A day in the life of a Landscape Architect at Urbis

Natalie Dubinski studied Landscape Architecture and Bachelor of Social Science, Majoring in Security and Counter Terrorism at Swinburne University and is now a Landscape Architect at Urbis.
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Hi! I’m Nat, and I am a Landscape Architect here at Urbis. I started my journey here as an intern in February 2018 as a Design Assistant and was honoured to become a Landscape Architect as of March this year. A little bit about me, I started my Landscape Architecture degree in 2014 and graduated in 2016. In my final semester, I wanted to further my studies after completing my degree, so I applied to Swinburne University to undertake a Bachelor of Social Science, Majoring in Security and Counter Terrorism. I started my degree in March 2017 and worked as a design assistant as well as working in retail on the weekends. To say the least, it was a very challenging time and I was very close to quitting – but what I learnt from the 5 years of back to back studies, is that persistence is key, and everything will work itself out. I couldn’t be prouder that I pushed myself to the limits to be at the level at which I am now.

Anyway! Moving on! I’ll tell you a little about my day here at Urbis! Well, firstly I guess I’ll explain how I start my morning before arriving at work. I get up at 5:45 every morning to go for a run and do some exercises. Just kidding, I think about doing that, but I never do. My alarm goes off at 6:50 but I press snooze a good 50 times and wake up at 7:15. I really dislike mornings, so I’m a bit like a sloth until 12 pm. I lay in bed a little longer before I check the time and say, “I really need to get out of bed”. Then, I feed my fish and my dog. Afterwards, I rush to do everything else in between and then I walk to the station. I guess that’s my daily dose of exercise?? Good enough, I think.

Nikita & I as well as my fish.

Now that I’m at work – and yes, I make it to work at 9 am in case you were wondering. The day starts off by touching base with your project manager about what work to get started on. You set yourself up, check your emails and touch base with anything else that you need to do. Then at 9:30, we have our Design team meeting. At this meeting, we discuss things that are happening in the workplace, such as events, upcoming charities etc as well as discussing everyone’s workbooks for the week. This sets everyone up and work gets distributed according to people’s capacities and deadlines.

After the team meeting, I settle in and start working on my project. Currently, I’m working between an aquatic centre as well as a regional playground! The projects we do really vary and whatever is your expertise and interest, the business tries to accommodate that as much as possible. I personally enjoy working on larger projects rather than smaller jobs, and my workbook reflects that. The aquatic centre has been around for a little while, starting from concept and currently, it is at TD stage, which is Tender Documentation. In between working away, a few of us are serial tea drinkers, so we often get up and stretch our legs and enjoy a cup of earl grey tea with soy milk – great combo FYI.

AutoCAD Documentation of the Aquatic Centre as well as sketch designs for the playground.

At 12 pm, my director rounded up a few of us to go and visit concrete form fabricators to see how we may use these products in our work. This was helpful as we could meet the designers and producers and ask them about their products, such as production cost, time, transportation and installation. It was a great exercise, as often we aren’t sure how these forms are produced or how we can use concrete in other ways that we normally wouldn’t think of. My director always helps us out as he is affiliated with AILA (Australian Institute of Landscape Architects) and really pushes us to go out there and make connections within our industry which is really important.

This is a tree planter box – but really, I told them it would be a great plunge pool. They didn’t disagree and I think I just expanded their product range.

In the late-ish afternoon, we have a dedicated 3 pm tea time in which we collect a few people from other business units such as Property Economics & Research as well as GIS. Today was our Team Administrators Birthday, so I and another team member rotate baking a cake for people’s birthdays. This time it was my turn! Betty Croker always saves the day for last minute baking ideas.

Betty Crocker ‘Devils Food – Gluten Free mix’ – a great buy. Decorations sold separately.

After tea time its back to the desk for the afternoon hustle. Today we have a deadline for the playground, so after I’ve got my work to an ‘almost finished’ state, I check in with my project manager and my project director to discuss any last-minute feedback. We talk about time pressures, whether we need further assistance or if we have it all under control – and in 99% of the cases, we have it under control. 5:30 hits and the work is sent off to the client. Then it’s time for me to head off to a game of futsal! Then, of course, its time to go to bed at 9:00 because I get up at 5:45…