KINGSTON, R.I. – May 18, 2010 – Bryan Harrison chose to enroll at the University of Rhode Island in part because he liked the old granite buildings on campus and in part because its coastal location gave him an opportunity to learn to sail.
The New Milford, Conn. resident will graduate on May 23 as URI’s top landscape architecture student and one of only four students on campus to complete their degrees with a 4.0 grade point average.
“My first exposure to landscape architecture came in high school when I was taking classes in ecology and conservation,” Harrison explained. “I found that landscape architecture brought art and design elements into my interest in ecology.”
The URI student took advantage of numerous opportunities to put his budding design skills to work. He interned with the University’s Coastal Landscapes Program and the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council to design the restoration of coastal buffers in the city of Warwick, and he is just completing a native plant design manual.
“That project took regulatory language and turned it into plain text that homeowners and designers can use,” he said. “My task was to look at the text and see what needed graphics and then illustrate the plants and planting plans.”
Harrison also worked on designing displays of naval artifacts in the landscape around the campus of the Naval War College in Newport and a siting and master plan for a sustainable high school In the URI W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich.
“One of the great benefits of the URI landscape architecture program is its outreach to the community,” he said. “Most recently we designed a domestic violence awareness park in Bristol in memory of a woman who was killed by her husband. We worked with the family and the town to incorporate their ideas into a practical design.”
With graduation just around the corner, Harrison appears most excited about completing his second sailing class.
“I told myself when I came to URI to make sure to take these sailing classes before I graduated, and I’m just barely going to make it in time,” he said with enthusiasm. “It’s been a fantastic experience, and I get my skipper’s card next week.”
As Harrison continues his job search and considers enrolling in graduate school, he is contemplating several potential career paths.
“On one hand, I’d really like to work for the National Park Service or work for a firm that does ecological or historical restoration work,” he said, noting that the Park Service is one of the nation’s largest employers of landscape architects. “And then there’s the complete opposite, which could have me involved with an urban design firm creating social spaces.”
Social spaces are going to be vital, he said, because cities will once again become the new frontier.
“As our population continues to grow, urban centers will grow at an incredible rate, and our infrastructure is antiquated,” he added. “New designs are going to be needed to design sustainable living spaces — sustainable from a human point of view as well as from an ecological point of view.”