Olivera Berce, RLA, BSLA, MLA (languages: Slovenian, Serbo-Croatian, English)


Olivera Berce is a Senior Associate at Ground, overseeing the technical design, construction, and management of the office’s projects. A talented designer with a detailed focus, Olivera synthetically translates design concepts into built form; excelling at crafting architectural details that capture the essence of the design. 

In her role as senior project manager, Olivera guides Ground’s project management team. Her twenty plus years of project management experience has resulted in multiple award-winning projects across the globe. 

Olivera received her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and Master in Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Ground, Olivera worked in several world-renowned offices on many award-winning international projects.

Curtis Puncher, BSc, MA, MLA (languages: English, Khmer)

Curtis Puncher is an Associate Project Manager at Ground supervising the design of a number of the office’s key projects. A highly organized and imaginative leader, Curtis is able to synthesize multiple constraints to create a holistic design vision and maintain the integrity of the design through documentation.

Curtis’ professional experience includes 9 years of experience, initially in design-build followed with landscape design practice at award winning firms in Boston and Toronto. Curtis brings a broad set of skills and strong technical focus to his work.

Curtis received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts and Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Toronto..

Yao Xiao, BArch, MLA (languages:  Mandarin, English)

Yao Xiao is an Associate Project Manager at Ground with an added specialty in visualization. She adeptly manages the design of multiple Ground projects and oversees the office’s 3D visual expression.  Yao’s professional experience is in both landscape architecture and architecture, including projects in the United States and China.

Yao holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree with honors from Zhejiang University in China where she was awarded the best graduation thesis  and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She has also studied at the Technical University of Munich in Germany.

Yao maintains a strong interest in arts, representation and design theory. Her academic work and writing has been featured in such publications as Platform and El Croquis (Chinese Edition).

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Lena Smart, BLA (language: English)

Lena Smart is a Design Associate at Ground. With a background in photography and the arts, Lena brings a strong visual focus to her design process. Her work is inspired by merging the visual environment with the dynamic experience of space.

She has worked on projects ranging in scale from art installations to large-scale planning and campus work. Before working in landscape architecture, she worked in graphic design and furniture development.

Lena earned her Bachelors of Landscape Architecture cum laude from Northeastern University.



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Lingya Chen, BArch, MLA (languages: Mandarin, English)

Lingya Chen is a Design Associate at Ground with a specialty in graphic presentation and 3D modeling. She has been involved in the design development of many Ground’s projects, focusing on the sculptural details of design.

Lingya has a diverse background in architecture, urban design and landscape design. Before coming to Ground, she has worked in both architecture and landscape architecture studios. 

Lingya holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Tsinghua University in China and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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Cesare Cascella, MArch, PhD (languages: Italian, English)

Cesare Cascella is a Design and Research Trainee at Ground. With a background in Architecture and Social Science, Cesare’s work aims to synthetically analyze landscape components (ecosystems, people, and economies) towards their performance optimization.

Prior to joining Ground, Cesare co-founded the multi-disciplinary design studio Dopolavoro.org and worked as an Early Stage Researcher for MAPS-LED, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie RISE research project funded by the European Union’s HORIZON 2020 program for Research and Innovation.

Cesare received his Master of Architecture cum laude from the ‘Federico II’ University of Naples and the Doctoral degree in Urban Regeneration and Economic Development from the ‘Mediterranea’ University of Reggio Calabria, in collaboration with the Northeastern University of Boston.

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Abdulaziz Alrifaie, BLA (languages: Arabic, English)

Aziz Alrifaie is a Landscape Designer at Ground, with an interest in sustainable design and resilient landscape installations. Aziz’s work seeks lasting and durable design interventions that create benefits for urban environments and ecosystems, including the incorporation of passive strategies such as urban rain gardens that help mitigate storm water runoff.

Aziz recently completed his Bachelors in Landscape Architecture at Cornell University. He is the junior member of Ground Inc. and lives for cooking, carpentry, and design.