Did you know April was Landscape Architecture Awareness Month, or that there are only about a dozen Landscape Architects in our province?

So what do these people do, exactly? They literally shape our communities. Landscape Architects design outdoor public areas, landmarks, and structures. The goal is to achieve environmental, social, or aesthetically pleasing spaces.

Matthew Mills says you’ve seen their work in Bowring Park (designed by Frederick Todd, who also designed Mount Royal in Quebec), “or more contemporary examples like putting The Loop in Bannerman Park.”

Rachael Fitkowski adds other examples, like the Grand Concourse Trails, and the indoor courtyard at the Sheraton Hotel. “We do a lot of work in the private sector as well,” Fitkowski adds.

“Landscape architects work on designs for private residences, as well as commercial and institutional properties. A commercial example is the landscape at the new Fortis Building located [downtown]; an institutional example is the landscape and rooftop courtyard located at the new Long Term Care facility in Pleasantville.”

Fitkowski and her colleague Tim Murray are involved in a new project at Heart’s Content Cable Station, aiming to improve its landscape before the 150th Anniversary of the laying of the Trans-Atlantic Cable in Heart’s Content, an event that changed global telegraphic communication.

“The goal of the project has been to create a usable outdoor space, where visitors to the museum can view the spot where the cable meets land, from the beautiful Heart’s Content Harbour.” Visitors tend to visit the museum and then leave without even seeing the cables on the beach; Rachael is trying to address this problem with a feature that would draw in passersby to the site.

Construction is slated to be completed before “Cable Landing Day” on July 27th.

Matthew is currently involved in the revitalization of Victoria Park in the west end of downtown. “Victoria Park had become worn and weary in its years; many of the park’s original uses no longer existed, and much of what was left needed a facelift. The City felt it was time to give it the same attention that had been given to the other major municipal parks, like Bannerman and Bowring.”

“Before we put pen-to-paper to start designing however, the team (which included the City, a project steering committee, and me) wanted to hear what people had to say about Victoria Park. We wanted to hear their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and worries, because at the end of the day, it’s those things – what’s working and what isn’t, what people would like to see and what they wouldn’t – that help inform a design.

There’s nobody better suited to inform us of those things then those who use the space the most and know it best.” Mills happily reports that the public consultation process for the revitalization of Victoria Park was more lengthy and thorough than is often the case.

“It took several months to complete and generated hundreds of amazing ideas. The first phase of the revitalization should be under construction this year and represents the first important step of a multi-year, multi-phase project that will eventually refresh Victoria Park in a way that better meets the needs of the current community. It truly is a people profession,” Mills says.

“It’s about talking to people, listening to people, and designing for people.”