Meet Mr. Landscape Architect

Jamie Loyack, Vice President, Principal, and Landscape Architect at HagerSmith Design is celebrating his twentieth year as an employee this year. After moving from Colorado in 1997, he heard from friends that HagerSmith Design was one of the leading architecture firms in the area and had a good reputation. So, one day, he walked in off the street, met briefly with Sharron Scroggin and got offered a job by Mike Hager the next day.

At the time Jamie started, HagerSmith was just getting started on a large State project called the 4H Environmental Education Center located on Bulls Bay. It was a big project that most of the office was working on since it included all of the design disciplines. It was a very collaborative effort. Being a landscape architect, it was especially appealing since it was so heavily site driven from a programming standpoint. It had multiple buildings, a waterfront, nature trails, recreational elements as well as an environmental program. Basically, it had everything a landscape architect enjoys working on.

“HagerSmith Design’s culture is a professional culture that is a bit at ease and promotes more of a family and team atmosphere. A lot of people have been here for some time, because of our company culture. This is somewhat uncommon in an industry that typically has high turnover rates,” says Jamie.

“You wear many hats as an employee at HagerSmith,” Jamie explains, “which makes you more knowledgeable in the industry. Getting to see all sides of a project, rather than just one piece helps to understand the broader picture for a project. It makes for better work when everyone is working together towards the same goal.”

The great thing about working at a multidisciplinary firm like HagerSmith is you get to work together as a team on most projects.  Landscape architects work with the architects and interior designers as well as consulting civil engineers. It’s an ongoing educational process and a wholistic approach to design. “It constantly challenges you and I think that’s what keeps people from getting stagnant in their positions. Collaborative efforts also seem to keep people more motivated to come to work every day,” Jamie says.

Jamie goes on to say that the practice of Landscape Architecture is quite different from what people outside the development industry think. “What we really do is site and land planning. Whether its’s an office park or a community park, we approach a site in similar manners. We do it in a way that generates fast ideas, responds to the program, analysis of code and zoning issues and researching regulatory laws associated with environmental issues like storm water management or wetlands. We have to consider and plan for all of these issues and be cognizant of what the neighbors and municipality want and need.”

One of the biggest changes in the architecture world over the years is the use of technology to illustrate ideas and develop a project.  Jamie used pen and paper to illustrate his ideas when he was studying in college. Since then, technology has evolved tremendously creating graphics and significantly changed the game from a production standpoint. However, they still like to take it back to pen and paper at the beginning of project.  It’s been helpful to generate fast and fresh ideas.

“How things use to be done, versus today, there were times (before but not too far behind my time) everyone was around the table working together. We have some classic old pictures of that happening, and we still try to incorporate that today,” says Jamie. “It’s important to be loose, and a computer doesn’t always allow you to do that.” Jamie admits that those loose sketches and brainstorms typically become the framework for a project.

Looking into the future, Jamie sees the continuing Urban “live-work-play” trend and downtown revitalization of not only our larger Cities, but in North Carolina’s small Towns as well.  Right now, the strong push seems to be setting up shop downtown. People want to limit their time traveling by car to work or to the grocery store these days and are willing to live in smaller spaces to be closer to a vibrant community. However, no matter what changes in the industry, Jamie hopes to continue to enjoy coming to the HagerSmith Design office every day and being challenged.