Heather Braiden, a new face at Dal AC, will be researching and teaching landscape architecture, a program that is new to the Faculty of Agriculture. Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor spaces to benefit the environment. The program will welcome its first class of students in September and Heather could not be more excited.
“I think landscape architecture is really important,” Heather explains. “Not only for the eastern provinces but for the country as well.”
While there are about seven Masters programs in landscape architecture in Canada, the undergraduate landscape architecture program at Dal AC is the third undergraduate landscape architecture program in Canada and only the second one to be offered in English. Heather explains that she thinks there is no better place to host the program than at Dal AC.
“Here you’ll find all types of different plants that you could possibly work with,” she says. “Landscape architects also work collaboratively with other people in different areas of research. That’s what landscape architecture is- taking all different disciplines and bringing them together in a way that conversation can happen. That’s possible to do here at the AC- we can bring together researchers from different areas and work together.”
Heather, who is originally from Ontario, has an undergraduate degree in urban planning from the University of Waterloo. She also has a diploma in construction renovation and a masters in landscape architecture from the University of Toronto. In addition, Heather is now finishing up her PhD in architecture from McGill University. Heather explains that growing up next to a nuclear power plant inspired her to want to learn more about the landscape and their surrounding environments.
“I started in urban planning so I understand the need for these networks and energy infrastructure,” she explains. “That’s what led me to landscape architecture. Sometimes there’s the risk of environmental and human health. I wanted to look closer at how the environment could protect the surrounding communities around a power plant as toxic as a nuclear one. So I looked at the landscape and how to create new topographies and using certain plantings to help reduce toxic airborne particles.”
After completing her masters in Toronto, Heather travelled to Ireland to work for a number of years. While in Ireland, she worked on a number of landscape architecture projects. She worked on post-industrial sites to transform them into new industrial or residential areas. She also worked on a number of parking lots. Heather explains that while Ireland receives a lot of rain, the parking lots have to be structured to accommodate this.
“We also worked on public spaces,” she explains. “Connecting green spaces and how to bring them into the city through running trails, and bike paths. We are really making old areas a little less scary in some ways.”
Heather is excited to start the next chapter of her journey at Dal AC. With her enthusiasm and experience, students entering the new landscape architecture program are sure to excel. While she’s just getting started with her research, she plans to take on some research projects in the future. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Heather Braiden!