People Matter: Jeffrey Mis
On the occasion of his one-year anniversary with LandDesign and the start of spring, we’d like to introduce you to our favorite horticulturist. Family matters. Jeff Mis and his brother were raised in a multi-generational family in the blue collar “Region” of northwest Indiana outside of Chicago. His mom is the dean of students […]
On the occasion of his one-year anniversary with LandDesign and the start of spring, we’d like to introduce you to our favorite horticulturist.
Jeff Mis and his brother were raised in a multi-generational family in the blue collar “Region” of northwest Indiana outside of Chicago. His mom is the dean of students at an inner-city Catholic school and his dad is a retired Marine, turned chemical operator. Much of his youth involved the family caring for his maternal grandparents who passed away at a young age.
I wanted to choose a career that would honor my parents and grandparents, and do something that was going to help people.
“My parents and grandparents always instilled in us the value of a college education. But, where I grew up, going to college was a luxury. No one in my family, except for a cousin, had ever attended college.” Through scholarships and working full-time throughout college, Jeff was able to attend Purdue University.
“When I started college, I wanted to choose a career that would honor my family and do something that was going to help people.” Civil engineering was the direction he decided to take.
After one semester in the Engineering program, Jeff quickly realized he didn’t connect with the other students and didn’t feel the drive and passion he had hoped for. Then, came a chance meeting with a friend from home who was in the Landscape Architecture program.
“I’ll never forget, we were sitting at a Greek restaurant on campus. I was studying for an engineering final, and she was working on a final project for landscape architecture. I looked at what she was doing; making beautiful art that was functional, and I trying to run a program that would calculate the number of crystal sizes on the back of a stop sign.” Dawn broke for Jeff in that moment.
The very next day, he visited Purdue’s Landscape Architecture program and met with the professors there. “Two hours later, I realized that I could combine my desire for creating the infrastructure like parks and greenways, and have the creative outlet that wasn’t there for me in civil engineering.” The rest is history.
Early mentors planted the seed and cultivated his passion for horticulture design.
Jeff’s first job was with Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects in Chicago. He considers Doug Hoerr and Peter Schaudt early mentors who planted the seed and cultivated his passion for horticulture design. His work ranged from the Michigan Avenue medians that changed the way people look at downtown Chicago to multi-million dollar lakefront estates.
From there, Jeff went to work for Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, a high-end residential landscape architecture firm that also played a significant role in his career development. “Craig and his firm exponentially grew my level of horticulture knowledge and plant understanding.”
“It was mind-blowing to me the fantastic projects I was exposed to at such a young age. They were dreams come true.” In 2016, Jeff joined Land Design. It was a decision that changed the trajectory of his career.
Jeff strongly believes his understanding of plants and spatial organization that he gained from designing residential landscapes is critical to the work he does today. “Doug Hoerr once told me that if you can’t design a 10×10 patio, how are you going to design a 10-block by 10-block master plan? Creating a beautiful residence is no different that creating a beautiful greenway.”
Among the LandDesign projects that are benefiting from his horticultural focus are the Stevens Creek Nature Preserve in Mecklenburg County and the Cross Charlotte Trail along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. “Now I’m working on legacy projects for all people instead of legacy projects for a family.”
Jeff has enjoyed sharing some of his work with his 95-year-old paternal grandfather. However, he deeply regrets that his maternal grandparents aren’t around to see what he has accomplished. For indeed, he is living their legacy; a dream where their grandson is using his college education to make his mark on the world.
The Livable City Revolution
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Around the globe, cities are rediscovering their industrial land. Once sustained by industry, in some places, much of this urban infrastructure has closed down, with only the bones remaining. Today, cities are drawing all types – techies, bankers, artists, and immigrants alike – but space […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Around the globe, cities are rediscovering their industrial land. Once sustained by industry, in some places, much of this urban infrastructure has closed down, with only the bones remaining. Today, cities are drawing all types – techies, bankers, artists, and immigrants alike – but space is limited. As urban land becomes more precious, communities reconsider the possibilities in once blighted areas and are finding new ways to accommodate the growing population and interests of city dwellers.
This resurgence has been triggered by a shift in cultural attitudes towards the city – one in which we celebrate the history and joys of city living, and find possibility in rubble, infrastructure that has fallen into disuse or disrepair, and formerly ignore brownfields
From small and often temporary pop-up parks, to the revitalization of entire riverfronts, landscape architects are playing an increasingly critical role in reclaiming abandoned urban spaces and transforming them into public commons. This investment is more significant than pure aesthetics; it contributes to larger goals such as environmental justice, social equity, and community resilience. Often, no matter the scale, a single project intends to ameliorate an entire array of issues.
Boston’s Lawn on D is an excellent example of how small-scale interventions can dramatically shift community livability. The Lawn on D was conceived as a way to temporarily activate an underutilized space on D Street, anchored by the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Formerly an urban fill site that blocked views and precluded access, the 2.7-acre space today is a platform for innovation. The design team, led by Sasaki, established a vibrant, flexible space to be utilized for endless programming possibilities.
Essentially an urban experiment intended to test configurations and programming, the space is a hub of activity for community events. Bright moveable furniture, interactive art installations, and engaging programming draw users in and invite them to make the space their own. The active and inclusive space provides this up-and-coming community with a space to come together. The flexibility of the space is key to its success, allowing for changes to be made to fit the future needs of the community.
In Aalborg, Denmark, an entire 30+ acre sustainable city district, Godsbanearealet, boasts being Aalborg’s first sustainable and carbon neutral quarter, and one of the largest climate adaption projects in Denmark. Rainwater management and flood control are built into the city’s masterplan, with green roofs, basins, and canals installed throughout the city district to store and collect rainfall. Recreational spaces, affordable housing, and retail are mixed together to make up this livable district.
Inspired by the areas former use as a freight train terminal, the city’s name is roughly translated to “freight train area.” Instead of straying from the site’s industrial past, the designers, POLYFORM Architects, embraced it and made a space that resonates with a unique cultural identity. Building upon the values of the area, the design seamlessly integrates the historic rail. This project is part of a gradual conversion of all freight railways in the area, and shows how a brand new, high-performance landscape can be integrated into derelict and abandoned railway land.
