I can relate to many of Shawn Balon’s experiences with his introduction to the design profession as a freshman in college as after hearing his talk, I realized that our undergraduate experiences run rather parallel with each other. My experience as an architecture student and Shawn’s as a landscape architecture student have a lot more similarities than differences. We didn’t come into the major with any prior knowledge of what architecture or landscape architecture really were, but we both quickly became enamored with them and becoming aspiring architects and landscape architects. Early involvement in our respective student organizations, AIAS and ASLA, definitely helped frame our views of the much wider design world but nationally and internationally that often gets lost during those long nights in studio.
Our similarities become less clear as I have yet to fully enter the profession other than 3 different internship experiences that I have had during my undergraduate and graduate education. Shawn believes that getting out of your comfort zone in order to explore opportunities around the country and around the world are vital for a landscape architects growth both as a well-rounded designer. I believe that the ability to take on opportunities fearlessly to broaden ones experience is highly beneficial as well. Another important note in Shawn’s talk is the differences between large firms and small firms. Larger firms tend to have more resources but focus on specialization, where as in a smaller firm, a designer must wear more caps and take on a larger variety of work. Knowing the differences and which would work best for an emerging professional is also vital for the growth of a designer.
Image Credit: Riverfront Master Plan (A project managed by Shawn Balon) by Oculus, Washington, DC http://www.oculus.info/project.php?ID=25