Carducci Spotlight / Principal Edition

Wishing you a Happy New Year! This month, we're shining a light on our dedicated principals, delving into their perspectives on the profession through a brief Q&A. 

What are you most passionate about in Landscape Architecture? 

  • "I am passionate about creating places and experiences where people can discover, connect, and engage with nature."  - Vince
  • “Plants. They are consistent and diverse at the same time.” -  Bill 
  • “Improving human and environmental health” - Jin 

What is something you wish you knew when first starting in the profession? 

  • "Wish I knew how important presentation and sales skills were to the success of a business in landscape architecture." - Vince
  • “The importance of the environmental impact of development.” - Jin 

What was your most memorable job?

  • “My most memorable job was the Pleasant Hill City Hall competition with Charles Moore.  We charretted at his home in Sea Ranch and won the competition by public vote.  It was a very creative collaborative experience that gave me the confidence to design with an architect and to seek clients that wanted the landscape design to be a collaborative experience.” - Vince
  • “The first ones are most memorable.  I took care of an orchid collection and a vegetable and flower garden as a weekend and a summer job in college.  It taught me to manage my time independently and get things done.” - Bill 
  • "Fallon Sports Park" - Jin 

What inspires you right now?

  • “My inspiration is the new areas of Landscape Architecture. In response to new ongoing environmental issues. Climate change, sea level rise, and that the profession is grounded in the natural world” - Vince
  • “Automation and AI to help us advance our work and the quality of life. In 1980 futurist John Naisbitt authored the concept of “high tech/high touch” and it is still inspiring today as technology advances, people still crave nature.  And providing people access to nature is what we do as designers.” - Bill

What is your favorite plant and why? 

  • "Quercus agrifolia (Coast live oak) and Sequoia sempervirens (Coast redwood).  They are both coastal, so I enjoy seeing them in coastal California. Each plant has a strong individuality, like people." - Bill 
  • Quercus agrifolia. Something about groves of Coast Live Oak trees that connects me to nature. It is a force.” - Jin 

Who do they look up to? Which landscape architect has been an inspiration to you?

  • "The landscape architect I respect and look up to was an architect named Charles Moore.  He was so talented, gracious, collaborative and joyful and loved creating experiences and connections between the built world and the natural world." - Vince
  • “It is a long list:  Olmsted and Vaux because they created the masterpiece of Central Park; their innovations inspired a profession.  Ian McHarg because he respected nature as a strong force and asked questions like:  “What does the land want to be?”  I worked with Bob Royston who had worked with Thomas Church.  When doing design work, Bob was like a child in a sand box playfully creating what had not been done before.  He told me:  “Always look at the big picture.”  Whenever he started a new project, he would always scout the surroundings to observe which trees were growing well and remember them for his plant palette.” - Bill 
  • “The designers of Central Park, Olmstead and Vaux. I have always been impressed by how advance Central Park's design is.” - Jin  


Carducci Spotlight: Emma Lesser / A Culture of Change: The Inherent Power of Restorative Justice to Transform Public Schoolyards

Emma recently completed an MLA thesis entitled: “A Culture of Change: The Inherent Power of Restorative Justice to Transform Public Schoolyards” that explores how landscape architects can co-create safe and healing spaces in Oakland's public schoolyards. Her thesis topic stems from a deeply personal conviction that childhood learning environments play a crucial and protective part in a child’s experience of trauma. She first sets the scene with a review of the psychology and physiology of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), and how they are currently addressed by schools, focusing on restorative justice (RJ). She then investigates the current state of America's public-school spaces, their effects on students, and the politics and logic behind their designs. She presents landscape precedents that were designed with social emotional learning in mind, and their theoretical bases. Few of these precedents include schoolyards, particularly public ones, as they have only recently become the focus of landscape architects. Over the past several decades, the green schoolyard movement has grown to address heat and pollution, stormwater, community access, ecological learning, and even experimental or 'risky' play. Emma proposes restorative justice as a worthy rationale for schoolyard transformation. In doing so, she intends to not only push landscape architects towards working in support of social programs, but to also promote a more emotionally compelling rationale for schoolyard changes—and one that takes advantage of existing school social infrastructure. She concludes that RJ programming can indicate a school “culture of change” that would both more readily allow for and be supported by built environmental changes. 

"Restorative landscapes might serve as "compatible" feeling spaces: where one's environment is compatible with one's emotional state. In these contexts I demonstrate how my RJ landscape principles and elements can work together. In "the grove," loneliness can be met with connection under the warm colors and diffused light of a fabric-lined structure. Evergreen trees provide further shade, seasonal interest and greater enclosure of the space."

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