People Matter: Jake Petrosky, AICP

November 30, 2016

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.