A Q&A with Landscape Architect Keenan Palmer

Keenan Palmer, Landscape Architect

Congratulations to Keenan Palmer on passing the final section of the Landscape Architecture exam!

Keenan started at Sherman Carter Barnhart in 2016, and in his time here he has been eager to find creative and fun solutions to challenges ranging from designing neighborhoods to creating community outdoor spaces and sports fields.

Following is a Question and Answer session we conducted with Keenan so that some of our clients could get to know him better and understand his new role.

SCB: Congratulations on passing the exam. Tell us a little bit about what it took to prepare for it and what it means

Keenan. I never kept close track of the time put into studying but I would guess it was hundreds of hours for all four exam sections. Over the past year, I dedicated myself to studying for the exams. This meant I spent little to no time doing the things I love, like hunting, sports, and training. Passing the exams and earning my registration has been one of the hardest tasks I have undertaken, but it is also the most meaningful accomplishment of my life. It is very satisfying to know my time spent studying, and the sacrifices I made, were worth it in the end.

SCB: Explain briefly what landscape architecture is and what you do for Sherman Carter Barnhart

Keenan. By definition, landscape architecture is the planning, management and development of outdoor spaces. My role with SCB is developing plans that include the landscaping, layout and materials used for these outdoor spaces. I also provide construction administration to ensure the project is built the way it was designed. 

SCB: How did you get into landscape architecture?

Keenan: My parents had a landscape design and construction business. At a very young age I developed a passion for creating and building things. From playing with legos with my siblings to building hay forts in the barn at our family farm, I was always creating and building something. 

SCB: Could you tell us a little bit about any of the projects you’ve worked on (we’ll also list them in this post) and what you enjoyed about them and what you’re proud of about them?

Keenan: Projects I enjoy working on the most are university projects and athletic fields.

  1. Boyd County High School Softball & Football — The softball complex was the first of the athletic fields to be located at the new high school (which was completed prior to me joining the firm). The high school overlooks a plateau that was developed into the athletic fields. Prominently located and highly visible to the community, the athletic complex utilizes collegiate-level materials and structures. The softball field was my first athletic project and it was followed by the football stadium a few years later. 
  2. Glasgow High School Softball — another high quality athletic field with great character.
  3. University of Kentucky New Residence Halls — as an alumnus of UK, it was great to be a part of this project that totally changed the character of the campus. In addition to the beautiful residence halls, we focused on preserving large existing trees, to create green spaces, pedestrian walkways, and numerous outdoor gathering areas in support of the residence halls and the overall goals of the campus redevelopment. 
  4. Kentucky Railway Heritage Center — This was a large conceptual master plan to renovate a vacant train yard in rural Kentucky into a new park and heritage center to celebrate the steam railroad. This is probably my favorite project.

SCB: What’s a common misconception about landscape architecture? And what is one aspect of your job that might surprise folks?

Keenan: Often people misunderstand landscape architecture as gardening or landscaping. I think that the complexity and technicality of designing outdoor spaces often surprises people. There is much more to outdoor spaces than aesthetics and materials.

SCB: Tell us a little bit about your hobbies and interests.

Keenan: I love the outdoors. I enjoy many outdoor activities such as archery, backpacking, camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and kayaking. I also enjoy playing sports such as softball and rugby, and training for olympic weightlifting. I also enjoy woodworking, cooking, and gardening.

SCB. What are a few books you’d recommend for folks who are interested in landscape architecture?

KeenanLandscape Architecture: An Introduction is the book I most recommend to people interested in pursuing a career in landscape architecture. I also enjoy books and magazines that highlight projects such as…

Landscape Architecture Magazine
Southern Living Magazine
The Inspired Landscape

SCB. What are three of your favorite books, period.

Keenan. The Lord of the Rings

The Old Man and the Boy


SCB: What would you recommend to anyone considering a career in landscape architecture?

Keenan: Enjoy school. Take internship opportunities. (this will not only help with getting into a career but will make school so much easier).
Temporarily work in the building and construction field. (I did landscaping between semesters in school and it was one of the most beneficial experiences toward my career).

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