Written by Miles Payton, Summer Intern
As my summer at dwg. comes to a close, I’m left with what is now one of the firm’s guiding principles: gratitude. Gratitude to dwg. and all my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the firm’s work. Gratitude to be privileged enough to practice landscape architecture, to have my job include drawing, researching plants, and translating ideas into places. And gratitude to have found a firm that shares my values.
My journey to the discipline of landscape architecture has been meandering, but has always been committed to making an impact in the world and driving positive change. This was never really up for discussion. I don’t believe that designers can continue to have the luxury of ignoring the social and environmental issues we face today. Climate change seems to be an imminent certainty in my lifetime, as does societal change as a result of evolving technologies. And the simple fact that our human family continues to grow, requiring ever more space to support it. As dwg.’s motto goes, everything is subject to change. I believe that the built environment and ecology play a powerful role in how society can adapt and evolve to our changing world. Cities themselves must be reimagined to be resilient and adaptable for an uncertain future.
I have had a preoccupation with the environmental implications of this belief, that with enough green infrastructure society could engineer its way to ecological health. But perhaps the most important idea I take away from my summer here is that ecology is only half the equation. Landscape architecture is a union of ecological and societal systems. Landscape architecture is unique in its ability to express ecology and define how humans exist in the open air. Huge potential for impactful design exists in the public realm, a place of chance encounters, coexistence with other species, and the uncertainty that comes from being out of doors. These are the places we bump into people from different walks of life, make friends, share coffee, and spark revolution. They are stages upon which life happens.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I feel incredibly grateful to have spent the summer with a firm that leans in to the uncertainty and potential of the urban environment, and refuses to hew to convention. As an emerging professional not yet out of school, it’s a great privilege to be a part of the continuous transformation of this awesome city we call home. Thanks to everyone at dwg. for making me part of this endeavor.