First and Last name: Emily Wright

Hometown (city and state): Shelbyville, KY

Graduation Year: 2009

1)     Can you tell me a little about what initially drew you to our program at UK? How’d you know this was the major for you?

I was initially drawn to the program while visiting the UK campus as a high school senior. I remember browsing a list of majors and coming across landscape architecture. At that point, I knew nothing about landscape architecture, but I had the opportunity to meet with a few faculty members. Barry Kew walked me through some student projects and almost immediately I knew that landscape architecture was the perfect balance of my interests in art, nature, and cities.


2)     What’s one of your fondest memories about being a Landscape Architecture student at UK?


I have many fond memories of my time as an LA student, but one that was particularly influential was when Ned took our class to New York City. I had never been to New York and I was overwhelmed by the scale of everything and the significance of open space. I try to go back and revisit the parks on Ned’s tour at least once a year.


3)     What was your main area of focus? Did you have a research interest?


By the time I graduated, I was very interested in landscape urbanism and large-scale ecological planning. My interest in these topics began in studio and evolved as I learned more in Brian Lee’s research class and at the 2008 ASLA Convention. The UKLA program did a great job preparing me for graduate school in that way.


4)     Tell us a little about either your study abroad experience or your internship that you completed as a Landscape Architecture student.

I had two summer internships while I was a Landscape Architecture student. One was with a larger, corporate firm in Ohio, Woolpert, while the other was with a smaller firm in Maine, Terrence J. Dewan & Associates. Both firms provided really great internship experiences. I was surprised to find how different the work was between the two firms. It made me realize how broad our practice really is – there really is something for everyone.


5)     What was your first job like after graduating? Where did you go after you graduated from UK?

I went straight to grad school after UK. Looking back, I wish I had worked for a while prior to going to grad school. When I graduated in 2009, the economy had just crashed and I couldn’t even volunteer at an office. I went to grad school at UMass and accepted a job once I graduated. So technically, my first LA job after graduating was at a small landscape architecture and regional planning firm in Western Massachusetts, Dodson & Flinker.



6)     What’s one thing you learned as a Landscape Architecture student that’s been especially useful post-graduation?

Site grading!! I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am to have learned site grading from Tom Nieman! When I got to grad school, I helped teach a site grading class which basically paid for my tuition. I’m constantly surprised how many people in professional practice, especially young professionals, shy away from site grading. I’m convinced that Tom not only helped me pay for grad school, he also gave me the skills to tackle construction drawings and pass the LARE.

7)     Tell us a little about what you’re doing now


I currently work at the SLAM Collaborative, a multi-disciplinary design firm in Connecticut. The firm includes architects, interior designers, structural engineers, and 12 landscape architects – nearly 200 people total. Our work consists of higher education, healthcare, corporate, and public projects. I’ve been at SLAM for a year and a half, and my work has consisted primarily of higher education work including campus master planning and site design work associated with new student housing and academic buildings.


8)     What’s one piece of advice you would offer to prospective college students?

Learn to work efficiently in studio. It’s great if you can spend 18 hours a day working on your studio project, but you will burn out so quickly if you do that in an office. You’ll also make your coworks, family, and friends go insane. Listen to your instructors and learn tricks to help you save time.

9)     What are some skills you’re using in your current job? Are there skills you’ve had to pick up on your own?


I’m currently learning and using project management skills. Project management skills can’t really be learned until you’re in the trenches, coordinating with a dozen or more people. All those group projects in school certainly helped, but the stakes are much higher when millions of dollars of a client’s money are on the line.


10)  Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

I’m not sure where I’ll be in five or ten years. It’s not that I don’t have a plan - my plan is to reassess in five years! I love my job and would love to become a principal at my firm one day. I also like the idea of working for myself. I’ve done a little teaching and found it invigorating. So… who knows?