Retaining Wall.

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 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.