Talking with MKSK introduced me to a different sphere of landscape architecture that I had not seen with Shawn Balon or Jane Amidon. Two key differences was the firm’s size and talking with three high-level landscape architects within the firm. The high-budget projects that MKSK has done is reflective of how long they have been around (’88) as well as a long stewardship to their city, Columbus. All affable men, it was encouraging to hear the enthusiasm behind their voices as they explained the various projects they have worked on over the years. Amongst the many projects they have done, I was most surprised by the diversity. Whether it was reviving Columbus’ once dilapidated riverfront or the design of theme parks, they have not limited themselves to designing one kind of landscape.
Something that I have not heard other landscape architects reiterate that much is retaining relevancy and skill with analog. At MKSK, they stated that sketching by hand is still critical in the development of designs at their firm. I found this to be an interesting point to emphasize, especially as analog in design is becoming increasingly defunct against the digital. However, after participating in the Lone Oaks charrette in Chattanooga, I began to appreciate the large quantity of ideas that were generated by sketching.
Another important aspect of landscape architecture that MKSK emphasized was an ability to read the client/public. So much of the time is spent on the perfecting of design, but the relationship with the public or client’s side is seldom discussed. It is apparent that the success of the firm is rooted in a deep consideration for the people that they are serving.