Hudson River Park is a 550-acre riverside park on the west side of Manhattan. The park includes 13 public recreation piers, a five-mile walk along the riverfront, and a tree-lined bicycle path. While the land was previously bustling with commerce, over time the shipping activity diminished and the piers fell into a state of disrepair. After years of industrial decline, the park arose from a 1997 master plan by landscape architecture firms Matthews Nielsen and Quennell-Rothchild. The goal was to create a people-centric, accessible greenway, making the riverfront a core part of the city again. Running adjacent to eight diverse neighborhoods, this plan aims to reclaim the waterfront for the public, a trend that has spread to many other waterfront cities.
Several projects have sprung from the master plan, including Pier 25, which features ample play activities, such as sand volleyball, mini-golf, and a multi-purpose turf field, as well as Segment 5, whose broad lawn allows for community gatherings, while playful hills provide views to the waterfront. Each parcel of the park uniquely speaks to the needs of the residents of the adjacent community.
Other features include a sports complex, playgrounds, water features, a dog run, and an abundance of lawn space. The park is also an estuarine sanctuary, designed to provide coastal fish and wildlife habitat, while the marine organisms filter and clean the water. Additionally, the park provides recreational and educational opportunities, such as kayaking and canoeing, expanding overall access to the waterfront. Hudson River Park acts as a park connector network, linking many recreational sites and landmarks as it runs along the edge of the Hudson River. While currently only 72% complete, the park is already an integral part of the lives of many New Yorkers, provided needed outdoor recreation space in one of the densest cities in the country.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Recent investments in infrastructure have resulted in inventive solutions to city issues of crowding, pollution, and blight at every scale imaginable. This investment is vital to creating sustainable, thriving, and equitable communities. Such community revitalization projects reconnect people to their beloved cities and help keep cities healthy places to live.
- Travel and Leisure, “Industrial Urban Green Spaces”
- Sasaki, “The Lawn on D”
- Landezine, “Godsbanearealet: A Pioneer Climate Adaptation Project”
- Sangberg.com, “Godsbanearealet“
- Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architecture: Hudson River Park Pier 25
- Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, “Brooklyn Bridge Park”
- The Dirt blog, “Landscape Architects Remake Cities”
People Matter: Cassidy Michaux
I feel a sense of responsibility, knowing that the design decisions we make will have a very real impact on the Earth and people’s lives. Balance and the environment matter. Cassidy Michaux was born outside of Philadelphia. His father was a landscape architect and pragmatist; his mother a “hippie who preached living a life […]
I feel a sense of responsibility, knowing that the design decisions we make will have a very real impact on the Earth and people’s lives.
Balance and the environment matter. Cassidy Michaux was born outside of Philadelphia. His father was a landscape architect and pragmatist; his mother a “hippie who preached living a life of respectful conservation and conscious engagement in environmental stewardship.” Together, they instilled in Cassidy a practical and aspirational balance reflected in his work as a designer.
At the age of five, his parents decided to leave Pennsylvania and seek out a new home in the country. “They took us on a backpacking trip through Virginia and Kentucky, camping our way through national parks and eventually settling on a 100-acre farm in rural West Virginia.” Using his father’s carpentry skills, the family built their own house.
Pennsylvania and his family’s farm were worlds apart, exposing Cassidy to a wide range of how communities function. “I would spend summers visiting cousins in Philadelphia. We would call up friends and meet them down the street for a pick-up basketball game or whatever. Our community back home was 100 percent car-reliant where it was an event simply to visit your neighbors and friends.”
Inspiration matters. That exposure also informed Cassidy’s design work. “I have a deep respect and passion for creating compelling frameworks that facilitate interaction between people and places, and feel a sense of responsibility, knowing that the design decisions we make will have a very real impact on the Earth and people’s lives.”
After one semester as a pre-med student, Cassidy went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from his father’s alma mater, West Virginia University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. His aha moment came during his second semester when he realized how broad the field of landscape architecture is, providing variety and encompassing all of his interests. “This profession is just great. It allows me to work on everything from a big master plan project or urban infill design to something as intimate as building a bench on top of a planter wall.”
We’re constantly working with a variety of scales and putting ourselves at ground level to understand what it feels like as a pedestrian, and then creating a framework that defines that space.
Cassidy joined LandDesign in 2014. One of the projects he’s been involved with from the beginning is The Lincoln, a 260-unit multifamily complex near a new Wiehle Metro station in Reston, Va.
The project is intended to serve as a gateway that transforms the area into a transit-oriented mixed-use neighborhood with enhanced public spaces and pedestrian connectivity that lead residents directly to the Metro station. Cassidy worked on developing the concept and narrative for three public pocket parks for the complex, themed in a sequence to transition pedestrians from the organic form of traditional Reston to the more urban form closer to the Metro stop.
“This is where I really get to express my passion for balance and designing places that make everyone feel welcome. We’re constantly working with a variety of scales and putting ourselves at ground level to understand what it feels like as a pedestrian, and then creating a framework that defines that space.”
Curiosity matters. “I’m constantly asking why and questioning the status quo when it comes to design concepts to achieve a client’s vision and goals.” Cassidy get that from his mom. “Plans are the means and methods to make the vision and concept come together.” The balance of his dad’s influence in action.
People Matter: Allison Merriman
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost Allison Merriman’s career path is not the typical journey of a registered landscape architect. But, it has made all the difference to the perspective she brings to her role at […]
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost
Allison Merriman’s career path is not the typical journey of a registered landscape architect. But, it has made all the difference to the perspective she brings to her role at LandDesign.
In high school, Allison loved science, biology and art, and first learned about landscape architecture while browsing through college catalogs. While it sounded intriguing at the time, she ultimately decided to enroll in the Plant Sciences program at Clemson University.
