JM is a Project Manager at RVi with experience ranging from residential estates to master-planned communities. We asked JM to share more about his background and experiences.
 

What initially inspired you to pursue a career in Landscape Architecture/Planning?

Growing up in the mountains, I developed a passion for the outdoors at a young age. Whether it was hiking, swimming, gardening, or anything that brought me close to nature, I was always happiest beneath the trees. When I first heard about landscape architecture, I was excited to learn that design can shape the way people use outdoor spaces and that this knowledge could be used to positively impact communities.

 

Could you share a memorable moment or experience that solidified your passion for Landscape Architecture/Planning?

I think the moment I knew I had made the right choice in my career path was a few months into my first “real” job as a landscape designer. A local brewery owner came to our office to ask for help with his parking lot, which at the time was just a large dirt area, with no markings or organization for traffic flow. I quickly drew up a plan using the offset dimensions I had learned, adding in railroad tie tire stops and making sure to add a big note that said to “save the large existing tree in the center of the parking lot.”

After he had received the plan, he quickly implemented the installation of gravel and other materials, and the project was complete. Despite how small the scope was, I still remember walking around the updated site the first time and thinking how cool it was that I was able to help solve a problem through a quick sketch and a few hours of CAD time. I drive by that brewery almost every day now and see the big tree that was saved, and it is very gratifying.

 

Can you tell us about a (RVi) project or achievement that you’re particularly proud of in your career?

I am very proud of Bear Lake, a Sun Communities project in northern Utah. This project was special in a lot of ways, primarily because it was my first time working on a project with high-end glamping pods, RV sites, a commercial/retail component, and resort amenity design as well as parks and trail design, all in one site! I had the opportunity to do a site visit early in the process and meet the client and design team. Seeing Bear Lake from the hillside where the project was to be built was absolutely incredible. Once we dove into the design process, it was a marathon for about 8 months: weekly meetings with the client, studying each piece of the site with multiple design iterations, and after all the refinement and coordination, we had created a very solid construction document set.

 

Are there any specific professional goals or aspirations that you’re currently working toward?  

One of my big goals for 2024 is business development and creating strong relationships with municipalities and private sector clients, both locally and regionally as our office here in Asheville continues to expand. I would love to see the office and talented staff here contribute our skills and knowledge to help our community grow in a thoughtful and sustainable way.

 

Have you faced any significant challenges in your professional journey, and how did you overcome them?

I would say the most common, though significant, challenge I have encountered in my professional journey is the delicate balance of project management. Listening to and understanding a client’s vision for a project, then implementing that as a clear goal while monitoring a set budget, and staying on a deliverable schedule can be quite the challenge. I find breaking those deliverables into very specific tasks, and estimating as precisely as possible how much time each will take, as well as accounting for review and revision time, has been very helpful in coming up with a solid work plan that helps both parties in creating a successful project.

 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in Planning or Landscape Architecture?

Learn how to be a problem solver. Looking at a problem, whether it’s how a site is accessed, or how to grade a park, or how to fasten a beam to a post–all of these can be approached in multiple ways, and being a creative problem solver is such a huge asset to a design team. Thinking through issues critically and coming to the table with a potential solution, regardless if it is the “right” or the selected resolution, is a much better approach than looking to others to find a fix. In the spirit of problem solving, I would also suggest reading Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature. This book is a great resource on understanding how a piece of land can and should inform the direction of a design, considering all levels of ecology and character of landscape.