5 Questions with Sheila Condon
October 17, 2014
Sheila M. Condon, FASLA is co-founder and president of Clark Condon Associates, Inc. and brings enormous energy, passion, knowledge and experience to her work and to her role in leading the firm. Originally from Connecticut, Sheila has embraced the “can do” spirit of Houston, Texas and has been a part of transforming Houston into a more livable town.
What are you drawing inspiration from right now?
I always have drawn inspiration from a combination of: travel, reading and lectures. I find that taking myself out of my day-to-day environment frees me up to think more about design, materials, spaces, etc. Currently, I have a new, unexpected inspiration in the form of a county property that my husband and I bought a few years ago. It is located at the edge of the Hill Country in Texas, an hour from our main home. We have built a house that was inspired by the land, which is an amazing rocky site with stunning views. The landscape is also inspired by the land including the rocky outcroppings and the native plant palette. I have been slowly working on the “landscape” and the “gardens” over the past 3 years and I have not been so energized about my design work in years.
What potential for sustainability most excites you on one of your current projects?
We are working on a large project that has truly embraced native plantings on a very large scale. We have a client that was willing to go out of the box to build a sustainable community with water conservation, drainage practices and a very native plant palette that requires a certain amount of education of the potential buyers and development partners. Just to give one example, all of the plants and seeds have been sourced from 150 miles of the site. This is really a landmark effort and our client and design team have become self-taught experts in how to make this happen.
What do you need to know, but you don’t know right now?
Well, I wish I had a crystal ball… I would like to know how to change the delivery system of design and implementation in our field. I mean this in terms of technology, the cost to produce the product, the time it takes, and the delivery of how fast our clients expect design work to be done. If I had the answer to this, I think I would be a millionaire.
What advice would you give to emerging leaders in the profession?
I would suggest they understand a very broad range of topics besides the obvious of doing great design. I would suggest they understand how to communicate to a wide audience and understand the economics of how landscape architects bring value to the built environment. I would tell them to get out of the studio as much as possible and get involved in their communities.
What challenge would you give to emerging leaders in the profession?
I would challenge our emerging leaders to find new ways to integrate into organizations, both public and private, that make decisions about public infrastructure funding and the types of massive projects that are happening all over America and be a player, a person of influence that can help shape our communities to really be the places we all want to live.
Clark Condon Associates, Inc. is a landscape architecture and planning firm incorporated in 1985 and located in Houston, Texas. The firm specializes in park development and planning, corporate campus development and renewal, master planned community development and planning, and streetscapes, to name a few. Professional services include site analysis, programming, conceptual and preliminary design, cost estimating, site planning, design and design development, construction documents, and construction phase services for such clients as municipalities, developers, private corporations, and higher education institutions.
Any opinions expressed in this interview belong solely to the author. Their inclusion in this article does not reflect endorsement by LAF.