Tyler Mohr, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning
Give us a brief rundown of your time at the CED!
I started teaching at CED in the summer of 2017 as the digital media instructor for the [IN]LAND summer institute.
Since moving to California in 2016, I had an interest in getting involved with the UC Berkeley community, and [IN]LAND seemed like a great way to begin to build that relationship. I worked as the digital media instructor for three years before transitioning to teach LA234B (Landscape Processes Through Drawing and Modeling) in the spring of 2020.
After the spring semester, I was asked to also co-teach the preceding course, LA234A (Intro to Drawing for Landscape Architects) with Walter Hood, which brings me to where I am at now. I’m very fortunate to work for such great leadership at Surfacedesign who value the connection between teaching and practice and allow me to take on teaching roles while concurrently working in an office.
You teach “Introduction to Drawing for Landscape Architects” with Professor Walter Hood. Above everything else, what do you hope your students leave the class with?
Co-teaching with Walter has been a great experience. I attended a lecture of Walter’s while I was an undergraduate at Colorado State University, and I still have the five pages of notes and sketches I took. Walter’s work as well as his teaching are inspiring, and it has been great to be able to supplement the Intro to Drawing for Landscape Architects course with my own perspective on drawing.
Ultimately what I’m looking to instill in the students is an exposure to different drawing methodologies and an understanding of craft. It’s important for first year students to see a wide variety of drawings and methods, from analog to digital, as well as gain exposure to the array of “paths” to get from point A to point B.
Your portfolio of projects encompasses both large and more intimate, small scale work. Do you have a favorite or preference?
This is a tough question and depending on when you ask me I might have a different answer. There’s something uniquely exciting about working in the landscape architectural discipline and having advocacy in shaping the built environment. There are definitely upsides to both large and small scales, but I find that, despite the scale, my philosophical approach is relatively similar.
Working on larger projects, such as master plans, requires an understanding of systems and finding opportunities for harmony. One can apply this same philosophy to smaller projects, the only major difference is the physical size of the objects in question.
Anyone familiar with the film “The Powers of Ten” directed by Charles and Ray Eames will have a sense of what this means. In short, I enjoy working at a variety of scales more than I would enjoy working on one or the other exclusively.
What issues do you face in research and scholarship?
It is easy to forget the importance of human interaction when research and studies become overwhelming.
In graduate school, I often found myself in periods of isolation - whether it was getting lost in a drawing or spending too much time buried in readings - it can be easy to detach from the world around you. This can be problematic because, for most people, collaboration is essential for productivity and innovation.
The studio environment in design school, by nature, is a very social environment and it's important to buy into it, for both students and instructors. Given the current circumstances with the pandemic, this sense of isolation can be even more challenging so it’s important to find ways to socialize and collaborate, even if it means going out of your way to do so.
What is your advice to students looking to study landscape architecture?
This is a question I heard a lot from students while teaching for [IN]LAND.
The first thing I would say is to do a deep dive into the profession; familiarize yourself with what landscape architects have done in the past as well as what’s happening in the field today. The profession is ever-changing and there are a lot of amazing researchers and practitioners pushing the boundaries of what a landscape architect can do.
If you have the opportunity, get in touch with somebody in the field and pick their brain. Or if possible, enroll in a program like [IN]LAND where you can get hands-on experience prior to making a full commitment. From my experience, most people that have the opportunity to engage with landscape architecture end up falling in love with it.