Mike Breedlove’s Retirement Party

We enjoyed seeing so many current and past clients and partners at Mike Breedlove’s retirement celebration! The party was held at BLP’s old office in Conyers on Friday. Jennifer Messer, UGA’s Director of Development for the College of Environment and Design, was there to announce the establishment of the Mike Breedlove Scholarship Fund. BLP’s partners, Chip Brown, Matt Tanner, Scott Talbot, and Kyle Webb created the scholarship to commemorate Mike’s career and achievements in the field of landscape architecture. Scholarships will be awarded to Landscape Architecture students in the University’s College of Environment and Design.

Meet our Newest Team Members!

BLP is pleased to introduce our newest team members, Laurel Fox and Nathan Rhineheimer. Laurel began working with Breedlove Land Planning as an intern in 2019, and recently joined the team full time after graduating from the University of Georgia’s College of Environment and Design with a degree in Landscape Architecture. At Breedlove, Laurel assists project teams with everything from planting design to stormwater management calculations. Laurel also has an extensive knowledge of native plant material which she enjoys putting into practice to make our projects more successful. In her free time Laurel enjoys collecting houseplants and spending time with friends and family as well as her dog, Olive, and her cat, Meatball.

Nathan Rhineheimer graduated from the University of Georgia with his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in 2020 and joined BLP full-time in the summer of 2021. While at UGA, he had the opportunity to work at the Founders’ Memorial Garden and intern with the Jekyll Island Authority. Nathan is interested in planting design, hydrology, and historic landscapes. In his free time, he enjoys reading, grilling, and indoor rock climbing.

Set to retire, Mike Breedlove leaves lasting legacy with Breedlove Land Planning

For 36 years, Mike Breedlove has been the face and name of Breedlove Land Planning, one of the premier landscape architecture and civil engineering firms in Georgia. Over that time, he and his team have designed thousands of site plans, built an expansive client roll and fostered a supportive, collaborative culture that continues to grow and evolve.

Mike, 65, will retire from his post this month, but he knows the company he is leaving behind is built to last.

“As we’ve grown, we have continued to be relationship-focused, and that started with Mike,” said Kyle Webb, one of the principals and owners of the firm. “We have organically developed a lot of mentor-mentee relationships that create a lot of well-rounded professionals in our field. To carry on Mike’s legacy is to continue to teach and develop others.”

Mike’s legacy is immense in the landscape architecture field and in the communities he has served.

He never dreamed when he was starting his company and working out of his basement that Breedlove Land Planning’s projects would someday include the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Emory University, Callaway Gardens, Zoo Atlanta, Oklahoma City Zoo, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and National Park Service.

Mike has helped develop 232 schools in 17 school districts, as well as over a dozen private school campuses. He’s helped design 17 community centers in 13 different areas across Georgia, and he’s overseen development and construction at over 40 Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.

Answering a Calling

A Georgia native, Mike was first introduced to landscape architecture in high school through a work-study program. The work was with a development firm, but the job was landscaping — a hard job, especially during Georgia’s hot summers.

“I was working out there and it was 90 degrees, just out there raking and shoveling and just dying,” Breedlove remembered. “And this guy drove up in a nice car, got out and gave us all instructions, and then he got back in his car and drove away.”

“And I said, ‘By God, that’s who I want to be.’ It was a landscape architect.”

Mike quickly dove into learning more about landscape architecture, reading books in high school and setting his sights on the renowned landscape architecture program at the University of Georgia. He arrived at UGA in the fall of 1977 and walked onto the football team. As he talks about his short football career now, he says he walked on and limped off of the team.

“I found out really quickly I was either going to be a landscape architect or a football player, and I knew I was there for my education,” Mike said. “There was no deviation. That’s what I was going to be.”

Mike graduated from UGA in 1980 and started his career at Evan Marbut & Associates in Decatur, working on site design for several schools in Dekalb County. Just five years later, he started his own firm with one client, Gwinnett Industries. He was just 29 years old.

“I was scared to death to start my own business,” Mike said. “I got married, had two kids, and we were building a house and running a business — it was a big load on all of us.”

Taking a Holistic Approach

Starting out, Breedlove Land Planning was made up entirely of landscape architects practicing site design. Engineers were contracted as needed for projects initially, but that would end soon enough as the team rapidly evolved into a landscape architecture-engineering firm.

“We learned quickly that our clients liked our holistic approach,” Mike said. “They liked that we had all these services blended under one roof. It makes our projects more seamless for our clients.”

Under Mike’s watch, Breedlove Land Planning has grown out of his basement in Conyers into a pair of offices in Atlanta and Bishop with more than 20 associates.

Many of the first wave of associates are leaders in the company today, including Hugh “Chip” Brown, Jr. and Scott Talbot. While they left the firm early in their careers to pursue other opportunities, they all came back to Breedlove. Today, the two men, as well as Webb and Matt Tanner, are the principals of the firm.

“Chip and Scott returning was a real testament to our culture,” Mike said. “The culture is the magnet here.”

What does that culture look like? It goes beyond the old beach volleyball tournaments at Mike’s house or fishing trips. It’s grounded in a camaraderie and support system that has only strengthened as the firm has grown.

“When it comes to our employee-employer relationship, we expect our associates to say what they mean and mean what they say,” Mike said. “They get ownership of these projects, and they have to see them through.

