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People Matter: James Mann

James Mann is a newly licensed (congrats, James!) landscape architect in our Charlotte office! James’s passion for landscape design was sparked during a trip to Italy when he was just 12-years old. When James isn’t learning about post occupancy-evaluations—more on that later—he’s channeling his inner ‘Tim the Tool Man Taylor’ and working on his home.

Keep reading to get to know LandDesigner, James Mann.

Q: Why Landscape Architecture? 

A: For as long as I can remember, I have always loved nature and had a great respect and admiration for it. I’ve also been interested in art and design since I was young.

But I think I can pinpoint my interest in landscape architecture back to a visit to Europe when I was around 12. My dad, a professor of landscape architecture, led a group of students on tours of relevant gardens, villas and various historical sites around Italy. I was fascinated by the intricate and playful designs of the villas and amazed by the beautifully functional public spaces. After visiting New York City a few years later and being absolutely blown away by Central Park, I was committed to studying landscape architecture.

Q: Favorite LandDesign project you’ve worked on? 

A: Rea Farms located in south Charlotte—a large mixed use development built on a former golf course site. This was the first project I worked on my first day at LandDesign in 2015.

I can remember Shaun Tooley and Mark Kime working on loose concept sketches for it and thinking that they were designing an entire city! Working on Rea Farms, I learned an incredible amount about the various stages of a project from lots of great people. It’s amazingly satisfying to watch it evolve from colored pencil in Shaun’s office to actual buildings and parks being enjoyed by the community.

Q: Who would you like to collaborate with, that you haven’t with already? 

A: I think I could learn a lot from working with Richard Petersheim. His knowledge of the real estate industry from a design and development standpoint, as well as from the financial and economic standpoint is amazing. I’ve never heard another landscape architect speak so confidently about capitalization rates and comparative market analysis.

I would also love to work with Eric Pohlmann sometime. His work ethic, creativity and enthusiasm are inspiring (hello Eric, if you’re reading this).

Q: What excites you most about this industry? 

A: As cheesy as it sounds, there’s so much about this industry to be excited about. New material technologies are constantly being introduced and used by landscape architects and civil engineers. New design strategies are always being implemented to better serve the environment and community.

I have recently become interested in reading about post occupancy evaluations (POE). Basically, the measurement of what works and what doesn’t in a design. Which site features are enjoyed or disliked? Have certain materials aged well or badly? Which species of plants have died or thrived? Post occupancy evaluations are an incredible opportunity to gather data for us as designers as well as for our clients!

Q: Best piece of advice you’ve received? 

A: Without a doubt the two best pieces of advice I have received pertaining to work are:

  1. Ask questions. Someone here once told me that “no matter how much you think you are annoying me by asking constant questions, I will be 100 times more annoyed if you don’t ask questions and then make an error that becomes multiplied exponentially as a result”.
  2. If you make a mistake, own up to it as soon as possible. No matter how minor you think the error is, and no matter how slim you think the chances are of it being caught by someone else…. your error will eventually see the light of day.

Q: What are you binging on Netflix right now? 

A: My wife and I recently bought a house that needs a little bit of work. So we have been watching a lot of home improvement type shows lately. It’s amazing what you can learn how to do from watching YouTube videos and TV shows.

Q: You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick? 

A: Rick Astley – “Never Gonna Give You Up” (please watch the music video if you need some new dance moves)

Q: If you had a talk show, who would be your first thee guests?

A: Homer Simpson, Ignatius Reilly and Sasquatch.

Q: What’s the largest animal you think you could domesticate?

A. A giant Galapagos Tortoise would probably be pretty easy.

Q: What Scooby Doo character are you? 

A: One of the bald, evil villains.

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