School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture
What is your educational and professional background?
I have an undergrad in PHE – physical and health education. It is a truly multidisciplinary study, taking as a subject the human body and learning about it from multiple perspectives. I was pretty well prepared for my MLA, feeling comfortable working fluidly between the natural and social sciences. Both the BPHE and MLA degree were eared at the University of Toronto, where I also gained some early teaching experience. I am joining UBC after a two-year position teaching at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.
Why landscape architecture?
My grandfather taught me the importance of accuracy and precision made possible with patience. My grandmother taught me to appreciate all creatures and to know the world from a point of view outside myself. My father taught me to enjoy nature from a canoe and a camp site and my mother taught me composition and trained my eye to design.
The city and campus are quite beautiful. The faculty in landscape are very strong, and across the university there is a lot of very interesting work happening. I am quite excited to make some connections and build relationships.
What are your research/teaching interests and current projects?
The best place to get an answer to this question is to check out my website. I have been sleeping on it for a few months, but I usually keep it up to date: fionn-byrne.com
How do you hope your work will impact society/students?
Teaching is my passion. I try to teach students to challenge their own beliefs, to get into the habit of being their own hardest critic such that they can feel most confident in defending their ideas and opinions. If students can articulate not what they want to do, but why they want to do it, I feel that I have been successful.
How do you think the field of landscape architecture will be different 100 years from now?
The most important recent development in landscape architecture has been the consideration of ecology when designing. This comes not coincidentally at the same time when nature, as a dynamic global system, is facing increasing threat. As the environment around us continues to be degraded by human action I think we will increasingly ask “what do we need nature for anyway?” And I’m not really talking about researching the physical and mental health benefits of exposure to nature. I mean that one would be expected to ask, “what is the meaning of life?” with increasing urgency when life itself faces increasing risk of being ended. The landscape architect 100 years from now will be designing technologically and synthetically mediated spaces or will be giving much more attention to the participation of the living material with which we work.
What item could you not live without?
Well, I guess I like coffee quite a bit and I also really enjoyed Adrien Le Corbeau’s The Forest Giant, a quick read which raised some longer lasting questions. Together even, they make a fine pair.
What are you passionate about outside work?
I have been snorkeling a few times and I really enjoy it – like a lot.