SURFACE 678. Our name reflects what we do and where we practice.

A landscape architecture practice headquartered in Durham, NC, we create places that serve user needs, promote social interaction, and enhance a site’s natural and cultural attributes. Guided by ideals of simplicity, resilience and community enrichment, we foster the artful integration of a site’s ecology and architecture into functional and legible landscape design.

We believe this requires an excellence in thought and planning that can only be achieved through open, honest, and positive internal and external design collaboration between owners, designers, and users. The collective intelligence derived from this communication fosters an aesthetically satisfying and meaningful integration of architecture, landscape, and community.

Distinctive places often blend function with a celebration of the site as a unique place. We think it is possible — and desirable — to extend architectural themes outward and draw landscape architectural themes inward.  We use visually exciting landscape forms and share materials and colors with the architecture in ways that express a connection with the site’s natural setting and cultural context.

Design excellence is the foundation of our practice. Our plans begin with a generative idea that shapes the conceptual foundation of a design, creates its organizational structure and expresses itself throughout the design. The idea continues to be reflected in the selection of materials and final construction detailing. Idea and expression are interwoven to create a distinct sense of place.


Since 1993, Surface 678 has provided architectural site design, urban design, community and recreational planning, and comprehensive master planning for a diverse range of cultural institutions, corporate, university, municipal and private clients throughout the Southeastern United States.  Bob Lappas and Walt Havener founded Lappas + Havener, PA (LHPA) with only Bob and Walt as employees. By 2001, it had grown to a staff of 18 and moved to Durham’s historic warehouse district in support of the emerging renaissance of downtown Durham.

Along the way we have created many long-lasting client relationships which we value above all else, won awards and garnered praise for our designs. LHPA was celebrated as the NCASLA Firm of the Year in 2012. A year later, after 20 successful years in practice as LHPA, Bob Lappas retired and Eric Davis, who had been working alongside Walt Havener for many years, became Vice President. Focused on a future with bright young landscape architects invested in the success of this strong regional practice, Lappas + Havener became Surface 678 in late 2013.

The firm’s partners have taken deliberate growth steps, carefully assessing the needs of both the firm and its clients and selecting the best designers possible. Over the years we have grown in a steady and measured fashion. In May 2001, we moved our studio to Durham’s historic warehouse district in support of the emerging renaissance of the downtown and continue to serve clients and projects throughout the region.


Surface 678 is committed to providing the highest level of client service. Strong personal service not only delivers a better product, but also enriches the design process for both client and designer. We actively engage in the lost art of listening. We know that client involvement in essential for us. We want to understand your needs and interpret your vision into an effective design direction and then to a remarkable built reality.