MLA, 2013, AYAC Member

Landscape architect designs for people and the environment

Kate Hayes (MLA, 2013) has worked as an associate at SCAPE Landscape Architecture, a New York-based landscape architecture and urban design firm since she graduated from UVA. Far from her original misconception that the field was restricted to designing backyards for people’s homes, she produces skyscraper garden terraces, plazas between Manhattan buildings, and suburban parks that bridge communities. Her work starts with a sustainable, interdisciplinary approach that stems from her background in Earth systems, her undergraduate degree from Stanford.

“It’s about creating great spaces for people, spaces where they can begin to see their surroundings differently, from new perspectives, whether that’s done by creating a dynamic edge on a waterfront project or designing an immersive wild wetland walk through a revived marsh,” she said. “We design sites that reconnect people with their regional landscapes and we engage them through this notion of ground-up education.”

Hayes’ projects have included revamping an old pier in Red Hook, New York, to promote new interactions with the water, developing a landscape framework plan for Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, and designing and constructing a resilient water plaza at the American Copper Building in Manhattan – a floodable civic space built on top of a parking garage that accommodates the infiltration of water without overwhelming the combined sewer system.

“With climate change, it’s important to build these resilient landscapes that are going to react, accommodate, and change with all the shifting baselines that are happening on our Earth,” Hayes said.

She is in the beginning stages of a federally funded, state-administered project in Norfolk, Virginia, to build a “line of protection” around a neighborhood in a watershed to help safeguard residents from both coastal surging from the Elizabeth River and mainland flooding.

“We’re working with environmental consultants and stormwater engineers to locate this line of protection and to think about equality issues and environmental justice. We’re designing a park that integrates the flood barrier into the program and amenities of the park, and bridges two communities,” Hayes said.

What she finds most exciting about her career in landscape architecture is the challenge of connecting it with advocacy for the planet. Her projects require thinking about resilience, education, and reconnecting communities – Hayes’ favorite type of work.

Learn more about how Kate's multidisciplinary educational background has impacted her career in the link below.