在灵动中寻找平衡
访AECOM执行副总裁雅辛塔·麦卡恩
Balance in Flexibility
An Interview of the Executive Vice-president of AECOM, Jacinta McCann
采访、翻译:文桦
Interview & Translation: WEN Hua
《风景园林》:您作为一名设计师,在管理、商业等方面都有非常杰出的表现,在不同的角色中,您对自己的定位是什么?
雅辛塔:你问我的定位,我第一想到的是我作为风景园林师的真正责任,对企业和社会的责任。我们接受教育成为一名风景园林师后,开始作为一名设计师,为项目工作,通过这些项目,你可以看到自己对社区所产生的影响。这是一个自然的过程。我进入领导角色的过程也很自然,这样能帮助客户做出更好的决定。我认为从技术层面进入决策层面,会有助于对周边的环境产生更大的影响。那意味着你将自己的重点稍作调整。你不需要做所有的设计工作,但你引导着设计,同时力图影响人们,和政府或和其他组织一起,力争让人们获得更好的结果。我认为那是为什么你能增加价值,或者对客户产生更有价值的原因。
同时,如果你引导设计,如果你才华横溢的团队通过富有创意的探讨来从事一项设计,你可以涵盖更广的范围,进而影响更远。此外,这也能为年轻的设计师提供事业道路,用他们的知识、新创意和活力来影响设计。我认为这是非常重要的作用,当你成熟并成为一名专业人士时,你有责任去指导和帮助更年轻的设计师成长。
《风景园林》:您积极投身于学会等公共组织的工作。目前,您还是风景园林基金会(LAF)机构的主席,能否为我们介绍一下LAF组织的定位和开展的行动?
雅辛塔:风景园林基金会(LAF)成立快50年了,到2016年正好50年。它是由一个非常关注杰出风景园林师的团体创立的,我们不仅仅关注气候环境质量,我们也非常关注风景园林专业在解决这方面问题的专业能力。因此,基金关注研究,并设立奖学金奖励优秀学生。另外,我们也关注领导力,致力于发展专业的领导能力。
这是一个非常有意思的组织。我们建立了一个“景观绩效系列”(Landscape Performance Series,简称LPS)计划。因此,这是能对景观贡献进行客观评估的一种方式。基金会已经在整理整个系列的案例研究,以供大家参考。因此,人们可以推荐这种景观评估方法论,以此向客户、城市和政府去争取项目和设计的更优途径。这是一个非常重要的组织。在过去15年,我们已经提供了超过100万美元的奖学金,使那些最好的学生可以在特别领域继续他们的研究。
《风景园林》:如何评估哪些项目可以得到LAF的支持?
雅辛塔:我们会要求从业者、专业人士提交他们认为可能符合要求的项目,然后由我们来进行评估。我们有一个团队承担项目研究任务,并记录项目的绩效,提交案例研究报告。我们有一个非常好的委员会。委员会大约有20人,他们都是非常资深的专业人士,是业界和学界的领导者,涉及领域还包括建筑、家居(furniture suppliers)等。这个过程十分高效。
《风景园林》:您对LAF有哪些构想?
雅辛塔:我之所以参与LAF一方面是因为我所服务的公司AECOM参与其中,并且多年支持LAF。另外一方面是因为我相信我们需要更多的风景园林师,需要彼此分享知识。我估计在美国现在有2.2万风景园林师,但建筑师约有12万。因此未来我们需要更多的风景园林师。大量的风景园林师没有机会获得在大公司工作的益处——分享知识,了解世界其他地方正在发生什么。而我们有全球的实践,因此我们的团队容易找到新的创意,或者新的项目解决方案。但大部分风景园林设计师无法做到这一些,因为他们大多数都在一个小公司工作,一个只有5个人左右的小公司。因此,基金会所做的就是创造机会,让知识驻留,让研究驻留。所有小的实践都可以分享,并构建职业能力。这是真正的关于专业能力的建设。
《风景园林》:正好您提到了AECOM,作为AECOM的执行副总裁,您的职责有哪些?
