Editor’s Note: The Northside Business Partnership is an association comprised of Northside businesses, property owners, and organizations. It serves as an advocate group for the Northside, strengthening the vitality of the business community by connecting, engaging, and promoting its members. NBP is administrated by NEHDA.
Terry Horst is the Project Developer Partner for the Landscape Architectural firm of Maxian + Horst. Maxian + Horst has been a Northside Business Partnership member since 2014. Read on to discover more about the field of landscape architecture—it’s more than just gardens!
Q: For those who are not familiar with the field of landscape architecture, could you give a brief synopsis of the field?
A: Okay, so landscape architects, we see ourselves as an architect of the site. So where an architect would design and build a building, we would design everything outside the building. We do, not just the landscaping part, but the beautification and using plants is an integral part of what we do. We also design the parking spaces and how vehicles and people move through the spaces, around those buildings or parks. We design recreation facilities, athletic fields, we’ve been doing a lot of the green infrastructure of projects in Syracuse under the Onondaga County save the rain program. So we’ve been involved in that and that’s been very exciting for us personally. So anything that’s associated with the site, a landscape architect can do.
Q: What first drew you to the field?
A: Oh, that’s a good question. I went to SUNY Morrisville and I majored in natural resources conservation. When I left there, I worked a little bit. But then I was looking through the SUNY ESF catalog because I was interested, a lot of my friends were there, and I saw landscape architecture, and I thought, well this is great! It mixes art and nature, which are two things that I’m very interested in. So I applied there, and I graduated with a BLA (Bachelor of Landscape Architecture) and I started working in Massachusetts, and became licensed in New York.
Q: How did you come back to the area?
A: We were living in the Boston area for a little while, and there was an economic downturn. I’m from Syracuse, so it was a natural place for me to want to come back to, and I really like living here.
Q: Has this firm always been at this location?
A: My partner, Allan Maxian, is partner in owning this building and I think they bought it in the late ‘80s. So this office, even before I became partner, it was Schuman + Maxian, was in this building from the late ‘80s til now. Then yes, they were in other offices downtown before they came here.
Q: Is there something about the Northside that lends itself to the Landscape Architecture field or is it more the area of Syracuse?
A: I want to say it’s more the area of Syracuse, because you’ll see that there’s LA firms scattered about. But what we like about this neighborhood is obviously this is a great building and the space is just really nice. It’s just always been a nice place to work.
Q: What about Syracuse draws the LAs?
A: It’s probably having SUNY ESF right here in Syracuse. I think a lot of people stay or come back, so it just kind of lends itself to having a lot of landscape architects in it.
Q: Does Maxian + Horst have any specialties or is it more general landscape architecture?
A: It is general landscape architecture. We do a little bit of everything. A lot of our work is for architects, so we focus on the site when they’re doing the building. That lends itself to working with school districts and commercial property developments. We also do work for municipalities, like the City of Syracuse, we’ve done a lot of site work for the Parks Department in the development of a lot of their park facilities, athletic fields, and play grounds.
Q: Do you have any personal preference?
A: I do like working with the parks department. I think they’re just people that want to promote recreation. It’s a great concept and the work is always a lot of fun. I pretty much like everything that we do. I also like to do Green Infrastructure practices as well, just from the environmental aspect of it because using green infrastructure, taking care of storm water, is very environmental, so I like that as well. And of course, always landscaping, because that’s kind of what everyone thinks that we do—gardens—that’s certainly something else I like to do.
Q: Your website says that you have 26 years of experience in developing project packages. What sorts of changes are happening in the field?
A: In terms of process, I started drawing everything on paper and drafting, so that was a huge change. It’s probably one of the biggest changes in the field, in architecture and in the design fields in general, was having to do that. I still do some things on paper and then it gets put into the computer, just because I was trained to think that way. So that’s a huge impact to the process. I think we still generate a lot of paper, so it hasn’t really saved on the paper aspect. But I think, using the computers and AutoCAD and SketchUp and a lot of the Photoshop programs have really helped the field. For us, the biggest way is just communicating our ideas. A lot of people have a hard time looking at a plan view and knowing what it’s going to look like after it’s built. So if we can take that and generate something more in a 3-D image, I think people have a better feel for what that would look like. A lot of times, we would do these great designs and we’d build them, and then people would say, ‘That’s not really what I thought it would look like,’ because of that communication gap. It’s really filled that gap a bit so that’s a really positive thing.
Going to ESF, there was always that emphasis on the environment. But not everybody always grasps that. I think that things like green infrastructure, storm water control, and LEED buildings have led to more awareness of our earth and our environment. So I think that’s a really good change, very positive change.
Q: If you could take on any space to design a park in, where would it be and why?
A: I love the concept of taking vacant lots—and we were involved in some of that—and developing them into usable parks and spaces. Just because in Syracuse and a lot of the other cities like Cleveland and Troy, they have blocks and blocks of vacant property. Instead of saying, ‘Oh that’s so sad,’ you have to look at that and say, ‘That’s a great opportunity.’ I think being able to do that, use vacant lots to develop parks and other usable spaces, would be ideal for me. Just because it’s different. It’s not the big open space, because we’ve done that. Then you end up with these little pieces, and then, gee, can you start connecting them, and what does that look like?
We are actually working in collaboration with the Land Bank and SUNY ESF to develop some of these parks. It’s been a very interesting process because the students will run the community programs and just the ideas that are coming out of it are phenomenal.
To learn more about Maxian + Horst, visit their website.