Don Sharp, the Director of Landscape Architecture at PARSONS, is one of the Advisory Board members of the Urban Design & Landscape Expo (UDLE), the Middle East's only dedicated trade fair for urban, green and open spaces.
Here's what he told us ahead of the UDLE:
What attracted you to the Landscape Industry?
“I was 17 years old and I was looking for a new Boy Scout merit badge. I had a little pamphlet for architecture for 50 cents, and right next to it there was a Landscape Architecture merit badge pamphlet. I had absolutely no idea it was possible to do such a cool thing for a living, so I decided to do it when I was 17, and I've never looked back.”
What do you enjoy the most in your work as landscape architect?
“The number one thing that motivates me is building big, engaging, outdoor spaces for people to enjoy, as well as being the unseen hand behind places that bring meaning and joy to people's lives.”
How is the landscape industry evolving in Dubai?
“When I came back for my current role, I was absolutely amazed at the strides that Dubai had made: it's really filled in beautifully, it's a very livable and unique place.
Dubai is a maturing market in which it's time now to look both at the porosity issues and at how to get from one place to another outdoors. These, in fact, are critical elements that also relate to the well-being of the entire society, and address health issues like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular issues.
As we know, Dubai is a very hot place; half of the time it has a perfectly lovely weather, but as everybody knows, during the other half, it ranges from uncomfortable to unbearable. Nowadays, strategies are evolving with old and new technologies in various combinations to make people comfortable outdoors. I think that's one of the key things that our industry has to offer. As landscape architects we also see the larger picture and have the specific expertise to put together design interventions that enable people to get out of their houses, meet other people, move their bodies, and get healthy in the bargain.
In future, I expect more investments in the public, open spaces, as well as in developing the connections between different places.”
How was your experience at the Urban Design & Landscape Expo 2018?
“I think that the products’ range and getting access to the suppliers was really great. Getting the contacts and network with them has helped us keep up to date with current trends in terms of both materials and products.”
Register and attend for free the Urban Design & Landscape Expo HERE.
To know more about the Urban Design & Landscape Expo visit www.udlexpo.com.
About Don Sharp
Don is a landscape architect with a broad range of experience in the design and management of complex urban international projects featuring innovative public realm design and construction. He has made significant contributions to projects in multiple countries, including: UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Japan, Korea, Finland, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, and France.
Prior to joining Parsons, Don worked for another leading international practice focused on activating and regenerating urban sites and city centers, where he was responsible for concept generation, design direction, technical guidance, quality assurance, mentoring, and managing a team of 25+ designers in the London head office.
Don also has also served as Adjunct Professor of Landscape Architecture Urban Design Studio Guest Critic for the Rhode Island School of Design in the United States.
Some of the landmark projects Don has worked on across the world include: Mesa Arts Center, Arizona, USA; Exchange Square, Manchester, UK; Minfu Square, Shanghai, China; Xixi Blossom Hill Inn, Hangzhou, China; Gifu Kitigata Apartments, Gifu, Japan; Palace of Justice, Kuwait; Wuyuan Bay Shopping Center, Xiamen, China; Urban Riverfront Park System, Quanzhou, China; Yongsan International Business District Master Plan, Seoul, South Korea; Entry Esplanade of the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA, USA; Broward County Civic Arena, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.