Striving to Help “Life” Thrive
Interview with Kurtis Durrant, Planner, on McGill’s Land Planning and Recreation Team
Meet Kurtis Durrant, Project Planner on the land planning and recreation team based out of McGill’s Hickory office. Since joining McGill two years ago, he has played an integral role in designing master plans, streetscapes, parks, and greenways. In this interview he shares his motivation for pursuing a career in landscape architecture and his passion for each project.
What inspired you to get into the landscape architecture profession?
I was involved with the residential landscape construction industry for 15+ years. When the economy took a nose-dive in 2008, I redirected my thoughts. I went back to school with the intent of becoming a college professor. While there, I discovered landscape design and thoroughly enjoyed it. As I continued on this path, my wife and I started our family and we enjoyed being outside, especially local parks. I began to take an interest in three things; designing places to help kids gain necessary and important life skills that are only achieved from being outside, designing spaces that attract families to the outdoors, and preserving the environment. Moving on to graduate school in the field of landscape architecture allowed me to pursue these interests at once. I feel that we, as a society, don’t go outside enough and I would like to do my part to design and create spaces that meet not only the community’s needs, but also the family’s needs from the outdoors.
What is your favorite aspect of landscape architecture?
I enjoy the creativity involved with taking an underwhelming and underutilized space and making it something that benefits a community for years to come.
Is there a project or person in the profession that inspires you and why?
I admire the work of Robin Moore, MCP, director at the National Learning initiative at North Carolina State University. He has done some phenomenal research on how children benefit from and interact with the outdoors, along with incorporating children’s spaces into landscape design.
The theme for World Landscape Architecture Month is “Life Grows Here.” What does that mean to you?
We are all living on this big blue marble we call Earth. As inhabitants we are stewards of this planet. We have the ability to either make it better or make it worse. We are not meant to just survive, but thrive. “Life Grows Here” means to me that wherever we are, we need to strive to do our part to help “life” thrive. Through design we can create environments that help people thrive. This includes connecting people with each other through community building, connecting people with the natural world around them, and, in some sense, creating spaces that provide people with the opportunity to connect with themselves.
Do you have a favorite project and why?
I would like to think that whatever project I am working on is my favorite at the time. When I have the mindset that a particular project can benefit and change a community, then I know that I am striving to make our world a better place.
To learn more about McGill’s park design capabilities view our case study on Brunswick County’s Town Creek Park.