Yuan recently joined the ranks of the firm’s registered landscape architects. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics from Peking University and her Master of Landscape Architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
Yuan Zhang, ASLA, LEED AP ND
What inspires you?
Traveling and spending quality time with others. Traveling is a physical activity where one uses his/her own body to move through all types of spaces. From these experiences, you gain a first hand understanding of a place. This insight is a great resource for design. Spending time in meaningful conversation with others exposes one to different or unexpected perspectives, which is always helpful when trying to solve a design problem.
What projects have you worked on and are currently working on?
One great thing about working at Payette as a landscape architect is that I have the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects simultaneously. Currently I am working on projects for Hengqin Hospital, University of Hartford, Williams College, University of Pittsburgh and Boston Children’s Hospital – all with different scales and goals. A project at Wesleyan University will be the next one on this list.
What is the most important thing you have learned so far?
Always keep the main design intent at the forefront. Real life conditions, critiques and opinions can make a project stronger, but can also distract from the big idea. Always maintaining some aspect of the key design intent or concept through the ever changing, iterative process of design, ultimately produces great results.
The sky is the limit – If you could design or re-design anything what would it be and why?
What would a garden on the Moon or Mars be like? What would the project objective be and what would be in my palette? These are compelling questions that I don’t yet have the answers to…yet.
You’ve won a travelship! Where would you go on this month long all expenses paid trip and why?
I would like to visit most, if not all, of the largest cities around the world. I love the energy and creativity cities inspire in their residents. At the same time, these dense urban spaces need breathing room at every scale – this is where my specialty comes into play.
Fun fact about you?
As an undergraduate, I was training to be a scientist. For me, it is fun to see how my mindset has transitioned from seeking the ultimate truth to creating a better world. Both are solid pursuits that remind me to stay open minded in this multidimensional world.