Julian Herren

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I have always been interested in the natural environment and how us humans have chosen to shape it. I suppose my interests stem from my parents and have since grown out of my desire to combine what they are passionate about. My dad is a home builder with degrees in real estate and landscape architecture while my mom has degrees in environmental studies and education. I grew up with hand-drawn plans and sketches all over the house that I thought were pieces of art. My dad designed everything I experienced as a kid, from our backyard to our holiday cards to our ranch in Ventura. Looking back, this stimulus of creativity, art and style combined with the physical altering of the environment to improve livability is what ultimately lead me to pursue an academic career as a GeoDesign major. If my dad could define my childhood by molding the environment in which I lived, then I could do the same for other people.

While progressing through the GeoDesign curriculum and learning about the potential ways to apply what I’ve been taught, I have grown increasingly more excited about the thought of changing the way people live and interact within our urban spaces. A major component of this is understanding the spatial context within which you are working. This past summer, I interned for Stantec, a global design firm that specializes in engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, surveying and environmental studies. Utilizing the technical GIS skills acquired at USC, I was able to create digital terrain models and map environmental constraints for the predesign phase of multiple projects. This opportunity gave me valuable insight into the planning and design process and let me know exactly where my skills as a GeoDesign major might be best utilized.

Through the GeoDesign major’s interdisciplinary curriculum, I am able to study the complex interrelations of the environment and the people who live in it to design and create spaces that enhance our everyday livability. I think GeoDesign, at its core, encourages us to challenge the ways in which we design, build and live in our cities, thus promoting a more sustainable relationship with the environment.

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