In The Spotlight - David Kerr

What does becoming an AILA Fellow mean to you?

Firstly it was a total surprise - I thought that this was a recognition reserved for more worthy “fellows”. Now its sunk in I can see it as a recognition that individual landscape architects each can contribute to the profile and outcomes of the profession in different ways. Secondly it has renewed my commitment to AILA’s future.

What are your proudest achievements as a Landscape Architect?

Not surprisingly getting an outcome always gave me an inner satisfaction (often after preceding periods of angst and worry). The outcomes might have been technical / creative / financial solutions, negotiating to consensus amongst divergent views or facilitating a team member’s development through challenging circumstances.

What inspired you to become a Landscape Architect

My initial degree (BA – Geography and Economics) initiated my interest in how a scientific approach to understanding land and people provided a basis for management and decision making. This got my left brain working. I entered the GDLA (QUT 1978) perceiving Landscape Architecture as a discipline, profession and career that could address the emerging environmental conundrums. My right brain soon become challenged and stimulated by how design can add beauty and meaning.

What issues do you think are important for Landscape Architects to be addressing in Australia?

The fragility of our environment, within and outside of cities, remains problematic as it did when it alarmed me in the 70’s. Now more than ever how we act as Landscape Architects has both local and global consequences, As consultants we should take every opportunity to consider and communicate the bigger picture. Even if we don’t always win, if we persist, over time we will make a positive difference.

Individual and community inner health is connected to the health of our environment and Landscape Architects need to help provide places and experiences that buffer from the pace and shallowness that society is being asked to accept and consume. More than ever spaces needs to be created for connection and renewal.

What words of advice would you offer people early in their career?

When faced with problematic people, policies or places – look into and beyond the irritation. Often it can be a catalyst for unanticipated creative outcomes.

Look for common ground with others professionals while acknowledging and getting to know their areas of expertise.

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