Tacoma Community College.
Marty also makes a particular effort to include art as a part of his design whenever possible. He has been fortunate to work with a number of different artists. Bronze sculptures have been focal points for several memorial designs. On one project he worked with a Native American totem carver to create intricate carvings for handrails on a foot bridge. Other projects have included graphic artists for signage.
Moghan has been part of the story and journey from the beginning. At an early age Moghan was exposed to the influences of residential and commercial real estate business, real estate investment and development, art, and landscape architecture. During his early teen years he would often visit job sites with Marty, his dad, and was quick to point out flaws, suggest improvements, and offer commentary as how he would do things differently. It became very evident he too had the natural tools to be a successful landscape architect.
Moghan was a competitive soccer player throughout his school years (he still plays in a local men’s league). Through soccer he traveled all over the U.S. In between tournament games he often followed his parents on hikes, bike rides, and exploratory city walks. His awareness of the environment, it’s preservation, and of the relationship between the land, nature, and people, the inhabitants and users, grew.
Moghan earned a BA in Business Finance at the University of San Diego in 2002. He moved back to Seattle and worked for Marcus and Millichap in their subsidized housing division. He began spending more time on his oil pastel art and realized he wanted to do more with design. Moghan entered the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Washington, graduating in 2010. Since graduation he has worked for a local Seattle firm and occasionally helped his dad with occasional projects in Sun Valley.
Over the passing years, Marty and Moghan have often discussed and imagined what if they had a partnership. Then, the stars aligned and then it was TIME!
Lyon Landscape Architects was opened, capitalizing on Marty’s years of experience and leadership, and Moghan’s unique real estate and business background, along with current technical and graphic skills. They merge their breadth of experience and skills, creating a firm that is competitive in today’s complex and evolving field of landscape architecture.
And that’s Our Story, at least the chapters written so far. The future is full of opportunity! Marty and Moghan offer experience with a flair for art; technical expertise with a critical eye for detail; sound judgement with their clients interest at heart, old school drawing with today’s technology, and a social consciousness commitment. They offer all of this with the simple belief that the Lyon Landscape Architects story is not yet complete. They are looking forward to assisting clients in achieving maximum site use and design potential. Lyon Landscape Architects strives to build long-lasting, strong interactive relationships with their clients and the community.