Madison Cao is an Associate in OJB’s San Diego office.
What inspired you to become a landscape architect? I was lucky to have a comprehensive introduction to the built environment design studios during college years. After taking architecture, landscape architecture and planning studios in college, I found that landscape architecture was the most attractive and comfortable scale for me to design a memorable and sensory space for people.
Who as an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials? Martha Schwartz, Mikyoung Kim and Ken Smith. I have strong appreciations in art and believe everyone needs art in their life. Art awakens the senses and sharpens insights, teaching us to think in symbols, metaphors, and to de-code complexity, so we can perceive the world in new ways. Design works that completed by the respective designers mentioned above blurs the edges of landscape forms and man-made structures in an artistic way that can provide very strong and sensory experience to the people who use the space.
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding? My focus while designing is memorable placemaking, which captures the public imagination – just like an art that speaks for itself. People have different experiences while engaging with landscape based on where they are in life and their life encounters. I feel rewarded when the spirit of the design, affects people’s hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Where do you go to feel inspired? I like to visit well designed landscape architecture/ architecture projects whenever I’m traveling. It is different to actually feel the space on the spot comparing to just looking at the graphics and photos on screen.
I appreciate well integrated sculpture into landscape design. Millennium Park in Chicago features a variety of public art, such as Jay Pritzker Pavilion and lawn, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain and the Lurie Garden, as well as various other other attractions that people love to interact with.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why? East Village Green. My focus on the project was creating a unique and memorable space while keeping budget in mind. My favorite moment in the design was the eureka moment when the design team discovered an answer that was a combination of spiritually inspiring, technically sound and affordable design solution after long-hours of sketching, brain storming and discussions.