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From Boston to the Netherlands: CAMD Alumna Florencia Lima Gomez Pursues Innovative Landscape Architecture Abroad

Florencia Lima Gomez, CAMD alumna, and her team at LOLA landscape architects

CAMD alumna Florencia Lima Gomez, who graduated in 2017 with a BLA in Landscape Architecture, recently began a position as Assistant Landscape Designer Intern at LOLA landscape architects in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Excited to pursue her career goals abroad, Florencia has utilized her past work and co-op experiences to hone and expand her knowledge of landscape architecture, as well as architecture and design. Inspired by the chance to both travel and learn, Florencia has followed her passions for innovative design to jobs in Boston, her home country of El Salvador, Los Angeles and now – her next adventure – the Netherlands! Learn more about her experience below.

What have you been up to since graduating in 2017?

Upon graduation, I completed a 6-week internship at Studio-MLA in Los Angeles. Afterwards, I went back home with my family and gave myself some time to brainstorm and strategize on my future professional goals and desired experiences. It was then that I realized the opportunity for professional growth that lay before me abroad, and so I decided to come to Rotterdam, Netherlands for a 6-month internship at LOLA landscape architects.

Florencia Lima Gomez and her team at Studio-MLA in Los Angeles

What type of work does your current job as Assistant Landscape Designer Intern at LOLA landscape architects involve? What does a typical day look like?

Every day is different and depends on which project and what stage of the project I get assigned to work on. For example, I am currently working on a project that is on its final stage of schematic design, and so my work consists of refining design elements, such as the exterior of a kindergarten. This includes logistics like figuring out how the swings in the playground will work and how the path will look.

A typical day would begin by discussing which design details need to be prioritized with my supervisor. We also take time during the day to have lunch together and catch up with colleagues outside of the office. This allows us to communicate and build team connections in the time around our work with landscape architecture. I consider this important not only in terms of building familiarity and friendship among team members, but also in terms of allowing each worker to take some time off to regain inspiration, creativity and focus.

What drew you to this position?

The Dutch have been dealing with water management issues for several centuries; therefore, there is a strong awareness on the value and importance of Landscape Architecture in the Netherlands. Knowing this, I knew that in LOLA landscape architects, I would learn from those who had the adequate knowledge and consciousness for the field. On a studio level, what drew me in was their progressive attitude perceived in each of their projects and the fact that they place as much value to the conceptual and experimental aspects in a project; LOLA doesn’t cease to dream about innovative and radical designs. On a personal level, I was looking for an experience that would take me out of my comfort zone, challenge me and expose myself to a position which would allow me to grow on both personal and professional levels.  

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I think there is something special about every stage in design, but my favorite part is the initial stage of a project where any idea or sketch is open to discussion. I appreciate working in Landscape Architecture because I consider it to be a field where one is fully invested in the details, making it hard not to get attached to everything which composes a project. I think it’s a field that makes us sensitive and empathetic towards our surroundings and society. Regardless of whether we are designing for a client, or any other organization, we are always keeping in mind the well-being of someone else and that of the environment. However, the landscape architecture field isn’t always rainbows and butterflies and things might get muddy. But even then, those complexities allow room for growth and innovation.

You graduated in 2017 with a BLA in Landscape Architecture. How did your classes at Northeastern prepare you for your work post-graduation?

I think Northeastern’s approach to landscape architecture and the architecture faculty gave me excellent preparation for work post-graduation. The classes at NEU exposed me to real world situations and problems and gave me the opportunity to work with renowned and supportive architects and professors.   

As a Northeastern student, your team (with fellow architecture students Cyrus Dahmubed and Will Langevin) won the Graduate Humanities and Arts Award at the 2017 R.I.S.E. event. Tell us more about your project, Rising with the Tides: Saving Boston from Sea Level Rise.

The project consisted of a multi-disciplinary approach to an area in Boston that is at risk of flooding. Initially, Cyrus and Will played the architecture role and I played the landscape architecture role with the end result being a project where both types of expertise were merged. A plant and a building system were initially given to us – our task being that of integrating these systems to create natural interventions that accommodates the changes that happen as sea levels rise. It was definitely an eye-opening experience in terms of the multidisciplinary and holistic nature of this case and project. Working in a group was challenging due to the complexities and possible approaches that could rise from the differing perspectives of a landscape architect and an architect. As a whole, the final outcome proved that our team appreciated each member’s personal expertise, learned to listen to each other’s ‘language’ and profited from our combined efforts and contribution to the project.

Florencia presenting at the 2017 RISE event

You worked as a Digital Fabrication Lab Assistant at Harvard Graduate School of Design and as an Intern at Cinco Patas al Gato. How did these work experiences help you with classes, as well as work post-graduation?

These co-ops were different and very new experiences for me! One was at an academic setting and the other at an architecture design studio back in my home country, El Salvador. At the Digital Fabrication Lab, I had to solve technical matters, whereas at Cinco Patas al Gato I was immersed in an ‘out of the box’ design studio. Having studied landscape architecture, I was not an expert in fabrication or architecture, but these experiences prove that the theory, skills and outlook I’ve learned in classes at Northeastern, especially concerning critical thinking, can be applied to many sub-fields in design.