Nate Carvin is an Associate in OJB’s San Diego office.
What inspired you to become a landscape architect? My inspiration comes from a strong passion for creating better spaces and experiences for the user. My initial intrigue landed me in architecture, from which I discovered broader visions; with value in the opportunities presented once we leave the confines of the building. The natural beauty found in a well-designed landscape can stand alone across generations, leaving impactful meaning for all to experience. The opportunity to be a student of this practice was too good not to explore.
Who as an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials? Some of the first landscape architects to leave lasting impressions didn’t even use the title “landscape architect.” Early architects and designers saw the landscape as part of their vision, deriving a strong sense of place from the poetic attitude toward nature from authors such as Thoreau and Emerson. The naturalist urges of designers such as Olmstead and the functional order of landscapes from Frank Lloyd Wright both stem from a strong knowledge of the materials and pragmatic designs to influence the approach we use to this day.
What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding? My focus is always working small to big; maintaining a strong overall experience as we consider the details of each design. Each design move we make requires a guarantee the components will function properly, and every small manipulation always needs review against the foundational principles guiding each design. Ensuring all components of the landscape are meshing together to form a combined quality experience requires meticulous considerations beyond our own discipline, always ensuring every detail is executed flawlessly.
Where do you go to feel inspired? Growing up on the East Coast, the basis of my inspiration is rooted in the formal organization of landscapes both big and small. Large scale destinations such as Longwood Gardens provide a full breadth of inspiration the deeper you look, layering features together in a manner creating new experiences each visit. Two hours north on I-95 shares inspiration on a completely different scale; visiting pocket parks such as Paley Park (one of my favorites) re-tools the same basic landscape elements to provide a completely different function and experience. The timeless qualities and features of these landscapes are inspiring examples of design done right.
What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why? My favorite, and most challenging, OJB project I’ve worked on is Pathline Park. The sheer scale of the project has created at least 6 different phases, each posing unique challenges as we preserve existing landscape components and overlay new beautiful moments focused on public art, amenity buildings, and state of the art offices in the midst of Silicon Valley. We’ve been able to reclaim many of the existing redwood trees to transform the lumber into custom furniture and chasing LEED gold status presents unique new designs in stormwater treatment, user amenities, and selected materials. We’ve had to adapt and reimagine applied concepts over the duration of the design, leading to a rewarding end product being constructed as we speak. By far the most comprehensive project I’ve been a part of, Pathline Park has proven to be an enrichment to our collective knowledge and abilities as landscape architects.