PRIDE: Creating Inclusive Landscapes For All To Enjoy


david rubin portrait

David A. Rubin, who has presented on the history of queer and inclusive landscapes, gives back to the LGBTQIA+ community by mentoring young designers. (Photo © Sahar Coston-Hardy/Esto)

In celebration of Pride Month, Luxe taps design pros to discuss empowerment, inspiration and the importance of diversity.

For landscape architect David A. Rubin, empathy and accessibility are core qualities of business and personal ethos. The founding principal of DAVID RUBIN Land Collective—a nationally certified LGBT small business enterprise studio with locations in Philadelphia and Indianapolis—urges designers to shed light on the challenges of others by asking a simple question: “How can I help you?” Here, Rubin underscores the value in taking risks and seeking commonalities over contrasts.

I feel pride in design when…

I see an extraordinary breadth of constituency occupying a landscape of our design. Landscape is the most equitable of disciplines and has the capacity to lift everyone together, and when people self-identify in our designs, it is a landscape that is loved in the hearts and the minds of those present.

What does equal representation in design mean to you?

Designing from a position of empathy, to think beyond oneself to positively inform the lives of others.

Recent favorite project.

Franklin Park in Washington, D.C. A significant goal for this 5-acre downtown site was to describe a sustainable park, both in social and ecological metrics, in which people could identify, and a park that is accessible, inviting all to participate.

Design icons or notable mentors that have influenced your style.

Architects Buzz Yudell and John Ruble (Moore Ruble Yudell Architects) for their humanist architectural constructs; Artist Timothy McDowell for his capacity to see, interpret and record his world; Richard Hayman, my high school art teacher, who introduced me to the history of art and cultural artifact, and in doing so opened the doors of knowledge for me when, together, we realized I was a non-standard learner.

How can we express ourselves more authentically at home? 

Create an environment for yourself that allows identity to be expressed, and find joyfulness through wellness and belonging.

How do you express diversity through design?

By thinking inclusively and finding opportunities in landscape to create emotional resonance with those who occupy the site. We are so alike, and yet so different. Finding commonalities within the diverse expressions is essential for stylistic integrity.

david rubin Cummins plaza

DAVID RUBIN Land Collective designed the landscape of the Cummins, Inc. Distribution headquarters in Indianapolis where employees and the neighborhood at large are welcome to enjoy the outdoor space. (Photo: Hadley Fruits)

franklin park david rubin

Opening weekend for Washington, D.C.’s Franklin Park. (Photo © Sahar Coston-Hardy/Esto)