2018 National Grant Competition for Emerging
Professionals in Landscape Architecture

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GRANT WINNER

Profile Brad Weitekamp
[dtls] landscape architecture | Saint Louis, MO
University of Florida

Q&A

What made you become interested in Landscape Architecture?
The idea of making a positive impact on the environment through design fascinated me. One of the great things about being a landscape architect is we get to make a difference every day, with every single project we touch.

What one thing inspires you and your designs?
I would have to say my kids. Taking them to see a space you had a hand in designing, and witnessing their amazement is the ultimate inspiration.

What do you think is the biggest challenge Landscape Architects face today?
Getting a seat at the design table early in the decision-making process. I think often times landscape architects are looked at as magicians who swoop in and make everything look nice at the end of a project. As professionals trained in several facets of site design, landscape architects need to be a leading voice early in the design process.

What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?
The realization that no design is ever perfect. Landscape architecture projects are constantly evolving, and it’s often what steps are taken after implementation that become the foundation for a successful project. Build a relationship with your clients not only during the design process but after implementation as well.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I had a previous career in marketing and advertising, so I’d like to take that experience and put it to use in a leadership role mentoring the next generation of landscape architects. Combining my business and design professional experiences, I love the atmosphere of a small design studio, with all of its moving parts. I could certainly see myself using those experiences to lead a group of designers.

WINNING ENTRY

Sketch
Click to enlarge
Describe a space that influenced your career in landscape architecture, which can help others relate to the profession.

Summary
What began as weekend trips kayak fishing along Florida’s Nature Coast, led to a career shift into the field of landscape architecture.

Description
For ten years, while living in North Central Florida, this view became my destination for many weekend mornings. The saltwater marshes of Cedar Key are well-known for targeting redfish and speckled trout, but for me, it became a place I appreciated for its simplistic natural beauty. All I needed for a full day of enjoyment were live shrimp, a fishing rod, and my kayak. My goal each morning was to arrive at the precise location shown in the sketch before sunrise, just in time to experience whatever wildlife I could in the dark before they scurried to their hiding spots for the day. Sometimes I'd be escorted to my fishing spot by a pod of dolphins coming in the mud flats for their breakfast at high tide. Other times, I wouldn't see a thing other than a million stars in the sky, appearing so close I could reach out and grab a handful. These mornings were some of my most memorable moments as a Florida resident. Gradually, these moments began what became a shift in my career focus. When I first began fishing this area from my kayak in 2003, my career was focused on advertising sales in the sports industry. In 2013, when I moved back to the Midwest, I held a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture, finalizing a complete career change as a result of my growing appreciation for preserving these places of natural beauty. Landscape architects are in the unique position of being at the forefront of preservation through their daily work. I was fortunate enough in graduate school to join a research team at the University of Florida aimed at communicating the effects of sea level rise. Through our team's efforts we were able to provide a process for beginning the discussion of sea level rise in rural communities, much like the fishing village of Cedar Key and its 700 residents. This became my own validation that I could make a positive impact on places like Cedar Key through my new profession.

The wonderful thing is, these experiences in nature aren't unique to just Cedar Key but can be had across the globe. I encourage all landscape architects, current or aspiring, to seek out their own Cedar Key and discover ways to preserve these places through their own work. Grassroots conservation efforts will play a vital role well into the future, and landscape architects are well positioned to lead the way.

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