I often find myself on the receiving end of the question, “What is your favorite thing about your job?” Like many others, I searched long and hard to find a profession that not only is creative and inspiring, but also has a profound impact on people’s lives. This is how I discovered landscape architecture. After more than a decade in the field, I have had the opportunity to experience a diversity of project and client types, and I am still discovering new things I love about my profession every day.
One of my favorite things is how landscape architecture transforms a space from a completely unusable and uninhabitable area to an amazing environment that is not only ecologically sensitive, but also awe inspiring. From the conversion of inner-city flat lots to the repurposing of old train yards and industrial facilities, we see landscape architecture’s positive transformations happening everywhere.
In the past, abandoned or otherwise less desirable land has been either overlooked or seen as an opportunity to create more commercial buildings, more strip malls, and more parking lots. Today, an increasing number of cities and developers are recognizing the benefits of building transformational outdoor environments that create even bigger opportunities for economic development. This is where the fun part of my profession takes hold. By incorporating topography, program, and function with visual interest, landscape architects not only beautify an area, but also create spaces where social interaction flourishes and physical activity is in abundance. What I find most interesting about designing outdoor spaces is the way people interact with the environment and how they make these environments work for their own specific needs and desires. By allowing people the freedom to inhabit a space, an open lawn can play host to a family picnic, a set of stairs can become exercise equipment, a pavilion can provide shade for a memorable birthday party, and so on. The spaces we design become the backdrop to people’s lives.
As a designer, being able to create an environment from nature is not only very rewarding but also quite challenging. Much like an artist uses paint to make their masterpiece, we use natural elements such as plants, water, and earth to create our works of art. We envision a design and transform our design from paper to reality. Getting the satisfaction of not only seeing our designs come to fruition, but also getting to see others enjoy our designs is the ultimate reward.
At the end of the day, there isn’t just one thing I love about my profession, but rather a multitude of things. From the profound effect design can have on someone’s experiences, to the unique challenges we face designing the environment – there is never a dull moment in the field of landscape architecture.