For week three of Landscape Architecture Month we would like to highlight team member, Valerie Ahyong, and her unique path into landscape architecture.
As a child I grew up drawing a lot. I also took a lot of art and vocational courses throughout high school, including drafting classes. I really enjoyed hand drafting, and in my sophomore year I competed in my first AIA Alaska Frank Maier High School Design Competition and placed third in State, then first the following two years after. I attended architecture school for two years in southern California. I then took a break and transferred to Arizona State University (ASU) finishing my degree in Business and Marketing, while interning at CMX Sports Engineers as a marketing coordinator. Upon graduation I stayed with CMX providing both marketing and business development support, and assisting with reports for the planning department. The exposure to local design firms through proposals re-peaked my interest in design. I returned ASU for a dual masters, and within my first year, I began to fall in love more with landscape architecture. I have my then professors Ken McCowan and Joe Ewan to thank -- Ken exposed me to bioregional design, while Joe taught me to appreciate the Sonoran Desert and landscape design -- and at that instance I chose to just finish my masters in landscape architecture.
After graduation, I landed a job with JJR|Floor,(now Smithgroup). I had wonderful opportunities to work on projects across the country and overseas. My very first project through design was the Madison Improvement Club in Phoenix. Others included Sky Harbor T3 Renovations, CAC Phase 1, and Mountain View Health Center. I eventually returned to Floor, working on ASU Health Innovations, ASU Wexford, and Pima Dynamite Trailhead. After having my second child, I wanted to work closer to home and an opportunity to work for the City of Mesa became available. As a City Landscape Architect I managed a handful of bond park projects, and designed projects such as the view park renovation at Falcon Field Airport and the IDEA museum courtyard renovations project. Working in public sector definitely gave me a different perspective and opportunity to work with the general public, councilmembers, and various City departments. I eventually made a switch back to private development and landed here at Lloyd.
My path into the profession was definitely not a typical journey for most Landscape Architects. My involvement with ASLA National and the Arizona chapter over the past 15 years have given me life-long friendships and opportunities; being a working mom of two has given me challenges and major life decisions in my career; and I will always be forever grateful for all of the opportunities, projects, and life-long connections I've made along the way. - Valerie Ahyong, PLA
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Many perceive the design of a sports field or facility to be simple, however there are several decisions to be made, that impact the quality, usability, performance, aesthetics, environment, or a sense of place. Landscape Architects are uniquely qualified to design such facilities because it’s not only the field that makes a venue great, but it’s everything else around the field that can make the venue notable.
While designing a sports facility, Landscape Architects are looking at the bigger picture of how all the sport specific components will work with the needs of the athletes, visitors, maintenance personnel, facilities operations staff, as well as the site topography, existing circulation patterns, and utility connections. There are sport specific needs that can be less visually appealing or impede pedestrian or vehicular circulation. However, with a little thought, these elements can gently slip into the landscape, while remaining completely functional. Take a look at some of these sports facilities where it’s more than just a field.
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As we continue to highlight our team for Landscape Architecture Month, we'd like to feature Associate, Jane Theobald, and her interesting background into the profession!
As a kid, I was always drawing house floor plans or building houses with Legos or blocks. Somewhere in middle school, I remember my Mom suggesting landscape architecture instead of architecture since I was the one who kept creating gardens at our new house. In high school, I did a year long research project on landscape architecture, for an “Honors Diploma” and was also allowed to convert my parents grass filled front yard, to a drought tolerant landscape and I loved every minute of both projects.
While I was in college, I worked on the Cal Poly Rose Floats for three years, and ultimately ended up as the Program Leader, my last year. It was through this demonstration of leadership and project management skills, plus a background of building things with my dad, that I landed my first job as a project manager at a landscape construction firm. That’s where I learned how important correctly detailed information really is…
After getting my license, I transitioned back into the design world where I landed on the Sports and Recreation team at a large, multi-disciplinary firm. I’ve helped design facilities for public schools, private schools, Cities, Community Colleges, and Universities. I love being able to personalize each facility, based on their needs as well as the community at large.
-- JANE THEOBALD, PLA
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