雅辛塔:我负责一个我们称之为“全球实践业务(global practice line)”的团队——设计+规划|经济,包括规划师、经济分析师和风景园林师等不同专业,全球大约有1 700人。
我的角色是帮助和协调这个团队,使他们彼此能分享自己的知识。我也需要激发出团队最好的工作状态。因此我会关注技术,确保我们有项目评估的水平,有始终如一的项目质量。团队的职业规划也是我需要考虑的方面,如果他们想转换角色或者找到新的发展方向,我能尽最大可能帮助他们实现目标。
我也负责协调与其他部门或者AECOM的其他部门的合作。我们团队隶属于一个更大的终端市场“建筑与人居环境”,包括建筑设计、建筑工程、造价咨询、规划和设计。我还会和全球领导层展开合作,以确保我们在制定战略和构建综合实践平台时能够统一。这对我们而言是十分重要的。
《风景园林》:在以男性为主导的商业公司中,您如何开展工作?
雅辛塔:风景园林是一个非常有意思的专业。毕业于风景园林专业的女性人数大于男性人数。你可以看到许多杰出女性风景园林师,玛莎·舒瓦茨就是其中一位。
在AECOM,有一些部门的高层女性更多一些,有一些部门则男性主管多一些,视具体情况而定。我认为这真正取决于你的态度。要有自信,这是非常重要的一点,而且要敢于表达,勇敢地说出自己的想法,不要让自己局限在一间可能有很多男性的办公室里。在AECOM,我们的很多注意力都投在项目上,我们有很大的多样性和包容性,也有许多培训计划鼓励女性去承担更多的责任。但,这对于生活而言会是一个挑战。
我之所以这么讲,是因为大多数女性拥有孩子。许多女性在30岁刚出头,其事业生涯往往处于真正上升的时间点,因此,如果你有了孩子,这会成为一个很大的挑战。但我的解决之道是鼓励人们灵活处事。当你是一位极具才华的女性,我们只需要多一点点的灵活,因为今天的技术已经可以让我们在工作时间上非常灵活。你甚至可以在家里工作。我们仅需找到一个灵活的方法,让女同事在她们小孩成长的4到5岁后,还可以继续投入到工作中。
《风景园林》:您在全球范围内从事城市规划和景观设计工作,完成过大大小小的转型项目,其中包括澳大利亚最大的棕地修复项目和旧金山的使命湾等,在这类项目中,您认为共性是什么?什么问题最为棘手?
雅辛塔:这真是一个很好的问题。你所要处理的不仅是复杂的技术问题,还有政治问题、市场问题。美国现在正处于一个严重的衰退周期,但你能在这些项目中找到变量,以阻止衰退,或使衰退减缓。你需要非常灵活地应对。如果你真正能够如此,就能处理不断变化的情况。在我看来,我们公司之所以能够从事大型项目,其中一个理由就是我们有能力在正确的时间配置正确的资源,并能够适应项目不断变化的特性。
《风景园林》:这里的“灵活”是指哪些方面?
雅辛塔:有时,它意味着妥协,但大多数时间,它是指你在努力找到一条前进的路径。在核心的问题上你必须坚定不移,你需要非常清楚设计的哪些关键元素必须是完整的,因为会有各种各样的因素都试图改变它。所以你不得不有个非常清晰的设计构思,而且要非常清晰地表达它。
《风景园林》:对大多数项目,以及其他大规模的复杂项目,怎样确信,即使保持灵活性,结果仍在我们的期望之中?
雅辛塔:项目最终的落地,需要捍卫者,需要富有远见的人们,他们是真正愿意坚持做那些项目的人。可能是某个客户,或者是某个政府官员,也可能是团队中的某一员,或者是社区中的某个人。这些人总是倡导人们要有远见,捍卫那些项目。在大型项目上,在项目开始她们就必须十分清楚这个项目的愿景是什么,这是关键的,因为其他的事情的因果都是来自于这个愿景。在实现愿景的过程中,你要不断地回头查看,当人们试图改变某些东西,或者偏离轨道,你能在项目的愿景范围内做出判断。
《风景园林》:那么,我们应该如何来评估公共转型项目的影响?例如,就您于2002年至2013年间在美国所做的一个转型项目来谈(把圣佩德罗和洛杉矶海滨连接起来的公共领域基础设施项目)。数据显示,这个复杂项目带来了价值超过20亿美元的公共领域改善。如何来评估?
