Who We Are
Whole Systems Design utilizes an interdisciplinary team of land planners, ecological designers, builders, and educators that live in their designs. We unify conventionally disparate fields to develop resilient and regenerative places.
We differ from other designers in that we actually live inside of our work everyday. We don't work in class A office space; we live amidst the spaces, plants and ecosystems we design. We build soil, tend to fruit trees, dig and maintain ponds and roads, tweak wood stoves, sharpen axes, fell trees, bring in the firewood, raise vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry, livestock, tune solar hot water systems, and learn from the innumerable ways one lives in a productive landscape across the seasons. We could not deliver valuable site and building design and construction experience without practicing the content of our design on a daily basis. Since the practice of modern architecture and land design is usually far removed from the consequences of its application it reliably produces dysfunctional spaces unfit for vibrant people and other living things. This distancing of designer from the designed is why these fields have consistently failed to deeply protect and enhance human culture and biological diversity for the past few generations. Our practice is part of the design-build, owner-builder movement that is transcending the industrial process which has passed for 'design' for far too long.
We work with our team of specialists we've developed over the past 15 years in Vermont to implement projects.
Ben Falk, M.A.L.D: Design, Planning, Systems Optimization
Ben developed Whole Systems Design, LLC as a land-based response to biological and cultural extinction and the increasing separation between people and elemental things. Life as a designer, builder, ecologist, tree-tender, and backcountry traveler continually informs Ben’s integrative approach to developing landscapes and buildings. His home landscape and the WSD studio site in Vermont's Mad River Valley serve as a proving ground for the regenerative land developments featured in the projects of Whole Systems Design. Ben has studied architecture and landscape architecture at the graduate level and holds a master’s degree in land-use planning and design. He has conducted nearly 200 site development consultations across New England and facilitated dozens of courses on permaculture design, property selection, microclimate design, and design for climate change.
For more, see Ben Falk's recent TEDx talk.
Cornelius Murphy: Project Management, Studio Manager, Graphic Communications
Cornelius supports WSD by synthesizing CAD and dynamic animation with hand drawing and other graphic media to produce compelling design communications. He also serves as project manager for studio-based projects and coordinates programs at the Whole Systems Research Farm. Cornelius worked as an associate designer in several California-based landscape architecture studios before coming to Vermont and Whole Systems Design. He holds a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Regenerative Design Institute in Bolinas, CA and a B.S. from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture at Temple University.
Erica Koch, ND, MEd, RMT: Whole Systems Skills Instructor, Medicinal Crops, Herbalist
Erica is a licensed Naturopathic Physician with a focus on Family Health. She earned her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from National College of Natural Medicine and a Master of Education from Rutgers University. Dr. Koch enjoys teaching people about food, herbs, and how to grow them along with integrating practical measures into daily life to promote resilience and health. In addition to her private practice, for three years she designed health promotion curriculum and practiced at Nike, Inc in Oregon as an integral part of their Employee Health program. For several years, she practiced integrative oncology and developed natural health education curricula at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. She is a traditional Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master practicing Reiki since 2000. She is currently credentialed at Gifford Medical Center and practices Naturopathic Primary Care at Integrative Health in Randolph, VT.
Akira Whiskey: Zen Master, Crop ProtectionAkira joined WSD 4 years ago from a farm in Maryland where she left her brothers and sisters to pursue a career watching sheep, goats, and ducks, chasing birds, and keeping humans company in central Vermont. She is a gifted listener, a keen observer and has recently earned a certificate in deer chasing. She holds a B.S. in Duck Watching, an M.Sc. in General Farm Guardianship and is not persuing a doctorate in anything.
Jobs & Internships
Positions for employment and apprenticeship based out of our proving ground and studio in the Mad River Valley of Vermont are ongoing. Please see our Jobs and Internships page for more information.