Courtney McRickard is talking — and talking and talking — about different species of bamboo, eco-friendly concrete and recycled glass. Sustainable design is McRickard’s passion as well as the focus of her Denver, Colorado, landscape-design firm, Three Sixty Design. While the 35-year-old is juggling several projects in and around the Rockies, she’s most excited about volunteering for PlatteForum, a community art center in Denver where inner-city kids create artwork and assist master artists with their installations. Her contribution, a 1,300-square-foot urban garden fashioned mainly from sustainable materials, will be completed in the fall of 2009.
Q: What landscape designs have inspired you?
A: I love Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and any of Virginia’s James River plantations, including Evelynton Plantation, Shirley and Westover.
Q: What are the trademarks of a Courtney McRickard design?
A: I analyze a site, understand its parameters and let the land reveal its own design. As designers, we’re taught to instill our creativity on a space. But the best way is to let the space continue on through the years and to recognize and respect what it wants and needs.
Q: Tell me about your work with PlatteForum.
A: With the help of the local kids and two senior horticulturalists from the Denver Botanic Gardens, I’m creating an urban garden with sustainable materials. There are steel gabion walls that we’re filling with urban refuse — colorful glass bottles, felled limbs from winter storms — to demonstrate how urban waste can be reused in an artful way.
Q: Why has sustainable design been such a large part of PlatteForum?
A: The museum’s design team wanted to raise awareness about the urban environment and how recycled materials from that same environment can be used in creative ways. Plus, sustainable design is an essential part of any landscape architect’s education.