ASLA Ask Me Anything’s for Emerging Professionals

Since 2015, ASLA’s Emerging Professionals Committee has organized more than a dozen Ask Me Anything online events, streamed via Facebook Live and available for viewing on ASLA’s Facebook page. For each AMA, participants can submit questions to the invited guest, giving those new to landscape architecture a chance to have their burning questions about the field answered by a range of practitioners, from mid-career professionals to established firm owners.

The Emerging Professionals Committee advises ASLA on Associate, Student, and Student Affiliate Member programs and services; facilitates communication with and among all emerging professional groups; communicates with faculty and chapters about ASLA programs and benefits pertaining to students and Associate Members; and promotes, encourages, and assists ASLA chapter leaders to increase professional interaction with emerging professionals.

Until the next live event, here’s a look back at past AMAs.

AMA: ASLA LARE Prep Committee
December 12, 2017

Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA, and Angela Woodward, ASLA, members of the ASLA LARE Prep Committee, discussed the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), and how ASLA is helping emerging professionals prepare for it. Here are a few of the questions that came in from attendees:

  • The recommended readings are so broad. Is there a good resource to study or a way to prepare for the test?
  • How portable is the license? If you plan on moving and practicing in a different state in the next few years, is it worth starting the process?
  • How well do you feel universities are preparing students for the LARE?
  • Do ASLA chapters or CLARB offer ways for LARE takers to connect to prepare together and organize study groups?

AMA: Vaughn Rinner, FASLA
President, ASLA, 2016-2017, based in Seattle, WA
October 3, 2017

  • As ASLA President, traveling across the country, what has been your favorite place or landscape visited?
  • How do you frame what you do when speaking to engineers that think landscape architecture is just about aesthetics?
  • How did the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting theme, Common Ground, come about?
  • What is ASLA doing to support the Sustainable SITES Initiative® (SITES)?

A graduate of Iowa State University, Vaughn Rinner has worked for forty years in both small landscape architectural firms and as a partner in interdisciplinary firms. Her management of a wide variety of project types has given Vaughn a broad understanding of the issues landscape architects face in both private and public practice. Since relocating to Seattle, she is leading the advocacy efforts for the Washington Chapter. In acknowledgement of her dedicated service to the society she was honored to receive the 2014 ASLA President’s Medal.

AMA: Joy Kuebler, ASLA
President, Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC, North Tonawanda, NY
September 12, 2017

  • Who or what has had the biggest impact on your career?
  • What’s more important for a landscape architect: hand drawings, or computer graphics?
  • If you could change the name of landscape architecture, what would you change it to?
  • Do you prefer residential or commercial projects? Do you prefer small scale or big scale projects? Why?
  • As a small office principal, how competitive can you be with the larger firms in the area? Do you find it an advantage?
  • Why is it important for landscape architects to have licensure?

Joy Kuebler is Past President NY Upstate ASLA and President of Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC, an award-winning firm with work focusing on the human experience in the landscape. In 2007 Joy was named “40 under 40” by Business First, as well as the 2016 Ellen Shipman Distinguished Private Practitioner by the NYUASLA Chapter. Her firm has been recognized as a Buffalo Fast Track Company and one of Key Banks’ Most Innovative Small Businesses. Joy received a B.S. from Cornell University, and is a graduate of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership programs with the University at Buffalo’s School of Management.

AMA: Daniel Tal, ASLA
Senior Associate / 3D Manager, DHM Design, Denver, CO
August 8, 2017

  • If you could back in time and tell your younger landscape architect self any one thing, what would you tell yourself? What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
  • If you were given a golden ticket to visit any landscape tomorrow, where would you go?
  • Outside of AutoCAD, what software do you think every student coming out of landscape architecture programs should be familiar with?
  • How can landscape architects integrate their digital work better with civil engineers and architects?
  • I’d love to hear what you think are the incoming uses of drones in landscape architecture over the next 2-3 years. Or does that seem to end at 3D mapping a site?

Daniel Tal is a registered landscape architect with 20 years of experience. Daniel has worked on a variety of projects ranging from large master plans to capital projects in the US and internationally. He has authored two books with Wiley publications on the topics of 3D modeling for professionals: SketchUp for Site Design and Rendering in SketchUp. Daniel combines his experience in the design profession with his knowledge of 3D applications. Daniel provides lectures and presentations to firms and professional organizations on 3D modeling and consults on research and development of 3D tools and applications for software companies.

