Laura Drawbaugh '82

Tuesday, Nov 1, 2016

What are you currently doing in your life and career that you are proud of?

My second NYC Parks playground design is currently under construction and an article was just published in “Landscape Architect and Specifier News” on my first playground design.

You graduated in 1982 and you achieved a lot of success before changing careers. What made you change?

I was working on the costume design team on “All my Children” when everything changed shortly after 9/11. I was laid off and spent the next year traveling. During that I time I received an Emmy for Costume Design that each member of our costume design team won.

Are you happy, so far, with the change?

Very happy. I turned my gardening hobby into a career. I went back The City College of New York and got a professional degree in Landscape Architecture. I have been working for the NYC Parks Department since 2007 when I graduated. I just passed all the licensing tests so I now have my professional licensure and am an R.L.A. , Registered Landscape Architect.

What secrets, principles, talents, assistance, and support do you feel have made you so successful?

Persistence, patience with details, ability to cajole, love of design, and artistic aptitude. I would add a love of materials, color, and form that I learned as a costume designer and assistant. The support of my co- workers at the Parks Department has been infinite. New York City’s expansion of green spaces during the Bloomberg administration and now under Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver have created many exciting opportunities.

How are you currently involved with the department?

I keep in touch with a few friends from school.

What do you find to be the most difficult part of your process and how do you resolve it?

Starting a new career in my 50’s, I had to learn to have younger people know a lot more than me and I also went back to entry level jobs. Leaning CAD and other computer programs was difficult, too. Patience and a lot of yoga was how I resolved it.

What moment(s) of your careers are you most proud of?

The recognition of my design for Pearl Street Playground.

What moments (if any) would you have changed? Why?

I think I would have worked as an assistant less and tried to develop leadership skills earlier. I would have taken better care of my health and created a better work / personal life balance.

Are there ideas, processes that you learned at NYU that help you in your new career?

Learning how to design – from concept to schematic to construction – it’s the same.

As you meet the challenges of being a working professional and concerned citizen, are there any voices that you particularly hear from the aggregation of voices?

From school: Billie Taylor who was the draping teacher at NYU. The first work I got after school was based on skills learned in his class. He would say, as we drafted patterns, “Lovely curves make lovely frocks!" From outside of school: Susan Hilferty, Marty Pakledinaz, Lindsay Davis, Bill McKibben, my yoga teachers.

What are some of your other interests in life? Any final thoughts?

Yoga, climate change, human rights, my family and friends. Take care of your body and inner life so they can support your aspirations. Seriously.