Digital Landscape Design

July 15, 2015
Digital Landscape Design

Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to urban changemakers and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together 40 top young urban leaders.

Name: Nadia Amoroso

Current Occupation: Adjunct Professor in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph; Urban Designer; Author; Consultant, Nadia Amoroso Studio

Hometown: Toronto

Current City: Toronto

Twitter Tag: @AmorosoStudio

I drink: Coffee

I am an: Extrovert

I get to work by: Subway or car

The area I grew up in is: City

What was your first job? I was juror planner for a local planning consulting firm. I really enjoyed it, and since we were a small group, I worked on some interesting projects, like assisting with a large park design competition and meeting the short-listed teams. That was a great experience.

What is your favorite city and why? It’s hard to pin down. I really enjoy Rome, being part of its rich history, its fine art, its architecture of the past and present, the piazzas, the overall density of the core, and of course the cafes, food and culture. I also enjoy Miami (South Beach area), the beautiful beach, its overall energy, and the craziness of Las Vegas.

What do you do when you are not working? I enjoy working out, biking or meeting up with friends over coffee.

Did you always want to be a professor in the field of urban design/landscape architecture? Yes, academia gives me the freedom to research innovative topics in the field and apply them to the classroom. Within my research work, I developed a great interest in creative mapping, digital applications and datascaping (stemming from my background in landscape architecture.) This stream of landscape architecture has allowed me to focus on data visualization and the graphic representation of landscapes and designed spaces for effective communications.

What do you like most about your current job? I enjoy the diversity of projects, and the blending between research/theory and professional practice. I also enjoy speaking at conferences or participating on design juries at various universities; this allows me to travel to different cities. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues at the various architecture/landscape architecture programs across the globe and seeing the works of their students and faculty. I also enjoy exploring new places as part of these travels.

What is the coolest project you worked on? A couple of my coolest projects would be my books, like The Exposed City: Mapping the Urban Invisibles, which mainly stemmed from my Ph.D. research on mapping and re-imaging the city. I was very pleased to have the founder of the TED conferences, Richard Saul Wurman, compose the foreword for this book. My latest book, Representing Landscapes: Digital, also was a great project. I had a chance to collaborate with a number of colleagues across the globe. Their essays and student work (images) were part of this publication. I was honored to have award-winning landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations write the foreword for this publication.

What are the hard parts about your job? Trying to convince clients of the concepts presented, the benefits of the decisions made on a project, and making them buy into the project.

What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? There are many, but what quickly pops into my head are population growth, changing climate, effective public transit and designing resilient cities for the future.

What makes a successful leader? Listening carefully, following useful advice, providing inspiration and motivation, and encouraging others to do their best.

What’s your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)? Being recognized as a subject matter expert in the graphic communication and representation in the field of landscape architecture, urban design and information; publishing more on this topic of visual communication and creative cartography.

What’s the best professional advice you have received? Work in a field that your enjoy, try to specialize in something unique that you can offer, develop your talents and skills, market yourself well, and publish your work.

Who do you most admire? I really admire designers who have taken their passion in life and turned it into a successful global entity, which has made a positive impact in various industries. For example, I admire Jack Dangermond, the founder and president of Esri, an international mapping and GIS company. He studied landscape architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He took his passion for design, geographic data, mapping, and technology, and transformed his passion into a multibillion-dollar global company, recognized as a leader in the mapping and GIS space. The Esri software has helped many industries understand their data and make better decisions, and it has helped with many environmental issues. More recently, Esri’s GeoDesign Solutions Platform helps planning and design industries transform their environmental data to create smart 3D models and city designs.

I also admire the creative works and landscapes of celebrity landscape architect James Corner of Field Operations, most notable for his High Line project in NYC. Corner has designed many creative and beautiful outdoors spaces globally, and has also contributed extensively in landscape theory. Also, Charles Waldheim who is the chair of the landscape architecture department at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He’s a motivating speaker, great academic and businessman. He set the way for a new discipline in landscape architecture called Landscape Urbanism. And lastly, I admire Roberto Rovira who is the chair of the landscape architecture department at Florida International University. Studio Roberto Rovira was named an emerging voice for 2015 by the Architectural League NY.

What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Be creative, be humble, find a mentor, listen to your mentors/professors/boss and learn from them, offer more than asked from you, develop your skill sets and talent, brand your work intelligently, and publish your work.

Nicholas Hoult explores the Jaguar digital design landscape
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