Tyler Holden, SEBS’22, graduates this May with a degree in Landscape Architecture from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS).
His path to choosing Landscape Architecture as his major was easy, growing more gratifying the deeper he understood the interrelatedness of its many parts.
“The most interesting part of my major that I’ve grown to appreciate is the relationship that people have with their surrounding environment and how we, as landscape architects, are able to design it. Whether we know it or not, we are always interacting with our own environment, and being able to be the one to design the future of it has always been something that excites me.”
It’s that combination of excitement and impact that led Holden to an impressive human-scale design and build project for his undergraduate thesis. Richard Alomar, associate professor and chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture, serves as thesis advisor to Holden’s project, which is to design, build, and install a bench in front of the campus home of landscape architecture, Blake Hall. Holden’s project involves researching sustainable materials and campus history for the re-design, and Future Green, a design and fabrication studio located in New York, is serving as mentor.
“Not many college students get to leave their mark on the physical infrastructure or add to the history of their school—home of their life-shaping undergraduate experience—in a tangible way. As a Landscape Architecture major, Tyler has had the transformative experience of both things,” says Holly Grace Nelson, Associate Professor of Practice and undergraduate program director of Landscape Architecture.
It’s clear that this is no ordinary project, even to Holden, as he assesses the intangibles of form and function in design of even ordinary, everyday objects we take for granted.
“Being able to work on an independent study where I had to design and build a bench sounded like an easy enough project to take on, but it truly had so much more hidden underneath the surface. When we think of benches today, we imagine the standard metal park bench, but as landscape architects, we can challenge this idea of the typical bench and design it into something with much more meaning and purpose.”
For Holden, working through all of the intricacies of design, specific materials, even the minor adjustments to size, scale, location and more, transformed the feeling of the bench.
“Being a designer, especially working on this project, is allowing me to realize that because something has the title of ‘bench’ it doesn’t have to be limited to something that you only sit on but can have so many different possibilities. This is what makes me love design, the infinite amount of options that we can make out of just a few parts.”
Holden’s immediate post-graduation plans include spending the next year at Rutgers School of Graduate Studies to complete a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. He will prototype the bench design in a site model, and pursue its fabrication and installation for his master’s thesis.
What led you to Landscape Architecture?
Choosing Landscape Architecture as my major was an easy answer for me because it gave me a great mix of everything that I enjoyed studying in high school, and even my own hobbies. With a perfect blend of science, math, art and history, there are so many places I could take my career. The possibilities for creation are endless for this major, which is something I value greatly.
What was the most significant life lesson that you learned here at SEBS?
One of the most important life lessons that I’ve learned here at SEBS is the importance of organization and communication. This is something that I’ve had to learn the hard way but it has made me into more of a professional. Organization and communication are two things that are very important for my growth as a student, and soon to be, an employee.
Were you involved in student life activities?
Being a student here at Rutgers for four years now, the value of connections and friendships I’ve made through the years is priceless. Through my involvement in clubs like Landscape Architecture Club and Swing Dance Club, I’ve been able to find great people that I hope to keep in my circle of friends for the rest of my life.
What’s kept you motivated at Rutgers?
Something that has kept me motivated here at Rutgers has been striving to get better in my profession, and always wanting to learn more. Information is so valuable, especially in a growing major like landscape architecture. So, being able to keep up-to-date with all the interesting things happening in the field is very important to me.
Are there any awards you would like to talk about?
Through the state chapter for landscape architecture, the New Jersey American Society of Landscape Architects, I was awarded the highest possible honor, the ASLA Honor award this spring. I competed against other students to show off the design work that I’ve practiced here at Rutgers. Being given this opportunity was amazing. It’s always good to feel that your design work is appreciated.
What career do you envision for yourself?
For the future, there are so many things I’d like to do! Being able to work at large firms in the city, complete the requirements to become a licensed landscape architect, and then eventually running my own business are just a few of my biggest goals. Being able to share my love of the landscape in the way that I see it with future clients will be a very fulfilling journey for me.