After graduation, Allison worked at a retail garden center in Winston-Salem that also offered landscape design services. The experience renewed her interest in landscape architecture and led her to take jobs in architecture and land planning before joining an emerging young landscape architecture firm where her experience grew along with the firm’s size for more than a decade.
A foray into residential development expanded Allison’s experience, where she helped to craft projects’ visions and work closely with all disciplines from design and construction through sales and leasing. In 2009, she decided to return to landscape architecture and launched her own practice until five years later when Mark Kime and Beth Poovey approached her about an opportunity with LandDesign that was too good to refuse.
Each experience of my career has provided a different perspective on our profession and influenced how I approach a project.
Allison’s work at LandDesign is a combination of public and private sector projects where she performs conceptual design, rezonings, construction documents and administration, and more. They range from multifamily projects, hotels and a public park to several projects for the University of North Carolina’s Charlotte campus including a health and wellness center, new science center building, and an admissions and visitor’s center.
“Each experience of my career has provided a different perspective on our profession and influenced how I approach a project.” Her first job at the emerging landscape architecture firm taught Allison the skills of the profession and what it takes to run a small business. Her time spent with the residential development company gave her the opportunity to view projects from the other side of the table. And working on her own during the recession taught her to rely on the basics: work hard, be responsive, solve problems and be fearless.
I started running in college for the same reason a lot of people did. My roommate and I were eating too much pizza!
The journeys Allison takes in her personal life are as winding as her career path. And, they come in 26.2 mile increments alongside her husband. She has run more than 14 marathons in 20 years in locations as far flung as London and Big Sur in California to the storied Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C. Her first race was the iconic New York City Marathon. She has run in it six times and hopes to make it her swan song marathon in 2017 if the race’s lottery system prevails in her favor.
People Matter: Engineer Spotlight
Last week, the National Society of Professional Engineers celebrated National Engineers Week; an opportunity to demonstrate that engineering is more than just solving problems using math and science and to elevate the public dialogue about the need for more kids to consider a career in engineering. We asked several of LandDesign’s young professionals to […]
Last week, the National Society of Professional Engineers celebrated National Engineers Week; an opportunity to demonstrate that engineering is more than just solving problems using math and science and to elevate the public dialogue about the need for more kids to consider a career in engineering.
We asked several of LandDesign’s young professionals to share their thoughts on careers in civil engineering. Meet Tareq El-Sadi, David Gastel and Aly Moniaci.
- Tareq El-Sadi is a civil engineering designer in our Dallas office. Being a handyman around the house matters. Well-rounded upbringings matter. Resolving issues matters. Mentoring matters.
- David Gastel is a civil engineer in our Orlando office. An FSU graduate, he believes that hard work and transforming ideas matter.
- Aly Moniaci is a civil engineering designer in our Charlotte office. Faith, family and JOY are what matter most to Aly. Along with Texas Tech athletics!
What kind of things did you like to do growing up that led you to a career in civil engineering?
Aly was always fascinated by buildings. “Growing up, I loved using blocks and such to build and create. I was also an athlete, so I grew up being part of a team.” Math also interested Aly. She excelled in those classes more than others and didn’t mind the homework because she enjoyed it so much. “My dad encouraged me to be an engineer. I knew that civil engineering offered a wide span of options, plus none of the other engineering choices got me as excited about the work the way civil did.”
Like Aly, David enjoyed building things when he was a kid, especially 3D puzzles of the Taj Mahal and the Sears Tower in Chicago. He also relished figuring out solutions to problems, especially ones that others couldn’t solve. “I also constructed a model train city every Christmas with my father. This taught me everything from creativity and presentation to electrical (it lit up!) and structural; even painting.”
Tareq is a third generation civil engineer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. “When I was young, my father would bring me to work with him.” The two would visit project sites including massive industrial facilities such as water desalination plants and power plants as well as smaller projects like hospitals and office buildings.
“As a kid, I was amazed to see a project go from an idea on paper to a completed project. I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer when I realized my father was leaving an imprint that would benefit his community and society, as well.”
Can you share a project that illustrates how civil engineering’s creativity and teamwork is making a difference in the world?
Tareq believes every project he’s been involved with has made a positive difference in the world. “Our work on single family subdivisions has created living spaces for families. Medical office buildings provide space for physicians to practice and provide healthcare to those who need it. While each project has its own set of difficulties, as engineers we are always looking for creative ways to effectively resolve those challenges.” He noted that often a complex project is successful because of teamwork and the collaborative efforts of all the disciplines involved including civil engineers; landscape architects; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and structural engineers; architects and geotechnical engineers.
Aly chose The Village at Commonwealth, a multi-family community in Charlotte. “Due to the site’s confines – including utility lines that were already installed within the roadways – it took creativity to figure out where to locate all of the utility infrastructure and still meet the city’s guidelines.” The project team included the client, landscape architects, the architect and civil engineers. “It took constant communication by everyone involved to stay on top of all the changes and make sure they didn’t conflict with that was previously designed. There is no way this job would have been successful without the whole team working as one to make it come to life.” The multi-use site includes apartments, single family townhomes, a co-working space and a coffee shop, all adjacent to a park. “We created a place for people to live, work and play all within walking distance.”
David considers the North Carolina Research Campus the most influential project he has worked on. It includes cancer research centers, parks, medical office buildings and college classrooms. “There were a lot of people involved in various parts of engineering to help make the project happen. It had an early impact on my engineering career.”
What would you tell today’s young people to encourage them to consider a career in engineering?
David sees STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math) as the wave of the future. “I think a lot of schools and parents get that. I would encourage them to expose kids to the various aspects of engineering and let them discover what ignites their passion for making a better world.”
Perhaps reflecting on his father and grandfather, Tareq views the engineering field as timeless and believes the need for more kids to consider engineering is really a need for more people to consider making society better. “Engineering is essential for basic life needs such as providing potable water distribution systems, water treatment facilities, wastewater treatment, transportation, electricity and the list goes on and on.”
