MLA Student Xin Tan's Internship with Martha Schwartz

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Xin Tan

July 2017’s ASLA Magazine cover story is about American Landscape Architect Martha Schwartz, principal of Martha Schwartz Partners and Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, whose unique aesthetic has challenged conventional ideas in the design of public and private spaces around the world for over 35 years. During the summer and fall of 2016 a recent CAPLA graduate, Xin Tan, interned with Schwartz while she was studying for her Masters in Landscape Architecture. We caught up with Xin to ask her about her experiences and what she learned.

Xin says facing the pressure of working with such an iconic landscape architect and in the company of other talented students at the start of the internship was daunting, but she learned several things from the challenge. Xin says she learned how to be more creative and keep her mind open to holistic solutions for sustainability. She noted that students of landscape architecture need to be willing to expand their knowledge through self-study while also working with a mentor. She highlighted the essential importance of teamwork in the office environment as projects are created and completed within an ethical framework shared by the group. Cooperation and creating value for the whole team is key.

Xin never thought she would be lucky enough to have the experience of interning with Martha Schwartz’s office but was glad she took the chance at an ASLA conference to speak with this iconic designer as it led to the internship opportunity of a lifetime. Xin encourages students to “be brave” and “have a dream” – as they take their own risks.

Congratulations to Xin on completing this life-changing internship, and we wish her the best of luck in her future career!


Don Baker, Master of Real Estate Development Alum and Prominent Tucson Businessman Dies

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Update to our original story:

Memorial services for Don and Dawn have been announced. Services will be held on Friday, January 22, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road, Tucson, AZ, 85718. In lieu of flowers, a donation could be made to the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona or Tucson Hebrew Academy for Don and to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona for Dawn. 

January 19, 2016:

Donald L. Baker, 59, and his wife Dawn Elizabeth Hunter, 55 died Monday, January 18, 2016, when their plane crashed outside of Salt Lake City, UT. Baker was the pilot of the 1999 Cessna Citation 525 when it crashed near Cedar Fort, according to a news release. The couple was returning back to Tucson after visiting Park City, Utah for a conference.

Baker received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California’s Finance and Real Estate program and earned his Master’s of Real Estate Development from the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture in December 2014. Baker was a co-owner of Larsen Baker, LLC a prominent commercial real estate firm in Tucson which owns and manages over 2 million feet of commercial real estate space.

According to Janice A. Cervelli, FASLA, FCELA, Dean of CAPLA, which is home to the Master of Real Estate Development program from which Baker graduated, “Baker was one of our most enthusiastic students. Even though he came in with tons of experience, he was truly excited about this program, and was an advocate for it. He was thrilled about the sustainability we teach and was a huge asset to both the MRED program and the college. The passing of Don and Dawn is a huge loss for both the University of Arizona and the Tucson community.”



In the last row, Don Baker and Dawn Elizabeth Hunter with a group of CAPLA donors and alumni on the set of Book of Mormon in New York City. The group went to see the show and visit wih Tony Award winning set designer Scott Pask, also an alumni of CAPLA. 

Don and Dawn on set at the Book of Mormon.



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The Refined Studio

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

By Penelope Green, The New York Times, April 10, 2013

By his own admission, Paul Palandjian is a guy who has always been rigorously focused: Harvard-educated, a former professional tennis player and the scion of a family of real estate developers who joined the family business. His tastes were conservative, particularly in architecture. After all, he grew up outside Boston.

But something happened to Mr. Palandjian, who is now 46 and a consultant in defense, security and intelligence, when he began collecting contemporary art. “One day, I was literally standing in the MoMA bookstore, surrounded by all these books on architecture, and I was like, ‘Whoa,’ ” he said recently. “I thought art was various mediums, not building forms. Not architecture. That’s how unsophisticated I was.”

Eagerly, he began to educate himself, progressing quickly from the classicism of Edwin Lutyens to the birth of modernism in Europe to contemporary practitioners. Shigeru Ban and Tadao Ando became his touchstones.

Then, in 2005, he discovered Rick Joy, an Arizona-based architect who had just won a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award. “I didn’t even know what that was,” Mr. Palandjian said. But he was unaccountably moved by the simple, monumental forms Mr. Joy was known for producing.

It was around that time that Mr. Palandjian had another awakening. He was in Nantucket, where he and his wife, Dionne, had a summer home, and he realized, he said, “that it was no longer an escape. Every night was a charity event. Our kids were growing up too fast. You go somewhere to get away from it all, and you realize it’s all just followed you there.”

So they sold the house and bought an old farm in Woodstock, Vt. And Mr. Palandji

an contented himself with riffling through the pages of his architecture books and dreaming of work by Mr. Joy. When he shared this with a friend one day, the friend suggested the obvious, as Mr. Palandjian recalled: “So why don’t you call him up?”

