October 25, 2018

Meet the OJB Team

Yisi Liu is a Designer in OJB's Boston office.

What inspired you to become a landscape architect? To be honest, I walked into the LA 101 (Introduction to Landscape Architecture) class by mistake on my first day of college at Purdue. However, I still consider it one the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I had no clue what landscape architecture entailed, but I was immediately drawn to it because it is the perfect combination of all my interests. I love the constant challenges, diversity of projects, vast scope of knowledge we can learn along the way and all of the impacts we can make to this world, no matter how big or small.

Who as an artist or landscape architect influenced your design and plant materials? I studied both Art History and Fine Art as minors in college and I found amazing parallels among these disciplines. From my perspective, landscape architecture is the highest form of art, since landscape architects are not only dealing with compositions, spaces and human experiences, but also time constraints.  At the very beginning, I was truly inspired by supremacism. Artists like Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky are my biggest inspirations. They so carefully study the colors, compositions and materiality of different mediums and the intervention of light and shadow—which is very similar to Piet Oudolf`s approach to planting design. Later I started immersing myself in the works of Robert Irwin and Richard Serra. I love how they meticulously sculpt every fine detail in their work in order to present the most memorable moment at the right time to the audience. 

What is your focus when designing? What makes your work rewarding? When I am designing, I always want to know what is already there—the people, their lifestyle, their culture, and all kinds of existing conditions. I think as designers, we never fail to come up with the smart and creative solutions. But what really concerns me is ignorance, not knowing enough and neglecting the existing conditions. The most rewarding moment to me is when we make the right design choice for the people.

Where do you go to feel inspired? I will travel if I have any long period of downtime - nature rejuvenates and recharges me. But normally I either watch sci-fi movies (my recent favorite is Guardians of the Galaxy) or visit art museums to study art history (either looking forward or looking back).  I am so intrigued and inspired by the future cityscape and technologies in sci-fi movies. The imagination and creativity of Marvel Studio is impressive!

What has been your favorite OJB project to work on and why? Since joining OJB, I have been fortunate to work on a diverse range of projects. The variety of work has provided me an extensive view of this profession. The first and most memorable project that I've worked on is for a large headquarters in the midwest. I've enjoyed being involved in the early stages of the design - creating renderings and diagrams to establish and illustrate the basic concepts of the design. Collaborating with such a talented and supportive team throughout the design process. Through this process, I've learned from other creative minds, which has helped me expand my skillset and build up a more practical design approach and mindset.