Summer internship at Stephen W. Hackney Landscape Architecture - weekly blog.

Six weeks late is better than never. 

I’m an intern! One of the most exciting parts of being a student is having the opportunity to put my knowledge into practice and learning from those who are more experienced. I have been interning with Stephen W. Hackney Landscape Architecture since the beginning of June. The experience has been great so far to say the least. During this internship, as part of my practicum, I am to keep a weekly blog which chronicles my journey through the summer. This is great for two reasons: 1. I can look back over my time here and glean what I learned (hindsight 20/20 and all that stuff), 2. Others (you the reader) get a glimpse into the life of a landscape architect student and into the offices of Stephen W. Hackney. It’s a win/win.

So, since I am six weeks behind I will catch you up and start fresh next week. In my blogs I will talk briefly about office happenings, show some sketches from my personal studies, and a variety of interesting things. Here we go.

Week One: New Guy on the Block.

After a little down time after getting back from my Italy abroad trip jumped straight into office work. Talahi was the name that I was to learn quickly and adopt it as my new baby. Stephen W. Hackney’s (SWH) office is doing pro-bono work for the Kingston Park/Sequoyah Hills Association. After years of neglect and natural damages (wind storm/tree growth) the Talahi Park located in Sequoyah Hills has fallen into dilapidation. Their goal is to strengthen the foundation of the parks essential elements and go from there. While at SWH I will be researching the history of the park and locating historic documents which show drawings and imagery of the park throughout the years.

So far I have been able to find a 1980s reproduction of the original Talahi neighborhood development brochure. I also located a book at the UT library which has numerous accounts from residents recalling their history in the Talahi neighborhood portion of Sequoyah Hills. Some photos are turning up while others are remaining evasive. The most evasive object in this search is a photo of the original bronze frog water spouts which were on the Sunhouse Fountain on Cherokee Blvd. 

This week I was also able to gain some experience on residential design for vehicle circulation, layout, and garden rooms.

Talahi Sketches 3.jpg
Talahi Sketches.jpg
Talahi Park circa 1920s Picture.jpg

Week Two: Research and the daily life of a Landscape Architect.

Talahi leads are still coming in. This week I did some research and calling to locate information about Robert Foust. Foust was a Knoxville businessman who created the Talahi subdivision concept. The neighborhood was to be for the upper echelon and would be the first high class subdivision in Knoxville.

I conducted an informal site analysis so that I could have a better idea of what the Park looked like today and to see what opportunities and challenges would present themselves. I also did some sketching to get a feel for the park space. One of the issues up to debate is whether the association should keep or remove the eight Gingko trees which wall in the park. Most of the trees are females so they produce the well-known, rotten smelling fruit each year and liter the ground with fruit as well as saplings. I had the opportunity to speak with Kasey Krouse, the Urban Forester for Knoxville regarding the cities ideas for this portion of Sequoyah Hills and its tree plan.

Part of my week also consisted of site visits, progress meetings, and developing the social media face for SWH. I also had the opportunity to redline a few construction document sets as well as search for site furnishings.

During my time at SWH I will be getting plenty of experience with photography. This week I began editing my Italy photos so that SWH could do a ‘Week of Italy’ in their Facebook postings. During our site visit to a potential client I photographed the site features and layout. I also had the opportunity to begin photographing SWH’s work throughout the community.

All in all, I had a great week doing what I love and learning more about the daily life of a landscape architect. I had a good amount of time to sketch this week too so that was a plus.

The Civilized Jungle.jpg
Talahi Sketches 2.jpg
Town Gardens.jpg
Sequyoah Home.jpg

Week Three: Photography & Social Media.

This week was dominated with vamping up the social media platforms which SWH uses. Pintrest, Google Plus, Houzz, and some LinkedIn and Facebook too. As SWH is still in its younger stages it is important to get the word out that we are here and that we are Landscape Architects. Part of the vamping up included complete social network information and creating pages, idea books, and boards which display our work. The week of Italy hit our Facebook page three different days and showed our followers what the gardens of Italy look like. Hopefully this inspired them with ideas for their upcoming projects which of course we can help with.

