As part of World Landscape Architecture Month, we are highlighting our Landscape Architecture team members. This week’s highlight is Chris Riggert!

Name one site that inspires you, and tell how it has influenced your style?
My hometown of Louisville, Kentucky has a rich tradition of Landscape Architecture, including Hargreaves’ Waterfront Park and an Olmsted network of parkways and large parks, which stitch together the city. These places always provide memorable experiences, though it is the interconnectivity of landscape and urbanism which inspires me the most. The relationship between these parks and adjacent neighborhoods allow for high functioning landscapes that integrate into daily life. From here my appreciation for Landscape Architecture grew (no pun intended), and I always work to harness the benefits of both built and natural landscapes.

Are there any specific trends you’ve noticed in the industry?
Detroit design professionals have been embracing the idea that typical infill (i.e. rebuilding housing on vacant sites) is not the only avenue towards high impact development. There is a recognition that open space plays an integral role in the urban framework, and what was previously the city’s biggest liability can now the biggest asset. This approach is setting trends which can be seen in cities across the county and create great opportunities for multi-disciplinary collaboration.

Would you say you have a design style?
I fall in the “form follows function” camp, so after establishing the baseline functions, I organize the site within the framework of a strong design.

What are your favorite elements to place on a site?
I enjoy projects with a large public impact, so whatever that calls for, I like placing it.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
If the answer to question 1 above doesn’t cover all bases, then I guess, my dog.

What is your favorite HAA project and why?
Each project holds something special, but the Field Guide for Vacant Lots is high on the list. Though it was one of the most challenging, it was also the most rewarding. The Field Guide aims to activate vacant and abandoned land by connecting Detroit citizens and organizations with the resources they need to transform properties into community assets. It consists of 34 vacant lot designs that range in design complexity, installation intensity, cost, maintenance and function. This tool implements large scale city transforming principles at a neighborhood scale, allowing citizens to become agents of change within their community.

How has this project impacted your design style and shaped your perspective?
Previously, I had worked with community groups and neighborhood organizations, but the Field Guide exposed me to engagement on a new level. We incorporated comments from a large host of community groups, design professionals, and city organizations. Going forward, I have a much more granular approach to community engagement.

What was your favorite part of the project?
It was incredibly rewarding to see the final product compiled and website rolled out.