Our Studio

Ours is a convivial and collaborative studio environment.

We believe that our projects are made better when they are evaluated from multiple perspectives, and that each member of our team has something valuable to contribute to every project. As such, we’ve grown an office of individuals with diverse but complementary skills and experience.

Keith Nyhof

MBCSLA, CSLA
Principal

Keith Nyhof

Keith Nyhof

MBCSLA, CSLA
Principal

Keith Nyhof grew up in southern Alberta watching his father’s nursery and landscape contracting company bring landscapes to life. He often joined his father at the office, drawing landscapes and using the photocopier to make youthful creations. Evidently these were formative experiences, as Keith went on to study landscape architecture at the University of Guelph as an adult, obtaining his professional designation in BC in 2007, and co-founding BENCH in 2012.

Since 2004, Keith has been involved in the design and implementation of public and private projects throughout BC, Alberta and Ontario. He has extensive field experience, specializing in MMCD project contract administration, and has managed high-profile projects throughout the Okanagan, including the Kelowna Police Services Building, Enderby’s Cliff Avenue Streetscape Revitalization, and the Giant’s Head Trails Re-Development Plan in Summerland.

Keith spends his free time with his young family, and at every opportunity participates in the activities that the Okanagan Valley is famous for.

Xenia Semeniuk
Xenia Semeniuk

MBCSLA, CSLA, LEED AP
Principal

Xenia Semeniuk

Xenia Semeniuk

MBCSLA, CSLA, LEED AP
Principal

Xenia Semeniuk has been involved in the design of landscape architectural projects in the Okanagan and Vancouver since 2007, and co-founded BENCH in 2012. After completing an undergraduate degree in environmental politics and policy, Xenia worked for an environmental law organization and a sustainable transportation NGO before returning to study landscape architecture at UBC, drawn to the idea of the physical manifestation of policy through design. Her professional interests lie particularly in the field of green infrastructure and regenerative design, and she is a past co-chair of the Thompson-Okanagan branch of the Cascadia Green Building Council.

Xenia has overseen the landscape architectural scope of projects throughout the Interior of British Columbia, recently including the Okanagan College Vernon Trades Training Facility and Bus Loop, the UBCO Transit Exchange, Phantom Creek Estates Winery in Oliver, and the City of Kelowna’s Ellis Street Design Guidelines. If she’s not in the office, Xenia is likely to be found on skis, on a bike, or at the farmers’ market.

David James

MBCSLA, CSLA
Senior Landscape Architect

David James

MBCSLA, CSLA
Senior Landscape Architect

David is a registered member of the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects and has a breadth of professional experience in both the private and public sector. David has 27-years of professional experience in Vancouver, Calgary and Kelowna and has played a lead role in the design and implementation of Western Canada’s most notable parks and open spaces.

During his recent tenure as a park planner with the City of Kelowna, David was involved in preparing the Parks chapter for Kelowna’s 2040 Official Community Plan (OCP), working as park of an integrated planning team across several City departments to create new policies and guidelines for the acquisition and development of active parks, linear parks and natural areas. His involvement concerned developing new strategies to allow various park types to form a comprehensive open space network in support of Imagine Kelowna’s vision, the OCP’s growth strategy, and direct future planning and development efforts over the next 20 years.

Lesley StGodard
Lesley Harty

MBCSLA, CSLA
Landscape Architect

Lesley StGodard

Lesley Harty

MBCSLA, CSLA
Landscape Architect

Lesley Harty completed both a Bachelor of Environmental Design and a Master of Landscape Architecture degree at the University of Manitoba before moving to the Okanagan Valley to join BENCH in 2017. She has a keen interest in arboriculture, having worked for Trees Winnipeg (formerly Coalition to Save The Elms) during her studies at U of M and, in September 2017, Lesley became a Manitoba Certified Arborist.

Since arriving at BENCH, Lesley has played an important supporting role on a variety of projects, including the Okanagan College Vernon Trades Training Facility and Bus Loop, Burnt Timber Winery, Bellevue Creek Linear Park, and numerous multi-family residential developments. A retired varsity hockey player, Lesley has traded her skates for a curling brush and soccer cleats since moving to the Okanagan, and now spends most weekends exploring the hiking trails of her new home.

