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Legacy Circle: Christian Lemon

Christian Lemon
principal, LEMON BROOKE Landscape Architecture

Professional and philanthropic interests:

I focus on designing people spaces with the experience of the end user in mind. Whether our spaces are found in urban, campus, or environmentally sensitive environments, the common thread is that they are places people want to spend time in and are functionally elegant. We often work with clients of limited resources that share these interests. 

What are you working on now?

A diverse range of projects are on the boards including a plaza for a new office building in the Seaport; roof decks and public space for the new Marine Wharf Hotel, also in the Seaport; a plaza for the arts and music quad at Pennsylvania State University; a 10-acre campus plan for Georgetown Day School, in Washington, DC; and a 100-acre master plan for the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont.  

How do you/did you/would you explain to your mom what you do for a living? 

What I do now as a landscape architect could be construed as a natural extension of growing up in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, building Tonka toy towns and tree forts as a child. So my mom generally gets it, but thinks I work too much.

What inspired you today?

It’s snowing; ski season is upon us!

What are you reading?

With three school-age children, the only books that I have time to read these days are those with pictures. Otherwise, it’s professional publications and blogs, and a daily review of The Wall Street Journal. I imagine the answer to this question will change in the years to come.

Has your career taken you anywhere you didn’t expect?

It’s been an unexpected journey so far, as I’ve worked on projects in more than 10 countries and 20 states. This geographic diversity is not something I expected and has inherently led to projects with different kinds of clients, requiring the development of diverse ideas, strategies, designs, products, etc.

What inspired you to support the BSA Foundation as a member of the Legacy Circle?

We moved to the Boston area five years ago from San Francisco and wanted to engage the Boston design profession beyond the projects in our office. We had a road map for doing this with a similar organization in San Francisco, where we contributed resources to further the larger dialogue of planning and design in our local communities.

Thinking about the power of collaboration and design to change lives in Greater Boston, how can the Foundation harness that power to help build a better Boston?

We are currently working with the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell, Massachusetts, offering in-kind design services to develop a small park and play space on their challenging urban site. The service-to-service nonprofit organization, Jericho Road, connected us. Similarly, the BSA Foundation is in an ideal place to connect the design community with organizations in need of our collective professional services. Leveraging our professional services is often more than we could give outright, making the effort more valuable in the end. Formalizing this process with a database representing both sides of the equation and circulating to both sides of that equation would be a valuable first step.

Can you remember the first time you understood the relationship between design and quality of life?

My father was an inventor and a fabricator of sorts, mostly focused on the use of recycled plastics before its time. As a child, I witnessed many trial-and-error cycles as well as a few successes of my father’s pursuits. I distinctly remember this continual investigation of improving upon the present to make it better.

Who or what deserves credit for your success?

There is a long list—too many to name individually. I believe that we’re a product, for the most part, of who we meet and spend time with. Hopefully they are good influences.

If you could give you-of-10-years-ago (or longer) advice, what would it be?

Be more patient!

What do you love about Boston and why?

The intimate scale. I love to walk downtown and the power of the pedestrian.

If you could sum up your outlook on life in a bumper sticker, what would it say?

Focus on the big picture!


Header image courtesy of LEMON BROOKE Landscape Architecture