Liz Pulver has practiced landscape architecture since 1997, working with national and international leaders in the industry. Her experiences with West 8, Hollander Design, Thomas Balsley Associates and David Thorne, give her unique insight into the genesis of design at varied scales from residential gardens to greenroofs to campuses and city parks. Her experience in design-build and landscape construction, provides a practical overlay that keeps her work tied to the realities of the site and application. Liz is a registered landscape architect in New York and California and has begun developing a product line for small, urban gardens. She was raised in the Hudson Valley and earned her bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University. We caught up with Liz this month to ask a few questions:
When did you realize you wanted to become a Landscape Architect? What was your path to landscape architecture?
I first saw ‘landscape architecture’ written in the list of majors at Cornell, when I was applying to colleges, as a high school student. It sounded intriguing, and I began researching it further. The field seemed to encompass many observations and concerns I’d had about the changing landscape around me, but wasn’t yet able to fully express or verbalize. It seemed geared toward my strengths and interests in art and the environment. The more I learned, the more interesting it sounded. I wanted to learn more, and just kept following the trail further, to college, to licensure and beyond. Landscape architecture can be many things, and I continue to ‘follow the trail’ and explore where it will take me.
How did you first become interested in designing your own ‘Garden-Totes?’
A few years ago- I was on the hunt for the perfect planter for apartment gardeners living in the city, with no outdoor space, like me. I just wanted a little greenery! But the product I wanted, seemed to be missing from the market. One day, I realized- I could simply design my own planter! My experience in design-build gave me access to craftsmen, manufacturers and vendors who helped me navigate the steps required to produce the planters. I enjoy the design, testing and fabrication processes. The greatest learning curve has been in understanding the manufacturing and retail landscapes, and developing the right marketing strategies to reach my customers. I continue to learn and adapt as I move forward.
What is your favorite part about the design process?
One of the great joys of designing, is that once a project is finally built and completed, clients can be so very appreciative of how your design expertise and efforts have improved their daily life. There is a direct correlation between what you do and how they feel. There is tremendous satisfaction in being responsible for that.
What projects are you working on now?
I have a variety of projects in front of me, including several residences, rooftop terraces, a pocket park in upstate New York, ongoing planter and product development and am teaching a class at New York Botanical Gardens this Spring.
What Landscape Architects (current or past) do you admire and why?
There are many landscape architects I admire, for many reasons: Tommy Church inspires me for his ability to link interior and exterior spaces and to captivate public interest in outdoor spaces, garden design and horticulture. Roberto Burle Marx inspires for his novel, graphic patterns, non traditional education and approach. Scape and Team impress me for stretching our profession in new directions. Mikyoung Kim inspires for her thoughtful, sensitive approach to design and collaboration. The West 8 Team inspires for continually reimagining and customizing spaces to their locations and local communities. Cornell Professors like Marv Adleman and Paula Horrigan, inspire for the time they spent investing in me, exposing me to the wide breadth, impact and value of landscape architecture to society.
What advice would you give to emerging professionals?
Ask the following questions:
- How does your design help the client? How does it add value to their life, business, environment or community? Seek out opportunities to develop your presentation, communication and business planning skills. Design is one important part of the equation of our profession, but it’s not the only part. Work for landscape architects who are great designers, and others who are great businesspeople, and others who are great horticulturists, and others who are….You get the idea- the list goes on! There is much to know. Expose yourself to as much of it as you can.
- The traditional design office is one approach to the profession. But there are many different ways to pursue landscape architecture and design. Try new things. Find what works for you.
- How do you feel when you receive a long, multi paragraph email from someone? Ugh! Try to limit your emails to 5 sentences, maximum. Be clear, to the point and respectful of everyone’s time. The world will thank you for it!
What do you value most about being a member of ASLA?
ASLA gives us a fantastic professional platform for broadcasting our interests and concerns and for connecting with colleagues and allied professionals. It keeps us abreast of current issues and amplifies our voice in New York City, Washington DC and beyond. The annual conference is a treasure trove of CEUs and generally lots of fun!
What would you like to do more of, if you could?
TRAVEL! I love seeing what the rest of the world is up to and connecting with new people. Traveling to new places, meeting new people, seeing new ways to do things; this is where I get the most energy and design inspiration. I love to visit parks and gardens, design offices, nurseries and garden stores while I travel. It’s fascinating to see what new projects they’re designing in Mexico City, what products and tools they’re using in Barcelona, and what plants they’re planting in Marseille. I have always been welcomed by other related professionals as I travel. Our common interests allow us to connect easily and I can experience new places more like a local, than a tourist.