STUDIOSPOTLIGHT FEATURING CAROLINE LEZON
What inspired you to become a Landscape Architect?
I became interested in landscape architecture while studying civil engineering as an undergraduate. At the time, I was training to solve detailed problems. I found myself wanting to “zoom out” on these problems and address the bigger picture. I couldn’t have put words to it then, but I was attracted to how landscape architects think. I enjoy approaching a design project with systems thinking, and reaching some resolution that is complex and dynamic.
Who as an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials?
I studied under some avid native plantsmen/women in school. Sam Rogers, a professor at UT at the time, taught a class devoted to natives and the importance of utilizing regional plant material. Sam is recognized as one of the leading advocates of greenways in Tennessee and contributed to the early concept planning for urban greenways in Chattanooga and Knoxville. He spearheaded many pro-bono projects in the East Tennessee region that leveraged native plant material. I still think about this quite a bit. I don’t limit myself to solely native plants, but I certainly lean towards them in my thought process and decision making.
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding?
I try to think about how people might use and move through a space. I, usually by default, imagine what I would do if I was wandering around in a project. I picture myself on a run and think about how I would want to navigate through a site, or that I’m looking for a place to sit and eat lunch or work on my laptop.
As landscape architects, we get to create places that are beautiful and make people happy – I think this is an amazing way to spend my professional energy! I look forward to experiencing Construction Administration and bringing a project to life – and I can’t wait to witness people enjoying a project that I worked on.
Where do you go to feel inspired?
I can’t say there is any one specific place or activity that inspires me. I think for me, paying attention to everyday life can be quite inspirational. What I mean is that just by enjoying life and taking the time to think about the spaces, people, and experiences we have can provide a wealth of inspiration. You never know what will spark an idea for a new project – it could be time spent in a famous designed landscape, but it could also be simply noticing how people congregate outside of an ice cream shop. I just try to keep my eyes open.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why?
My favorite project thus far here at OJB has been GE’s World Headquarters, on which we are working with Gensler’s Boston office quite closely throughout the entirety of the project. I began working on this project shortly after starting with OJB, and have been involved with nearly all aspects of the process. It’s been a huge learning experience for me.
The building features a “solar veil,” which will generate energy for the new building. At the site level, we’re utilizing salt-tolerant, regional plant materials because the site will likely be inundated during storm events and “king tides”, especially in the future. On top of my being deeply invested, this project is just cool! It’s located in downtown in Boston, right on the Fort Point Channel. It involves historic renovations along with new construction, and includes both private roof terraces and public realm improvements. We are literally turning a parking lot into a beautiful public amenity – it’s the sort of thing I always hoped to do with my career.