LSU landscape architecture student Donguk Lee is the first recipient of the Tipton Associates Travel Award, a $1,750 prize. Tipton Associates, a Baton Rouge based architecture, interiors, and planning firm, established the portfolio competition for LSU College of Art & Design architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture students. The firm’s gift represents their philosophy of interdisciplinary work.
Led by LSU School of Architecture alumnus Ken Tipton (BArch 1981), Tipton Associates has an interdisciplinary focus; projects are about partnerships and working together with smart people to implement a shared vision. The 30 people in the Baton Rouge office approach assignments in collaborative, interdisciplinary teams that include specialists in architecture, interior design, urban planning, and landscape architecture.
A jury of alumni working in all three professions—Harper Hicks Bateman (BArch 2000), associate architect and vice president of Corgan’s Aviation Studio in Dallas; Haley Blakeman (BLA 1994), director of implementation at the Center for Planning Excellence in Baton Rouge; and Allison Canal (BID 2012), interior designer at Coleman Partners Architects in Baton Rouge—selected fourth-year Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture student Donguk Lee as the 2016 winner of the first annual portfolio competition.
A native of South Korea, Lee majored in computer science at the University of Newcastle in Australia before serving two years in the Korean Army.
“I felt like I had reached my limit when I was coding the booking system in the army; I could not imagine myself as a professional programmer in the future,” said Lee. “I had the desire to design something that would maximize communication between user and object. Landscape architecture is the most valuable design field, in my opinion, because it enhances the communication between humans and nature. As a landscape designer, I could be proud of my career for my entire life.”
Lee said he chose to attend LSU because of the landscape architecture program’s consistent ranking as the best in the nation. “Even though I had never heard of Louisiana before I came to the United States, I decided to come here because I believe LSU has the best Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program.”
For the Tipton Associates Travel Award, students were required to submit a digital portfolio with a letter addressing how they intended to use the funds and how they imagined the travel would impact their studies. Lee’s letter of intent focused on his concern with public good over personal gain.
“When I was in the Korean Army, I read a book by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, The End of Poverty,” Lee explained. “The book describes the disastrous situation of extreme poverty in a number of countries on the opposite side of the planet, and how planned development aid can help these countries gain a foothold. I wanted to tackle the problem from the perspective of a landscape architect. I believe that providing clean water would be a good approach.”
Lee intends to use the travel award money to travel to Ethiopia, Ghana, or the Congo to conduct research for his senior capstone project, designing a more efficient water management system in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“To develop the design, it would be beneficial to identify a site in person,” stated Lee. “I am convinced that visiting Africa will contribute to the success of my capstone project. It is time to do something to end poverty and to save our friends who live on the opposite side of the earth.”
Among other projects, his winning portfolio included Triple Cove Park, a riverfront park in the heart of a historically and economically significant area in Seoul, a project he worked on during a summer internship program at PARKKIM, and Growing Dune, a project focused on the site design for 80-plus acres of undeveloped oceanfront property in Rockaway Beach, New York, which he completed in his third-year landscape architecture studio at LSU.
Currently, Lee is working as an intern at Raymond Jungles, Inc., in Miami—the semester-long internship is a curriculum requirement of the BLA program at LSU. After he graduates in 2017, he plans to attend graduate school for further study in urban design and urban planning.
“After I finish my studies, I may look for a job in the United States as I believe that working experience will help me become more professional in my field,” said Lee. “However, in the not-so-distant future, I will go back to live in Korea with my family and friends.”
Football is one of Lee’s favorite things about studying in Louisiana. “I had never seen a football game before I came here, and I am really impressed by the scene of families driving their huge RVs, setting up tables and chairs, to celebrate a game together. One day, I hope to bring my family to LSU to experience a football game and tailgating.”