Yiqi Yang

BEng, MLArch, BCSLA Intern
Landscape Designer

Yiqi Yang

BEng, MLArch, BCSLA Intern
Landscape Designer

Yiqi discovered that design is often inspired by nature during her undergraduate schooling in interior, product and graphic design. This realization led her to pursue landscape architecture in her graduate studies. With a focus on ecology and an interest in designing with nature, Yiqi’s master’s thesis explored the ecology of weeds in the urban environment. Yiqi’s excellent eye for design, exceptional hand graphics, understanding of multiple design disciplines, and strong technical skills make her an asset to the team at BENCH.

Isaac Hendrickson

BLA, BCSLA Intern
Landscape Designer

Isaac Hendrickson

BLA, BCSLA Intern
Landscape Designer

Isaac is a graduate of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph, having completed his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture in May of 2021. He discovered the field of landscape architecture while working summer jobs in landscape construction during his teenage years. The profession felt like a natural progression of his interests, leading him to pursue his education in the field. He continued to work in construction during summers between his studies; this provided him with an understanding of materials, costs, logistics, and a practical underpinning to inform his design work.

Born and raised in Kansas, Isaac has a deep attachment to the prairies and feels like they are generally overlooked in society, and sometimes even regarded with disdain. He finds the qualities of these landscapes to be beautiful and unique, and attributes the prairies as one of the main influences in his professional work.

Isaac is most intrigued by the intersectionality of landscape architecture, specifically between ecology and conservation. His thesis focused on designing planting pallets to be resilient in the face of climate change, and his capstone project involved the design of a biomimetic farm in Western Kansas.

Josh Fender

BFA, MLA
Landscape Designer

Josh Fender

BFA, MLA
Landscape Designer

Josh holds a BFA from UBC Okanagan and graduated from UBC’s Master of Landscape Architecture program in 2022. He is inspired to create more liveable cities, and is passionate about trying to find design solutions that meet the needs of communities while simultaneously preparing for and responding to the realities of a changing climate. To this end, Josh’s MLA graduation project reflected on the prospect future of Kelowna’s local neighbourhood streets. Rooted in real-world policy objectives of the newly-released 2040 Official Community Plan, the compounding pressures of climate change, and a shifting mobility culture, his graduate work challenges urban design conventions with the aim of improving the street as a socially- and environmentally-resilient space.

Staff Headshots
Chelsea Pihach

BA
Studio Coordinator

Chelsea Pihach

BA
Studio Coordinator

As Studio Coordinator, Chelsea is responsible for daily operations, communications, and proposal preparation at BENCH. She joined the team in January 2022, bringing with her a background in marketing, administration, and logistics. She holds a degree in Psychology from Queen’s University and spent years traveling and working abroad before moving to BC in 2019.

Upon her arrival in the Okanagan, Chelsea was struck by the familiarity of the lakes, topography and agricultural landscapes; to her, they resembled the region of Southern Ontario where she spent her youth. She identifies the Niagara Escarpment as an extremely influential landscape in her life, playing a large role in her upbringing along the shore of the Great Lakes and the Welland Canal.

Chelsea is passionate about spending time outdoors for the benefit of both physical and mental well-being and is inspired to be a part of a team that endeavours to create places that encourage communities to connect with their natural environments.

 

Work With Us

Intermediate Landscape Architect 

BENCH Site Design is seeking an intermediate landscape architect with a minimum of 5 years of work experience to join our 8-person team in Kelowna, BC. The successful candidate must be organized, have an excellent design sense, and an enthusiasm for organization, collaboration, and learning. Experience managing a range of project scales from schematic design through contract administration is required. Expertise in producing complex construction documentation and construction services would be considered an asset. 

Because of our firm’s small size, attitude, self-motivation, and initiative to solve problems are particularly important to us. The ideal candidate for this position will demonstrate a desire to continually learn and grow.

Please visit the full job posting for further details about the position and information regarding how to apply.

 

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