AMA: Mia Lehrer, FASLA
Founder and President, Mia Lehrer + Associates (now Studio-MLA), Los Angeles, CA
July 11, 2017

  • What is the best thing about being a landscape architect?
  • What is one (or two) key pieces of advice you would give to young women striving for leadership within the profession/industry?
  • What creative design solutions has your firm used to address the water crisis in California (or elsewhere)?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is close to receiving their degree in landscape architecture?
  • How large is your office? And what do you typically look for when hiring?
  • Do you think it’s important to have work experience prior to pursuing licensure?

Mia Lehrer founded her firm with a vision to improve quality of life through landscape. She has led the design and implementation of ambitious public and private projects including the Hollywood Park Racetrack redevelopment and its new LA NFL Stadium, the LA County Natural History Museum Gardens, Vista Hermosa Park, and many Los Angeles River-related projects. Mia is internationally recognized for progressive landscape design, advocacy, and catalyzing work for a climate-appropriate future. Among recent accomplishments, she served on Obama’s Fine Arts Commission and was honored with ASLA’s LaGasse Medal.

AMA: Barbara Deutsch, FASLA
Executive Director, Landscape Architecture Foundation, Washington, DC
June 13, 2017

  • How do you think landscape architects and LAF can support attracting more diverse people to become landscape architects? Are there studies out there that examine the current demographics of the profession?
  • How is landscape architecture, as a discipline, responding to “disasterscapes” and resilient cities?
  • Do you think that landscape architecture would benefit if we had more PHD programs with more professors and students doing peer-reviewed research?

Barbara Deutsch is the Executive Director of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) since 2009. She has a diverse background in both the private and not-for-profit sector bringing ten years of award-winning marketing experience from IBM before making a career change to become a landscape architect. This experience was influential in the development of LAF’s transformative research initiative, the Landscape Performance Series. Prior to LAF, Barbara worked on re-greening cities from Hong Kong to Washington, DC, serving most recently as Associate Director for BioRegional’s OnePlanet Communities program to deliver Zero-Carbon, Zero-Waste, Livable communities, and Senior Director of Casey Trees.

AMA: Mark Focht, FASLA
Deputy Commissioner/Chief Operating Officer, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, New York, NY
May 9, 2017

  • As an emerging professional, I have always been drawn towards the public sector, but it has been quite difficult to find an opening; is it just a factor of time, and being in the right place at the right time? Do you have any suggestions as to attaining such a position (municipal planner/landscape architect)?
  • Does the NYC Parks work with the NYC City Department of City Planning? If so, is that a positive relationship?
  • Do you feel that the profession of landscape architecture is in jeopardy with the current administration? Especially in light of the trending views on the environment?
  • How to you feel that landscape architects can best position themselves as leaders in green infrastructure projects?
  • Do you think landscape architects will become SITES Accredited Professionals now more than seeking the LEED Accredited Professionals? How important are these to landscape architects as part of their daily lexicon, to be competitive in the job market when creating sustainable, public/private environments, specifically using emerging greening technologies and green infrastructure?

Mark Focht is a licensed landscape architect with 30 years of experience. He consults with clients to produce high-quality, sustainable and maintainable places. Mr. Focht previously served as First Deputy Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and holds Bachelor of Science and Masters degrees in landscape architecture from Penn State and University of Massachusetts. Mr. Focht became a Penn State University Fellow in 2015 and received Alumni Achievement Awards from UMass (2013) and Penn State (2007). Mr. Focht was inducted as an ASLA Fellow in October 2008 and served as the Society’s President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past-President in 2013-2015.

AMA: Nina Chase, ASLA
Senior Project Manager, Riverlife, Pittsburgh, PA
April 11, 2017

  • What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in landscape architecture?
  • Any advice to an emerging professional trying to relocate to another state? Move first, job later?
  • What strong skills did you feel you had and marketed when searching for a job, and which ones did you feel firms were more excited about?
  • How much field time do you get? What percentage of your work life is desk-based as opposed to committee meetings/site visits?
  • What do you see as the greatest obstacle to development along Pittsburgh’s rivers?
  • Do you consider landscape architecture as a means for activism?

