Michael Magnan - Landscape Architect

Works at AECOM Canada
Years of experience: 19

Last updated: December, 2022

Career Journey




Career Milestone 1


Career Milestone 2


Career Milestone 3


Future Ambitions

Master of Architecture
University of Calgary, Faculty of Environmental Design

Bachelor of Environmental Sciences - Conservation Biology
University of Alberta, Faculty of Agriculture,

Dip. Environmental Technology
Mount Royal College, Faculty of Science

O2 Planning + Design Inc. | Calgary, Canada
Associate, Senior Landscape Architect

O2 was a small practice when I started, and I'm so proud of the contributions I made over a decade to help it grow into a leading boutique design firm.

City of Calgary | Calgary, Canada
Public Realm Lead

After O2, I shifted my focus to the public sector. I wanted to understand how things happened behind the scenes. It was an amazing experience and I gained a better perspective on what clients really want.

AECOM Canada
Urbanism + Planning Canadian Practice Lead

Today I'm responsible for oversight of landscape architecture, urban design and planning for 7 offices across Canada. I focus on leadership, quality and creativity in our work. A very challenging and rewarding role.

The longer I practice, the more I become passionate about building great teams. I love helping others find their areas of strength in our profession, particularly with emerging practitioners. Leadership roles have an outsized impact because we help others change the world.

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 started at O2 Planning + Design as a summer student during my MArch. After having a few related jobs earlier in my career, I knew that I wanted to focus on landscape architecture for the next phase of my career, but I wasn't sure if it would be something I would continue to practice in the long term.

Now, I consider landscape architecture as the basis of my profession, but I find myself dabbling in more and more disciplines as my career evolves.

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

Landscape architects had great ideas, but were not great communicators -- verbally, through drawings or through other forms of representation. In the nearly 20 years of practicing alongside LAs, this has changed a lot. We have evolved from being seen as a supporting discipline to a leading discipline, and strong communication skills have allowed this to happen.

What are some of your roles and responsibilities?

I lead a big team on a national scale, so my career requires me to think holistically, delegate effectively and, most importantly, inspire people to change the world. Working in a large, multi-disciplinary firm has provided me with access to a wide network of professionals from so many areas of expertise -- so I see myself as someone who connects disciplines together to form strong teams to challenge complex projects.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I focus a lot on communicating with my team, ensuring their needs are met for them to excel, and helping distill their ideas into a clear, cohesive concept.

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

Communication. The ability to communicate a complex idea in a simple, compelling fashion that anyone can understand is so important. You learn this by reading, writing, drawing and successfully selling your ideas to hone your skills. And learn from failure.

What are you passionate about as a Landscape Architect?

Having the biggest impact possible is how I judge success. For me, design should serve a higher purpose, and that should be making a difference on our planet, creating a more just society, and lessening human impacts on the environment in whatever way possible.

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

I've been very fortunate to work on some extremely challenging projects throughout my career.

At O2, I spent a lot of time working on high-profile ecological design projects like Dale Hodges Park and Harvie Passage, as well as public realm projects like the EEEL Building and Schulich School of Engineering.

I was drawn to The City of Calgary to tackle complex streetscapes like The Future of Stephen Avenue, 5th Street SW Underpass and numerous main streets projects. I saw the other side of projects as a client and learned how projects really happen in the background.

At AECOM, I'm currently working on Nathan Phillips Square restoration, Brampton Riverwalk, and streetscapes throughout Canada. Alongside project work, effective leadership is my biggest project!

What advice would you give a new Landscape Architect?

Try new things. If you feel like you have learned everything you can from someone or where you are working -- seek out new opportunities in new areas of practice. Early in your career, you want to be exposed to as many experiences as possible. As your career evolves, you find yourself doing what you do best.

What are your future goals?

Have the biggest, most positive impact possible on our planet. This means continuing to scale up my practice!

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