BLA Student Profile: Ry’yan Clark, BLA 2017

ry'yan clarkLSU Bachelor of Landscape Architecture candidate Ry’yan Clark, a native of New Orleans, chose to study landscape architecture because of his interest in art, design, and math.

“I have always had an interest in the design process, mathematics, and art, which are perfectly blended in the profession of landscape architecture,” said Ry’yan.

He also appreciates how the people in the field are so open and excited about what they do. “I love how landscape architects are so open to communication with other disciplines and cultures.”

As the 2016–17 president of the LSU Student Chapter of ASLA, Ry’yan plans to build on that culture of openness and collaboration. Officially recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the LSU chapter creates a platform for students to get involved and active in the professional organization early in their education and careers. As an elected officer of the LSU student chapter, Ry’yan sits on the executive committee of the Louisiana chapter, where he has the opportunity to meet and network with landscape architects living and working in Louisiana.

Ry’yan said he also enjoys how the organization helps students engage throughout the school. “I learned a lot from upperclassmen when I was new to the program, and membership in the organization makes everyone that much more involved and prepared to take on leadership roles in the profession.”

LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture (RRSLA) alumni have a history of being active ASLA members. The 2016–17 president of ASLA, Chad Danos, director of landscape architecture for Duplantis Design Group, is an RRSLA alumnus, and at the 2016 ASLA Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans, two alumni—Kurt Culbertson, chairman and CEO of Design Workshop, and Jim Burnett, president and principal of the Office of James Burnett—will receive ASLA Medals, the highest honor the organization bestows on individuals in the profession. In the past seven years, four firms led by LSU landscape architecture alumni received the national Firm Award, and LSU alumni have garnered no less than 66 ASLA professional awards since 1981. More than half of the current RRSLA faculty have been named fellows of the ASLA, and to date, 43 RRSLA students have won national ASLA student honor awards for their capstone projects.

ry'yan clark

Through this vast network of faculty, alumni, and ASLA members, students find valuable internships, which lead to lucrative jobs in the profession—Director Mark Boyer said that 100 percent of the landscape architecture students who graduated in spring 2016 were employed or accepted to graduate programs prior to graduation. The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture has a longstanding tradition of facilitating internships for undergraduate students and is one of the few landscape architecture programs in the country that requires a full-semester internship experience.

During the spring semester of his fourth-year, Ry’yan interned at Design Workshop in Chicago, where he worked on sections, illustrative plans, made calls to sales representatives, listened in on phone calls with clients, and attended public meetings.

“Design Workshop really put a lot of variety into how and what they taught me. It was exciting to say the least,” shared Ry’yan. “The office culture at the Chicago location and across the firm is excellent. I had the chance to sit down with alumnus Kurt Culbertson, one of the founders of the firm, which was a nice moment.”

As president of the LSU Student Chapter of ASLA, Ry’yan also wants to help raise awareness of the profession, especially to young people who may not have heard of landscape architecture—or who may not understand what the profession entails. In summer 2015, Ry’yan volunteered at the LSU Hilltop Arboretum, where he worked with children in the arboretum’s summer programs and high school students in the school’s Landscape Architecture Explorations Summer Camp.

“That was a great opportunity to work with two distinct age groups. The five to seven year olds were excited about everything they saw and surprisingly intuitive about the subject matter,” said Ry’yan. “The high school students were more reserved, but it was interesting to watch them come out of their shells. They produced some really good work for a week’s worth of time.”

After graduation, Ry’yan would like to travel, work in the profession for a number of years, then pursue a master’s degree in a related field, such as urban planning, to help make cities more efficient. At the end of the day, he wants to give back to his city.

“I have a strong affection for New Orleans,” concluded Ry’yan.