Meet Meghan Diecchio, Director of Landscape Architecture!
Meghan joined Hamilton Anderson Associates in 2017 as a project landscape architect. Her career started on quite a different path. Out of college, after a stint abroad, she joined the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington, DC. “I was working on grant-funded research and training projects related to school violence and bullying prevention. And I got to work with McGruff the Crime Dog! It was meaningful and challenging work, particularly so soon after the shootings at Columbine High School.”
Meghan later moved to the International City/County Management Association, where she managed the Smart Growth Network and developed best practice resources related to urban growth management and community use of schools. “Through my work with ICMA I met many people working in all sorts of fields related to urban environments, and attended trainings and conferences about urban design, new urbanism, active living, and sustainable stormwater management. These topics resonated deeply with my interest in the intersection between cities and nature.”
Determined to make a career change into urban design, Meghan sought her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from University of California, Berkeley. “I chose to pursue a degree in design rather than planning because the concrete nature of the work appealed to me after working in policy research. I wanted to have a more direct influence on the built environment than policy makers do.”
Meghan launched her (new) career as a designer at RHAA, a San Francisco Bay-area landscape architecture firm with roots in a practice first started by the celebrated Thomas Church and Robert Royston. “It was really once I began working in a landscape architecture practice rather than an academic environment that my interest in site design overtook my interest in urban design. Shaping vibrant, meaningful, outdoor places for people became my drive.”
“Landscape architecture is about so much more than plants and paving and walls. In many ways, it is about the void space formed by all those things – that is where the people are. What is the shape and quality of that space? How does it make people feel? Do they want to linger? To interact? Landscape architecture requires a deep understanding and commitment to the human experience of ‘place’.”
Despite working and studying in Washington, DC and California, Meghan maintained her roots as a Michigan native raised in Ann Arbor. “My thesis project at UC Berkeley was focused on the Westwood Park subdivision within Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit.”* The connection Meghan built with the city while researching her thesis ultimately drew her back to Michigan. “I loved living in California but longed to do work in service to Detroit, to be a part of its ongoing evolution. I had my eye on Hamilton Anderson.” And when the opportunity arose, she took it. Meghan is now Hamilton Anderson’s Director of Landscape Architecture and Planning.
This post is part of HAA’s celebration of World Landscape Architecture Month, an international celebration of landscape architecture. As part of the celebration, we are spotlighting the staff who make up our award-winning landscape architecture team.
*Starting Small: Grassroots Tools for Revitalizing Detroit’s Neighborhoods explored ways in which small-scale, incremental urban design interventions could catalyze neighborhood revitalization in weak-market cities by building on existing grassroots efforts and nodes of vibrancy and stability.