Let’s Hear It From: Dan Alaback

by | Sep 23, 2021 | Associations, Business, Featured Slider, Landscape Architecture, People, Projects

Alaback Design’s President and Principal Dan Alaback has worked across more than 30 states for more than three decades. It all started after a huge life milestone.

A day at the hospital sparked a burst of inspiration in Dan Alaback.

His wife had just given birth to the couple’s first of  three sons, when he decided to launch his own landscape architecture business.

Dan fell in love with the profession after working in the industry for several years, but when he became a dad, he decided to move in a different direction.

“I had a sense that I was ready to start,” said Dan.

The new family quickly rushed home and got to work on what would become a nationwide brand.

Alaback Design has designed and led projects in more than 34 states, creating outdoor spaces for cities, university campuses, commercial and multi-family buildings, and single-family homes.

The team of seven landscape architects manages all projects from their corporate office in Tulsa, planning, site planning, and construction project management.

Nearly all of it is done virtually, thanks to today’s technology.

Despite any distance, Dan and his team have long-lasting relationships with their many clients and a strong network within the industry.

Dan also works closely with other industry professionals, advising young designers across the country. “I am a people person and I love working with others.

To create something out of nothing, as landscape architects do, it is always satisfying.

Then to earn respect from people who you’re working for, and they love what you do, it is even more rewarding.”

Dan’s interest in landscape architecture began while working with a landscape
installation company in high school.

He attended Oklahoma State University, starting in the forestry program.

That changed in 1976.

“The professor in forestry said: ‘Look to your left, look to your right. Neither of these people will have a job in forestry in four years because you have to be at the top of your class’. I decided I was not.”

It took a little research, but Dan found a new career route and never looked back.

Dan earned his Landscape Architecture degree from OSU and has worked in the industry for 41 years.

He and his team have been honored by several landscaping and small business awards and will celebrate the 35th year in operation this August.

Dan is even getting to leave his mark on his alma mater.

One of the firm’s latest projects was to redesign the OSU Welcome Plaza in front of the Student Union and Undergraduate Office of Admissions.

The school has earned the “Keep Oklahoma Beautiful” Collegiate Award.

Dan says the beauty of the campus is drawing more students to Stillwater.

“The plaza is the first thing potential OSU students see as they come onto campus. Staff members say they love the space because it is so welcoming. These are the most successful places, where people can engage.”

Alaback Design’s impact goes far beyond the firm’s home state though. The landscape architects obtained licenses to maintain and relationships with clients who expanded outside of Oklahoma.

Right now, the firm can work in 24 states.

This does pose some unique challenges.

“When we are doing work in California, we need far different material than what we’re using in Tulsa. The same is true for Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. The biggest difference I see between states is the water conservation issues. For example, we can look at Oklahoma, which has an abundance of water. When we
work in Colorado, everyone is concerned about sustainable plant materials and low water consumption.”

Along with climate challenges, architects must also stay up to date on codes in each city.

“We talk with a lot of the city planners or the zoning officers to be sure we are clear. We’ve built a great repertoire with them. Many of the planners and health department officers even know us by name.”

Dan’s wife Robin still works with the business, three decades after helping it to launch. At the moment, Alaback Designs is working in 10 states, bringing new ideas and spaces to life every day.

“That is the beauty of doing any of these projects. You’re doing something special.”

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