Ben Jensen

About Ben:

Hometown: Perry, Ohio

Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '23

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Architecture, Specialization in Landscape Architecture

Illinois Institute of Technology


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

I’ve always been a naturalist.  I went camping at least once a month growing up, and have never felt more at home than when I’m out in the woods.  The most fascinating thing about landscape architecture is that our medium of design is often alive.  While we use brick and stone, we also define the lives of every plant we place in our design.  I came to Cornell because I wanted to be a part of a program with a strong background in plant science, because we design with plants, and I think we should also design for plants.  They’re alive, and they’ll spend a lot more time at these projects than we ever will, so we should consider them and their health from the very beginning of the design.

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

Every site is unique, and they each have something to teach us.  I think one of the most beautiful aspects of this field is that every project is a learning opportunity, be it in school or in practice, there is always something to be learned from the unique challenges presented by each site.  For me the goal in design is to always produce the best work I can for the site, and to always learn something new in the process. 

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

Prof. Weber’s studio studying the Black Dirt Region has taken me places I definitely wasn't expecting.  I never realized how much potential there is in agricultural regions for landscape architects to work.  It has been such an informative experience so far, and I have really enjoyed the challenges offered by the region and the new ways I’ve it has gotten me to think through design.


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

For me, being in the finger lakes region has felt like coming home.  I grew up playing in forests like these, and after six years in Chicago studying architecture and prairie landscapes, it has been so exciting to come back to the ecosystems that I grew up in and to start considering them in a new light.


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

Right now I’m really interested in exploring vineyards and viticulture, especially what those can look like if adapted to an urban environment.  Vineyards conjure this rustic, rural aesthetic in our minds, but I’m curious how these highly designed, rural landscapes can be adapted and designed to fit within the urban fabric.


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

I joined the ASLA board this semester and have been having a lot of fun managing the ASLA Instagram account and attending our events, both professional and social.


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

To 15 year old me: Progress isn’t linear, and it isn’t your responsibility to live up to other people’s idea of you.

To 35 year old me: I hope you’ve been remembering to take breaks and get outside (also I swear if this hairline isn’t exactly where I left it).