Landscape Architect That Bleeds Green

Emmeline Morris and her husband and two children hiking
Morris Family adventuring in Ouray, CO

Image courtesy Emmeline Morris

What is your name and job title? Emmeline Morris, Project Manager with the Denver Service Center’s Design and Construction Division

What experience and education do you have? My undergraduate degree is in Fine Art with a focus on interior design. Through the BFA program at the University of Georgia (UGA), I was exposed to the field of landscape architecture, which I was not familiar with at the time but immediately determined it to be a good fit. I interned under a preservation architect that also had landscape architecture and preservation planning disciplines in the firm (The Jaeger Company) and I ended up working with the firm for close to 20 years. I left the company for a two-year stint in Chicago with Joe Karr Associates Landscape Architect (subsidiary to Harry Weese Architects) before returning to UGA and completing the Master of Landscape Architecture program. I started working on NPS projects in 2002 ranging from cultural resource plans to visitor center development. NPS projects were always my favorite, some say I “bleed green,” and I wanted to ensure continued involvement, so I jumped the fence in 2014 and joined the NPS. My blood has only gotten greener!

What is a typical day like? There is such a variety to project management, which is both challenging and satisfying. Some days are spent reviewing plans and specifications, some working on budget and schedule, and the best days are spent in the field working at a park. I have always enjoyed working at parks and with park staff. NPS folks are just good people!

What career advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar path? Well, I started federal employment mid-career and sometimes wish that I had made the jump earlier, but I also bring varied experiences to my current position. Starting a new adventure and moving a family across country from Georgia to Colorado has been fun, too. My best advice is to follow your heart and overcome the fear of leaving your comfort zone to try something new.

What is one of the bigger projects you are working on and what about that project might surprise people? I have been working on the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (a.k.a. St. Louis Arch) project for the past four years. What folks may not know is that I was working on the Historic American Landscape Survey documentation for the project while in private practice when I received the call to interview with the NPS. A former employer from early in my career in Chicago actually worked on the original St Louis arch grounds under the renowned Landscape Architect, Dan Kiley, as the first major project of his career. It is funny how paths sometime come full circle.

Anything else you'd like to add? I recently had the honor of speaking about the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial at the American Society of Landscape Architects 2017 National Convention in Los Angeles, CA. The topic focused on historic landscapes (a National Historic Landscape in particular, with a new design overlay) and the ongoing challenges in remaining successful and relevant places.