Interview with Tom Kerby, Landscape Architect

Where did you study?

I received my Bachelors of Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota.

What is your background?

I have a degree in Landscape Architecture. I am also licensed as a Registered Landscape Architect in the state of Minnesota. I have been licensed since 1996. I started my career working within multidisciplinary firms working with Architects, Civil Engineers and Land Surveyors. I have over 25 years of experience working on projects ranging from subdivision planning/ development, retail site design, and custom residential design/build.

Why are you a landscape designer (architect)?

My interest in landscape architecture initiated from an episode of This Old House on PBS. I had never heard of the profession prior, but I was immediately engaged in the thought I could utilize my prior studies in chemistry, biology and horticulture in a creative environment. I am excited each day to collaborate with clients, and other professions, to develop unique and sustainable designs that are an expression of each client's individual needs and wants.

What inspires you? in your life? your work?

My inspirations come from all that nature offers, both in its beauty and in its understanding of how it functions. Inspiration, of course, also comes from my travels. I have been fortunate to visit some of the beautiful cities of this world from Beijing, Paris and Rome. I also, when time allows, love the arts. I try to stay connected to our wonderful art museums, theaters and yes even our local restaurants. Inspiration for me comes from all our surroundings, even how we live from day to day. Our landscape, and how we live in it,and define it, is an ongoing study through my life.

What is your approach with clients?

My approach to clients is one that is defined by collaboration. My approach puts communication at the forefront of the entire process. It starts with or initial meeting where I listen to your thoughts and vision for you landscape. The key is for me to listen and understand. With this clear understanding I can then create the landscape that is truly a reflection of your desires. Through the process we will connect at design review meetings to ensure I am creating 'your' landscape, and we also review preliminary range estimates to ensure we can meet your budget. The success or each project is from this collaborative process.

What type of design tools do you use?

My design tools range from simple paper and pencil to sketch with, a tape measure is a must to have on hand at all times for obvious reasons, a camera is also requirement to inventory existing conditions and catalog the construction process, and a blend of software programs that support client communication of design plans and estimates. We utilize CAD to create detailed site plans, planting plans and construction details that offer a clear understanding for each project.

What is your favorite part of your job?

There are many facets to my job that are my favorites. First, I appreciate the opportunity to meet new clients, and to build a trusted relationship with each one. I also, enjoy the ability to offer my ability as a landscape architect to create a plan to the vision each client has for their landscape, and then construct that plan into reality for them. Finally, planting day is one of my favorite days in the construction process. The excitement from the clients on this day is a joy to share, and I do like to express that it only will become more beautiful with each passing day.

What types of projects do you love to work on?

The types of projects I love to work on are the ones that are created through a collaborative process from the beginning stages of working through the design with the clients, and then all the way to the end working with the crews and contractors that build the final result.

In one sentence or less, what is the meaning of life?

Life is hope, love and community.