About Tom Stearns

Tom Stearns

Tom Stearns has over 45 years of experience as a land planner and landscape architect. Mr. Stearns has had his own firm Stearns Associates LLC for 18 years. He was formerly a Studio Principal with Hillier in Princeton, NJ where he worked for 16 years and was Director of Hillier’s Land Planning Studio.

Mr. Stearns understands how project planning and design must respond to market conditions, physical and environmental constraints, and financial and operational objectives, while not compromising the design integrity. Tom’s success over the years has been based on listening to his clients, being responsive and meeting their expectations for design, approvals, schedule and budget.

His background includes a range of commercial, institutional and residential project types. Commercial projects include corporate and investment office, research & development, industrial, warehouse, retail and mixed-use. Institutional projects include health care, higher education, K-12 and religious. He has worked nationally and internationally for some of the most respected developers, corporations and institutions.

Tom has worked on a number of corporate dispositions and acquisitions over the years where he has helped assess the value of excess land in the real estate asset. He is good at assessing the restrictions to development and visualizing potential new uses.

Mr. Stearns is a licensed professional planner and landscape architect. Through his extensive experience, he is familiar with federal, state and local land use regulations and knows what it takes to get a project through the governmental approval process. He is especially familiar with the approval process for New Jersey.

Tom brings a design philosophy to planning and landscape architecture that explores historical precedent, theory and strong architectural ideas. Tom is known for his expediency, responsiveness and personal service and always meeting the schedule and budget.


Pennsylvania State University, BS Landscape Architecture
Ball State University, Graduate Studies, Business and Architecture
New York University, Diploma Program in Real Estate Investment and Analysis
Rutgers University, Graduate Studies, Planning Law
Princeton University, Studies in Architectural History and Theory

Professional Licenses

Professional Planner: New Jersey
AICP American Institute of Certified Planners
Landscape Architect: NJ, NY, CT, PA, DE, KY, KS, NC
Certified Landscape Architect NJ 21AS00051200
Licensed Professional Planner NJ 33LI00509600

About Kathie Rigante

Kathie Head Shot 3

Kathie Rigante has 35 years of experience, she graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture. She worked for CUH2A for 8 years from 1987 to 1995 and gained experience with a number of corporate office and research and development projects. Tom Stearns and Kathie worked together at CUH2A for a year and then at Hillier for 11 years. Her expertise has been in design and hardscape documentation.

In 1996 she became a freelance consultant to devote more time to her family and worked part-time, primarily for Hillier and Louise Schiller and Associates. She has worked with Tom Stearns at Hillier for 11 years where she worked on a diverse number of projects ranging from corporate, higher education, health care and residential projects. She has worked with Stearns Associates LLC for the last 12 years.

While at Hillier, most of her effort focused on the 4 million square foot Sprint headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. After completion of Sprint she assisted the Hillier Land Planning Studio with a number of corporate, educational and healthcare projects, many of these examples shown later in this qualifications package.

Kathie worked with Michael Graves Architecture and Design for two years. While there she worked on the Rice University Master Plan, Paterson School, Resorts World Sentosa and the Nile Corniche.

Kathie has private school K-12 experience on projects for The Lawrenceville School, The Peddie School, Episcopal Academy, The American Boychoir School, Perkiomen School, Paterson School #16 and Redshaw School. She has higher education experience with Center for Jewish Life at Princeton University, Biblical Theological Seminary, Beth Medrash Govoha and Institute for Advanced Study.

Currently she works with Stearns Associates LLC and has worked on corporate office projects including: ETS, Johnson & Johnson and a 650,000 sf office building and 17,000 sf child care facility for Bristol-Myers Squibb at their Princeton pike Campus in Lawrence, NJ, a 190,000 sf laboratory and 700 car parking garage for Bristol-Myers Squibb at the Rt 206 Campus in Lawrence, The Princeton First aid and Rescue Squad.


West Virginia University
Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture, 1987

Professional Licenses

Licensed Landscape Architect: NJ