Alumni Profile: Kim and Gary Hawkins

Partners, Hawkins Partners, Inc.
Nashville, TN

Provide an educational background including professional experience.

Kim received a BLA from LSU in 1982, and Gary got his MLA from LSU in 1982. He also holds a BS in ornamental horticulture from the University of Tennessee.

Why did you choose LSU for your education?

Kim: I was looking at two schools, the University of Georgia and LSU. During the search process I visited the School of Landscape Architecture and met Doc in his little offi ce with slide boxes piled to the ceiling. The whole time I was meeting with him, other students were coming in to say, “hi” and ask questions, and I felt that the School of Landscape Architecture at LSU was more of a family. That made my decision.

Gary was at UT in Knoxville and had no idea that landscape architecture existed. A professor there suggested that path and since Tennessee had no program in landscape architecture and LSU offered reciprocity for Tennessee, Gary came to LSU.

How did your LSU degree help to prepare you for your profession?

Kim and Gary: LSU’s program taught us how to think differently. We felt that the strength of the program was the emphasis on conceptual design and understanding each site in such a way that it could be interpreted in a unique way. That was the backbone of our learning and then LSU had strong implementation classes for grading, details and plant material, so once the concept was established you also had the tools to be able to make it come to fruition.

Today as landscape architects and planners, we say that our goal is to connect people to community through design through a thorough understanding of the site and its context. We feel that is tied directly to our LSU background.

What current or past research and projects/exhibitions have you done?

Our first love is design in the urban environment, so a majority of our projects have concentrated on urban areas.
A few examples of those within our region are:
Nashville Public Square — a $37 million dollar development adjacent to the Metro Courthouse.
Schermerhorn Symphony Center — a $123 million dollar addition to Nashville’s downtown, opened in 2006 to international acclaim.
Shelby Street Bridge — which has become an icon for Nashville as a half-mile pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River in Nashville’s CBD and part of Nashville’s broader green way system.
Provided a master plan for East Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory — the first LEED project in the state of Tennessee, and then implementation of the main campus quadrangle.

From a planning perspective, HPI has completed a number of countywide bicycle and pedestrian plans including:
Important studies for the development of true alternative transportation in Nashville, Memphis and Chatanooga.
A countywide Parks and Greenways master plan for Nashville-Davidson County and numerous urban design overlays and downtown master plans.

We are currently involved with:
The New Federal Courthouse with Michael Graves.
The Nashville Riverfront Master Plan development with Hargreaves Associates.
The Pinnacle tower with Pickard Chilton Architects — a 28 story mixed-use tower in downtown Nashville with a 3/4-acre extensive green roof amenity deck.

Please list any awards or special recognition that you have received.

ASLA Merit Award in Communications for our work with Relief Nashville, a community-based effort to plan and rebuild our urban forest after the tornadoes of 1998.
Green Roof for Healthy Cities Award of Excellence for Nashville’s 7.5-acre Public Square project.
American Planning Association’s Planning Award for Excellence for implementation of the countywide Chattanooga Bike Plan.
More than 20 state awards for various projects as well as numerous local and regional awards.

What are your plans for the future?

We believe that this is the most exciting time in history to be practicing landscape architecture due to the now global focus on sustainability and context sensitive design. Landscape architects are uniquely positioned in their understanding of building, land, social and environmental systems to link all of these elements together in a coherent way. We have been practicing sustainability since our inception by working in concert with social, environmental and cultural factors for every commission. To date, HPI has over 350,000 square feet of green roofs built or planned, and more than a dozen LEED certifi ed or registered projects. We incorporate sustainability as a core value in our design process.