My love of the outdoors and plants is in my DNA. My grandfather owned a nursery and my grandmother was a plantsperson with a green thumb. As a kid I spent many hours assisting in planting and tending their terraced garden and was intrigued with the fishponds and fountains that enhanced their landscape. It wasn’t until Junior College that I discovered landscape architecture as a profession which led me to CAL Berkeley. It was there that my perspective of the profession was expanded by professors such as Garrett Eckbo, Michael Laurie, and Robin Moore. I graduated in a recession, but fortunately was hired as an intern at PG&E that turned into a full-time project associate position and continued for three years!
I returned to sunny Southern California and worked for the Orange County Environmental Management Agency until Proposition 13 passed, which significantly reduced the capital improvement program for park development, which had become my career passion. I could see the diminished opportunities and decided to pursue a position in private practice. I worked for three years with Boyle Engineering Corporation in Newport Beach before joining Recreation Systems Inc., a firm that specialized in the design of public parks. As a principal at RSI, I worked on many neighborhood, community and regional parks throughout California. My favorite was Tidelands Park, a small park along the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. It’s spectacular location on the waterfront, backdropped by moored boats and Morro Rock was a challenge. A cliffside resident with a “million dollar view”, did not want to overlook a city park and was threatening a lawsuit. A nautical themed play area with wavelike terraces, harbored ship and climbable ocean animal sculptures was the design answer and won everyone’s approval and remains in use 30 years later.
I have been associated and blessed with successful firms that were acquired and grew. Recreation Systems, Inc. merged with a neighboring Fullerton landscape architecture firm to form Purkiss Rose-RSI in 1991. In 2006, Purkiss Rose-RSI was acquired by Moore, Iacofano, Goltsman (MIG), the planning and design firm headquartered in Berkeley. Forty years later I am again working under the banner of my college professor, Robin Moore, now as managing principal of MIG’s Orange County office. My early love of creating memorable places for people to enjoy and grow from, has been joyfully realized. I have also had the privilege and joy of teaching at UCLA Extension Landscape Architecture Program for twenty years and now have former students as competitors and clients! My career has been significantly enriched with my ASLA membership and participation as Chapter programs chair, president, and trustee. I truly value the colleague friendships developed over the years through ASLA.