The Life of a 22-year-old Landscape Architect in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Over the past five months, Anna has been constantly asking me to contribute to her wonderful blog. Like any man, I have not done so because I am lazy. But I honestly don't what I can contribute, as I am known for little more than talking way too much about the details of what I do in the first place. But I'll give it a try.

I know that some of the people who read this blog (I won't name names, but if you, and YOU know who YOU are, don't feel the need to leave a little comment at the end of this post I WILL give you a hard time) have a general idea of what I do at school and what landscape architecture is, and others probably don't. So I thought I could at least give you a representation of SOME of the things I have been doing while working at Olin Partnership. Not only will this tell you about the work that I, myself, do, but it will also give you an idea of the FANTASTIC (I have been using this word a lot lately) work that Olin does.

My work at Olin has been nothing short of inspirational. The people I've had the opportunity of working with — Laurie Olin, Michael Van Valkenburgh, people from the University of Pennsylvania, people from Duke University, the office of artist Jenny Holzer, and all the fine people here in Philadelphia just to name a few — have taught me so much about how everything we do, as humans, has some sort of effect or influence on landscape architecture. Social issues, university issues, economics, art, engineering, construction, public policy, arboriculture, natural phenomena — all these have a profound effect on landscape architecture. So, you can see that landscape architecture is much more than just planting trees, or "doing someone's front yard." I'm not angry, just making a point. I just got out of a pretty fantastic (there's that word again) Olin Happy Hour Presentation by a good Christian friend here at Olin who has been doing some work for small villages in Ecuador — helping the townspeople solve issues like how to keep the village drainage ditch from constantly overflowing or how to build a sturdy-yet-inexpensive bridge over this ditch. It may not sound like "sexy" work, but it's work that makes a difference and positively affects how people live their day-to-day life.

Just the kind of work I believe we all should be doing more of.

I will leave you all with some images of my work at Olin. Check out our website to get a better idea of some of the stuff we have done. Who knows, maybe you've been to one or two of these places.

Duke University. Durham. — Diagram of the historical ecology of the Raleigh-Durham region
longleaf pine

Duke University. Durham. — Section showing a bridge I designed leading from a major sidewalk to a new academic building

Johns Hopkins Hospital. Baltimore. — A study model I built in order to show how a fountain we designed (in a road island) relates to the surrounding plantings and road


University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. — Renderings showing new trees, planted as a deterrent to skateboarders and bicyclists from ruining the black granite benches and curbs along this fantastic walkway. Sue Weiler (Partner at Olin) and I tagging trees at a local nursery to be used in this project.

bench section
woodland walk trees
sue tree tagging

University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia. — Where's Ian? Me working with colleagues Richard Newton and Sue Weiler on a concept sketch for a new project at Penn. The other people are representatives from Penn. We met over two days in late May to talk about the direction Penn should take for a new area of their campus. My master's project at K-State is based on this project.


From some notes I took earlier today:

"I feel inspired today. To make a difference in the way people perceive our profession, to be an ambassador for our profession, to use creativity and engineering for the good of humanity, to make a mark on people's lives through education and action — these are the things that affect people and the world. God help me to be such a person."

I love you Anna, thanks for letting me contribute.