Public Practice in Focus

Image courtesy of Jennifer Shagin

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 ASLA’s Public Practice Advisory Committee and other landscape architects showcase those opportunities and share insights on their public practice careers. The committee has published four interviews so far this year—if you haven’t seen them all, here are the latest interviewees:

Jennifer Shagin, ASLA
Landscape Designer, NES
Interview conducted by Om Khurjekar, ASLA, PLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

“My public sector work has been overall less design oriented and more focused on overall community growth and wellbeing. My campaign for trustee for the Town of Berthoud was self-run and managed; I spent every free moment talking with residents and formulating how I could apply what I know about design to improve their livelihood…My work in office as a trustee in a small town was very fulfilling, and I felt that it was democracy in its truest form.”

Kris Sorich, ASLA
Senior Landscape Architect, Chicago Department of Transportation
Interview conducted by Om Khurjekar, ASLA, PLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

Image courtesy of Kris Sorich

“The public landscape architect is tied to the project long after the ribbon is cut by the politicians. This relationship with the site enables the public practice landscape architect to observe how the public space is functioning and to monitor that the infrastructure is of sound build. Noted successes and failures allow the public sector landscape architect to develop extensive expertise which will, in turn, influence the design of future public projects.”

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.”

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.”

For more on public practice, 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). Heading to San Francisco for #ASLA2022 this November? There will be a number of sessions featuring public practitioners—here are just a few of them:

September 21 is the advanced rate deadline if you haven’t registered for the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture yet!

Leave a Reply