Lok Tim Chan
Hometown: Hong Kong SAR, China
Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '22 (post-professional)
Previous Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Landscape Studies, The University of Hong Kong
What kind of questions or curiosities did you have when you decided to pursue a degree in landscape architecture?
In truth, I have always enjoyed creative works from writing music to coding for computer games in the past. But beyond the traditional knowledge of architecture, fashion, and other, say, mainstream design professions, it was really during the last summer of my high school years that I stumbled upon a discovery program in landscape design and thus realized this was in fact, an intriguing profession, a new possibility. Perhaps precisely due to my initial unfamiliarity and yet charms of what I was exposed to, that I took up this degree to find out what it really means, what is its role and significance in the design industry of the built environment among the other positions such as architects, planners, engineers, etc.
How would you characterize your design ethos or process?
I must say ambition is a critical part of being a designer myself. Thinking big and understanding the impacts of what you are doing on the regional scale no matter how small the scope of work is exceedingly important. Of course, it then trickles down to qualitative and performative capacities as well as sensibility to the surrounding environment, but there must be a driving motif. A good designer is a good storyteller who is able to create a captivating narrative that is persuasive in its practicalities, purposes, and delivers the visions into realities. Besides, one must always try something different, continues to innovate, and never stop learning, for the career of a designer lasts a lifetime. As I was working professionally before coming to Cornell, I would like to think these motivations were visible as I took part in numerous projects across scales.
Being at Cornell, has to live in the Finger Lakes region informed your view on the field, or even broader, the environment?
Certainly, the more rural settings and natural landscapes around Cornell are a stark contrast compared to Hong Kong, one of the most intensely urbanized cities in the world. The emphasis on wider ecology and focus on designing rural environments is a breath of fresh air from my bachelor’s urban design-heavy tendencies. Being here has definitely widened my understanding of the scope of the profession and its boundless extents of influence.
What kind of organizations or activities have you become involved in within Ithaca?
I have mostly busied myself in the study, preparation for my thesis, and my personal hobbies. Though I have joined some design competitions and joined the Cornell Hong Kong Student Association. Recently I am participating in the peer mentor program for the first year MLA I and enjoyed my conversations with the year ones, learning from their different perspectives and interests.
What kinds of professional and personal trajectories are you setting for yourself at the moment?
It is my motivation to work in the design industry and participate in influential large-scale projects that really begin to transform and improve our environment. Also, taking part in defining the next generation of design directives within the field as well as demonstrating just how significant and irreplaceable our discipline truly is in shaping the future for all.