Dan Meyer

About Dan:

Hometown: Wilton, Connecticut

Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '23

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Arts in English and French Literature

Williams College


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

Plants have always fascinated me, but while I worked in New York City after undergrad I had little time and opportunity for this interest. When I decided to change career paths, I knew I wanted to expand my horticultural knowledge beyond the bits and pieces I had taught myself, to learn what worked best where and to develop a planting aesthetic. I also wanted to explore an entirely new way of thinking, to understand better how landscape architecture evolved as a discipline and how it draws on various intellectual traditions to address contemporary challenges with novel solutions. 

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

The research process feels like second nature to me. Gathering source material, reading as deeply into a topic as I can, making connections, all of that translates easily from my previous professional experience as a book editor. But more research is not always better, and distilling information to formulate design moves isn’t a process of finding the one “right” answer. At Cornell I’ve learned how to test possibilities and to use that experimental process to shape a central design story.

Are there any particular courses at Cornell that leverage your interests?

I’ve found no shortage of opportunities to expand my plant knowledge, especially in Urban Eden, a two-semester introduction to woody plant identification and establishment in the landscape. The freedom to choose electives outside the department offers the chance to investigate this topic at larger, systemic scales--by taking forest ecology in the natural resources department, for example.


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

We’re in the middle of an ideal natural classroom for the student of landscape architecture. From geology to agriculture, forest succession to the legacy of industry, Ithaca possesses a concentrated wealth of examples for considering essential landscape ideas.


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

A horticulture concentration is a natural fit for me, but I’m also thinking about ways to incorporate historical research.


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

Ten years ago I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be in landscape architecture; I’d tell my younger self to make the jump sooner. I’d remind my future self of the need to keep pushing project boundaries: don’t checkboxes, make new ones.