Phil Sherburne, a former city planner turned conscientious developer, has been an ambitious leader in responsible design for the past 20 years.
Creating and sustaining low-impact projects, enhanced by superior design, have come to define Sherburne's unquestionable influence on a number of public and private spaces.
The son of northwest organic dairy farmers, Sherburne's approach to development combines a keen sense for both open space and community-centric structures. His formative years in a rural setting and his earth-wise instincts have influenced his skills as a businessman and his principal role as a visionary.
Having graduated Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1969, Sherburne chose not to practice law, but to lead a team of federal and city officials in creating a plan to build housing for low income families on 1,500 vacant lots in Chicago.
His career began, not in private development, but in public housing. From the start, it has been his nature to challenge convention and the spaces he builds speak for what his conscience has to say.
Over the years his projects have changed, representing a wide range of interests and goals, but Sherburne's philosophy has stayed the same: limits, creativity and an environmental consciousness are what shape good design.
With design, he has proven that limits become assets.
A great example of this is Decatur Northwest, a 600 acre second home community in the San Juan Islands. Rejecting a traditional development approach Sherburne laid out 75 100-foot circular parcels to be purchased and developed for homes.
The masterful design incorporated concerns specific to island living -- minimizing visibility of structures from the water, without compromising views and privacy for residents on land. Sherburne made his home there in a small 1917 farmhouse that he restored. Intent on preserving its natural beauty and controlling environmental impact, he continues to play a significant role in the life of this community. Sherburne also installed a private passenger ferry system from the mainland to avoid a large marina on the property and limited vehicle ownership to golf-carts. Today, only 3 percent of the Decatur Northwest property is developed with the remaining 97 percent, including the beaches and rugged waterfront, held in common by homeowners and preserved forever.
Today, this same philosophy with a careful and intelligent approach has led Sherburne to develop interesting and successful luxury hotels such as Willows Lodge, and the Spanish Garden Inn in Santa Barbara, CA (www.spanishgardeninn.com).
His practice is deeply green, and his aesthetic calls for quieter, sophisticated technologies – taking modern day advances behind the scenes in order to promote person-person care. These hotels share a distinct and understated message: refining one’s indulgences and minimizing environmental impact do not require compromise. In fact, Sherburne would argue, they can often resist it. Sherburne participates as a major owner of each of the hotels and oversees their management.
He lives in Seattle and on Decatur Island with his wife, Dr. Susan Casabona, and their two children