My favorite phrase from Kim’s talk was “THINK BIG, start small.” This statement perfectly encompasses her career leading up to the founding of her practice, Atlas Lab, with Andrew tenBrink in 2011; now Atlas Lab Inc., a full-service practice. After a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from Harvard GSD in landscape architecture, Kim’s career path started a lot like many other graduates, getting a job at a landscape architecture firm gaining experience, earning licensure and other professional credentials, and working on private and public projects and developments around the country. During this time though, Kim and Andrew started Atlas Lab on the side with the goal of continuously testing and developing new ideas and approaches to public life not fully being explored in their professional practices. The transition for her came when she realized that she was spending more time working on her side projects than her official day job. The more rapid pace of small ‘pop-up’ like projects appealed to her more than larger scale projects that often take years to design and construct.

Their driving thesis is smart community engagement for healthier communities and better urban living. Projects, like Peak Experience, tap into the geography of place in San Francisco, a city defined by its hills, to not only inform but engage the community. The success of this project lies in the celebration of these unique landforms that define life in San Francisco allowing residents to directly connect with and appreciate their environment. Increased awareness of the urban landscape is key to Atlas Lab’s success and this is apparent in many of their projects including Micro Dune and The Grove which foster bottom up/ grassroots responses and feedback from the community.

Image Credit: Atlas Lab. Found on World Landscape Architect

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