Drew Stangel is an Associate in OJB’s Boston office.
What inspired you to become a Landscape Architect?
Growing up in the suburbs of Indianapolis, I would ride my bike to watch construction in the area near my house. I had a fascination with the process of how things were built and trying to understand the relationships between the various trades. Throughout school, I found myself exhausting the art curriculums offered and always had a passion for creating. When it came time for choosing a major in college I wanted to find something that married technical sensibility with creative process and when I found Landscape Architecture, it just fit.
How has an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials?
There have been many at different moments in my career but the artist that shaped me early on in my studies was Patrick Dougherty. While at Purdue, I had the opportunity to work with Patrick on a large scale installation and was inspired by his understanding of his medium (sticks) and how his sculptures respond uniquely to each site. The project started with a group of students gathering invasive willow sticks from a local parkland. After walking the proposed installation site Patrick came back with a very simple hand sketch. We immediately began to construct the piece- bundling and weaving together branches with help and guidance from Patrick. I was also really impacted by the collaborative process through which his sculptures take form. His creative energy was contagious throughout the project and I will never forget how rewarding it was to work as a team to form something beautiful from a pile of simple materials.
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding?
While I enjoy the big picture aspects of projects, I’m always eager to explore the details and expression of a design. There’s something very exciting about shaping a concept into reality and for me the most rewarding moment of all is seeing a project built and people using the space.
Where do you go to feel inspired?
Most of my inspiration comes indirectly, whether it be traveling, wandering the streets of Boston, or catching up on industry news. I keep a visual bank of precedents in my memory that spark ideas. I find that traveling and visiting places in person is a great way to build this mental library.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why?
I think there are aspects of all projects that make them my favorite at times. The Christ Hospital was my first project to be built with the office, and I was able to take charge of overseeing the construction. For me, The Christ Hospital was incredibly rewarding as I was able to help guide our design into reality, ensuring that the built work reflected what we had designed and documented. I also have a project in Texas whose significant scale and diverse ecology has challenged me in a rewarding way. Finally, working on a couple local projects in Boston has been fulfilling and made me feel I’m making a mark in my own city.