By Zack Thomas
April 25, 2017
Some of my earliest memories are playing in a creek near my family’s home in Athens, Georgia. Early interaction with that environment inspired an interest in the workings of the natural world, which eventually lead me to study ecology.
In the meantime, growing up in a small college town with a lively arts and music scene was an object lesson in how people make a place: how culture informs a landscape just as much as location, climate, and local ecology.
I love landscape architecture because it’s the nexus of these things: the interaction of environment and culture, of place and experience. In my time as a landscape architect, I’ve worked on projects of most types and scales. And I don’t have a favorite: I really enjoy problem-solving on large, complex projects that require engaged thinking, and I also treasure working to realize someone’s vision of an elegant, intimate space in their backyard.
I truly enjoy traveling. To me, it’s a form of ongoing education: seeing landscapes (urban, rural, natural) and meeting the people who shape and inhabit them. I love checking out all kinds of unfamiliar places. I find exploring the side streets of less-visited towns just as fascinating as major cities like Prague, New York, or Berlin. I like to think by drawing, so my sketchbook is always with me to capture people I see, a bit of a landscape, or to explore a planting layout or design detail.
The fantastic landscape of the Pacific Northwest is a big part of what is incredible about the Puget Sound: skiing, mushroom foraging, hiking, and camping in our 1991 VW Westphalia Vanagon are some of my favorite ways to get out and take advantage of it. I’d even throw canoeing Seattle’s urban waterways on the list.
When I’m not exploring, I’m either digging into things or taking things apart at home — usually reworking our backyard and crossing things off the never-ending list of home construction projects.
Like good design, things that are complex and challenging can be hard to get right, but you know it when you see it. Board & Vellum has that awesome mix of design, project diversity, integrated design services, and unparalleled people and firm culture. I’ve been hunting for a place like this to call home, and it feels good to have finally found it.