Ishan Ethridge

About Ishan:

Hometown: Ithaca, New York

Degree Program: Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture '24

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

Amid the search for colleges, I was looking for a way to incorporate my interest in natural ecologies, art, and social justice while also having the opportunity to branch out and pursue other topics. Landscape architecture stood out as a way to satisfy all of these yet my understanding of just how it can be applied to these topics was very shallow. My most pressing question was just how deep can research into a space penetrate the final design and how does it read to those experiencing the space. In essence, I was wondering just how effective could a landscape architect be when it seems that so commonly they are brushed off as mere ‘gardners’ (not that is a bad thing).

How would you characterize your design ethos or process?

As only a sophomore, my process is still under development but as of right now I try to look into the current and historic uses of a site to preserve the “genius loci” (thank you Kathy) while also making the design as functional as possible. For instance, when a design serves a specific community, I prioritize their input so they know their needs and wants have been considered with care. I have a habit of over-designing but I think with time I will begin to establish a clear direction.

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

For this question, I am in a unique position because I have spent my entire life in the finger lakes and in the city of Ithaca. There is no doubt that the stunning gorges have informed many of my designs trying to emulate and/or preserve the amazing geologic and water features.  Almost more so than the environment within the Finger Lakes region, the people have expanded my view vastly. Whether they are affiliated with Landscape Architecture or not, Ithaca serves as a hub for unique and powerful thinkers so conversing with them all this time has diversified my own lens which I hope to take into my design processes.


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

I am trying more and more to involve myself in the local art scene as it houses some of the most amazing people Ithaca has to offer. I have painted two murals around Ithaca and with time permitting, I hope to do more. I also have worked with a local nonprofit organization for a number of years that focuses on educating teens on their rights in the workforce while providing a resource to advocate for them in the future. Both of these circles provide me the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people coming from different marginalized communities and help me break out of the academic bubble of Cornell.


What kinds of professional and personal trajectories are you setting for yourself at the moment?

Still unaware of what professional practice really looks like, I would like the opportunity to work at a firm that allows me to travel. Seeing and experiencing the world is one of the best ways to learn so I would like to dedicate a portion of my life to seeing as much as I can. I would also like to make sure that I’m not designing just for the sake of design. I want the work I do in the future to aid specific communities to create lasting and meaningful impact.