September 07, 2017

Meet the OJB Team

Katie Nguyen is a Project Designer in OJB's Solana Beach office. 

What inspired you to become a landscape architect?
Since I was a kid, I have always been interested in creating things – varying in form over the years, but consistently at the root of most curiosities. In school this resulted in a love for art classes, but also for the sciences and math. Expression through media is a beautiful thing, but to me finding creativity through problem solving and unique solutions is equally satisfying. Initially, these interests led me to apply to architecture school. After visiting a number of schools, Penn State seemed like the right fit. They offered me an alternate spot in their landscape architecture department, and despite my lack of knowledge about the field I gave it a shot.It turns out, after better understanding of the field’s innovative future, complexity, and value for beauty and reasoned coherence, I would never go back!

How has an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials?
A recent discovery for me is the artwork of Sydney Long. Rather than mere representation, he paints an alternate vision of Australian landscapes – a little unusual, but handsomely whimsical and sensational. I love his subtle use of color. As for landscape architects, Kate Orff has always been an inspiration. She looks to reset site and natural relationships, supporting theories through outputs of public engagement, research, writing, and built landscapes.

Still, the biggest impact was exposure to diversity at a young age. We moved to England when I was 6. Living abroad and experiencing unfamiliar places showed me how other people live and interact with their surroundings.

What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding?
At the moment, seeing end results is the most rewarding part of my work. Seeing work I helped on come to life for the first time, whether it is construction photos or a project’s grand opening, is really exciting!

Where do you go to feel inspired?
Listening to conversations on where the field could be heading inspires me. There’s talk of new approaches to energy collection, innovative forms of transportation, social class integration, methods to work with natural changes, visions of reuse, and much more. The prospective influence landscape architecture has on the future inspires me.

What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why?  
There are a few projects that stand out since I joined OJB last June. Concert Park in Playa Vista is one. This small renovation project has been a great learning experience and has given me opportunity to touch almost all phases of design. Outer lying residents already use the space throughout the day. Our concept focuses on enriching this existing relationship through programming, great materials, and thoughtful grading solutions for a long lasting space. Another is Paseo Queretaro, a luxury retail and entertainment destination located in Queretaro, just Northwest of Mexico City. Serving as a central core to the surrounding area, the complex will respond to the recent influx of development through retail, restaurants, play and water features, a movie theatre and a ferris wheel.