2016 National Grant Competition for Emerging
Professionals in Landscape Architecture


Zheng Lu Zheng Lu
EDSA, INC | Fort Lauderdale, FL
Texas A&M University



What made you become interested in Landscape Architecture?
I started pencil sketching at a young age and knew early on that my professional path would be a blend of the love for art with a connection to nature. Following a Bachelors of Arts from Tianjin University in China and a Masters of Landscape Architecture from Texas A&M University, I was committed to approach design with a holistic, environmental sense of beauty incorporating details that amplify the user experience.

What one thing inspires you and your designs?
Beside the two most important elements: Art and Nature, which play key roles in my daily work, another aspect that inspire my design tremendously is Problem Solving. Whether it is excellent design to shape space and impact people how to use it; sound design to protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public; smart design to both satisfy the clients' need and within budgetary constraints, etc. To me, design sometimes likes a puzzle; designers need to figure out a quicker way to put each piece together in a correct order.

What do you think is the biggest challenge Landscape Architects face today?
I think one of the biggest challenges landscape architects face today is the profession is still somewhat undervalued by the general public. Architects and Engineers are still considered holding bigger roles in project development. We need to demonstrate the extra credits landscape architect can bring to the table, as a prime consultant leading multi-disciplinary team, to approach design in a holistic manner--understand environmental, historic, cultural, economical, and social aspects.

What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?
The most important lesson l have learned in my career is to trust others and to develop a trustful relationship with colleagues and client. There is no perfect design and hundred percent accurate design documents. We need to put our ego aside and work together efficiently in a team to achieve the better results. Similarly, we also need to trust our client and work together to our common goal-to make a better project.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I will see myself still doing what I am enough doing everyday: exploring ideas, drafting and designing, and selling our service. In 20 years later, I will use my experience to help younger staff to grow up quicker in our profession and to learn new things from them as well. Another path I might take is involving in academia where I will teach studios and graphics, and bring the real professional experience to the next generation great designers.


Zheng Lu Sketch
Click to enlarge
What change would you make to your region if money were no object?

Self sustaining island in Florida could function as sustainable batteries themselves and generators to power the adjacent inland development

The state of Florida has the most extensive coastline in the United States mainland. The continuous oceanfront wave; together with the sunshine and wind power provide tremendous opportunities to harness the nature's power. However, the percentage of energy generated by renewable resources in Florida is relatively low compare to other states. It seemed Floridians missed the great opportunity to capture the natural resources. Another environmental problems related to Florida are the rising of sea levels associated with climate change and the hurricane threats. How can we harvest the natural resources and generate the renewable energy to remedy the natural disaster in a way that could benefits both natural and human? The inspiration of this self sustaining island idea is coming from trying to address the mentioned opportunities and threat. The island is capable of supporting life in the event of hurricane as a shelter, providing different kind of luxury as a resort development, or simply as floating energy platform to power the adjacent land. Solar, wind, and ocean energy are harvested to create power for the island, rainwater is collected through the surface catch basin, underwater large turbines capture oceanic wave energy, and surface skin are covered in artificial coral to encourage sea life. The power generate are restored in the gigantic batteries, those energy will be sufficient not only to support the function of the island, but also transferring to the adjacent inland to power the coastal town. The island could be access by boat as well as the underwater tunnel system that connect to the inland. Multiple islands are connected together in a network through underwater cables. I envision these islands could grow along the Florida coastline function as sustainable batteries themselves and generators to power the adjacent inland development.