Ted Benge is a Designer in OJB’s San Diego office.
What inspired you to become a landscape architect? Growing up in Tennessee, I spent a lot of time fishing on the rivers and exploring outside. My family did a good job emphasizing the importance of our relationship with the biotic communities around us. I always felt very connected to the natural world in a spiritual sense, and landscape architecture was an outlet that I could share that connection with others through creativity and design.
Who as an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials? I have always valued the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. From his color palettes to the way his paintings keep his viewers in a state of mystery within familiarity is a big attraction to me. Aldo Leopold has also drastically affected my relationship with landscape and architecture. His ideas on land ethics and general environmental conservation inspire me. One of my favorite quotes by him: “We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding? I believe design should be rooted in the unique character of a site’s individual spatial qualities, environment, history and context. Connecting people to the natural world will always be a rewarding vocation for me. Creating places that integrated human creativity with ecological processes is a special thing to be a part of.
Where do you go to feel inspired? I have been spending more and more of my free time fishing and backpacking in the High Sierras. Something about the natural sounds, and fierce topography of that area has been very inspiring to me.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why? Choosing just one project is difficult. Each project I have worked on has brought a different set of learning experiences. Bouncing ideas and collaborating with other team members has been a lot of fun. One project that stands out in my mind is the work we’ve done at Torrey Pines Science Park. From analyzing the site’s assets and liabilities to bringing our design to life in 3D, I’ve enjoyed being a part of the process.