Growing up on a hundred-acre farm in Clark County, Kentucky, Lauren Hawley (M.U.D., urban design, 2013) spent her afternoons playing barefoot in a creek and sketching the landscape around her. “The whole farm was my playground,” she says. “I would collect sticks and leaves and build fairy houses in the shed. My parents used to say, “She’s going to be a designer.””
Hawley earned her undergraduate degree in landscape architecture in her home state before entering SCAD’s graduate program in urban design. “I knew at SCAD I would be able to tap into the things that keep me motivated and creative.” This included the city of Savannah itself. “I still have dreams where I’m walking home from my studio class and the trees are swaying above me while the flowers are in bloom.”
At SCAD, Hawley formed a sincere connection to the urban design teaching cohort. “Professor Ryan Madson was an important mentor to me. He pushed me to think on a grander scale and helped me understand every aspect of my work. As a result, I’ve been able to transition into larger projects and grow as a professional.”
Professor Madson continues to champion Hawley’s work and talent. “Lauren is an outstanding practitioner who models the attributes of an urban designer: creativity, problem solving, and seeing the world through the lens of making places better for people and more resilient for nature. Her advanced studies in urban design at SCAD prepared her for a career as a design leader. I’m excited to follow Lauren’s future projects, which are shaping our cities in profound and lasting ways.”
For the past eight years, Hawley has worked as a landscape architect and urban designer at Perkins+Will in Atlanta. “The best things we can do for a city and our citizens is to make better parks, better trails, and improve the open spaces we have,” she says. “Research shows that people need to be connected to nature. Bringing people together fosters community in ways that we have lost through urban settings. I work with developers to shape how our spaces will be used and enjoyed. I am committed to making public places that inspire us.”
Hawley is currently working on a Candler Park Conservancy project including a vision plan for a “beaver walk.” The project will combine exploration, education, and entertainment so that parents and children can enjoy nature together while learning about the ecological roles beavers play in the region. “We want people of all ages to come and watch wildlife and learn about beaver habitats. We also want to create a place that promotes peace of mind for parents to let their little ones roam.”
Hawley remains committed to transforming traditional thinking: “Our outdoor spaces should embrace nature and the natural beauty around us. Children should be able to explore, get lost briefly, and feel safe in their play experience. I want people to experience the outdoors in the ways that I got to as a child. I’m trying to give everyone the hundred-acre experience.”
Landscape architect and urban designer Lauren Hawley.
Written by Robert Almand.