Hord Coplan Macht | Baltimore, MD
What made you become interested in Landscape Architecture?
My father is in the landscape contracting business and is a Certified Professional Horticularlist, and so I grew up having one of the nicest yards in the neighborhood – I took pride that. My interest in plants and design grew from there, and so Landscape Architecture was a natural fit for me!
What one thing inspires you and your designs?
Knowing that the decisions I make in the design process can and will affect people’s experiences, and that good, informed decisions can improve quality of life.
What do you think is the biggest challenge Landscape Architects face today?
I believe that the biggest challenge facing Landscape Architects today, yesterday, and tomorrow is to understand how to create spaces that are both memorable and timeless. We should be striving to design places that do the most good for people now and into the future.
What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?
Landscape Architects are problem solvers – know what questions to ask and where to find the answers. Take initiative!
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I am fortunate to be working in a city that I love for a multi-disciplinary architecture firm where I feel like I can grow and thrive. I hope to continue my growth as a designer, leader, and teacher.
Click to enlarge Describe a space that influenced your career in landscape architecture, which can help others relate to the profession.
The influence that plants have on people is powerful & undeniable; design decisions that landscape architects make can have lasting impacts.
The front yard of my childhood home, though small, was lushly and thoughtfully planted by my father. Strategically-placed Nandina shrouded the electric meter; upright American Hophornbeam trees added vertical form and helped to screen the neighbor's porch; and a 'Crimson Queen' Japanese Maple tree, with its lacy, deep-red foliage that matched the shutters, served as a striking focal point. We had the nicest yard in the neighborhood — my father was proud of that, and so was I.
Over the years, our yard was the backdrop for family photos to mark such occasions as holidays and first-days-of-school for my sister and me, always with the Japanese Maple centered behind us. As such, that tree took on a special meaning to our family, so much so that when it came time for us to move in the year 2000, we took the tree with us. A crew from the landscape contracting company where my father worked arrived on a sunny Saturday morning with a tree spade to carefully dig and ball our beloved tree, load it onto a truck, and take it to their nursery until our new home was built. Ten months later, I watched with wonder and excitement as our once cramped tree was lowered into its new, more spacious home. Not only did our tree survive the move, it has thrived ever since and continues to be an important part of our family.
I suspect that my family's connection to our tree is not unique. In fact, plants very often act as vivid memory markers that evoke feelings of joy and nostalgia; the tree-lined driveway, the weeping willow by the lake, the stately oak with the tire swing, the sweet-smelling lilac at grandma's house. Were it not for our Japanese Maple tree, I might not have come to appreciate the power and influence that nature can have on people. Were it not for my father's dedication to his craft, I might not have discovered the field of Landscape Architecture.
Henry David Thoreau once observed: "It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look... To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
Landscape Architects are well suited to achieve Thoreau's noble goal. The public and private spaces that landscape architects create, both big and small, can improve the quality of life for the people that use and rely on them; the parks where they play, the campuses where they learn, the town squares where they gather and protest, the gardens where they heal, the streetscapes where they shop, right on down to the yards where they grow up and the tree that becomes more than just a tree to them.
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