雅辛塔:那个项目是为洛衫矶港口而设计的。洛衫矶港是美国最大的港口之一。在当地经济中,它提供约30万个工作岗位。我们一直在做的工作是将当地社区、城镇重新连接到海滨带上,此前由于工业发展,社区、城市和海滨带失去了联系。我们对这个项目所带来的价值影响的评估,实际上是对房地产价值的评估。你提升了海滨带,创造了新的海滨公园、公共人行步道,然后你开始寻找发展项目,然后你就会有一个强烈的愿望去对周围邻近区域进行再开发。这就像许多年前的纽约中央公园对纽约的影响。而奥姆斯特德所做的设计,使它周边房地产价值急剧上升。所以我们评估的方式是,让我们的房地产经济学家去对项目周围以及邻近区域几年内的房产价值进行实际考察和评估。通过这样的方式去发现房产价值的上升。这也是我们建设新的公共空间的一个非常重要因素。实际上,这就是再生,更广泛意义上的再生,效益正源于此。
《风景园林》:随着环境压力加大,中国当下转型项目越来越多,除了上面谈到的共性,您认为中国的项目是否有其特殊因素?
雅辛塔:我在中国做的第一个项目是苏州金鸡湖。它以一种重要的里程方式将我们带入中国。在我们赢得了这个项目后,我们才开始在中国工作。所以实际上,我们是在旧金山办公室完成它的总体规则的。后来,我们在现场建立了一个团队,大概有20人。那个团队实际上负责了项目的详细规划阶段,也监督了施工过程,第二个项目是千岛湖,我们在2003年开始总体规划的工作。
我认为在中国最令人惊异的是,正在被设计的以及刚刚建成的公共开放空间的规模之大。数月前,我来中国,我们景观设计的同事告诉我,国内这里有100hm2公园,那里有200hm2山道,各类项目面积加起来有大约1万hm2的开放空间正在规划或设计。这是个很大的数字,也的确使行业资源得到了延伸。这对设计者也是巨大的挑战。因为我们对这类设计没有一个完整的工作经验,所以我们无法轻易地雇佣到做过类似规模和复杂项目的经验丰富的人。另外一个不同之处是,设计者不会一直记录项目或者监督项目的施工过程,因此就质量而言,你会面对很多意外的变数。在项目的特性和稳定性上存在许多风险。当然,每件事都必须有效率。施工也总是一个挑战,因为它必须完成。也许,所需要的技术评审类型,有时不会以它应该出现的方式出现。所以他们是挑战,但同时,也会有大量的转变正在发生。在世界上其他地方不会这样。这是中国最令人惊异的地方,拥有这么多正在被创造的公共空间。们需要有更好的产出,我们也需要有众多有经验的人在项目进行到建设阶段时,予以指导。
《风景园林》:AECOM是一个多专业协作的全球化公司,您能否为我们介绍一下AECOM的企业管理文化?
雅辛塔:AECOM一个非常让我着迷的地方,就是我们对世界满怀抱负。我们希望成为世界上最出色的基础设施提供商,这是非常大的想法。但如何才能实现呢?我们构建了一个非常多样化的专家团队,覆盖所有不同领域的专业知识。并且,我们还得树立一种人们彼此尊重、彼此合作的文化,以追求一种最佳的成果。我们不需要每一个人,但需要有那么一部分人乐于去提问,乐于去了解别人,乐于在组织内部建立网络。这对实现我们的愿景而言非常关键。
《风景园林》:在管理框架之内,如何实现风景园林师的创意思维方式和内部管理规则之间的协调?
