MEET THE CIVITOTS: MARK NAYLOR
Continuing our “Meet the Civitots” series of posts, we’d love to introduce you to Mark Naylor, who’s been part of Civitas since the days when you could count the number of Civitots on your fingers. Mark has worn many hats for our firm, from IT manager and Director of Operations to award-winning landscape designer. No matter the number of hats or volume of hair, we’re just glad he’s here.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CIVITAS… AND IN YOUR CASE, BACK TO CIVITAS?
I moved to Denver, seeking a change of scenery from LA and Santa Monica, where I’d grown up, and joined Civitas in 1989. I stayed with the firm for 17 years, playing many roles including designer, IT manager (I was the firm’s first “computer guy” as we—and the whole industry—embraced the evolution from pen and pencil to computer-aided design), Director of Operations, and Principal. I stepped away in 2007 and spent some time with other studios, including my own solo practice. But ultimately, I returned to Civitas in 2014, feeling connected to this ‘family’ that I’ve been part of for so long. It’s wonderful to be back. This is a great group of people, with a very loyal and caring leader in Mark Johnson.
WHAT EXPERIENCES, PEOPLE, OR PLACES HAVE HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE ON YOU AND YOUR DESIGN APPROACH?
I grew up in Santa Monica, California, and always loved the outdoors from the beach to the mountains. My family’s frequent summer road trips to National Parks and other destinations kept me interested in my surroundings, especially landscapes. I loved finding and exploring new and different landscapes. Around the age of twelve, we traveled to the Bay Area to visit an uncle who worked at the time for Peter Walker. He took us on a tour to some of Sasaki-Walker’s projects around San Francisco, and I was hooked.
After studying landscape architecture at Cal. Poly-Pomona, my career began in Los Angeles, where I worked on projects like the Getty Museum and 1984 Olympics with Emmet Wemple & Associates. Emmet’s personal approach to design and relationship building had a profound impact on me. I saw this same personal touch in Mark Johnson and Civitas, which is part of what brought me here a few years later.
My own design approach revolves around observation. Study. Thinking. Talking to clients and stakeholders. Listening. Understanding. Seeking feedback. At my core, I’m a people person, so I’m always interested in creating unique, personal solutions. I value the combination of what our projects do socially and civically, and how they genuinely improve people’s lives.
HOW WOULD YOUR COWORKERS AND CLIENTS DESCRIBE YOU?
I hope they consider me trustworthy, feeling like I can be counted on to get things done, and that our relationships are positive ones.
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT SO FAR?
My family is the most important part of my life and, professionally, I’m very proud of the good relationships I’ve cultivated as well. I love working with clients who are focused on people—who treat people right and are fair. They do the right thing, even if it sacrifices a little profit. Chris Fellows is one of those clients. It’s fun and fulfilling to work with him on projects like Painted Prairie. I have also loved being involved with Belleview Station for years, working with Trey Warren. He cares deeply about the community and is willing to invest in making it as great a place as possible.
From a project perspective, Commons Park is one I’m very proud of. This part of Denver was an important part of the city’s history and yet it had become derelict, with old railroad yards and warehouses. There was an opportunity to reclaim the Platte River and reconnect it to the city. Mark J. had the vision to create a signature open space in order to attract development, and it worked—the park became the centerpiece of a thriving new neighborhood. That was very inspiring to be part of. In the 20 years since the project was completed, it’s had a monumental impact on Denver’s growth.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I’ve played tennis since I was a kid, and I love to use my smoker and make barbecue. But music, especially piano, has always been one of my primary passions. Before switching to landscape architecture, I majored in music. In more recent years, I led the music program at my church. My faith is a central part of my life, and my family’s life. My wife and I have four grown kids, so we’re empty nesters now and are enjoying this new phase of life with a little less to juggle.
WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS DO YOU ASPIRE TO REACH IN THE FUTURE?
I want to give back. I’m very involved with community outreach through my church. For example, during the early months of the pandemic we would knock on doors in the community and simply ask if people needed help, or if they knew anyone who did. I want to do more of that.
DESCRIBE ONE NOTABLE OR INTERESTING ITEM THAT’S CURRENTLY ON YOUR DESK.
I have two things on my desk that are distinguishing: a lava lamp, and a Yoda figurine that moves and talks.
WHAT’S THE ONE THING YOU NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT?
God. Luckily, He’s not easy to forget.