A Recent Landscape Architecture Graduate Joins Smaller Firm to Contribute to Bigger Projects

Meet Taylor Allen, SKS Studio’s Newest Landscape Architect

Originally from Oklahoma, Taylor Allen moved to Manhattan, Kansas and graduated from Kansas State in May 2017 with a Master’s degree in landscape architecture. Her last year at Kansas State brought her to downtown Kansas City and the KC Design Center (KCDC), a collaborative urban design specialization studio. Now at SKS Studio, Taylor’s office is just a bit to the south in the Crossroads Arts District.

“I love coming to work in the Crossroads. It’s a ‘cool’ place to be. All the eclectic restaurants and stores give the area an arts vibe, which is very fitting for what we do at SKS Studio,” says Allen.

Previously with another firm where she’d accepted an internship and eventually a position, Allen worked on designing small parks, located largely in the Kansas City metro area. “SKS Studio’s portfolio was full of high-end resorts and international work that I thought I’d eventually get to work on some day. So, when the opportunity presented itself now, I was excited to take it. Choosing between working on city parks or luxury properties in cities like Dubai was not a difficult choice to make,” explains Allen.

High-profile landscape architecture projects, like The Royal Atlantis Dubai, aren’t the only aspects that led Allen to join SKS Studio. There are other reasons, which coincide with what other recent graduates look for in their early careers. An ability to contribute immediately in a meaningful way, team members who are willing to share their knowledge and collaborate, clear expectations from the beginning, and a social “family” atmosphere to name a few. Allen explains, “The culture at SKS Studio is a comfortable fit for me. It’s definitely a family atmosphere, but no one is too set in their ways to not look at other solutions or views. There is an equal balance of work and play here. One minute the team is joking around. The next we’re on a conference call with a client for a project halfway around the world.”

Allen has the talent that any landscape architecture firm needs to sustain a competitive advantage, such as increased collaboration and a forward-looking, committed team. “Taylor’s portfolio was incredibly impressive and progressive, especially for someone just starting out. We always keep an eye out for new landscape architects who want to push creative and design boundaries. New talent keeps our creative concepts fresh, plus those just starting out can learn a lot from our experienced team members. Hiring people at different stages in their careers ensures we have input from all creative and logistical angles for better project outcomes,” said Sean Simms, SKS Studio president.

Allen is drawn to urban design, and she is currently working with SKS Studio’s project construction documents and miniscule details in CAD. “I’m looking forward to doing more design, which just takes time and gaining experience. SKS Studio’s hand renderings are so impressive, which really sets us apart. I’m excited to get my hands on pens and markers, and taking ownership of a project,” says Allen.

Recent college graduates have invested time, money and hard work into their landscape architecture degrees, and they want to continue investing, and see payoffs, after graduation. “The feedback I get from the team and being able to work with civil engineers, interior designers and architects give me exposure to different areas of landscape architecture that some people wait years for. I’m enjoying learning on the job right now, but will begin studying next year for the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.). Even though holding a license isn’t a requirement for a landscape architect, I think it gives you an advantage since not everyone has one,” explains Allen.