Connecting People with Plants in the City

When Matt Callone (M.L.A.+U Student) helped create a community garden as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at an elementary school in Knoxville, he realized what he wanted to do with his life. After seeing the students playing in the dirt, he knew he wanted to foster the connection between people and landscape. After receiving his Permaculture Design Certificate, Matt looked into landscape architecture programs that could help him achieve his dream.

“Illinois Tech, being an interdisciplinary school aimed at addressing the pressing environmental issues, was a huge draw,” says Matt. “The M.L.A.+U program seemed committed to guiding students toward making system-scaled solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss that I felt that I could use toward designing neighborhood-based solutions.”

As a student at the College of Architecture, Matt has been given the opportunity to study these systems. Working with faculty member Sarah Hanson, he has participated in the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Case Study Investigation program, where he studied the social, environmental, and economic impact of shared spaces. These included the Chicago Botanic Garden Regenstein Learning Campus, the Chicago Riverwalk, and Argyle Shared Street.

In class, Matt has also had the chance to work with Adjunct Professor Maria Villalobos Hernandez on a landscape design investigative research proposal in Mexico City, requiring a holistic understanding of the cultural and ecological conditions of the vestiges of the lake system on which that the city was built.

“It’s actually really exciting to say that every class that I have had and every project I have worked on thus far in the landscape program affirms my passion for this profession. My professors are continuously pushing us to do the research and do the work to make an impactful project.”

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