Nicole Nomura

About Nicole:

Hometown: Ventura, California

Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture & Master of Regional Planning '22

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Liberal Arts, concentrating in Environmental Studies

Soka University of America

LinkedIn Profile

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

I wondered what the world would look like if all projects involved some form of community collaboration and reciprocity. I sought to unpack my own preconceived notions of the field and understand what kind of unique contribution I can make.

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

I’m a very community-driven individual, so I believe my design ethos premises many participatory-based engagement experiences. In the fall of 2019, I worked on my first community engagement project through the LA 6010 studio with the Akwesasne Native American reservation in upstate New York. This experience taught me a lot about local history, cultural sensitivity, and how these can improve upon reciprocity and dialogue. It reflected the type of work I hope to pursue as a practitioner.

In addition to the Akwesasne studio, are there any other particular courses at Cornell that leveraged your interests?

I really enjoyed my LA 6020 studio experience taught by Mitch Glass. The studio collaborated with the Urban Design seminar in the City and Regional Planning Department, which allowed me to work in a course environment with landscape and planning students. We had the opportunity to work with a community development corporation in Cleveland to reimagine the Penn Rail Corridor that bisected a local neighborhood. We were able to visit the community and speak with stakeholders before the COVID pandemic began, and we sustained this collaborative effort via Zoom until our final review. My group's design concepts and drawings are still being used today to increase interest and investment towards the project, so it's really cool to see how my work is having an impact.


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

Many of the projects we’ve done were based in the region. As a native Southern Californian, I had limited exposure to the history and landscape of the east coast. Notably, learning about the indigenous communities and the history of colonialism here really made me think about the role we have in how landscapes and the built environment are shaped, and how that dichotomy impacts marginalized groups, particularly the native communities today.


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

In the department, I’ve been active in the ASLA student chapter, serving as President and Events Coordinator. This past year, I was also the Executive Director of LABash, a national landscape architecture conference organized by students. Given the ongoing pandemic, we became the first school to host the conference virtually. This allowed us to hold the most accessible and far-reaching conference with the most diverse speaker lineup in support of our theme focused on designing for justice ("Compacted Grounds"). I'm also involved in my Buddhist organization, SGI-USA. I'm a young women's leader that supports people all across upstate New York. It's given me an opportunity to meet all kinds of people and visit different places--all beautiful!


What would you tell your ten years younger self now? What would you want to remind yourself ten years ahead?

I would tell my younger self to not be afraid to dream big. I would remind my future self to never forget the spirit of challenging oneself.