Steven Piper is a Project Designer in OJB’s Boston office.
What inspired you to become a landscape architect? I got my first taste of Landscape Architecture when I was 13 and I designed a cactus and succulent garden in my backyard. Even though it was small and far from any masterpiece, I found that it a perfect way to express my creativity while connecting with nature. My passion for being artistic and love for exploring the outdoors guided me to become a landscape architect.
Who as an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials? I’ve always looked at Bruce Mau Design for creative inspiration and as an influencer to my design approach. Even though that firm isn’t practicing landscape architecture, their methods and strategies on how to accomplish great design is one that I appreciate. Their work is eye catching and bold yet simplistic in form and memorable. I also appreciate how their designs provide users and consumers a unique and different perspective on the spaces or products they design for.
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding? When I start to get my head into a project my main focus is to make sure there is reason and rhyme to every part of it. From the beginning, a design should start with a strong concept and should be followed through with cohesiveness in all the details from hardscape to plant material. From there I make it my goal to bring the big idea to fruition while out in the field. I always find it satisfying to witness projects I’ve been a part of being enjoyed by the users we created them for. Contributing to the happiness of other people’s lives is what I find to be the most rewarding about being a part of this design industry.
Where do you go to feel inspired? In general, I find myself being inspired by my travels. Whenever I’m walking around or exploring new areas, I make sure to take in the public spaces around me and learn from them. It’s pretty amazing to think of all the well-designed spaces in our world and how we can be influenced by each of them in a different way.
The City of Paris has urban landscapes that tend to have a monumental element accompanied by open spaces. Crowds of people gather on large lawn areas, drink wine and relax. This design reflects a way of life that I think creates great energy. Public spaces such as these have inspired me to not only design with planting and context in mind, but to consider the importance of users and how they will function in the landscape.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why? Having only been at OJB for a year, I feel pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to work on various projects at different phases. One project that was unique and different from designs I’ve worked on in the past is the Paseo Queretaro shopping center in Mexico. While working on the project, I was able to be a part of the paving design layout, and I also worked on many of the design details, such as pedestrian benches and water features.