Will Belcher, PLA, ASLA
Founder + Principal
Will is a landscape architect and the founding principal of Ground Control in Philadelphia. Over the course of his career, he has led the design and construction of award winning urban parks, corporate headquarters, academic landscapes, and mixed-use projects throughout North America and around the world. He has received recognition for his work by the Urban Land Institute, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the American Institute of Architects. His work has been published in Landscape Architecture Magazine, Architectural Record, and a variety of online publications.
Will’s passion and consensus-building approach to design fosters collaboration, creating ecologically intelligent and socially purposeful spaces with a distinctive sense of place.
Will’s inventiveness has yielded ecologically intelligent and socially purposeful places including the recently completed Cummins Green* in Indianapolis, Pennovation Works* in Philadelphia, Apple Park* in California, the Master Plan for the Alexandria Waterfront* in Virginia, and Mill River Park and Greenway* in Stamford, CT which recently won a ‘Great American Places’ Award by the American Planning Association and a Design Honor Award by the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2015.
Prior to forming Ground Control, Will was an Associate at OLIN, an internationally acclaimed landscape architecture studio, where his recent work included the design for Vallco Town Center* in collaboration with Rafael Viñoly Architects. The project re-envisions a 50-acre abandoned mall into a mixed use town center including a 30-acre rooftop park that will be the world’s largest green roof upon completion. His other recent work at OLIN included the National Desert Storm War Memorial* in Washington DC, large scale urban planning and design at Camana Bay* in the Caribbean, and the renovation of the Alderman Library* at the University of Virginia in collaboration with HBRA Architects.
Will earned a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture at Virginia Tech. During his studies, he received several awards, including the ASLA Honor Award and the Stanley Abbott Award for his master plan for the Lower Hill District in Pittsburgh titled 'Pittsburgh's Fourth River: A Confluence of Cultures'.
*work completed prior to Ground Control
Aya Miyakoda, PLA, ASLA
Aya is a landscape architect and urban designer at Ground Control. A registered landscape architect in both North Carolina and Japan, she brings a unique design perspective shaped from over 15 years of diverse professional experience to project conceptualization, design development, and construction documentation and implementation. Born and raised in Tokyo, she was drawn to urban design, architecture and landscape architecture by observing the complexity of the urban environment in Tokyo and contrasting countryside of Japan.
Receiving her Bachelor of Environmental Design & Architecture from Kobe Design University, and Masters of Landscape Architecture from Louisiana State University, her extensive experience living and working in both the US and Japan has shaped her broad perspective toward design and unique design sensitivity.
While working for Obayashi Corporation, one of the 5 largest general construction companies in Japan, she was involved in several large upscale urban redevelopment in the heart of Tokyo including Riverie Minatocho, and ARIAKE Garden City Development. She was a key contributor for the award winning Soka University General Education project, while working with Keikan Sekkei Tokyo, a small landscape atelier firm in Tokyo, where she developed a strong interest in the design of public open spaces. '
As the founding principal of Keikan West, working in collaboration with LandDesign, her recent works are focused on urban placemaking: Uptown 550, a mixed-use development in uptown Charlotte consisting of a 22-floor luxury apartment tower, public plazas and rooftop courtyards, Midtown, a multi-phase healthcare-anchored mixed use development on a 10 acre site in midtown Charlotte, and the Kannapolis Downtown Revitalization Project which is transforming the heart of downtown Kannapolis, establishing a central sports and entertainment venue, and providing critical streetscape and infrastructure improvements.
Kara Swanick, ASLA
Kara is a native of Philadelphia, where she developed a love for the city, its unique characteristics, its people, and its cheesesteaks. Kara joined Ground Control after completing her BLA at The Pennsylvania State University. During her time in State College, she received a minor in geography and combined her passions for design with social and environmental justice. Some of her fondest memories at Penn State were directing LABash 2018 and taking a class where she studied the literature of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, then spent spring break kayaking through the blackwater swamps and camping on barrier islands.
Studying in Bonn, Germany and Barcelona, Spain deeply impacted Kara’s practices and inspirations. Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord led Kara to a newfound love for post-industrial projects. Kara’s current work at Ground Control includes an adaptive reuse project that includes a series of post-industrial rail depots and stream restoration in Northwest Arkansas as well as a new Children’s Center in Northern Virginia focusing on immersive natural play environments.