Landscape Architect & Specifier News

APR 2018

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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Landscape architecture involves being an investigator and researcher. "A lot of times, sites have been wiped clean of their characteristics and clues. There is so much non-fiction to learn about."— Shannon Nichol, FASLA, LEED AP PHOTO: GGN: SEATTLE CITY HALL PLAZA April 2018 27 Shannon Nichol, FASLA, LEED AP In college, Shannon Nichol started out studying two diverse fields: civil engineering and forestry. Then she took a landscape architecture class as an elective. During the first lecture, hearing how you could manipulate landscape to make things beautiful, she intuitively felt that was for her. Nichol switched her major. She has been in the profession since 1997. She loves so many aspects of the landscape architecture profession, including being an investigator and researcher. "A lot of times, sites have been wiped clean of their characteristics and clues," she notes. "I love how much nonfiction there is to learn about. I love finding old maps, and discovering what happened at a site in the past." Her designs have included Millennium Park's Lurie Garden, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus, and Boston's North End Parks. Her work incorporates complex functions into simple frameworks and refined land forms. "I love that every project is different," Nichol explains. And she loves every aspect of her work. "I love drawing, I love masonry detailing as much as I love plants and urban designing. I feel extremely lucky to be in a place where I can experience all of that variety." She also feels fortunate to be in partnership with Kathryn Gustafson and Jennifer Guthrie. She recalls that when she met Kathryn, their interests complemented one another very well. "I was always about structure, whereas Kathryn felt things more intuitively. With age, confidence, and time in the profession, I have become more intuitive as well," she said. Nichol learned to work hard from a very young age, and that is just what she would suggest to today's students of landscape architecture. "Get experience and work hard on whatever you're doing," she advises. "It is important to learn to achieve something that wasn't easy. This will help in design work." She also recommends not shying away from doing the "tedious" work. "You have to embrace tedious, technical work, because it gets your mind engaged with the physical scale of the project." What she finds most satisfying in her work is hearing from people who coincidentally stumble upon a landscape she designed. "They may have been weary, walking through the city, and then they experienced a beautiful view and place," she said. "Also, it is really gratifying walking through a space we have designed and seeing people there—they don't have to say anything, but you know from their body language that they are feeling comfortable, happy, healthy and secure."

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