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Meet Clara Couric Batchelor, ASLA, LEED AP

Principal and Founder CBA Landscape Architects LLC, Cambridge, Massachusetts


Clara Couric Batchelor, ASLA, LEED AP

Clara Batchelor, ASLA, LEED AP founded her landscape architecture firm in 1984. The firm became a limited liability company (LLC) in 2010. The firm's other two principals are Denis Chagnon, RLA, and Megan Tomkins, RLA. The staff includes Preston Holleman, RLA, Kaila Bachman, RLA, and landscape designers Jessica Choi and Aaron Kraemer.

CBA Landscape Architects LLC excells at the design of public and private landscapes. Residential sites from city gardens to estates, public parks and playgrounds, library and museum grounds and commercial developments are all integral components of CBA's portfolio.

The designs of the firm are highly contextual, generating richly detailed compositions that reflect the ability to create beautiful and functional spaces, balancing man-made elements with natural features.

The firm's use of a broad and sophisticated plant palette, along with careful, considered detailing and use of site materials are additional CBA hallmarks.

The firm's work has been published in the New York Times, Landscape Architect and Specifier News, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Garden Design and numerous regional publications.

MLA: Harvard University, Graduate School of Design
BA: Smith College, Major: Geology, Minor: Art History

Professional Experience:
Principal and Founder: CBA Landscape Architects LLC, Cambridge, Massachusetts
, 1984 to present
Landscape Architect, Woo and Williams, Cambridge, Mass. (1979-1981)

RLA: Mass. #706; R.I. #247; New York #1684; Maryland #3453

Teaching & Lectures:
Instructor: "Native Plants and Landscape Restoration" - Executive Education Seminars, Harvard Design School, April 2004


550 Main Street, Downtown, Springfield, Mass.
Working together with the architect and MassDevelopment, CBA Landscape Architects LLC redesigned the entrance plaza of this former federal courthouse in downtown Springfield. The plaza is located above a parking garage. It was imperative to design an inviting and dynamic plaza that would improve curb appeal and circulation for the building's conversion from a public courthouse to Class-A commercial offices with ground floor retail uses.


East Hampton Residence, East Hampton, N.Y.
CBA was commissioned to update the landscape of an East Hampton Residence. The owner wanted to keep the pool and tennis court but give the property a fresh and inviting look. CBA redesigned the site's parking, driveway, front entrance, the pool deck and the property's fencing. The addition of a trellis and seating area adjacent to the tennis court provides an area to rest and observe the tennis. The property also features extensive new plantings that integrate the landscape with the home.


Box District Park, Chelsea, Mass. (LASN March 2013)
Located on a steeply sloping site in a former industrial area of Chelsea, Box District Park functions as a neighborhood common for the adjacent residences. CBA designed a park that features a plaza, water play, trellis covered picnic area, playground and terraced lawns. A series of stepped granite seating walls integrated into the sloping site provide accessible routes to all areas, while the monumental stairs form a central axis that reinforces the diagonal desire lines. Box District Park highlights CBA's strength in working with stakeholders of all types, from neighbors to community groups, to housing organizations, and the city government. A series of public meetings were held during design development to get as much community input as possible, and to ensure that the park was well received when completed.


Dr. Loesch Family Park Dorchester, Boston, Mass. (LASN Nov. 2013)
Dr. Loesch Family Park, located in the Codman Square area of Dorchester, is a city block of open space ringed by mature shade trees. CBA worked with a neighborhood committee over several months to transform a park that featured poor visibility by day and inadequate lighting at night. The new park changed an area of undesirable activity into an "oasis within the city" as described by Mayor Menino upon its reopening. New amenities include a playground with water play, two basketball courts, state of the art sports lighting and a diagonal path that links the neighborhood and the Shawmut T Stop. The park design showcases CBA's ability to respond to community needs and to transform an underused, uninviting space into a neighborhood asset.

Q & A

1. What was the pivotal or motivating factor(s) that made you choose a career in landscape architecture?
I majored in geology with a minor in art history and my first job out of college was doing radioactive dating of rocks! Seeing that this wasn't where I wanted to be, I started to give more serious thought to what professions were out there. Landscape architecture seemed to me to be a perfect combination of the natural sciences and art, my two main interests. I visited several landscape architecture firms where they were gracious enough to let me sit in on design reviews and I was hooked. I realized that in order to become a landscape architect, I needed a degree in that field. I got a masters in landscape architecture where I found liberal arts education in general and geology and art in particular formed a great foundation.

2. If you had not become a landscape architect, what profession might you have pursued?
Choosing landscape architecture has always seemed like the right decision for me so I can't say I've spent too much time considering other options. I do run across professions from time to time that make me happy that I didn't choose them.

3. What do you most enjoy about being a landscape architect?
The variety of projects is one of the things I enjoy most about landscape architecture. From parks to playgrounds to urban plazas to suburban office parks and private residences; the context, program, and users are always changing and even within the same type of project there is a great range or experiences.
Being exposed to ever changing challenges keeps work stimulating. Equal to the variety of projects is the variety of people with whom I get to interact.
One day stands out in particular. Early in my career I spent one morning working on a landscape master plan for a public housing development; in the afternoon I worked on a private residence where the budget was hundreds of thousands of dollars. Both projects were professionally fulfilling. From public meetings within economically disadvantaged neighborhoods to team meetings with corporate clients the dedicated people that I have had the privilege to meet and work with has inspired me and enriched my professional life.

4. Do you think women landscape architects generally get the same respect as their male counterparts? Have you experienced any discrimination because of your gender within the profession or by clients?
The great majority of my clients have been very respectful but then they have hired a woman owned firm so it's a self-selecting group. I suppose the most problematic situations have occurred either with trades people in the construction industry who have had little experience with women on construction sites, or with other professionals who did not personally pick my firm for their team. I think among professionals there can be a certain amount of posturing when beginning a project as people figure out their roles. But all in all I have found people to be very respectful no matter whether we are debating a design approach, putting the design into the ground, or reacting to a design proposed for a neighborhood. In these cases I don't think my gender influenced their demeanor.

5. When you first meet people not affiliated with the profession and explain that you are a landscape architect, how do you describe what you do?
I think the general public is much more interested in the environment and in particular the built environment than they were a generation ago. For this reason, I don't find myself explaining landscape architecture and landscape architects as much as I once did. But if I am asked, I tell people that landscape architecture shapes the outdoor space and gives form to the environment through the design of natural systems and fabricated components.

6. What in particular do you attribute your success to?
I'm very focused. And I've always had a very supportive family: my parents, spouse, and children.

7. What is (are) the most important contribution(s) made by landscape architects in the field of design today?
Landscape Architects are having a bigger impact on cities than ever before. They have a different perspective that they bring to the built environment. They look at a site, a city, or a region differently from architects and planners. It is their perspective and attitude that are giving a new dimension to our urban cores and suburban settings.

8. How has the landscape architecture profession changed since you first began working in the field?
I think the landscape architect's stock has risen. We're often given a better seat at the table than we used to get. Policy makers and the general public are aware of the importance of natural environments and public open space. Landscape architects stand at the confluence of design and the science of environmental systems and because of this we are emerging as leaders as we strive to address challenges as significant as climate change and global urbanization.

9. What career advice would you give to recently graduated landscape architectural students as they enter the profession?
Enjoy the field you've chosen; you won't be disappointed.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2016.

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June 18, 2019, 9:02 pm PDT

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