The Common Space Series: Q&As with Public Practitioners

Left to right: Terry Clements, FASLA, Jon Wreschinsky, ASLA, PLA, and Haley Blakeman, FASLA, PLA / images: courtesy of the interviewees

The field of landscape architecture is one of astonishing breadth, and one need only take a look at ASLA’s membership to see how wide an expanse landscape architects’ professional trajectories cover. ASLA’s Public Practice Advisory Committee aspires to encourage more landscape architects, including students and emerging professionals, to pursue careers in the public sector—working for local, state, and federal government agencies, universities and colleges, or parks and arboreta. Many of these ASLA members have found their way to public practice after years in private practice, looking to shape public policy and have an impact on public spaces for the common good.

The realm of public practice, including non-profit and governmental work, offers unique opportunities and challenges to practitioners. In an ongoing series for ASLA’s LAND newsletter, members of the Public Practice Advisory Committee and other landscape architects showcase those opportunities and share insights on their public practice careers. We highlight the most recent conversations below.

Haley Blakeman, FASLA, PLA
Suzanne L. Turner Professor at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University
Interview conducted by Om Khurjekar, ASLA, PLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

“There was a public education component to every project. We never worked in a community unless the residents and leadership invited us. Many times, we did the initial community engagement, capacity building, and master planning that would then be followed by a detailed site design led by a design firm. We built support for projects, which made it easier for design firms to get projects funded and built.”

ASLA 2008 Professional Communications Honor Award. Louisiana Speaks: Our Voice. Our Plan. Our Future. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Center for Planning Excellence / image: Nola

Jon Wreschinsky, ASLA, PLA
Facilities Planner, San Diego Unified School District

“It is important to seek out a diversity of knowledge, skills, and experience in other subject areas that interest you. As you move through your career, that experience will open many opportunities. Don’t be afraid to choose non-traditional roles. Your perspectives will help others see and understand that there are many solutions to today’s issues.”

Terry Clements, FASLA
Professor and Program Chair of the Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture Program
Interview conducted by Om Khurjekar, ASLA, PLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

“I have consistently used community engagement to teach students various ways to work with communities in response to requests that come into our Landscape Architecture Program. Each year the program organizes two or three design studio projects that help individual communities envision new futures for their shared property. It’s amazing how the students can generate excitement of possibilities that community members had not thought possible or even thought of.”

For more on public practice, please see our previous post recapping Public Practice interviews and explore the online resources for ASLA’s Parks and Recreation and Transportation Professional Practice Networks (PPNs).

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