Aly also points to the limitless need for engineers, with infrastructure like roadways and utilities always requiring updates. Plus, her enthusiasm for the profession is contagious. “The best thing about engineering is that you get to use your creativity and knowledge to create spaces and buildings that others will use for a very long time. It is not just about sitting at a desk and drawing up the same plans all day, every day. I always love driving by a project that I have worked on and watch it being built and when it opens to the public.”
Finally, we asked Aly, David and Tareq to list the top 3 reasons they love engineering.
- I am always learning, and no two days are the same. Every space is different, so I have to think of new ways to make it work, and I am always learning from everyone around me.
- I really enjoy the teamwork aspect. I am constantly communicating with others on a project team and collaborating with architects and other consultants.
- There are so many opportunities to grow as a person. I am always being challenged to reach beyond my comfort zone. It keeps me on my toes.
- The experience of getting to work in new places and see new things.
- The satisfaction that comes when we complete a project. There’s nothing like it.
- The challenges that keep me engaged.
- Interacting with other engineers and architects and collaborating to produce the best results we can.
- The “magic” of transforming an idea on paper into a reality.
- Knowing that the work I do has a positive impact on society.
People Matter: Jason Granado
Jason comes by his aptitude for architecture naturally. His father and grandparents were involved in the carpentry and construction fields. They even built the South Florida house where Jason grew up. “I was always fixing things and building things.” His high school interest in automotives – “taking cars apart and putting them back together” […]
Jason comes by his aptitude for architecture naturally. His father and grandparents were involved in the carpentry and construction fields. They even built the South Florida house where Jason grew up. “I was always fixing things and building things.”
His high school interest in automotives – “taking cars apart and putting them back together” – led Jason to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. But, while working part-time in an auto shop, he realized the work was not as much fun as the hobby. Then, a chance opportunity to shadow a friend’s father who was an architect proved to be serendipity.
In his senior year, Jason started over, taking prerequisite classes at a community college before transferring to Florida A&M University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture. Wanting a more urban setting for graduate school, he chose Virginia Tech’s satellite campus in Alexandria, Va. and opted for a Master of Landscape Architecture degree.
There’s the way an architect thinks, and there’s the way a landscape architect thinks. They approach the same project with two different points of view.
“What drew me to architecture was not so much design work, but my tangible urge from childhood to build things. I knew how to stack bricks and put on a roof.” Landscape architecture gave Jason the chance to broaden his understanding. “You’re no longer thinking about one building, but entire city blocks and large open spaces.”
Serendipity once again intervened to bring Jason to LandDesign. While grocery shopping with his wife who is also an architect, they ran into Matt and Gabby Clark. The chance introduction led to a job offer a few weeks later.
His dual degrees give Jason a unique perspective on the work he does. “There’s the way an architect thinks, and there’s the way a landscape architect thinks. They approach the same project with two different points of view.”
We’re rebuilding a city and literally shaping the landscape, both physically and metaphorically.
Jason considers himself a utility player at LandDesign, applying his twofold abilities to projects like Tyson’s where he is involved in everything from the entitlement process to construction document detailing. “We’re rebuilding a city and literally shaping the landscape, both physically and metaphorically. People are now staying in Tyson’s. Living here and working here. It’s no longer a transient community. LandDesign has been a big part of changing that and it’s pretty amazing.”
I’m still learning every day from my peers. It is so powerful and meaningful.
Making and mentoring matters.
While in graduate school, Jason taught wood shop and metal shop. “I loved every moment of it.” Today, he continues to teach the crafts of wood and metal making as a volunteer with TechShop, a workshop and fabrication collaborative that provides access to the tools, equipment, education and other resources for everyone from artists and entrepreneurs to tinkerers and DIY enthusiasts.
His philosophy on mentoring is that the benefits include both teaching and learning.
“It is so important, especially in our field, to learn both old and new skills from each other, and to pass them down and allow people to become the greatest apprentice they can be. I’m still learning every day from my peers. It is so powerful and meaningful.”
Good whiskey matters.
Outside of work, Jason’s newest hobby is aerial photography. He’s also a whiskey aficionado who enjoys it best while sitting on the balcony with his wife and watching life go by. He believes you can tell a lot about a person by what they drink. “To me, a good whiskey is smooth and laid back with a lot of thinking involved in making it. And, I think that’s the type of person I am.”
People Matter: Kathy Riley, PLA
Kathy Riley first fell in love with urban environments as a young child living outside of San Francisco. “It wasn’t the FAO Schwarz toy store, Ghirardelli Square and its chocolate factory or Golden Gate Park that got me excited about trips into the city. It was a narrow courtyard between two buildings that had a […]
Kathy Riley first fell in love with urban environments as a young child living outside of San Francisco. “It wasn’t the FAO Schwarz toy store, Ghirardelli Square and its chocolate factory or Golden Gate Park that got me excited about trips into the city. It was a narrow courtyard between two buildings that had a pizza place and a street magician.”
I am a true believer that the places you live and environments you experience form who you will become.
Growing up, her father’s career moved the family to other iconic cities including Atlanta and Austin, Texas. “I am eternally grateful for the various places we lived, with each city offering amazing urban experiences and creating fond memories.”
“I am a true believer that the places you live and environments you experience form who you will become.” For Kathy, it was a landscape architect. “As a child, I’m sure I would have found it way cooler to work at the San Francisco pizza place.” Instead, her family’s time spent in different cities lead her to major in Landscape Architecture at Clemson University.
“My story is exactly what excites me about what we do at LandDesign. To have the opportunity to create places that inspire lasting memories, not only for a young child, but for people of all ages. I feel a great responsibility to do it with thought and care.”
It’s an exhilarating career where no two projects are the same and every day presents a new challenge.
Kathy joined LandDesign out of college in 2006, spending her first eight years in the Charlotte office before relocating to Dallas to help establish the firm’s new office there. Her work involves site planning, design development and regional planning for a variety of projects.
“In the decade I’ve been with LandDesign, I can’t think of one project type I haven’t worked on.” Those projects include planning for the Sugar Point port-of-call, a waterfront development in Barbados, to the University Research Park area plan in Charlotte. “It’s an exhilarating career where no two projects are the same and every day presents a new challenge.”
