Many students take a winding path to Landscape Architecture. UK Landscape Architecture student Angela Sanchez is no exception. Sanchez recently spoke to us about how her previous degree informs her current path in Landscape Architecture, how learning about other cultures has enhanced her work as a designer, and how she went about finding a major that fits!

1)     Landscape Architecture is not your first degree. Can you tell us a little about your previous coursework and how it may inform your understanding or approach to Landscape Architecture?

 A million years ago, in the days when regular people didn't have cell phones, I got a B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies and double majored in Spanish because many of the courses overlapped. I graduated high school in San Antonio, TX and went to DePaul University in Chicago because I was dying to go to college out-of-state and they offered me the best financial aid package. I learned from my first degree that culture affects the way a person experiences everything. We all have a culture, maybe even more than one that we step in and out of, and it colors how we experience a place. As a friendly, summer-loving Texan, I thought the entire city of Chicago was exciting, but COLD and harsh. I ended up loving Chicago after four years once I understood how those Northerners thought. I believe exploring the cultures of the people who will move through a space I am studying or modifying is critical. I want my designs to be a synergy of culture and functionality.

2)     Getting the word out about Landscape Architecture is a major goal for Landscape Architecture programs across the country. Can you tell me a little about your path to Landscape Architecture?

 I found UK's Landscape Architecture program by scrolling through the list of majors on their website. I started by checking out the Master's programs and when I didn't find anything that spoke to my heart, I kept scrolling down through the Bachelor's degrees out of curiosity. Even though I had never heard the term "landscape architecture" before, I intrinsically knew what it meant and that I would love it as a career. I was a woman in need of a career that she could love so it was a match.

Angela Sanchez is a Dean's List student in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

3)     Who are two or three designers or educators that really inspire your approach to creativity and design?

 I don't know many personalities in the design world yet (besides Olmsted, of course). I look forward to finding some heroes as I learn more about landscape architecture. The most influential concept I've encountered in my coursework so far is that creativity is a skill you can hone, not an gift that you're born with. I believe that and feel empowered to make creativity my superpower. Thanks, LA 111.

4)     What has been the most memorable project for you in the program so far?

I'll never forget the POE project in LA 105. Talk about iterations. HGTV had failed to prepare me for the world of design. Completing the many phases of the POE project showed me that looking at pictures of a site on your computer is no substitute for spending time physically exploring it and people watching, that landscape architecture is a team sport, and that multitudinous drafts of drawings and writing is mandatory. Your first one always sucks; get over it. I was also surprised to discover how much designers talk and write about their designs. LA was a great introduction to the major.

5)     Study abroad is a requirement for LA students. Has there been one or two places you’ve traveled to outside the U.S. that you found really interesting (perhaps from a design perspective?)

I lived on a military base in the suburbs of Tokyo for three years. Japan is fascinating because of how modernity and antiquity are combined in both their culture and landscape. I also noticed how well pedestrians, bike commuters, and cars got along well together. As an American, the bike parking lots were especially impressive. I feel that appreciation of nature was more widespread there than in the States. Hanami parties are a case in point in which people get together to view the cherry blossoms in the spring. As a future designer, Japan has influenced my notion of how compact and multi-functional a space can be and that natural elements can be added to even the most urban environment.

Author: Tasha Cotter
Contact: 323-4995