1. What was your undergraduate degree and how did it influence your decision to pursue a MLA?
I studied plant sciences at the University of Tennessee and during my time in school I was fortunate enough to work in a lab studying plants’ physiological and morphological changes in response to various light and nutrient inputs. I consider myself an advocate for science and believe that landscape architecture is uniquely situated to expose communities to oftentimes overlooked ecological processes through experience and aesthetics. An interest in research can also be extremely valuable when designing with living systems and unique conditions. These interests coupled with a love for design and a drive to be constantly creating all intersect in the discipline of landscape architecture making it the perfect choice for my master’s degree.
2. What is one of your favorite aspects of the school or the MLA degree track?
My favorite aspect of the school is being exposed to incredible work being done by multiple disciplines throughout the building. Seeing work not only by fellow students in landscape but also by students in architecture, interior, graphic design, and visual art is constantly challenging me intellectually and enriching me emotionally. The culture within the MLA program specifically is strong and creates a healthy and challenging environment to grow as a designer while the curriculum utilizes cutting edge representational methods, fabrication techniques, and technology to prepare us to be competitive in the industry.
3. What will you miss about Knoxville?
Downtown Knoxville is very walkable, and I am lucky enough to be able to cycle to school daily and live within walking distance of arts districts, restaurants, and theaters. The Knoxville Urban Wilderness is a fantastic amenity that allows us to interact with wild spaces and participate in outdoor recreational activities while only having to travel a few minutes from campus. We also have the Big Ears Music Festival in late March that brings world class experimental musicians from around the world to Knoxville for a weekend of unforgettable experiences.
4. What activities do you pursue outside of the school?
Outside of school I enjoy gardening, hiking, cycling, going to movies/concerts, and classic sci-fi/genre.
5. Did you have an internship or externship experience? What did you learn from it?
This past summer I interned at Hawkins Partners in Nashville, TN. One of the most valuable experiences I had was getting a better understanding of associated disciplines like architecture, civil engineering, construction, and surveying among many others. It takes numerous disciplines consisting of countless people to bring a project from design to build. I also had the opportunity to visit multiple projects in the process of being built and gained insight into how construction administration is managed. Being in an active office exposed me to many different professionals with invaluable knowledge and perspectives that contributed greatly to my development as a young designer. I am thankful for their guidance and mentorship throughout the summer.
6. How has your perception of landscape architecture changed over time?
My definition of what landscape is has been vastly expanded since I entered the program. My background was more rooted in horticulture and my preconceptions of landscape were shaped by manicured gardens and pastoral park spaces. Throughout my time in school my understanding has evolved to include spaces that challenge the traditional definition of landscape. I now try to view everything as a form of landscape which pushes the scope of what the discipline can be and the territories that we can practice in.