Meet the future of Landscape Architecture: Esther Chiang (MLA/MS ’23)
When Esther Chiang (MLA/MS ’23) started looking into landscape architecture programs, she knew that she wanted to find one that was housed at a school of natural resources and/or environment. Ultimately, she chose the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) not only for its prestige but because it offered a unique opportunity to also specialize in Ecosystem Science and Management.
For Chiang, this was a perfect match that allowed her to customize her studio projects with a focus on ecological designs that incorporated biodiversity as well as restoration and conservation approaches. She says that she appreciated the balanced approach at SEAS, which allowed her to become a landscape architect capable of addressing a variety of sustainability concerns. “One of the things I love about SEAS is the strong emphasis on useful skill building such as plant identification, while also focusing on a wide range of more ‘modern’ sustainability-focused expertise, exposing me not only to traditional natural resource management but also to climate change, sustainability and other social science-driven realms,” says Chiang.
Chiang has taken a job as an ecological designer with Environmental Consulting and Technology, a national consulting firm that specializes in ecological restoration and happens to have an office in Ann Arbor. In this role, she will support restoration design planning, ecological assessment and monitoring, as well as developing plans, details and specifications for restoration projects. She says she’s excited to implement all that she has learned while at SEAS and to make an impact as an ecologically-minded landscape architect. “I’m looking forward to the challenges that await me in this new role, which will have me working on a combination of field assessments and design work, as well as getting to meet and work with people in the same field,” says Chiang.
Reflecting on the experience of attending SEAS
Chiang says that, at SEAS, she was able to pursue a specialized path of study, allowing her to achieve her main goals. But she feels that the opportunities she had to interact with people working on a wide range of environmental issues added additional value to her experience and, ultimately, to her skillset. “I got to know people doing a wide range of things that have informed my knowledge and experience and that bridges the gap between science and real-world implementation,” says Chiang. “Now I can take all of that with me into my career as a well-rounded landscape architect.”