Her newest challenge includes being involved in outside activities that are increasing LandDesign’s presence in the Dallas market, working alongside Heth Kendrick, PLA, ULI, ASLA and Brian Dench, P.E., directors of the Dallas office. “Heth has amazing persistence and organizational skills, and I’ve learned so much from him as we continue to gain new opportunities from clients all over the Dallas-Fort Worth region. It’s hard to believe in the few short years we’ve been here just how many people we have met and the relationships we are building.” Her relationship-building also extends to ULI North Texas where she is involved in the ULI Partnership Forum that serves as an opportunity for young professionals to exchanges ideas and learn from local developers and city officials on an intimate level.
Kathy enjoys being back in one of her home states of Texas. “My husband and I love to ride bikes around White Rock Lake and run on the Katy Trail. I am my happiest when I’m outside on a pretty day.”
College football is also a favorite pastime. Her husband is on the coaching staff at Southern Methodist University. And, her beloved Clemson Tigers just won the national championship in a thrilling upset over Alabama that is certain to go down in the history books as one of the greatest games in college football.
People Matter: Mellissa Oliver
Mellissa Oliver knew by the time she was in middle school that she wanted to work in the AEC field, inspired by the grandness of built environments and a love for art. Growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, she remembers taking car rides with her mom, and “looking out the window and seeing all […]
Mellissa Oliver knew by the time she was in middle school that she wanted to work in the AEC field, inspired by the grandness of built environments and a love for art.
Growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina, she remembers taking car rides with her mom, and “looking out the window and seeing all these great structures – tall buildings and bridges.” By high school, Mellissa had decided to study civil engineering. “I just knew that I wanted to be a part of something that creates places that we, as individuals, would use, but also would endure for a long time.”
Pride in what you do matters.
Mellissa joined LandDesign’s Charlotte office in 2013, working under Nate Doolittle, primarily on projects in the Uptown Charlotte area. She enjoys the challenges that come with designing projects with limited urban space. “How are we going to create something on this small piece of land that both benefits the community and provides a place they want to enjoy?”
There are many people involved in a project, and when we all come together to make it happen, it’s just wonderful.
It seems car rides are a reoccurring muse in Mellissa’s career. Discussing what excites her the most about her work, she tells about driving around Charlotte with her in-laws.
“They came for a visit and we were driving to dinner. On this one street, there were three projects I was involved in. Now, I realize there are many people involved in a project, and when we all come together to make it happen, it’s just wonderful. But, to be able to tell my husband’s parents I was part of creating that was an amazing feeling.” Just like she imagined it would be all those years ago, driving around Greensboro with her mom.
Getting involved in the community matters.
From a young age until now, mentors and role models have been important influences in Mellissa’s life and she is passionate about paying it forward.
It’s something that my heart tells me to do.
Three years ago, she began volunteering with the ACE Mentor Program of Charlotte, working with students from Ardrey Kell High School. ACE is an after-school program for young people interested in exploring career opportunities in architecture, construction and engineering. Each year, teams compete to present their final projects.
“I remember the first year, sitting in the audience and watching all the teams present their projects. At the end, they announced the winner. It was Ardrey Kell. Driving home that night, I just kept thinking, ‘They won!’ I was so excited.”
CREW Charlotte is another organization that is benefitting from Mellissa’s commitment to volunteerism. In December, she received the organization’s annual Rising Star award that honors an up-and-coming member who has made an impact in the organization.
René Whitesell was Mellissa’s first mentor – an assigned lunch buddy in elementary school – and the two have remained close. Driving home from the ACE competition. Mellissa called René in tears, overwhelmed to be part of her students’ success, just like René was there for her. “It’s something that my heart tells me to do, and René was a big part of that.”
People Matter: Jake Petrosky, AICP
At age 13, Jake Petrosky got lost on the west side of the Great Smoky Mountains while backpacking with friends. “We were lost for about 36 hours.” I think that is when my affinity for maps began. “There were news crews and heat seeking helicopters. Two of us followed a game trail down […]
At age 13, Jake Petrosky got lost on the west side of the Great Smoky Mountains while backpacking with friends. “We were lost for about 36 hours.”
I think that is when my affinity for maps began.
“There were news crews and heat seeking helicopters. Two of us followed a game trail down the mountain the next morning, got picked up on a backroad by a ranger, and sent a rescue team for our friend who was injured and couldn’t walk. I think that is when my affinity for maps began.”
The harrowing experience helped guide Jake from an early interest in journalism at Appalachian State University to his career as an urban planner and GIS expert. That, and an elective course in city planning. “The notion that cities don’t design themselves intrigued me. I had never considered that there were men and women with ideas and ideals who sought to shape the built environment for the benefit of the human experience and the natural world.”
Context matters. Public input matters. Interdisciplinary thinking matters.
Jake’s passion for the scientific power of GIS technology to better inform and elevate the creative design process is contagious. “We live in a new age of design. The technology we have at our fingertips enables data-driven planning and visualization like never before.” What Jakes describes is an emerging holistic planning approach called Geodesign.
“LandDesign is at the forefront of Geodesign. As a multi-disciplinary firm, we have a lot of the right people needed to assemble interdisciplinary teams. We are constantly experimenting with new ways to improve our iterative process that brings together engineers, landscape architects, planners, clients, members of the public and other stakeholder groups. We are also building collaborative partnerships with other specialty firms to enable us to tackle even more complex design challenges.”
LandDesign can play a key role in this design renaissance.
“I am really excited about the work we are doing in the public and private sectors; rethinking the public realm, designing active transportation and open space networks, and creating strong towns and unique communities. I believe there is a lot of room for innovation and LandDesign can play a key role in this design renaissance.”
Not surprising, Jake’s bucket list includes wide open spaces and connecting with nature. “All the national parks, Patagonia, Alaska, New Zealand. Lots of rivers. And mountains. And islands. And islands with mountains. Lithuania (Petrosky is Lithuanian), the mother cities of Europe, and a short list of mountain villages from Italy to Austria.” In the meantime, he enjoys fly fishing, kayaking and playing with his son Webb.
