Hanne Nilsberg: An International Approach to Landscape Architecture

It is the extremely rare student that comes to Temple University Ambler via Norway. Landscape Architecture senior Hanne Nilsberg is, fortunately, one of those rarities.

"I discovered Temple University Ambler and Temple's Landscape Architecture program on a list of programs provided by the Norwegian Landscape Architecture Association. I had been an exchange student in Florida and my family has traveled extensively in the United States, but I had never been to the Philadelphia region," said Nilsberg, who graduated with her Bachelor's in Landscape Architecture on May 9. "I loved how open and diverse Temple seemed and the landscape architecture program had a great reputation. Philadelphia also seemed like a great place with great opportunities to learn and grow."

Nilsberg said it was her father who introduced her to the idea of landscape architecture as a profession.

"I've always had a love of nature, which I think originated with my grandparents. I knew I wanted to find something that incorporated both design and a love of the land," she said. "My Dad works with engineers and architects who have a love of nature and design. The more I heard about the field, the more excited I became."

Nilsberg said Temple Ambler's "tightknit community" provides the opportunity to "get to know all of your professors and tap into their knowledge and experience."

"You build a family here very quickly. I've had the chance to work with students in different disciplines, particularly horticulture, and I wish I had even more opportunities to do so," she said.  "This space feels like our space. You're not some cubicle dweller grinding through a task; you're interacting in meaningful ways with the designs, the plants, your professors and your fellow students."

During her junior year, Nilsberg 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 didn't even know this amazing experience was part of the program when I started out," she said. "Seeing your construction drawings, how your plans can change as the concept becomes reality — how meticulous the design has to be to be successful — there's really no other project like it."

Nilsberg said as she has continued through the program, she has developed a particular interest in urban landscape architecture.

"As students, we've had the opportunity to work on designs in a wide variety of environments — suburban, rural, natural, urban. It's a real challenge creating natural spaces that, hopefully, the community will use and enjoy, between the buildings in urban centers," she said. "My goal is to create inviting outdoor spaces within urban landscapes that people will want to use, particularly children. I want to bring some of the natural world back to these built environments."

For her most recent project — a personal favorite, Nilsberg said — she designed a green roof for the Tyler School of Art at Main Campus.

"I think that's my niche in urban landscape architecture — I love researching and creating green roofs. There are so many benefits to green roof systems, from cleaning stormwater runoff to diminishing the heat sink in cities," she said. "Beyond that, I think they make buildings more interesting. It's all about finding new ways to bring nature to the city."

As an international student, Nilsberg said she has "fallen in love with Philadelphia."

"It's truly become my second home," she said. "I have friends tell me I know more about Philly than they do and they've lived her their whole lives!"

At Temple Ambler, Nilsberg has become a staple of the campus community as an Owl Ambassador, treasurer for the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Association and a student worker at the Ambler Campus Tech Center — "I wanted to learn more about the programs we were using in class."

"I've been very lucky to be able to experience the Main Campus and Ambler Campus communities," she said. "Inside and outside of the classroom, it's been a lot of work, but I like being challenged."

Degree in hand, Nilsberg will soon be heading back to Norway where she has a landscape architecture position waiting for her at Multiconsult in Fredrikstad. She'll start there in earnest after a cross-country trip of the U.S. with her sister Kathrine, taking in the sites in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville, New Orleans and finishing the journey in Texas.

"Multiconsult is a multidisciplinary firm with several offices in Norway. I'll be working with engineers, architects and geologists," she said. "Temple has definitely set me on the right path and expanded my knowledge. I know how to create outdoor rooms and present designs to real-world clients. I think I'm ready for whatever the profession asks of me."

Her advice to students just starting their landscape architecture journey?

"Take advantage of the opportunities you are given. Get involved on campus as early as possible," she said. "Get to know your teachers and make use of their networks — they want you to succeed. If you have a particular interest in something, they may know someone in the industry, which could lead to an internship or the first step in your professional career."