As Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers, Holly Grace Nelson combines her professional design career with teaching and scholarship opportunities. She maintains an award-winning studio practice in Princeton, participates in American Society of Landscape Architecture (ASLA) activities nationally and at the state chapter level (NJASLA), and mentors students to win professional awards and to present at academic and professional conferences. Because she continues her design work, she extends student learning with educational opportunities to develop a project for a client from concept through installation. Her studios have installed several campus gardens, and seven of her students received student design awards from the NJASLA and others.
The landscape becomes common ground to facilitate and deepen connections between people. Holly has always collaborated on design projects, working in teams of professionals, creating “bridges” with clients, and gathering together artisans and contractors to energize the construction process in the creation of site-specific products. Collaborative, people-oriented design is a theme in her teaching. Collaboration starts in the educational setting with design studios that foster interactive learning amongst students and create a supportive and inspirational learning environment. Collaboration continues to the faculty level (co-teaching with colleagues inside and outside the discipline of Landscape Architecture), the institutional level (co-directing the undergraduate Environmental Planning and Design programs), and the community level (for instance, four studio collaborations with the National Park Service where the work of designing a landscape engages the public through the process of community-based design).