Durham: A Growth Center for Revitalization
North Carolina has been ranked the number one growth state according to the U-Haul Migration Trends Report with the Raleigh/Durham area consistently showing high-growth numbers. They have found themselves as number nine on Forbe’s America’s Fastest Growing Cities 2016 with a 2015 growth rate of 1.27% and a projected 0.93% for 2016. Raleigh has led […]
North Carolina has been ranked the number one growth state according to the U-Haul Migration Trends Report with the Raleigh/Durham area consistently showing high-growth numbers. They have found themselves as number nine on Forbe’s America’s Fastest Growing Cities 2016 with a 2015 growth rate of 1.27% and a projected 0.93% for 2016. Raleigh has led the Southeast as an ascendant tech hot-spot which comes as no surprise with the Research Triangle Park making up the center of the Raleigh-Durham region. As Learn NC states, this innovative, research Park has spurred economic growth with over 37,000 jobs and an average salary of $56,000 annually which is 45% larger than the national average. Not only are the job opportunities and educational institutions a driving factor for growth, but North Carolina’s climate and overall quality of life lure future residents to the area. However, with growth comes the need for plans to strategically prepare for the future of the City.
Durham is one of the cities that understands the importance in providing a path for growth that mitigates sprawl, supports infrastructure and sustains the quality of life. The City has been proactive in making plans and positioning themselves for alternative transportation such as transit. They are already seeing successful revitalization projects that are bringing the livelihood back to the community.
A specific area that is seeing exceptional revitalization is Durham’s Government District. An area where a development now known as Gateway Center is oriented to the existing vitality, and which adjoins the future Dillard Street transit stop on land once owned by Hendricks Automotive. Although there are a handful of public service centers such as the corrections department, county court, city solid waste services, and housing authority; there are a number of contributing energy curators that are located in the District. The American Tobacco campus is one of the main job generators in Durham, while the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) and the Durham Bulls baseball stadium provide night life and help employ a sense of culture. Surrounding these city assets are huge underutilized, post-industrial landscapes that yield a great opportunity for redevelopment and the infusion of vitality to the Government District.
As visionaries and master planners, we recognized the long-term value and prominence of this property and began looking at the broader context with Citisculpt in 2013. A primary objective is bridging the divide created by Hwy 147 to the communities to the south. Fayetteville Street and the distinction of this site from the freeway provide for a true ‘gateway’ moment to the City and the emerging district. We have guided the master planning effort for the +/- 15 acres into a unique urban center that brings the community together. The initial 300+-unit multifamily residences are set to be occupied in 2017. The full build-out of the Gateway Center will have 200,000 SF of class A office, 145 key hotel with 20 condos, a companion hotel, ground floor retail and restaurants, and another 76-unit multifamily residences. To deliver this vertically integrated solution, the development team has formed many partnerships from both the private and public side of the table. One of the parking structures for Gateway Center is intended to be in partnership with the City. The development team has also aligned with GoTriangle to provide future Right-of-Way for the transit system within Pettigrew Street, as well as future provisions for transit parking for the Dillard Street Station. Discussions are underway with NCDOT and the City with regard to a potential land swap and implementation of a bold new district park at the intersection of Fayetteville Street and Pettigrew Street, and the on-going negotiations with NCDOT regarding the much needed street connectivity to Jackie Robinson Boulevard, which is a controlled access street.
The complexity of the development deal, and the public infrastructure creates a unique permitting process. LandDesign has orchestrated several Special Use Permits and Variances to accomplish the design objectives of the development in real-time with the project site permitting. With a tight delivery to market and a dynamic new vision for one of Durham’s primary gateways, LandDesign’s expertise has built an implementable strategy for Gateway Center, as well as created value for the adjoining underutilized parcels that, once developed, will create one of the most exciting urban environments in Durham.
To learn more about the growth of development in Durham, visit Business View’s article.
What Goats and Native Plants Have in Common
By: Kaitlin Craig, Landscape Architect Design Intern My original theory to replace lawn mowers in America and solve the issues of lawn management, consisted of everyone buying goats. However, it turns out goats don’t really like to eat just grass and prefer brush and weeds, too. Following this little fact came more issues with my […]
By: Kaitlin Craig, Landscape Architect Design Intern
My original theory to replace lawn mowers in America and solve the issues of lawn management, consisted of everyone buying goats. However, it turns out goats don’t really like to eat just grass and prefer brush and weeds, too. Following this little fact came more issues with my livestock vegetation management theory. Then it occurred to me, “Why don’t we just use less lawn?”
Let’s face it, lawns are high maintenance – you have to mow them and use lots of water (if you don’t water it regularly and evenly you get these beautiful brown patches). According to studies by the research group, Milesi in the United States, there is more surface area “devoted to lawns than to individual irrigated crops such as corn or wheat.”
I will admit, there is a purpose and place for everything. Lawns are great for recreational fields, golf and for people to walk, lay and/or play in. However, road median lawns and lawns in front of commercial businesses, residential front yards and parking lots, don’t have much logical reasoning. I see lawns as a place for people (or pets) to use, but they are are not actively using the lawn, then why have it?
A lawn does create a nice plinth for our lovely architecture and planting beds; however, that doesn’t mean it’s the only solution for creating an eye resting surface. Try selecting plants that are native or well-adapted to your local environment. This will lead to less water use and maintenance. I emphasize the less maintenance because I don’t know about you, but sometimes plant management is hard to fit into a busy schedule. Some of my favorite plants in the Texas region that I recommend are the Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima), the line flower commonly used in floral arrangements called Liatris (Liatris spicata) and the Pink Buttercups (Oenothera speciose). You can learn more about the benefits of a native garden from this visual case study by the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment here.
By all means, if you want still want to buy a goat, they are FAUN-tastic animals but, make sure to do your research beforehand. They are notorious escape artists and need a good size backyard. Nevertheless, it can be said for both goats and lawns that there is a purpose and place for everything.
