James Laidlaw - Landscape Architect

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Stantec Consulting Ltd. - Calgary

Years of experience: 27

Current as of: December, 2021

Career Journey

1985-1989, 1990-1995

Education

1995-2006

Career Journey 1

2006-2017

Career Journey 2

2018-present

Career Journey 3

Present

Future Ambitions

B.Sc.Agric., University of Alberta
M.Land.Arch, University of Manitoba

IBI Group, Calgary, AB
Landscape Architect

EXP Services Inc.
Landscape Architect

Stantec Consulting Ltd.
Landscape Architect, Project Manager

I wish to leave the land in a better state than it was before I started for all of my future work. I hope to work on several more premier projects that have a positive impact on the environment and for people.

Question and Answers

After graduation, what was the first position you had? How did that shape where you are now as a Landscape Architect?

I worked as a landscape designer at IBI Group starting in 1995. There were no other landscape architects with the Calgary practice at that time so I invented a lot. My first big solo project was working with Canada Lands in the community of Garrison Woods. That project and client set me on a 15 year journey working on community design and military legacy work. The project taught me the value of research, visioning, and communication.

What is something that surprised you at the start of your career? or What is something that surprises you about being a Landscape Architect?

Not once have I designed the same thing twice. I find it remarkable that I learn something, even if its a really small thing, on every single project.

What are some of your roles and responsibilities?

Currently I am a project manager for several projects in Alberta and British Columbia but most of my work is in Calgary. I also provide assistance as the lead landscape architect with project teams located in Red Deer and Edmonton.

What does a typical day look like for you?

About 40% of my days are spent in project meetings. The other portion is spent working on a variety of projects, corresponding with staff and clients, doing a bit of design, checking drawings, and going through project financials. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don't create or solve a problem.

What skills do you feel are important to have as a Landscape Architect?

Inquisitiveness; an understanding of the basics of grading, building materials, and plants; CAD (something I never learned - the youngest of the dinosaurs); communication, both verbal and written; an ability to work in a team environment; an understanding of natural processes and how to work them into the built environment; and a love of nature.

What are you passionate about as a Landscape Architect?

Creating and protecting places for people to enjoy. Gaining insight into natural processes and modelling new landscapes with those elements, and then seeing the successes of those landscapes. Also understanding why they fail, which sometimes happens. Its just another opportunity to learn.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have been a part of.

Some of the projects I have worked on include the following: Garrison Woods, Garrison Green, Currie, Lincoln Park, Town of High River flood restoration, Watermark at Bearspaw, streetscape projects in Strathmore and Crossfield, and several communities in Calgary, including Rocky Ridge, Evanston, Sirocco, Belmont, Pine Creek, Aspen Woods, West Springs, Springbank Hill, Scenic Acres, Panorama Hills, Coventry Hills. I have also designed and constructed over 70 LID facilities in Calgary and various locations throughout Alberta.

Describe something that you have found challenging as a AALA?. How did you overcome this?

Trying to break into a new market, whether its trying to woo a new client or doing something that you haven't tried before, like cemetery design or green roof design. It's always hard to get those projects. One thing I've found is that it seems harder to get the second project than the first one.

What advice would you give a new Landscape Architect?

Be open to suggestions, be patient, and be excited because every day brings a new chance to learn.

What are your future goals?

I would like to continue to apply some aspect of what I have learned in LID to every project I do and I would like to work on a few more marquis projects that I can look back at and be proud of.



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