雅辛塔:在公司内,我们有一个构架,像我就负责实践方面的工作。我们关注创新的技术、优秀的设计,也关注合作。我们的团队中还有同样重要的人,确保我们所做的事情取得成功,如:人力资源、合同法律审查、项目财务管理等。同时我们也有团队负责搭建部门,弄清楚我们下一步要寻找什么类型的客户和项目。此外,还有另一团队负责我们的关键客户,关注我们进入的市场领域,所以这是一个大型复杂的系统。
对于设计师而言,非常重要的是清楚自己在这个组织中位置的重要性,以及他们所参与的实践需要确保我们所做的一切都达到最佳状态。这是公司最终的追求。我们不希望大家感觉在一个复杂、受限制的管理环境中工作。
这同样也是一种重要的平衡。我们坚持的时间越长,就有越多的人(不论你在哪一组织当中)真正团结于特定的价值观、抱负以及文化。彼此尊重是非常重要。设计师每天沉浸于设计的世界,我们所要做的是让他们不被其他事情打扰。
《风景园林》:AECOM有一个经济咨询团队,在他们的影响下,您的工作会有怎样的不同?
雅辛塔:是的,这个问题问得好。由于我们所做项目较为复杂,因此经济咨询团队、政策咨询团队对我们而言都是非常重要的。他们所做的是建立发展的理论依据,然后他们能评估最终的效果。所以我们也把他们整合到项目团队中来(我们的经济学家也做了大量不同的工作),因为如果你的团队中有一个善于财务分析和市场分析的人,项目决策的质量会得到提升。所以这样的一种决策方式,我们认为是非常重要的。
《风景园林》:AECOM未来的着眼点及方向在哪里?
雅辛塔:在实践领域,技术对于项目的成败具有关键作用。3D打印就是当下具有革命性的技术。我们必须适应这些变化,否则我们就无法与时俱进。我认为3D打印对人们来说,不仅是一项了不起的概念和沟通模型,而且还将很快成为建造事物的主体。这一切已经在发生了。
我们在谈论转型,这将对我们设计、记录、建造项目的方式产生转型的影响。巨大的变革正在来临。因此,我们已经发展了许多软件技术,这对于我们评估那些非常复杂的项目十分重要,并且能为我们的客户提供成熟的建议。例如,我们有一个工具叫做“可持续系统合成模式”(SSIM),这是一个规划工具,它可以通过大量数据来评估物理环境,可以模拟项目的成本和收益,但工具的目的是导向更好的规划决定。我们还有一些其他的工具,如成本估算工具和社会基础设施工具等。所有这些都能帮助规划师和设计师评估项目,尤其是对于大尺度项目。
《风景园林》:您一直坚信风景园林应该在整个产业中起到引领作用。您对此如何理解?
雅辛塔:我认为有很多因素,例如信心、勇敢、冒险,以及是否愿意去成就一件大事。你的确可以通过大的项目来影响世界,所以风景园林师不得不提升自己而去适应大尺度的项目。我们有太多的风景园林师都在做小尺度的项目——当然这些小项目都十分重要——但我们却缺乏足够的担当去做一个大尺度的项目。我们需要更多的风景园林师做大尺度的项目。在我们公司里,领导“建筑与人居环境”终端市场的是一名风景园林师。在一家拥有45 000名员工的公司里,他是20名最高层管理人员之一。所以风景园林师可以以一种非常有影响力的方式从事领导工作。我们仅仅需要更多的人愿意去担当,对这个行业来说,在某种程度上可以称之为“战争召唤”。我认为像我这样的人,应该更多地鼓励年轻人投身其中,因为这是我们领先于建筑师、工程师以及任何其他人的唯一路径。
《风景园林》:为了在这个行业有专业发展,除了您刚才已经提到的需具备的要素,技能要求有多重要?
