Interdisciplinary by Design

My approach to landscape-related projects builds upon interdisciplinary academic experiences as well as knowledge gained throughout professional practice. Although shaped for individual projects, this process has three core components. I explore these components through my courses. 

Solutions are Grounded in Ecology…

Analyzing the existing conditions of a physical site – water movement, wildlife presence, etc. – leads to the creation of a design appropriate to the ecological context. With a strong command of this process, I specialize in design that looks to naturally-occurring plant communities for inspiration and for concrete ideas for reducing maintenance and maximizing ecosystem services.

…Applied to Communities…

These environmentally-driven solutions must also respond to the needs and desires of people, or they will fail to generate stewardship. I practice community-driven design, taking on work that incorporates participation. Involving the community in the design process is critical to the creation of truly democratic places. My interdisciplinary background enables me to find opportunities for building connections between organizations that are working towards similar goals.

…and Adapted over Time.

The social and ecological stories of the landscape should guide the design process. Anne W. Spirn writes in Language of Landscape (2000) that designers are storytellers, that the results of design express the values of those that dwell within the landscape. Designers must also be planners, and need to consider how landscapes will change in the future. Over time, the values of a society change, as do the ecological processes that take place within the landscape. Through the process of investigating context and applying systems-thinking, designers gain the knowledge necessary to propose designs that will maximize a landscape’s ability to adapt. Sustainable landscapes not only plan for but also embrace change.

Moving Forward

As a designer and educator, I believe in interdisciplinary collaboration and continued professional development. In addition to taking on design work for communities and private clients, I regularly attend conferences and explore natural and designed landscapes. I am also working on a book project, an excerpt of which was accepted for presentation at an ECLAS (European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools) event in Warsaw, Poland. I presented this ongoing work recently at the Cultural Landscapes & Heritage Values Conference at UMass Amherst. My personal and professional interests revolve around landscape studies, incorporating research, design, practice, and discussion.

Learn more about how I am expanding my knowledge base.