This week I was able to shoot two sites entirely and edit the pictures so that they can be released on the SWH website, social media outlets, and our upcoming ‘Scout Guide’ advertisement. I love walking landscapes and photographing so this was a good mix of

the two. Check out the pictures.

Iskanga House.jpg

Week Four:  For the client.

This week we had the opportunity to finally meet with the group of people working on the Talahi Park project here in Sequoya Hills. Being able to put faces with names on the computer was great. All of the individuals involved seem very motivated to share their time and resources for the community. We walked a bit of the site and discussed priorities and timelines as well as how certain aspects of the park could be improved. The main goal of the group it seemed, was to support the current structure of the park and provide a strong foundation for its longevity, quite literally. The two pavilions and many of the fence pillars need structural support work. The roofs of the pavilions will receive new slate tile shingles. The fencing will have broken sections replaced with replicated iron work in the 1920’s art deco/native American theme. There is a great Thunderbird detail on each fence section.

I found myself making another site visit for a client with Genya and Steve. We were able to see mock-ups of new wall colors and patio colors next to the original stone work. We also looked at pool surface colors and material in relation to the stone work. Utilities were discussed so was the management of trees on site.

Another portion of this week I found myself looking into garden designs and layouts for one client and corresponding with The Scout Guide office for our upcoming advertisement.

Deene Park.jpg
Badminton House.jpg

Week Five: Gardens and southern influence.

Plans moved forward this week with the garden design that I worked on. The general design and layout were accepted and the office has further detailed the garden for a hard line drawing. It is humbling to be included in the conceptual design work and then see ideas come to fruition (at least in the planning stages). I also conducted some plant counts on the overall property design to ensure that bidding for installation was correct. Gotta love these task portions of the architecture world.

This week was our monthly East Tennessee ASLA meeting. I enjoy going to these because it is a good opportunity to meet other landscape architects in the area and receive some training on new products that are relevant to our industry. We also were able to create a proposal for a potential new client. The overall idea is that of a southern (American not direction) approach with an allée of trees It has been a while since I looked at a site and worked to create a design from nothing. I enjoy the blank slate stage. Having the opportunity to help flush this out helped me better understand scale, placement of trees, use of materials, and creating hierarchy on a site and an overall feeling of approach to a home from the road.

Garden Structure.jpg
Florida Home.jpg

Week Six: Bedlines & drafting lines.

A variety of tasks peppered my daily activities this week. One of the most enjoyable was working with Genya to improve my hand sketching skills. We used this current proposal to work on line work and overall layout within my sketches. Genya and I also made a site visit to layout bedlines for one of the offices’ current projects underway. Being able to see the layout on ground (with waterhose) is much different than reading it on paper. This is where I can see if something works and get an overall site feel for how the design will be viewed from all locations of the site. Scale changes drastically as well. I noticed that at 10 scale things look much further apart and larger.

Talahi is moving slowly now as other parties make their moves first and we await the completion of a site survey. Our original method of obtaining a site survey did not pan out. Once we receive this survey we will be able to make accurate sketches to scale. So far I have sketched a few ideas of how the site could be approached with respect to its 1920s original design. Many details are let out of the photographs that we have therefore we will need to interpolate the details. In order to gain an accurate perspective on what these designs may have originally been I have been researching southern Appalachia Cherokee quilt patterns and general patterns. I also have looked into the symbology that was selected for the park from the Cherokee culture. I enjoyed learning about these aspects of such a near culture.

Well, I will be writing live this week since I have caught you up to date. Thanks for taking the time to read my experience as I travel through a summer internship. If you have any questions just shoot me an e-mail at and I would love to talk.




Boone Family Garden.jpg