雅辛塔:很好的问题。我们都在风景园林专业方面受到很好的训练,我认为训练,而且是正确系统的训练才能使人在一个复杂项目中承担领导的角色。我们都在评估体系中被训练过,也都被训练过与其他设计、规划学科相配合,我们确实获益匪浅。除此之外,你所需要做的是,你必须愿意去担任项目领导的角色,去领导来自不同专业背景人才的团队。而且对风景园林师来说,要成为这样的角色也许会感到不适应。那么,应该如何克服这种不适应呢?我认为,只要得到适当的鼓励与支持,个人本身也有意愿去担当,那么他一定能够成功。
LA: As a designer, you've got very outstanding performance in management and business. What's your positioning in different roles? What's the principle?
Jacinta: When you asked what is my own positioning about myself, what I thought of first was really the type of responsibility that I have as a landscape architect, really to society. Let me tell you something else about that question. I think when we come out from our training as a landscape architect, you start as a designer, and work on projects where you can see a visible impact on a community, through what you are doing, and I think there is a natural progression. Certainly I had a natural progression into more of a leadership role, helping the client make better decisions. And I think that move from technical landscape architect to more the leadership position. It's really a natural response to being able to make a difference, and have more influence in what happens around the world. That means you change your emphasis a bit. You are not necessarily doing all the design, but you are guiding the design, also trying to influence people, with the government or with other groups, trying to influence people to get a better outcome for a project. And I think that's sort of how you could add value, or become more valuable to the client.
If you guide design, if you have very talented people doing the design through a creative review of a project, you can actually cover more ground. So you can influence further. It's really about that. Plus, it's also about creating career paths for younger designers. It's about having their knowledge and new ideas, and energy, influencing the design. I think that's a very important role as you mature, as a professional, you have a responsibility to mentor and to help younger designers grow.
LA: You are the president of the Landscape Architecture Foundation(LAF).Is it possible to introduce about the organization's positioning and actions?
Jacinta: The Landscape Architecture Foundation was founded almost 50 years ago, by 2016 that's 50 years. It was founded by a group of very concerned leading landscape architects who were deeply worried about the climate of environmental quality, and they were very concerned about the ability of the profession of landscape architecture to be able to have the scale to address the issues. So the foundation has a research admission that focuses on research. It focuses on awarding scholarships to outstanding students. And the third part focuses on leadership, developing leadership in the profession.
It's a very interesting organization. We have a program built around the Landscape Performance Series. So this is a way of being able to be more objective about the contribution in landscape, how it actually performing. Then the foundation has been documenting a whole series of case studies, and they are available for everyone to refer to. So people can commend about methodology of evaluating landscape. They can actually use that approach with clients, with cities and governments to be able to argue for a better approach to projects and to design. It's a very important organization. We've given out over a million dollars in scholarships during the last 15 years. The scholarships go to the best students, to enable them to continue research in particular area.
LA: How do you evaluate which kind of project LAF can give this support to?
Jacinta: We asked for practitioners, for professionals to submit a project that they think might qualify. And we evaluate that and then we have a team that actually undertakes the research about the project, and then documents its performance. We have a very good board. We have a board with about 20 people, honored. And they are leaders of practices; they are leaders in the industry, related areas by construction, furniture suppliers, very smart people, and academics on the board too. It’s a very good program.

LA: What idea do you have about the LAF?
Jacinta: Well the reason I became involved with LAF is, our firm, AECOM has been involved, and the supporter of LAF for many years. And the reason I wanted to be involved with this group was that I believe we need more landscape architects, and we need to share knowledge between landscape architects. I think in America, there are 22,000 landscape architects, and I think there are about 120,000 architects. So we need more landscape architects. A lot of landscape architects don't have the benefit of working in a large firm where you can share knowledge and see what's happening in the rest of the world. We have global practice, so our people can easily find out new ideas, or new approaches to project. But most landscape architects can't do that. They are in a small firm. They have, you know, five people. So what the foundation does is to create an opportunity, a place for knowledge to reside, a research to reside. So all these small practices can actually access that and that builds capacity in the profession. It's really about building capacity.
LA: Well, you just mentioned AECOM. As the Executive Vice President, what are your responsibilities?
Jacinta: I look after a group we called global practice line. I look after a group of planners and landscape architects. It’s about 1700 people around the world.
