Danny completed his Dual MLA/MArch through SoLA in 2020, and is currently a Landscape Architect with SCAPE’s New Orleans office. Danny previously completed a BS in Landscape Design and Ecology/Evolutionary Biology through UTK in 2016.
1. Tell us a little about your career trajectory since you graduated from UT.
Like many early pandemic graduates, my career was a bit up in the air right out of the gate. I was fortunate enough to have maintained strong connections with SCAPE after externing and interning with the firm while in grad school, and was pulled back in after graduation to join SCAPE’s New Orleans office full-time. I started remotely, not seeing most of my coworkers in person until later that fall when we were finally able to get everyone together for a socially distanced cookout nearly 6-months after the office had gone remote (following proper COVID restrictions, of course). Since then, our New Orleans office has nearly tripled in size to 15 full-time staff, and I’ve had the opportunity to try on a variety of hats within the office including as intern coordinator for New Orleans and as lead of our office’s engagement committee. Still fairly early in my career, I try to take on a variety of project types and roles, building a well-rounded professional body of work and hopefully carving a niche for myself both at SCAPE and in the profession at large.
2. Tell us a bit about your current firm and team.
SCAPE has grown significantly in size since I joined full-time in 2020. We are now a ~90 person firm comprised of landscape architects/designers, architects, urban planners, urban designers, and horticulturalists across three offices. The firm works on a wide variety of project types and scales, with a particular focus on coastal resilience and planning, urban environments, and natural infrastructure solutions. As a young professional, it has been incredibly inspiring and insightful to see a firm like SCAPE, known for its early research and engagement work, move more and more into built work where many of the ideas that were put forth early on can touch down and become reality. Each new project becomes an exciting opportunity to ground truth the innovative ecological design concepts that SCAPE has been developing and advocating for for nearly two decades.
3. Are you licensed? If yes, when did you get licensed and do you have anything to say about the process?
I completed licensure in late 2022. One of my coworkers started a weekly LARE study group in spring of 2022 which was an incredible resource for peer support (and accountability). We rotate between local bars, working our way through various study materials mined from online sources, or our fellow SCAPErs in NYC and NOLA. I strongly recommend finding study buddies when working on the LARE (or ARE, or any other professional exam). Having someone else in the office to bounce questions off of and help identify areas for improvement is a great resource and makes studying so much more enjoyable. If there isn’t anyone else in your office working towards licensure at the same time, check with your state or local ASLA chapter - they may have a study group of some kind.
4. What surprised you most about the MLA program?
As much as I felt I was prepared for the program, having studied landscape design in undergrad, I was not prepared for the sheer scale and scope that the landscape architecture profession could encompass. SoLA was a great space to learn about the seemingly endless possible trajectories of landscape architecture, and to identify and explore areas of practice that interested me the most.
5. Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on? Why did it have such an impact on you?
Shortly after I joined SCAPE, while still working remotely from Knoxville, I was staffed on a loosely ‘local’ Tennessee project - Tom Lee Park in Memphis. I’ve had the opportunity to see that project from late concept design/early SD’s well into construction with the park set to open later this summer. Over the past three years on the TLP team I have been able to hone my design and technical skills and build experience in phases of work that I’ve never seen before, like construction administration/observation. I have to contribute much of my professional growth since graduating to the work I have been able to do on Tom Lee Park, as well as to the invaluable project mentors and peers I’ve had along the way. TLP provided me the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest in our practice and I am forever grateful to those people and the opportunity to work with them.
6. Do you have any advice for future landscape architecture students?
Take advantage of the incredible resources you have at your disposal while at UT! You will likely never have similar free-ish access to tools, technology, and brain power like you do at SoLA once you graduate. Make something in the Fab Lab just to learn. Grab coffee with your peers. Ask your professors tough questions. Be curious about the profession and its possibilities/capabilities/capacities/trajectories. Fail faster and start putting in those 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.