Creating Places the Entire Family Can Enjoy
Dreaming of a place to relive the nostalgia of your childhood camp experience while creating new memories with your children and family? The essence of a true multigenerational, summer getaway awaits at Camp Lake James where you can shut off your phone, unplug and enjoy your natural surroundings and company. Just a short drive […]
Dreaming of a place to relive the nostalgia of your childhood camp experience while creating new memories with your children and family? The essence of a true multigenerational, summer getaway awaits at Camp Lake James where you can shut off your phone, unplug and enjoy your natural surroundings and company.
Just a short drive east of Asheville, NC, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Camp Lake James offers activities for all ages – swimming, boating, kayaking and fishing to name a few. The grounds include a social hall, amphitheater, expedition center, pool and spa area, fitness facility, natural beach, docks, butterfly garden, tennis courts, and access to community trails. In the evening, take in the crisp summer night air and the view of the peaceful lake while sharing a few scary stories and roasting marshmallows around the fire pit at the outdoor amphitheater.
LandDesign had the exciting privilege of providing the landscape and hardscape architectural design of this lakeside retreat. One important feature of the Camp’s design is the preservation of the natural habitat. Plant species and products were carefully selected to conserve 50%-60% more water than an otherwise non-regulated irrigation system. Nearly 6,000 individual trees, shrubs, perennials, ferns, ornamental grasses and sedums, representing over 100 different native species, were installed along the grounds. Look for the rare native “Ben Franklin” history tree at the intersection of three trails.
Another perk of Camp Lake James? The educational component. If you’re looking to appreciate and explore the natural historical character of the camp, head on down to the Expedition Center. This hub of nature programming allows you to create fish habitat, build bluebird boxes and preserve green space. The kiddie pools allow for adults to kick back under the shade sail that acts as a UV absorbent and protector, while the children enjoy tracing the tracks of native animals in the pool deck – creating a uniquely playful and educational area. Whether you prefer exploring the shoreline in kayaks, hiking the many trails, or relaxing in Adirondack chairs – there’s something for all.
With the last stretch of summer among us, we encourage you to go with friends, family or your significant other, and experience a getaway customized to the individuals in your group. Trust us, the nature will speak for itself.
Camp Lake James was awarded three awards: NC Chapter Award of Merit, American Society of Landscape Architects (2009), Excellence in Irrigation Award, American Society of Irrigation Consultants (2009), and NC Chapter Award of Merit, American Institute of Architects (2008).
Wandering, Wondering: Musings of a Hoosier in the Land of the Pines
By: Katie Klug, Landscape Architect Design Intern Aside from an exceptional firm, a unique location was one of the qualities I was looking for in an internship experience. A born-and-raised Hoosier, I was seeking to expand my boundaries outside of the Midwest this summer. LandDesign has provided me with the opportunity to check both of […]
By: Katie Klug, Landscape Architect Design Intern
Aside from an exceptional firm, a unique location was one of the qualities I was looking for in an internship experience. A born-and-raised Hoosier, I was seeking to expand my boundaries outside of the Midwest this summer. LandDesign has provided me with the opportunity to check both of those boxes on my internship list.
Charlotte is a geographic gem!
Seasoned travelers often preach about the power of traveling and wandering, as it exposes and opens one’s mind to the outside world. Beyond exploring new landscapes, immersing oneself in different cultures is refreshing. As a student of landscape architecture, I may be biased, but I agree with Yi-Fu Tuan’s theory of topophilia, or in other words – people’s natural bond with, or affinity for, place. Charlotte and the surrounding regions have an excellent sense of place. So much so, that it is easy to feel connected here.
Today, it’s easy to get swept into the current of a fast-paced, plugged-in world. As contemporary designers, we shouldn’t forget about the lessons of our ancestors. Take Lawrence Halprin for example, who drew much inspiration from hikes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and preached about the ever-changing and cyclical nature of nature.
In the short time I’ve had to explore my new City, I have been able to fuel my wanderlust and travel to some notable areas with breathtaking landscapes. I have visited Crowders Mountain in Gastonia, NC; Wilmington Beach in Wilmington, NC; Historic Downtown Charleston, SC; Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, SC; Raven Rock in Linville, NC; Black Balsam Knob and Skinny Dip Falls in East Fork, NC; Blue Ridge Parkway in Canton, NC; and Catawba Falls in Old Fort, NC.
My adventures in the Southeast have been much more than just weekend getaways to the nearby beaches or mountains, they have been inspirational experiences that will inevitably influence, inform, and grow my designs in the future…all while feeding my affinity for nature. #winning
Never Stop Innovating
By: Shelby Harden, Landscape Architect Design Intern As landscape architects, we will embody many roles over the course of our careers: designer, environmental steward, urban planner, storyteller and innovator. Particularly in the tech-driven world we live in today, embracing innovations is paramount to good design and successful careers. One of my favorite aspects of […]
By: Shelby Harden, Landscape Architect Design Intern
As landscape architects, we will embody many roles over the course of our careers: designer, environmental steward, urban planner, storyteller and innovator. Particularly in the tech-driven world we live in today, embracing innovations is paramount to good design and successful careers.
One of my favorite aspects of landscape architecture is placemaking. To design a successful place, with its own unique character, we must be able to understand its history, sense of scale, and feel the space’s potential to be something great. During my internship at LandDesign, I have had the opportunity to work on both local and international projects. While a biergarten project in Fairfax, Virginia might be a short drive from the office, it’s a bit more difficult to send everyone in the studio over to Mexico to understand how the mountains dwarf the urban landscape in the valley.
This is where emerging technologies become invaluable tools for designers. Virtual reality headsets, such as the Samsung Gear VR, allow you to take a 3D-model from SketchUp or Lumion and virtually stand inside the model. You can turn your head and see more of the space that has been rendered by the headset to allow the user to see depth and get a sense of scale. While it does look silly to see someone in the office with a headset on twisting around in a circle to look at a virtual skyline or pointing at something only they can see, I have seen firsthand how it helps us understand the space better, thus be better designers.
