Andrew Curtis

About Andrew:

Hometown: Glen Gardner, New Jersey

Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '22

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History, Minor in Philosophy

Andrew's Portfolio


What kind of questions or curiosities did you have when you decided to pursue a degree in landscape architecture?

At the time of my application, I had been working at a community and economic development non-profit in Colorado where we worked with many landscape architects and a number of them encouraged me to apply to graduate school. This was fitting since I actually had a long-standing interest in architecture, urban planning, and landscape design but for many years it was only a hobby I did on the side, creating many sketches and paper projects that not many people ever saw. Since I was also interested in planning and had experience at the community development non-profit, my initial curiosities included landscape through a lens of analysis of the political economy as well as the built environment of social housing. 

How would you characterize your design ethos? How has that been adapted since arriving at Cornell?

Since arriving at Cornell my design process and ethos (two very different but related things in my mind) have evolved significantly but still retain their core intention of creating common spaces that invite people to freely alter, change, and create a bit of disorder - a sense of public vivacity - as opposed to highly regulated and compartmentalized spaces. My process has changed from a very intuitive method of designing where I more or less have a preconceived idea of what the design intervention will be, to one that embraces process and in doing so arrives at a conclusion rather than the other way around. In my opinion, if you stay in the former position, you’ll inevitably become stagnant as a designer.

Are there any particular courses you've been seeing at Cornell that leverage your interests?

Being a former history major, Kathy Gleason’s History of Landscapes was especially enjoyable to attend. Design Connect was another opportunity that allowed me to work in an interdisciplinary manner with other planning and architecture students on a project set in the real world.


Being at Cornell, has living in the Finger Lakes region informed your view on the field, or even broader, the environment?

I was already a little bit familiar with the finger lakes region before coming to Cornell, but the finger lakes region has a rich geological and cultural history that I learn a little bit more about every day. The program’s ecological focus also has become increasingly apparent to me as I meet students and young designers from other programs. Lastly, the fact that the landscape architecture program at Cornell is set in the College of Agricultural and Life sciences on the public side of the university means that we have close connections to experts in horticulture, alternative forms of agriculture, biology, ecology, and that we also have a direct connection to NYS communities through the Cornell Cooperative Extension Program.


Reflecting on your interests, how do you hope to define your concentration in the program?

My concentration as of now is based in landscape architectural history and theory. Urban planning still plays a role but a way that folds in with history and theory.


What kind of organizations or activities have you become involved in within Ithaca?

I’m doing landscape architecture most of the time, but many of the activities I’m involved with outside the program are political in nature that I don’t need to go into.


What would you tell your younger self from ten years ago? What would you tell your future self ten years ahead?

“In one and a half years you will work at a Barnes and Noble cafe in Ithaca, NY where you will talk to one of the customers about landscape architecture. It turns out she’s a faculty member in the department at Cornell. You will think, ‘that’s cool but I’ll never get into a program like that’. Five and a half years later, she will be your primary thesis advisor”. For my future self, I would ask, “how’s the climate doing? Was COP36 as useless as COP26?”