So my role is to help this group, collaborate, and share their knowledge with each other. I also focus on making sure that our work is the best it can be. So I focus on technical excellence, and make sure that we are having the necessary level of review in projects, so we have consistent quality. And I’m also very involved in people's career paths. And if they want to change a role or see a new path, I can help them achieve that.
I'm also responsible for making sure that we collaborate with the other parts or the other parts of AECOM. Our practice is part of a bigger group that we called "Buildings and Places", including architecture, building engineering, cost consulting, and planning and design. I also work with the global leadership to make sure that we have alignment in our strategies and building our platform of integrated practice, which is very important for us.
LA: How can you carry out the work in a male-dominated business in a very big company?
Jacinta: Landscape architecture is a very interesting profession. There are more women graduating in landscape architecture than men. You see a lot of women in leading practices. Martha Schwartz is a great example.
Inside AECOM, we have parts of AECOM with more senior women, and more women in general, and other parts of AECOM which are more male-dominated, it varies. I think it's really just about your attitude. It's important to have confidence, and it's very important to speak up, and be brave, and say what you think, and to not let yourself be dominated by a room where there might be a lot of men. Inside AECOM, we also have a lot of attention putting into programs for, we have a whole area around diversity and inclusion. We have a lot of programs to encourage women, to take on more responsibility. But it's always a challenge you've mentioned what life is about.
I think for women, it's always a challenge because most women have children. most women in their early 30s, at a point where career path tends to really move ahead, so if you have children, it can be quite challenging to bridge that. But I think my approach is that I encourage people to be very flexible. What we need to do is just, when you've got very talented women, who may need a little more flexibility, and because of the technology we have today, you can be very flexible in work hours, you can work from home. It's really about finding ways to keep women engaged during that period, 4 or 5 years when children are young.
LA: You have been engaged in urban community planning and landscape design works around the world and taken over transformation projects of any scales, among which are the largest brown field restoration project in Australia, Mission Bay in San Francisco, etc. In these projects, what are their similarities? What is the most difficult problem?
Jacinta: I thought this was a good question. There are not only the complex technical issues that you have to deal with, but there are also the political issues, the market issues. In America, there's a big very strong recession cycle, now coming out of it, but you've always got this variables in these projects that can stop them, or make them slow down.  You've got to be able to be very flexible. If you really get to be able with that, to the changing conditions, and I think with our firm, one of the reasons we work on very large projects is because we have the ability to be able to deploy the right resources at the right time, be able to adapt to the changing nature of the projects.
LA: What's the meaning of "flexible" here?
Jacinta: In some times it might be compromise but mostly you are trying to find a path forward. It's really about getting all of the issues on the table and figuring out a way to move forward. Yes perhaps compromise for some aspects but not all.
You do need to keep and be very strong about the core things that shouldn't change. You've get to be very clear about the essential elements of the design that have to be intact. Because there will be forces coming from every direction, trying to change that. So you've got to have a very clear design position and be able to communicate that very clearly.
LA: For most of the projects, and other large scale complex projects, how to make sure, even keeping that flexibility, which the outcome is within our expectations?
Jacinta: They need champions and need people with vision who are really willing to stick with those projects. There might be the client, or someone in the government, it could be someone in the team, or someone in the community, but you've got have champions who will be always advocating for the vision, for the project. And on big projects, it's critical, at the outset of the project, to be very clear about what the vision of the project is, because everything else grows from that vision. A clearly articulated vision is something you can constantly check back against, and when people try to change things, derail, you can come back and respond in the context of the vision of the project.
LA: How do we come up with the evaluation of impact that our projects weigh to urban development. For example, for this project that you did between 2002 and 2013, which links the seashores of LA to other public places in the bay area. And according to data, that complex transformation project brought forth about 200 million value to bay improvementing public spaces, how do we come up with that evaluation?
