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Landscape Architecture Month: Q&A with Sean Jergens

April is World Landscape Architecture Month. Join our Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Group as we kick off a month-long celebration honoring the profession. Be sure to check our website and social media channels to learn more about our team members, favorite projects, and the expertise and energy that we bring to our work.

Sean Jergens, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP | Landscape Architect

Joined SRF: 2005

Master of Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota
Bachelor of Environmental Design, University of Minnesota

Why did you decide to study landscape architecture?
I started my college education with the idea of being an architect. I was that kid that was always playing with legos and making forts out of blankets or old boards I found. I loved to draw and took every art class in my high school. After exploring several different college courses, I ended up as a studio arts and geography major at Gustavus because it allowed me to take classes in all the subjects I liked, as well as biology and social sciences. I decided that architecture itself didn’t interest me, and I couldn’t think of what to do with my degree after school ended. Somebody mentioned “landscape architecture” – and I had no idea what it was. I investigated and found that it combined many of my personal interests – art and design, biology and natural resources, geography and map-making, and construction. I transferred to the U of M to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It really feels like the perfect fit and a vocation that suits my interests and talents.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I enjoy seeing a project grow from an idea or a conversation, through design and to its final construction. It’s even more rewarding to come back several years later and see it after the plants and other features have matured and hearing positive feedback from the communities that we serve.

Tell us about your role at SRF.
As a landscape architect, I get to work on a wide variety of project scales and types, from intensely urban projects in a downtown area to restoration and landscape planting projects in a state park or natural area. I enjoy being able to interact with other professional disciplines and our clients to come up with creative project solutions and through good design. My role has grown to include design as well as project management.

Why is your role important?
Landscape architects care about both people and the natural environment. We are able to analyze all of the characteristics and resources at a site and design solutions that are beautiful, functional, and memorable.

Describe your typical work day.
I typically have a lot of variety throughout my day. It might include time spent in meetings with multidisciplinary teams on a large project, smaller meetings with one or two other landscape architects to discuss the details of a project that our group is working on, as well as time spent at my computer or drawing board working on a rendering, illustration, or final design plans.

What project are you the proudest of, or has been your favorite?
I really enjoyed working on the TH 210 Flood Repair Design Build Project because it allowed me to spend a lot of time in the field at a beautiful project site in Jay Cooke State Park. I led our vegetation inventory and served as the Visual Quality Manager. Those are two roles that people may not think of as being traditional “landscape architecture,” but they really do have everything to do with managing and designing both the built and natural realms in a way that respects the natural resources and cultural significance of a place. That’s the core of what landscape architecture is.

What advice would you give to a young landscape architect entering their career?
Find a way to integrate your interests into what you do at work. If there is an aspect of design or planning that you are especially interested in, strive to find ways to address those issues or that thinking process into the way that you work. Your work will be most interesting and satisfying to you if you are doing thinks that you personally love and appreciate.

What drew you to SRF?
I wanted to work for a company that had a reputation for excellence, where I could really learn and grow as a design professional. I wanted to work with colleagues that were experienced. I wanted a variety of projects that were interesting and fun to work on.

What are your favorite hobbies/interests outside of work?
I love working on my house and making small improvements. I also enjoy making things out of wood, such as furniture and picture frames. My family spends a lot of time outdoors as a family camping, fishing, canoeing, and hunting.

What is your favorite park?
That’s a hard question for landscape architect to answer! Our family really enjoys the small park and playground near our home in Bloomington because we can walk to it and it’s connected to our neighborhood. It’s the place where we run into friends and neighbors and our kids have a blast. We also really love the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and swimming at the beach. Another favorite is Jay Cooke State Park, which my wife and I have been visiting together annually for almost 20 years. I am a self-described “plant nerd,” so I can spend hours and hours and hours at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum just looking at plants.

You have company visiting from out of town. What are the top three things you suggest they see/do while here?

  1. Hiking trails along the Minnesota River bluffs in Bloomington
  2. Sitting on my back deck while I grill steaks and we enjoy a homebrewed beer on a perfect Minnesota summer evening
  3. Exploring the Minneapolis parkways around the lakes and Mississippi River

If you weren’t a Landscape Architect, what would you want to be?
I don’t currently have the skills to do it, but I would love to be a watercolor artist, or something that involved a lot of time spent in the outdoors, such as canoe trip guide or professional adventurer.

Connect with Sean.