Kate Flaherty

About Kate:

Hometown: West Hartford, Connecticut

Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture / Master of regional Planning '22

Previous Degree: Bachelor's Degree in International Relations

Kate's Website

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

I came to landscape architecture (and city planning) after experiences working in green city-focused technology and as an ADA/accessible design user tester. Though these areas seem really unrelated, they have quite a bit of overlap - for example: how can you increase accessible mobility in spaces where you’re trying to reduce impervious surfaces, heat island effect, and flooding? Will the presence of accessible infrastructure have a negative impact on species habitats? Can you increase the number of street trees while creating and maintaining wide, accessible sidewalks? 

While there is a rich discourse surrounding sustainability in planning and design, accessibility is still largely an afterthought in the design process. I wanted to learn the technical processes from the discipline of landscape architecture in order to center it in my work and create spaces that enable people with disabilities to seamlessly access and experience green spaces.


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

Ithaca is such a stunning natural area and I have really embraced the natural environment here. Through swimming and kayaking in the lake, I have been able to experience some of my studio sites from different vantage points as a user, which has been really interesting. It’s certainly made me learn a lot more about plant and animal species and habitats that I might have otherwise in a larger urban context. I’ve also really enjoyed working on sites in and among smaller cities and towns in Upstate NY, especially during a time of renewed interest and investment in them stemming from the COVID 19 pandemic.


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

Last year I was honored to serve as a project manager for Design Connect, a student-run organization that pairs interdisciplinary teams of students with local organizations and municipalities, who otherwise may not have the means, to complete a design project. I co-led a team of six to redesign a residential park in Norwich, NY. We met with both stakeholders and city staff members regularly and presented our final design to the city council meeting. Our team did a phenomenal job on the design, which incorporated education, flood resiliency, and play elements. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.


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

Right now I am interested in innovative public development projects and design research, I’m not sure where exactly it will take me, but I’m very excited about the future!