HHF Spring Intern: Josh McMullen

April 03, 2019

Aloha All!

My name is Joshua McMullen, but you can just call me Josh. I am currently a Landscape Architecture Intern for HHF as well as a student at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Originally I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and I currently attend Iowa State University, studying Landscape Architecture in the BLA program.

This has been a slight upgrade, I must say, from rolling fields of corn to rolling ocean waves. It was a journey to get here though; I embarked on my trip through the National Student Exchange Program and choose UH Mānoa (UHM) as my new home for my spring semester. This is a requirement of my curriculum at my home university. From there I selected a Social Science class that helps students find and obtain an internship! Part of the reason I wanted to study at UHM was that I knew I wanted to learn more about design and sustainability. I applied to intern at HHF Planners for the same reasons, as well as to learn about Landscape Architecture in-practice, in Hawai‘i. I am also taking classes on the subjects of Urban Sociology, Sustainable Cities, and Hawaiian Studies.

During my time here at HHF, I have mainly assisted landscape architects Richard Quinn and Tomoko Naka. I have been extremely fortunate to be in great hands as they help me adjust as a designer and a student to this new region. I also have been able to sit in on studio reviews for the Masters of Landscape Architecture, taught by HHF’s very own Angelica Rockquemore. Everyone has shown such patience and kindness as they teach, instruct, and guide me. These traits are also evident across the projects that HHF accomplishes. The care and extensive knowledge of the Landscape Architecture department here has been inspiring and influential from the eyes of a young designer.

One of the most memorable moments for me happened early on in my time at HHF. Rick and I went on multiple site visits around the island, stopping by to check in on projects I would later be a part of. It was very special to see the attention to detail in each phase of design. Some sites were completely finished but needed small details adjusted, such as a boulder’s orientation in a planting bed, or even manicuring the surface of a stepping stone to blend it more organically to the topography it was set in. Other sites were still in the construction phase, and watching Rick and his partners choreograph detailed moves and edit the design plan was a learning experience, to say the least. When I later asked Rick why he wanted to have things be such a particular way, his explanation of how he artistically views the landscape as a canvas, was compelling. It also made sense that he was adamant about a coconut tree’s placement on site, as it connects the existing grove on the property to the house, tying the elements together. This mindset has stuck with me and is something I wish to carry back to my final year of school.

On my first day at HHF, I was asked to make a wish list of all the things I had hoped to learn or be a part of during my semester-long internship. This was a guiding force for many of my assignments and projects. Goals for color rendering, increasing my tropical plant knowledge, hand graphic skills, and more, have all been slowly checked off. As each item is completed, I felt my sense of pride and confidence begin to grow as a designer, but this all comes with a heavy heart as I realized my time at HHF will soon be over.

As one of my last projects I will be doing a social media take over for the office and World Landscape Architecture Month! I’m excited to share with you all the amazing work I have been able to be work on, and express further how special of a time this has been for me through different snapshots of HHF work.

I know it may be “corny” to say (I am from Iowa after all), but HHF Planners really does create places for people, and they have made this office, experience, and island such a wonderful home for me over the last four months. I am so happy to show off these incredible people and the great things they are doing.

Mahalo nui loa,

Josh McMullen 

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