The PermaTrak featured designer article series showcases top performing landscape architects and engineers who discuss their design perspective, current projects, challenges, and accomplishments.
Our latest featured designer is Ruben Graciano from JBI Partners, Inc. Ruben is a Landscape Architect who enjoys combining functionality and aesthetics to create memorable projects.
We recently talked with Ruben about his background, advice for new landscape architects, and his experience with PermaTrak on a recent project.
Question: Tell us about yourself and the work you do for JBI.
I joined the JBI team in 2005 after graduating from Texas Tech University, and throughout my time here, we've worked on all kinds of different projects, ranging from single family residential to commercial parks, hike and bike trails, and just the whole spectrum of landscape architecture. It makes the years interesting. Some years are quite heavy on the residential side and then commercial comes in and all the people want places to go have fun, so we get more park work. It's always changing, which is really fun.
Question: What would you describe are your specialties? Why?
I don't know if I would have necessarily a specialty. But if I had to pick what I liked the most, it would probably be park projects, because they’re more varied and you can be a little bit more creative with how you use the land.
Question: How would you describe your perspective on design? What is your design style? How do you approach your work?
I'm big on functionality. One of the things that we as a company have adopted over the years is that we try to make sure our designs are functional and not just a pretty picture. Everything that we do from the beginning of a project to the end is making sure that not only is it something that's attractive and somewhere people want to spend time, but it also works and it's buildable. Functionality doesn't have to be boring. A project can function and still be unique and creative.
Question: What’s your favorite part of your job - what do you enjoy most?
My favorite part of my job is that it's always changing. It's rare that you come into work and you do the same thing every single day. Especially with what we do here at JBI and the mixed type of projects that we do, it's a new challenge every day.
Question: Tell me about the Shoreline Nature Trail project. What was the space like and what did you do with it?
The trail basically rides the “coastline” of Lake Lewisville and also rides behind several neighborhoods. One of the biggest challenges was that we wanted to design an 8-10’ wide trail in a heavily wooded area with slopes that aren’t meant for trails. There were also restrictions because we were designing on property owned by the Army Corps of Engineers as well as HOA common space that isn’t usable for everyday activities. Our goal was to find the perfect balance between all these factors, which was difficult.
Question: How did you decide on PermaTrak for this project? Can you share anything in particular that set it apart from other material choices?
The topography of the area made it really challenging to design a traditional bridge - there was no infrastructure to access the site. We also found that the PermaTrak system was actually cheaper than the other options we looked at.
Question: Do you have any advice for landscape architects starting out in their careers?
Don’t be afraid push the limits of your creativity!