August 27, 2018

Meet the OJB Team

Ali Ludas is a Designer in OJB's San Diego office.

What inspired you to become a landscape architect? I attended college at the University of Rhode Island and when I first began I was undecided and uncertain of what I wanted to pursue for a career. I had thought about nursing school and figured I'd at least apply for placement in the program while brainstorming other possibilities. And then on winter break, my mum had suggested landscape architecture. I researched the profession and was excited to learn about a career that was both creative and had a positive impact on the environment.  I applied and was accepted on the same day the nursing school called to see if I was still interested. So, I suppose it was my mum who inspired me! Without her suggestion I never would have thought to seek out this profession that I have grown to love more and more since the first day in studio.

Who as an artist or landscape architect influences your design and plant material? Kate Orff's approach to landscape architecture and planting design has been my greatest inspiration. Her projects are intensively research-oriented and I feel like that is a key component to designing a space that not only provides an area of respite and beauty, but is mindful of the climate and the surrounding natural landscape. Using native and restorative plant materials that filter contaminants and attract pollinators is something I always consider when designing.

Living Breakwaters is one of my favorite projects by SCAPE Studio. The design proposes a brilliant solution to the threat of storm surge for the southern portion of Staten Island. The breakwaters are intended to buffer Staten Island’s neighborhoods from high wave action and erosion while enhancing the local maritime ecology. There will be 10 visible rubble mound structures (4,000 linear feet) that will attenuate wave energy in the event of a large storm event. These structures will be supplemented with nearby beach restoration, an oyster nursery, and other forms of on and offshore protection. This multi-layered approach provides a solution that works with the environment, so the environment can protect surrounding neighborhoods. It is a project that inspired me through the finish line of my undergraduate degree and instilled a deeper sense of pride and appreciation for this industry in me. It is currently being implemented and is expected to begin construction this year. 

What is your focus when designing?  What makes your work rewarding? I think the most rewarding part of being a landscape designer is creating spaces that people from all walks of life can enjoy. Humans are all uniquely different but we all have a connection with nature whether we consciously appreciate it or not. My focus on designing is to always honor the landscape first and what is least disruptive to its ecosystem, but to also design a place that calls to people to immerse themselves in it. To really disconnect from whatever stresses they are dealing with and to take a moment to pause in nature.

Where do you go to feel inspired? I'm pretty inspired by most of San Diego at the moment! I moved from Rockland County, New York, an area roughly 20 minutes north of Manhattan, to San Diego a little over a year ago. I miss home dearly but there is no shortage of beautiful places to explore here in San Diego. One of my favorite spots is Torrey Pines Gliderport. I go there to wander around the top of the bluffs and gaze down at the ocean looking for a pod of dolphins or, if I’m lucky, a whale! Living here has been an exciting change and it’s provided me the opportunity to learn about the local ecology and how to design with it. It’s so interesting to learn about a completely different climate from what I was taught in school. I have a great appreciation for the plants that can withstand the harsh conditions of this climate and thrive almost completely autonomously.

What has been your favorite OJB Project to work on and why? I’ve really enjoyed working on Pathline Park. It’s given me the opportunity to develop coordination skills and has broadened my knowledge and understanding of the construction process. I’ve assisted with the construction documentation and graphic renderings across 4 phases of the project and am excited to see how everything progresses through construction. I’ve also enjoyed working on North Torrey Pines at UC San Diego and the Omaha Riverfront Revitalization project.