Member Spotlight: Meg Coffee

1_MegProfileName: Meg Coffee

Occupation: Landscape Architect

Years in Practice: 17

Prior Career (if applicable): N/A

1. Why did you want to become a Landscape Architect?

As an undergrad, I studied Art History. Afterwards, I went to grad school for Architecture and left after a year as it felt more rigid with the need to understand structural and mechanical systems. I discovered landscape architecture through an acquaintance of my parents’ who suggested I read Landscape Architecture by John Simonds. It seemed with landscape architecture, I could combine my interest in art, architecture, and place-making into one profession. I applied to and was offered a scholarship at Louisiana State University (LSU) for graduate school.The book made me realize that the term “landscape architecture” is a bit of a misnomer—everyone thinks it’s just plants—as it’s really Exterior Architecture.

2_LA_Book2. Who have been your biggest career influencers & why? Jon Emerson, one of my professors at LSU influenced how I design and how I teach. The other major influence were the five years that I worked at Marmol Radziner (2005-2010). In terms of my practice, the most influential thing I learned was to line things up! It makes designs look thoughtful and organized, for example: align the edge of a concrete wall with the doorway.

3. What are some of your most important career achievements? Getting licensed is such an arduous process that simply accomplishing this is monumental. Next would be the national awards and recognition from ASLA our team at Marmol Radziner won for the Vienna Way Residence. As the Landscape Architect lead, this project was a great pleasure and came to fruition here in the Venice area of Los Angeles, plus we received magazine coverage. It was exciting to see the work celebrated in this way.


4. What is one insight into being a woman in your profession? Landscape Architecture is more female-friendly; however, much of the construction is still male dominated. My experience in the office was gender-neutral.

5. Tell us about a current project. As a consultant with my own business, my practice has been growing and right now I’m working on a nearly a dozen things that are mostly local residential projects. In addition, I teach at UCLA Extension’s Landscape Architecture Program. One of the pleasures of my business and my teaching is that is that I learn about all different parts of Los Angeles and consistently see the city in new and unexpected ways. Here are examples of some residential work:

6_gate 5_hillside  7_walkway


6. Best career lesson from your biggest mistake?

Always check the codes! Even if you think you know them, codes change or you remember wrong or you didn’t know that x,y,z had to be a certain way in particular situations.

7. What do you think or hope your profession will look like in 10 years?

In the west, there will be no more turf, no more lawns. It will be a paradigm shift away from the Jeffersonian frontage—this may lead to a change of the entire concept and size of the space of a front yard.

8. How do you participate in AWA+D? What is the importance of the organization in your life?

I was recently inducted as Chairperson of Programming and will be working with Jillian Hensiek. I’ve been a member for over two years and have found AWA+D to be a great support and a wonderful business network.

9. What advice would you give the graduating class of 2020?

I encourage them to think less linear and more cyclical as this thinking can have an effect on what you do later as well as color your remembrance of prior work. For Landscape Architect students the basic necessity is beauty—that it is as important as food, water, and shelter as it is the aspect of our humanity brought forward.