Jamie Van Ravensway is a Project Director at RVi with decades of experience in Land Planning, Entitlements, Landscape Architecture, and Golf Course Design and Planning. We asked him to share more about his background and experiences.

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

Golf course design happened to lead me to another passion of mine, land planning. Through various opportunities I was fortunate in my career to work for a couple of land planning firms, where I learned all of the various aspects of land planning and have had some of the best mentors in our industry. Land planning has become a true passion of mine. I love seeing how the built environment can bring all sorts of enjoyment to people’s lives. From laying out roads and neighborhoods, to laying out plants and pavers, and everything in between—if done right, those things can have a profound impact on how a space lives.

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

Early on in my career, I was brought to a project site that our company was working on., I saw all of the thought that went into the design of the place. I never knew how in-depth the planning and design process could be until that moment. It was remarkable. From then on, I started to notice these design and planning elements everywhere I went. It showed me how little details can make or break a design.

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

One thing I’ve noticed during my time at RVi is that we are always striving to be better: better designers, better planners, and better landscape architects. I am proud of the experience I bring and what I’ve been able to pass on to the team, especially the future leaders of our industry.  I feel I bring a wealth of experience and expertise, and I truly enjoy this stage of my career where I can also serve as a mentor and give back to this great firm and profession.

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

One of my primary goals is to use my talents to add to RVi’s already impressive status in the industry. We as landscape architects and planners have the unique opportunity to shape the environment we live in, both for today and in the future. We need to use all of our expertise and creativity to create spaces that people want to live in and work in while also making the world a better place. Maximizing our teams’ potential is critical in achieving this goal, and another one of my goals is to be part of bringing out that potential.

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

I’ve been at this for over 25 years, so I’ve had many ups and downs. One of the biggest challenges in this industry is navigating the economy. We are greatly impacted by the ebbs and flows of the markets, and so are our clients. We all must adapt to ever-changing market conditions, which means we must adjust our thinking to help our clients create meaningful and wanted spaces, while being sensitive to the economic conditions at the time. The Great Recession, which had a devastating impact on our industry, was painful, but forced us to change the way we approach the design process, and helped us learn how to adapt. Combine that with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, and I’ve learned how to be a better designer, thinker, and problem-solver capable of working through any adverse condition or situation.

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

Try to be a part of a design firm as soon as possible, even as an intern in high school or college. Being around creative people is critically important to developing one’s own career. And the other advice I would give is to constantly be studying the outside environment. Every time you visit a space, or a place, look around. What do you see? Do you like it? If so why? If not, then why? What would you do differently? Be as specific as possible in your observations. We are fortunate in our industry because every time we walk out of our home, we are in our “workspace,” the outdoors. Unlike other professions, where you might need to be in an office or on a computer, every time we step outdoors we are in our world, and we can always see and experience something new.