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James Curtis

James Curtis Instructor Portrait_08-18-13

Instructor Biography:

Jim is a California licensed landscape architect (#1961) and a member of the ASLA.  He earned a BA in history and art from the University of California at Berkeley and an MLA degree from the University of Illinois.  At Illinois he was the recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Illinois Chapter of the ASLA and the Department of Landscape Architecture’s Ryerson Traveling Fellowship, which enabled him to apprentice with the master gardener, Kinsaku Nakane, in Kyoto, Japan.  During his career Jim has held leadership positions with POD, Inc., Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Peter Walker, William Johnson and Partners, EDAW (EDAW | AECOM) and Ken Smith Landscape Architect.  He is currently a Senior Project Manager | Landscape Architect with WATG where he is working on resort and hospitality projects throughout the world.  He has taught at the University of Illinois and has been an instructor in the program since 1980.

James is currently the Instructor Chair on the program’s Guidance Committee

Instructor Statement:

I think that one’s inspiration derives from one’s early experiences.  I grew up in Palos Verdes Estates, a suburban city planned and designed by the Olmsted Brothers and Charles Cheney in the 1920’s and slowly completed during the following four decades.  The city is filled with Eucalyptus trees, not irrigated and allowed to “be themselves.”  I first saw minimalist art during high school and was especially drawn to the directness and clarity of Frank Stella’s work – the “Black Paintings” and the Protractor Series.”  The work that I find inspirational either “is what it is” – more or less invisible – like the planting design in Palos Verdes or restrained and abstract like minimalist art.  The Amarillo Ramp, Ryoan-ji and the Salk Institute are the most emotionally moving landscapes that I have seen.

What Students are saying:

The instructor always gave excellent feedback, without filters. It was fantastic. And although it’s obvious that he’s very serious about teaching, he also had a great sense of humor. I was pushed to improve in my presentation, graphics, and design. I’m very grateful to have taken this class.