High on the wall of the Landscape Architecture Junior Design Studio, two sentences have been immortalized.
“The work is hard. Do the work.”
It is a phrase often said by Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Rob Kuper — an important mantra for all of the students that go through Temple’s program and a reminder that, while the journey won’t be easy, the outcome will be worth it.
It’s a call to action that has certainly resonated with Landscape Architecture graduate Grace Manning, 23, of Hatboro, PA.
“I think one of the essential things I learned very early on in the program is not to be discouraged if you don’t grasp all of the concepts right away. It takes time and practice,” she said. “It took about two years for me to really start liking my own work. You’re given the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them — nothing is handed to you, which I think makes it more rewarding and more educational.”
A transfer student, Manning spent two years at Elizabethtown College traveling down a very different career path prior to coming to Temple.
“What I learned from that experience is that chemistry was not what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I had some important decisions to make that would affect me for the rest of my life,” she said. “I took a trip to Washington State, climbed some mountains and gained a new appreciation for nature. It wasn’t long after that I discovered Temple.”
Manning said she was initially exploring landscaping careers.
“I didn’t know landscape architecture was a career option until I came to Temple Ambler. I applied and was accepted into the program and soon discovered this really rich population of faculty with great work experience that I think is hard to find elsewhere,” she said. “They bring their first-hand work experience right into the classroom. In Temple’s program, we usually work with real world ‘clients’ rather than hypothetical projects, which is an enriching and invaluable experience.”
During her junior year, Manning was part of the team that designed and built Temple’s multiple award-winning 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit, “Within Reach: Unlocking the Legacy of our Hidden River,” which explored natural and human-induced effects on the Schuylkill River.
“I think as students, we’re given a great deal of creative freedom. With the Flower Show, for example, we have a say in the design where I think that’s not always the case for competing schools,” she said. “I think the design-build aspect of the program is vital to our educational experience. I think you approach designs differently when you know that they could potentially be put to real use — you have to be extremely detail-oriented.”
Manning said working with and receiving feedback from clients “is very rewarding and not something a lot of students get to do before they graduate.”
“It’s a whole different experience to design something and see it actually built or to know that it could be the basis for a design that could be used to improve a site in the future. Right before graduation, I was working with the Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve in Spartanburg, South Carolina to develop a children’s garden,” she said. “Before that, I was working on site analysis and design for the latest phase of the Reading Viaduct project in Philadelphia, which Temple students have been involved with for several years now. It’s wonderful to be part of that legacy; to make an impact before ever leaving school.”
Outside of the classroom, Manning certainly made an impact on the campus community as the President of the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Association and as a student representative on the Ambler Campus Sustainability Council.
“This is a campus where you can make your mark, where people want to hear your ideas and opinions. I love coming to campus before class and walking through the woodlands — the outdoor spaces feel like they belong to the students,” she said. “We’ve built this amazing community of students, teachers and staff. It’s not a campus of strangers — it feels like home.”
Degree in hand, Manning said she plans to pursue a career in high-end residential design.
“Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Stoney Bank Nurseries, which has a lot of Temple Ambler connections of its own. I rendered hand drawings into AutoCad. I was able to share my opinions and engage in fieldwork at some truly awesome historical sites,” she said. “That drew me to the historical buildings throughout Philadelphia. I have no doubt the work will be hard. But Temple has prepared me to do the work!”