Sookyung Shin is a Senior Associate in OJB’s Boston office.
What inspired you to become a landscape architect?
I was always interested in painting and crafts growing up, but the idea of following art as a career was daunting to me. I decided I should pursue something more practical, and in the midst of a complicated education system, I somehow ended up as a computer science major! I soon realized I was trying to pursue a job that wasn’t for me. I finally decided to follow my dreams and reenter the creative field, and found that landscape architecture was a perfect combination of everything I want to do. I like the fact that I can draw every day, create meaningful spaces and design landscapes that build a better environment and make the outdoors more enjoyable.
How has an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials?
OJB has been a huge source of inspiration for me. I like how our team pursues a simple and minimal design aesthetic, while at the same time generating active and richly programmed places. This sort of character is difficult to achieve, but I find it at every project of ours that I visit.
I also admire several women in landscape architecture. While attending college, I had the opportunity to work with Jungyoon Kim, a mentor and role model. PARKKIM, a Seoul based Landscape Architecture firm, founded by Jungyoon Kim and her husband Yoonjin Park has created many experimental and meaningful spaces throughout Korea. Their projects focus on cultural identity, civic ecologies, the publicness of space, and the concerns of memory.
Kathryn Gustafson is another personal influence. The Lurie Garden in Chicago is one of my favorite places. It has a simple design concept but the garden provides a special experience with its rich planting materials and unique hardscape.
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding?
When I design, I always try to keep in mind the scale of the site. It’s easy to lose sight of scale when I’m looking at drawings on the monitor or on paper. It’s such an important factor, especially when designing intimate spaces or long views, and I’ve seen spaces that have failed because of an inappropriate use of scale.
I feel so much joy when drawings become real space. When Myriad Botanical Gardens was completed, which was the first project I worked on here at OJB, I was absolutely thrilled. There’s nothing like that feeling!
Where do you go to feel inspired?
Living in the city of Boston provides a wealth of experiences. Boston has 4 distinct seasons, and you can easily walk everywhere! In one day I can explore the waterfront at the Charles River, the historic red brick neighborhood of Beacon Hill, the parks and gardens at Boston Common and Public Garden, and the campuses at Harvard and MIT. It’s amazing to me how all these different parts of the city are woven together, and how people engage with their surroundings.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why?
One of my favorite projects is The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. I was involved with this renovation project from the very beginning all the way through construction documentation. Another special project to me is Partners HealthCare in Boston because it was our first local project completed by the Boston office.