“You learn a lot that way.”

A Lasting Legacy in the Industry

For nearly 20 years, Mike has served his profession of landscape architecture through his active involvement on the Georgia State Board of Landscape Architects, including stints as Chairman for most of those years. He also served as Regional Director for the Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards (CLARB) and Georgia Chapter President for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), which inducted him as a Fellow in 2000.

Just this year, he was recognized by the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission as the Level II Designer of the Year.

Mike has passed on the importance of serving their industry and communities through volunteer efforts to his staff.

“We’ve carried through a lot of volunteer efforts — whether with Habitat for Humanity, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission, the U.S. Green Building Council and more,” Talbot said. “There are so many volunteer roles here.”

For more than three decades, Breedlove Land Planning has designed the sites for schools and government complexes, commercial developments and parks, and dozens of projects at UGA and Georgia Tech. The Rockdale Veterans War Memorial in Conyers was designed by Mike and his team, and it has been updated many times over the years to honor those who served the U.S. in various wars and conflicts.  

For Big Creek Elementary in Forsyth County, Mike worked with professors and researchers to plan and develop the site, while also crafting methodologies and modeling for erosion control.

“A lot of the Georgia Erosion Control Manual has Mike’s fingerprints on it through his experience,” Brown said. “He’s worked with professors and experts at universities across the Southeast to expand research and education.” 

Breedlove Land Planning’s holistic approach will not change with the firm’s current ownership, which has been in place the last five years. Brown, Talbot, Tanner and Webb intend to carry on Mike’s legacy of holistic design and culture of camaraderie.

“I think that Mike has clearly created a culture and principles our clients see as assets, which is a big part of why we keep getting to work with them on great projects,” said Tanner, who serves as vice president of engineering for the firm. “Everyone here embraces Mike’s approach — to be well rounded and learn everything they can about our industry.”

As he looks ahead to the next chapter of his journey, Mike encourages his industry to take on projects with a holistic, sustainable point of view. There is a balance that must be maintained, a balance that Breedlove has practiced his entire career.

“My legacy is that I was a design professional who cared, a design professional who viewed projects as much more than the project,” he said. “It was the community, the environment, the people around them over the years. It’s been a blessing to be here and a blessing to build the relationships with our clients and communities we serve.”

BLP Meeting at Fort Yargo State Park

Last week both BLP offices got together at Fort Yargo for our quarterly employee meeting. We discussed all of the work we’ve done with Georgia Department of Natural Resources over the past decade and it was great to see our work at Fort Yargo including campsites, camper cabins, and the new Visitor Center. After a year of isolation we enjoyed having everyone together on a sunny day!

Zoo Atlanta’s New Grigsby Aviary

Over at Zoo Atlanta, Breedlove Land Planning is pleased to report that the Grigsby Aviary is nearing completion. Built by CR Construction, this aviary will create a new standard for Zoo Atlanta. BLP worked with Zoo Atlanta’s Vice President of Facilities, the Vice President of Collections and Conservation, the Curator of Birds, Herpetology and Animal Ambassadors as well as their staff to ‘vet’ a variety of 3-D models depicting the aviary and peacock house before producing plans and details. We are looking forward to seeing the white peacock make itself comfortable in its new home. You can read more here:  https://zooatlanta.org/coming-soon-the-new-grigsby-aviary/

High School Football’s Corky Kell Classic Starts Tonight

Collins Hill High School, Dacula High School, and Mill Creek High School Football Fields

Are you ready for some football? The Corky Kell Classic is an annual series of Georgia high school football games to kick-off the season, featuring many of the state’s top teams. With the impacts of current COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, the annual series will be held at nine different football stadiums in order to avoid having multiple games at the same venue.  Of the nine venues selected for the 2020 series, five of the fields were designed by BLP.  The five venues include a traditional natural turf field as well as synthetic turf systems by AstroTurf, FieldTurf, and Shaw Sports Turf.  Regardless of which type of playing surface you prefer, BLP has the design experience to make your next athletics project a success!  This year’s games will be televised on PeachtreeTV starting tonight.

For more information visit http://corkykellclassic.com/.

Grand New View at Zoo Atlanta

Congratulations to Zoo Atlanta and Winter Johnson Group for being recognized as a CMAA 2020 Private Building, Renovation/Modernization, over $20 Million award winner!

Image from CMAA – click here for the full list of awards.

Zoo Atlanta gets a new rhinoceros

Mumbles, a southern white rhinoceros, is the newest resident of Zoo Atlanta’s African Savanna. Breedlove Land Planning provided site design for the African Savanna, which includes a ‘best in class’ elephant barn, elephant, giraffe, rhino and hoofstock habitats, an impressive water feature, pavilions, boardwalks and interpretive signage.

Click here to learn more.

Breedlove Land Planning’s Response to COVID-19

Out of an abundance of caution, Breedlove Land Planning offices will be closed until Wednesday, April 8, 2020 in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We will be working remotely until that time, when we will re-evaluate based on guidance from the CDC. We will continue to interact with clients and colleagues through email, phone communication, and essential meetings. While working remotely we will utilize technology to collaborate effectively and produce thorough and complete design and construction documents. We are committed to providing excellent service to our clients, and we thank you for your understanding as we adapt to this evolving situation.