Nina Chase is the Senior Project Manager at Riverlife, in Pittsburgh, PA. She works at the intersection of landscape architecture and urban design, positioning landscape architecture as a foundational building block for cities. Formerly an Associate at Sasaki, Nina’s professional experience includes the award-winning temporary park The Lawn on D, Rebuild by Design, and Sea Change: Boston. A graduate of Harvard’s GSD and West Virginia University, Nina’s career is additionally informed by teaching and volunteering. Nina is an adjunct faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University and currently sits on the board of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

AMA: David Rubin, ASLA
Principal, DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, Philadelphia, PA
August 11, 2016

David A. Rubin, ASLA, FAAR is principal of DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, an international landscape architecture and urban design firm dedicated to empathetic thinking and social sustainability in the design of the public realm. Rubin is the 2011-2012 Rome Prize recipient in Landscape Architecture from the American Academy in Rome. He is responsible for the design of Eskenazi Health Hospital’s “Commonground,” and Cummins’ DBU Headquarters, both in Indianapolis; the University of Pennsylvania’s “Pennovation Works” in Philadelphia; Grand Junction Plaza in Westfield, Indiana; and Canal Park and Potomac Park Levee on the National Mall, both in Washington, DC, among others.

AMA: Laura Solano, ASLA
Principal, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Brooklyn, NY
July 14, 2016

For 26 years, Laura has been a leader in MVVA’s portfolio of public parks and institutional projects, including Don River Park, Wellesley College, the G.W. Bush Presidential Center, the St. Louis Arch Grounds, and the US Embassy in Mexico City. She’s an Associate Professor in Practice at Harvard University and has lectured at the ASLA Annual Meeting, National Building Museum, and universities throughout North America. Her articles on technology have been featured in national publications. Laura won the BSA’s Women in Design Award of Excellence and served on the Executive Board for the LAF.

AMA: Shannon Nichol, FASLA
Founding Partner, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Seattle, WA
June 9, 2016

Shannon Nichol is a founding partner of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. Her designs, including the Lurie Garden in Chicago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus in Seattle, and North End Parks in Boston, are widely recognized for being deeply embedded in their neighborhoods and natural contexts. Shannon’s work incorporates complex functions into simple frameworks and refined landforms. In 2011, Shannon and her partners received the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Architecture. Her work has received multiple Design Excellence and Honor Awards from ASLA and AIA. Shannon is an honorary member of the AIA (Seattle).

AMA: Bradford McKee
Editor, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Washington, DC
May 12, 2016

Brad has been the editor of LAM since April 2010, when he joined ASLA and began a total redesign of the magazine during its 100th year. Before coming to LAM, he worked as a freelance writer for 10 years, including six years as a contract reporter for the New York Times. He was also a contributing editor to Architect and I.D. magazines during that period, and worked for several years part-time at a Maryland nursery. His design journalism career began in 1993 when he joined the magazine Architecture, where he eventually became a senior editor and then editor-at-large until the magazine closed in 2006. In 1992, he began reporting for the weekly Washington City Paper, and served as the paper’s arts editor from 1997 to 2000.

AMA: Jennifer Guthrie, FASLA
Founding Principal, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Seattle, WA
October 22, 2015

Jennifer Guthrie is a founding partner of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol. Her work ranges broadly, encompassing urban districts of green streets and mixed-use housing, public squares, rooftop gardens, urban farms, and cultural institutions. Jennifer’s clients have included the Smithsonian Institution, the Nu Skin Corporation, and the Department of State, as well as major universities and developers. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, President of the Landscape Architectural Foundation Board, and serves on the CEO Roundtable.

AMA: Kona Gray, FASLA
Principal, EDSA, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL
September 24, 2015

Kona has practiced on a global stage for 25 years, providing inspiration and enhancing professional awareness. His portfolio ranges from large-scale planning to detailed site design, with emphasis on communities, urban parks, hospitality and campus environments. Blending sensitivity and context with creative design solutions, Kona unites a client’s vision with his vanguard viewpoint producing designs with purpose and presence. Currently, he is designing projects in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, China, Dubai (UAE), Egypt, India, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and St. Lucia. A registered Landscape Architect, Kona earned a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia.

AMA: Human Resources Edition
May 21, 2015

ASLA’s first AMA featured a panel of human resources professionals from some of landscape architecture’s top firms: Anna Adamski of EDSA, Aimee Boyle of Design Workshop, Kolbe certified consultant Jason Cupp, and Kimberly Shintren of Coen + Partners. Students and emerging professionals viewed and participated to learn what they can do to present themselves as a top applicant when looking for jobs or internships.

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