The Gear VR uses a smartphone cradled in the headset to render the 3D-model. Other mobile technology, such as augmented reality (AR), is already starting to integrate into a normal lifestyle for many. Pokemon Go, an AR mobile game, has been a tremendous phenomenon since its launch several weeks ago. The game uses GPS and aggregated location data (much like landscape architects employ when using a program like GIS) to populate a map with points of interest to travel to. These points of interest, or Pokestops, are real-life locations, generally monuments, historic landmarks, local business, or public art.
My experience with the game has been overwhelmingly positive. The psychology behind playing a game is the instant gratification one gets by leveling up or capturing a new creature in the game. Pokemon Go has turned this into an incentive for people to explore their city in a new way. Instead of taking the quickest route to my destination, I have found myself taking a different detour while playing the game and finding hidden gems around my neighborhood that I would have never bothered to explore on my own. Since the game has launched, I have noticed an increase in people walking around my neighborhood, gathering by landmarks, and interacting more with each other and the landscape.
Designers must be flexible and open to new ideas, techniques and technologies to continue creating successful spaces. By understanding and utilizing new tech like virtual reality and augmented reality, we are able to gain new perspectives and think differently about how we design. This innovative shift in how we interact with our environment is the cusp of a new paradigm, one that designers must stay abreast with to continue creating places that matter.
A Day in the Life of a LandDesigner Intern
By: Lauren Delbridge, Landscape Architect Design Intern Interning with LandDesign has taught me so much about the field of Landscape Architecture, but even more about what it’s like to be a part of collaborative and enthusiastic firm culture. Each day spent in the office, I learn what working as a LandDesign intern means to me. […]
By: Lauren Delbridge, Landscape Architect Design Intern
Interning with LandDesign has taught me so much about the field of Landscape Architecture, but even more about what it’s like to be a part of collaborative and enthusiastic firm culture. Each day spent in the office, I learn what working as a LandDesign intern means to me.
Working for LandDesign means:
- Coffee or tea at 8:00am (and often many more refills throughout the day).
- Bringing a sweater or space heater because good work clearly takes place in freezing temperatures.
- Learning AutoCAD commands that make your life so much easier.
- Learning shortcuts for any program that make your life so much easier.
- Grabbing lunch from the local Harris Teeter.
- Knowing ‘cruise industry news’ forward and backward.
- Learning the lengths of the longest cruise ships.
- Knowing everything about cruise ships.
- Researching precedents that I’ve never heard of before.
- Knowing how to change the roll of paper on the plotter.
- Getting to know the other great LandDesign interns.
- Froyo birthday parties.
- 4th floor nerf gun wars.
- Asking questions.
- Researching how to grow coconut palms.
- Become a master at scanning.
- Asking more questions (usually about AutoCAD).
- Learning all that you can from the people around you.
- Learning that relationships matter.
Although my months spent with LandDesign have been short, I am grateful for the opportunities this internship has given me. I’ve enjoyed experiencing a new city and work culture and I am thankful for the warm welcome LandDesign has given me and all of the interns.
On the Run in a New City
By: Griselda Ruan, Civil Engineer Design Intern I check the weather, lace up my sneakers, and put my headphones in. It’s a good day when it’s 7:00 PM and Florida’s daily thunderstorm has passed by, meaning it’s time to wind down with a nice run around town. Shortly after moving to Orlando to start my […]
By: Griselda Ruan, Civil Engineer Design Intern
I check the weather, lace up my sneakers, and put my headphones in. It’s a good day when it’s 7:00 PM and Florida’s daily thunderstorm has passed by, meaning it’s time to wind down with a nice run around town. Shortly after moving to Orlando to start my internship with LandDesign, I knew I had to find at least one good running route that I could rely on. I know, I know – running? It’s Orlando! As a Floridian, I’ve enjoyed Orlando as a tourist plenty of times, but I wanted to experience it as a local. What better way to integrate myself as a local than getting to know my new city through a daily run? And so, my new routine began.
My first run (in a long time) was near my apartment at a versatile park with a dog park (need I say more?) Many recreation fields, an outdoor hockey rink, a skate park, and the cutest pups were the main attractions. The family-friendly park definitely satisfied my expectations and allowed me to get back on track as well. I wanted more though: a more scenic trail with more than one or two runners. On my way home after work, I drove passed a lake just outside of downtown. It caught my attention due to the amount of running enthusiasts surrounding the park. It’s always nice to be around people who share the same interest as you and encourage you to keep going, so I gave it a try. Lake Underhill Park includes a fitness course along the trail – probably the closest I’ll ever get to a gym, honestly. Running 2-3 laps around the 1.5 mile loop trail, smelling the trees, and seeing downtown Orlando peeking out above the horizon of the lake – it was paradise.
A few weeks into my internship, I learned through a friend about a running group that meets every Wednesday just blocks away from LandDesign. Running for Brews (RFB). Yes, there is beer dangling at the finish line just waiting to be engulfed by thirsty runners. Well not literally, but a group of people do meet downtown, run a 5k, and then mingle over a few cold ones. Sounds amazing, right? My thoughts exactly. The route, located in downtown Orlando, varies every week, and running with a large group makes it even more challenging as there are regulars who seem impossible to keep up with. The route usually starts or ends at Lake Eola (which, fun fact, is actually a sink hole). Ah, nature is amazing. I will always choose to exercise outdoors over indoors…unless there’s a torrential downpour happening at 7:00 PM. I’ve met the most wonderful people through RFB, and not only do they motivate me to not give up when I’m burning out towards the end of the route, but they’ve allowed me to build these new relationships that make me feel like I’m home.
Working with LandDesign, I am able to be a part of creating developments like these that bring communities together. As a civil engineering intern, it is important for me to not only understand the technical aspects of land development design, but also the gratifying experience that public places, such as these beautiful lakes and parks, provide. I think it’s safe to say, my new running habit has helped achieve that.