The Origins of Design Ecology are Rooted in Collaboration

By Scott Cummings

Tributary member organization Design Ecology / Design Aquatics is the definition of collaboration. Founded in January of 2011, Design Ecology is a 50/50 partnership between Benjamin Lasseter & Scott Cummings. The company is founded upon and based on the combination of two different areas of expertise possessed by each of the founding members.

Scott Cummings & Ben Lasseter met in February of 2006 when Scott moved from Memphis, Tennessee to Austin, Texas. Ben was working as a construction project manager for the company who had just recruited Scott as a landscape & swimming pool designer. The pair enjoyed working together from the very beginning, but at the time, neither could foresee the potential that would be realized in the future collaboration of founding Design Ecology / Design Aquatics.

Early on, Ben & Scott worked together designing and building high end residential swimming pool & landscape improvement projects for this small landscape architecture firm. They had the opportunity to work on some truly unique projects which would later help to inspire the business model for Design Ecology. Projects which included a French style estate pool and landscape masterplan as well as a project with a 79’ long lap pool featuring a 3-sided acrylic end cantilevered over Lake Austin.

In November of 2008, shortly after the onset of the “great recession”, Scott was laid off as the company the future partners worked for was forced into a significant downsizing. Ben remained with the company for a few more months before he also left for greener pastures. Over the next two plus years, Ben & Scott kept in touch, while developing relationships and honing skills in different roles with different companies. Scott ran the Austin branch design / sales division of a traditional pool company. Ben worked in a similar project management role with a landscape contractor briefly before starting his own landscape construction company.

Early in 2010 the company that Scott worked for was awarded the contract to design & build 2 swimming pools for a new luxury hotel being constructed in downtown Austin. Located 80 feet above street level, these pools were very technically challenging designs and they required a tremendous amount of knowledgeable oversite to install successfully. While Scott had full confidence in his company’s ability to build the pools, he was concerned about the current construction work load and the resources that would be required on this high-profile project. Scott immediately thought of Ben Lasseter and knew that he would be well suited for the project. It took some convincing, but Scott eventually talked his boss into subcontracting Ben as a construction project manager for these pools. Ultimately, these hotel pools became a very popular summer destination for visitors to Austin and locals alike.

Through this successful collaboration Ben & Scott decided to join forces in their own business venture and Design Ecology became a reality in January of 2011. The company started small and the partners even had to call in favors from venders and suppliers on a few occasions. With the support of great partners like Zodiac, Paramount, & Wet Edge, and from loyal clients who have trusted the firm with some truly amazing projects, Design Ecology is growing into a well-known and respected Landscape Architectural design / build firm & Swimming pool specialist for central Texas and beyond.

-- Scott Cummings / Design Ecology