What Mr. Joy eventually built for Mr. Palandjian and his family was a barn-shaped stone-and-shingle house as simple as a child’s drawing, nestled into a valley among 210 acres of rolling hills. Mr. Palandjian was as fascinated by Mr. Joy’s practicality and precision as he was by his talent. He recounted their first site visit: “Rick is picking up leaves, and I go right to the hill, like I’m king of the hill. Rick said, ‘You’re not going to want to be up there.’ He snapped me out of it.”

The two men became friends, not always the case with owner and architect, Mr. Joy acknowledged. “I use the word ‘deserving’ a lot,” he said the other day. “Some of my clients don’t deserve what we do, and some very much do. Paul is at the top of that list. I’d drop everything for him.”

When Mr. Palandjian decided he needed a regular toehold in Manhattan, and bought a unit in a stone colossus just off Ladies’ Mile on the Avenue of the Americas, he asked Mr. Joy to design it. The 1,000-square-foot studio is the first apartment Mr. Joy has ever designed for a client. (Among other things, he is working on the redesign of the Princeton train station, a typical endeavor for his firm.)

Here, he has imagined a kind of inside-out house, with an inner skin of whitewashed fir that creates walls of closets and sprouts a dining table and a bed. The ceiling and walls are white Venetian plaster. White linen tumbles from above the windows; around the bed are indigo and white linen curtains you can pull shut to make a “room.” On the closet doors are leather tabs, so you don’t whack yourself as you walk by (a detail Mr. Joy used in Mr. Palandjian’s Woodstock house as well, and which the contractor called “door software”).

Mr. Palandjian paid $1,050,000 for the apartment in 2010, and spent about $300,000 renovating it. He gutted most of the place, which he said had been finished with cheap drywall and glued-down wood floors, but kept the bathroom, which had been done at a higher level. He also added soundproofing of double-insulated acoustic drywall, so he can plug in his guitar amp (or do pretty much anything else) without annoying the neighbors.

On the bed the other day was an oddly out-of-place object, a multicolored Steiff soccer ball. “I’ve had one since I was 5,” Mr. Palandjian said. “You can actually play with it. My kids and I do.

“You just make that door entry the goal,” he said, giving the ball a firm kick kitchenward.

For pictures of the studio apartment, visit The New York Times slide show.

Rick Joy graduated from the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1990. He was honored as CAPLA's Alumnus of the Year in 2012.

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Heather Lenkin, CAPLA Class of 1979, Receives Alumni Achievement Award

Friday, December 14, 2012
Heather Lenkin
Photo courtesy of Lenkin Design

Heather Lenkin, a graduate of the College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA), the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and the Honors College, has received the prestigious University of Arizona Alumni Achievement Award. Heather is the president of Lenkin Design, a landscaping and garden design consultation firm that has won multiple awards and been featured on television and several prominent magazines.

An interdisciplinary thinker at heart, Heather was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and his ability to integrate textile design, furniture design, architectural design, interior design, and landscape architecture. She followed in his footsteps, graduating from the UA with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design in 1976, followed by a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors in 1979.

“Heather is a consummate professional of utmost integrity, highly respected by her colleagues and contemporaries,” says Dean Janice Cervelli. “As a landscape designer drawing on her training and design sensibilities in architecture and interior design, Heather’s exceptional creativity, knowledge of the design professions, and technical expertise are impeccable.  Heather’s work always celebrates the bio-regional context in which she is working, and her numerous professional awards and accolades speak for themselves.”

Heather’s commitment to her alma mater and all three colleges, including CAPLA, is longstanding and unequivocal. Every year, she hosts visiting landscape architecture students at her home and office in Pasadena, dazzling them with her breath-taking gardens. Heather has also been a leader in developing CAPLA’s Desert Green Roof Laboratory and Sonoran Landscape Laboratory.

Heather will be presented with the award at the December 15th graduation ceremony. She was nominated by the Honors College, with co-nominations from CAPLA and CALS.

To read more about Heather and see her remarkable work, visit You can also read more about Heather on the Honors College website.

Photo courtesy of Lenkin Design


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Alumni Brandon McBrien Featured in Architect, the AIA Magazine

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Brandon McBrien, who graduated in May with three distinct degrees in architecture, regional planning, and business management, is featured in August's issue of Architect. In the article, McBrien discusses his decision to take on all three degrees and how they are now helping him take on the changing landscape.

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CALA Alum Michael Halchak Designs for Olympic Venues

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Overhead shot of Olympics beach volleyball courts in LondonOnly after the Trooping of the Colour, the queen's annual birthday military salute last month, could the stadium at Horse Guards Parade begin to take shape with seating for 15,000 fans and 5,000 tons of sand trucked in from a quarry in Surrey.

The Olympic beach-volleyball home conceived by Tucson architect Michael Halchak and his co-workers at sports-facility designer Populous offers perhaps the most interesting view of the London Olympic Games.

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