ArqGEO has been redefining landscape architecture in South Florida for nearly 15 years. While the firm welcomes international commissions, Miami is home. Incorporated in 2005, ArqGEO, led by Laurinda H. Spear and Margarita Blanco, two women steeped in architecture, has elevated the conversation about the important role landscape architecture plays and the contributions it can make in the face of climate change and sea level rise.
Our projects address not only ecological objectives, but also add community value and elevates the return of investment of our clients by improving performance and livability.
Our approach is clear. To design innovative and bold solutions that respond to the existing conditions of the site and are adaptive to climate change, sea level rise, restores biodiversity, and enhances the human experience. Mixing resiliency with beautiful functional landscapes has created a level of awareness in communities and the world at large where the understanding of nature being incorporated into the built environment is a priority.
ArqGEO works in close collaboration with clients, architects, planners, engineers, developers and construction professionals to create aesthetic and functional design solutions. The international, multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural richness of our firm provides the expertise to examine projects from all angles and the agility to respond to changing issues of global concern.
Master Planning / Land Use Planning
Parks and Recreational Facility Design
Green Roofs and Living Walls
Greenways and Trails
Multi-Family Residential Design
Single-Family Residential Design
Leadership in Energy & Enviromental Design (LEED) + SITES
(LEED) is the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system for sustainable development. Many of our projects have focused on LEED concepts that target the landscape’s influence on building systems, such as site selection, water-management and energy consumption. These advanced design elements influence aesthetics and contribute sustainable, often cost-saving features to the design. We have LEED Accredited Professionals who can actively contribute to the process of obtaining LEED Certification for construction projects. Through innovative technologies, ArquitectonicaGEO projects aim to incorporate the best practices for conserving water, soil, plants, materials and energy, while ultimately aiming to satisfy human needs for health, safety, well-being and education.
Originally modeled after LEED, SITES was developed to fill the gap in addressing site sustainability. In 2015, GBCI acquired the SITES rating system and started administering certification as part of its strategy to ensure that the sustainability movement addresses all areas of the built environment. SITES–certified landscapes help reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.
Laurinda H. Spear, FAIA, PLA, LEED AP, IIDA
As a founding principal of Arquitectonica and ArqGEO, Ms. Spear has been active from the beginning, and has participated in the design of all projects undertaken by both firms. With over 40 years of multi-disciplinary experience, she has devoted her career to exploring complex challenges of contemporary built and natural environments. Her passion for developing innovative solutions that balance a modern aesthetic with an environmental practice that promotes environmental and social functionality in design as well as creating value for the client, the user, and surrounding community. Her design philosophy is to integrate landscape-based technologies and ecology to address the imminent threat of sea level rise in the urban environment that result in functional resilient landscapes that yield a return of investment.
Under Laurinda’s leadership, ArqGEO has produced award-winning designs for projects around the word such as the Dijon Performing Arts Center in France; the Taikoo Hui Development in China; the PortMiami Tunnel, Perez Art Museum and Brickell City Centre in Miami, Florida.
Among the many accolades she has received over her 40 plus years in the industry; in 2018, Laurinda was the recipient of Urban Land Instituter’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the first time the prestige award was given to an architect. In 2019, the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies bestowed Laurinda with the American Prize for Architecture. The distinction is given to architects that have contributed to the built environment through art and architecture.
She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Brown University, a Master of Architecture from Columbia University, a Master of Landscape Architecture from Florida International University, and attended the Master of City Planning program at MIT. She has taught at Harvard University, the University of Miami, Florida International University, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Margarita Blanco, Ph.D., LEED AP
Co-founder and Director of ArqGEO, Margarita is driven by a commitment to excellence. She is involved on nearly every project and ensures that proper and accurate execution of the design intent is carried out, down to the smallest detail. Under her direction, the firm has earned numerous state, national, and international awards. During her 35+ year career working on numerous projects worldwide, Ms. Blanco has gained experience in many project typologies or different scales and sizes including hotels and resorts, offices, retail, and residential projects ranging from large master plans, technologically advanced housing, to luxury high-end residential. Ms. Blanco has been practicing Landscape Architecture for 15 years and Architecture for over 25 years.
She received a Bachelor degree in Architecture from Cornell University, a Diploma in Business Studies from the London School of Economics. After practicing architecture for more than twenty-five year, Margarita earned a a Master of Landscape Architecture from Florida International University and in 2019 earned a Ph.D. in Landscape Architecture from University of Florida.
John “Ben” Hutchens, PLA, SITES AP, LEED AP
Vice President – Landscape Architect
Mr. Hutchens is a Registered Landscape Architect that specializes in urban site design for mixed-use, commercial, multi-family residential, municipal and institutional projects both local and international. Driven by a passion of the outdoors and striving to achieve a timeless design and a sense of place with every project; Ben’s thoughtful and expressive design demonstrate his commitment to aesthetics, functionality, and resiliency while providing our clients with designs of great impact and value. Ben is currently involved in several new projects in the Wynwood District and has recently served as the Lead Landscape Architect for the Wynwood Streetscape Master Plan and Design Guidelines project as well as the new University of Miami Lakeside Village project, a mixed-use student housing project that will revolutionize the student experience living on campus.
Ben is a graduate of the College of Charleston’s Historic Preservation and Community Planning program; Florida International University’s Master’s program in Landscape Architecture, and certified SITES AP and LEED AP. He has been practicing Landscape Architecture for over 15 years.
Michelle Cintron, AIA, NCARB
Ms. Cintron is a Registered Architect and has a varied background in project management, coordination, design, construction documents, construction administration, 3D modeling, and rendering. Her unique multi-discipline experience, collaborative nature, attention to detail, and motivation to have the responsibility to influence the dynamics between nature, space and people; strengthens the design philosophy for which ArqGEO lives by. She recently served as project manager for the Wynwood Streetscape Master Plan and Design Guidelines project that will transform Wynwood’s neighborhood through a thoughtful, pedestrian-oriented public spaces, streetscapes, and woonerfs. Michelle is very knowledgeable in all phases of the design process, adding extensive technical expertise and that ensures every project is delivered at the highest standards.
Michelle is a graduate of the University of Florida’s Architecture program and University of Los Angeles’s Master’s project in Architecture. She was an Assistant professor at Miami Dade College and FIU and taught from 2003 – 2015.