Jacinta: That project is a work for the Port of Los Angeles. The Port of Los Angeles is one of the largest ports in America, and it's actually responsible for about 300 thousand jobs in the local economy. This work we've been doing is about reconnecting the local community, the town, back to the waterfront, because with all the industrial development, the community, the city became cut off from the waterfront. The way which we measure the impact on value coming out of that work, is really real estate value that we are measuring. You improve the waterfront, you create new parks and promenades, and then you start to find the development, and there is an increased desire to redevelop the areas next to it. It's like how Central Park was in New York, the impacts of the park having on New York many years ago. Now but Olmsted did that design, it resulted in dramatic uplift in property values around it. So we measure that by getting our real estate economists to actually look at the values of sites around the area, adjacent to the area over a period of years. That's when you see the value, the uplift in real estate value. That's a very important aspect of building new public space. It's actually the regeneration, the broader regeneration, benefits come from that.
LA: So what do you think of Chinese projects? Do they have something special or different to other cultures, especially concern for the Environmental projects?
Jacinta: The first project I worked on over here was a project called Jinji Lake. It was the project that brought us into China in a significant way. We had just started working in China when we won that project, so we actually did the masterplan for that from our San Francisco Office where I was. Then we built a team on site, we had about 20 people there. That actually took through the more detailed planning phases and oversaw construction of a lot of that project so, so that was when I first started coming over here. The next project I worked on here was a project called "1000 Island Lake" uh, yeah. We did the Master Plan for that. That was in 2003 from memory.
I think one thing that's really amazing about China, is the scale of open space, of public ground that's being designed and built on right now. I was here about several months ago and our Head of Landscape Architecture in this office said to me that they had 10,000 Hectares of Open Space under planning or design. I think it was a big number. He had just added it all up, all of the projects, because you add up a 100 Hectare park here, 200 Hectare of trails there and it pretty quickly adds up, so let's just say it's a big number. But you look at that and that's a massive thing that's going on and it really stretches the resources of the profession, to be able to deliver that. I mean it's massive and so it's very challenging for Designers, I think it's challenging because we don't have a whole, deep history of that type of work, so you can't just access a lot of very experienced people easily who have done this sort of work at this scale, of this complexity. So you know that's a big challenge and the other thing that is different here is that the Designer doesn't always document the project or oversee the construction of the project and so you see more variation here I think, in terms of quality. There are some risks; you have more risks to quality and consistency in projects. And of course everything has to happen so fast. Construction is always a challenge because it has to be finished. So the type of technical review that you need to have, sometimes doesn't happen the way it should happen. So they're the challenges but at the same time there is a massive transformation happening here right now. It didn't happen anywhere else in the world like this. This is an amazing thing for China to have this type of public space being created right now. I think that we need some things will turn out better than others and we also need a lot of people with experience to be guiding these projects as they go through into construction.
LA: AECOM is a global company with multi-disciplinary practices. What is your experience and how do you see the Management culture?
Jacinta: Well, one of the things that fascinate me about AECOM is the ambitious vision we have for the world. We wanna be the premier infrastructure provider in the world, and that's a very big idea. So then, how do you get that? Well, you build a very diverse expert team that has all the different areas of expertise. So you go at that, but then you also have to build a culture where people will respect each other, collaborate with each other, you know, not just wanna just do everything themselves but use an expert that will help get a better result. So we don't need everyone, but we need some of our people to be interested in asking questions, getting to know other people, building a network inside the organization. So it's very critical to do the success of us achieving our vision.
LA: how to achieve reconciliation and the creative mindset of Landscape Architects and the rules we try to enforce within the Management structure.
Jacinta: Well we have a structure in the firm, we have practice areas with practice leaders, like me, so we focus on technical excellence, design excellence, we focus on collaboration, all those things I talked about. Then we have people who are equally as important in the organization and they are people who make sure that the things we have to have to succeed, are all happening-human resources, legal review of contracts, financial monitoring of projects. So we have all those people who are watching the business aspects of the practice, and then we have people who are responsible for building our division, figuring out where we are going next and what type of clients and projects we wanna have and that's a whole other group of people who look after our key clients, who focus us into market sectors, so it's a big complex system that we have.
It's very important for a Designer to be clear about the importance of where they sit in the organization and they are sitting inside a practice that is responsible for making sure that everything we do is done extremely well, and that's what the firm is about in the end. So we gotta make sure that people appreciate that and don't feel like they are working for a complex, restrictive management environment.
Again it's an important balance, and I think the longer we go at this, the more everyone, no matter which part of the organization you're in, everyone gets that we're really aligned around certain values and certain ambition, around culture. Respect for each other is very important and it's not perfect but, we are getting better at that and it's I think most of our Designers when they are sitting inside, their day to day world is design, their day to day world is not the finance team or something like that. They're in the world of design and that's where they need to be and we try to keep it that way, not have them distracted by other things.
LA: You have an economics team, that's part of your practice. I wonder if your work under the economics team has anything to do with the evaluation of the impact of projects.
Jacinta: Yeah it's a good question. That group is very important to the sophistication of the work we do, so our economics team, our policy team is very important. What they do is establish the rationale for development and then they can actually measure the effectiveness of the result. So we integrate ( our Economists do a lot of different things) we integrate them into our planning  team as well, because the quality of planning decisions will improve if you've got someone who is very good at fiscal analysis and market analysis sitting right next to the planner. So that's a model of planning that we think is very important.
LA: What are we seeing in terms of new things we're doing. What’s the future direction?
Jacinta: For us technology is really critical to our success projects. One very interesting thing is about 3D printers and 3D printers are really revolutionizing what we do now.
We have to adapt to it, because if we don't others are doing it, so you know we have to keep at that same level. I mean 3D printing is not only a fantastic tool for communicating models and concepts to people, but 3D printing will very quickly start to become the method for actually making things that get built, so that's going to happen.
We are talking about transformation, you know it will have a transformational impact on the way we design, document and fabricate and construct projects-it's a massive change coming. We do have a lot of software tools that we have developed. They're very important for us to be able to evaluate very complex projects and be able to develop sophisticated advice for our clients. We have a tool called the Sustainable Systems Integrated Model (SSIM), it's a trademark planning tool and that is a system where a lot of data about the physical environment can be evaluated. Everything from energy performance of a building though to the natural conditions, transport, natural resources and so on, but, the purpose of the tool is to enable good planning decisions to be made, so you can actually model what the cost benefit of all these things will be. It puts a different basis for into decisions about how you will develop in place, it's a very important tool. We have other tools: cost estimating tools and social infrastructure tools. So these are all very important to us as they help our planners and designers to be sophisticated in the way they evaluate, especially for big scale projects.
LA: You firmly believe that Landscape Architecture should take the leading role in the whole industry. How do you think about it ?
Jacinta: I think a lot of it is about confidence and being brave and taking risks and being willing to go out after a big thing. You really make an impact on the world through big projects and so Landscape Architects have to lift themselves up to that scale. We have too many Landscape Architects who are working at small scale, which is important, but we don't have enough willing to work at a large scale. We need more Landscape Architects working at that scale. Inside our firm the person who heads up our group "Buildings and Places" is a Landscape Architect. He is one of the top 20 Executives probably, in a firm of 45,000 people. So you can be a Landscape Architect and be leading in a very influential way. We just need to have more people willing to do that and it's sort of a "call to arms" to the profession. I’m thinking of people like me, we have to be more encouraging of younger people to wanna do that, cos that's the only way we'll ever get out there ahead of the Architects and Engineers and everyone else.
LA: For professional development in this industry, besides all the characteristics you have just mentioned, how important are skill sets in our industry ?
Jacinta: It's a good question. We all get a good training in Landscape Architecture, and I think the training is the right training for being able to take a leadership role on complex projects. We're trained in evaluating systems, we are trained to interface with the other design and planning disciplines, we really get all of that. So what do you need in addition to that I think is, you've gotta be willing to step into Project Leadership roles in projects where it's not just Landscape Architects in the team and I think sometimes Landscape Architects are not comfortable in that role as they should be. So how do you overcome that? Well, people need to be encouraged to do that and they need to be willing to do that.