Kari Tanaka

What do you do at PGAdesign?

As a landscape architect and project manager at PGAdesign, I work on projects ranging from urban planning to multi-family communities. On top of the design, my job is to facilitate the principals, coordinate with the project team, and correspond with the clients.

Where did you go to school?

I received my Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo—go Mustangs!

Why did you decide to go into landscape architecture? Anything, in particular, you remember about your early days in landscape architecture?  

I was about 8 years old when I toured the Peter Walker office in Berkeley—a family friend is a partner there. Seeing all the tiny models of the enormous parks and campuses got me excited to create future outdoor spaces. Fast forward 20 years and I became a landscape architect.

What do you enjoy most about landscape architecture?

It’s very rewarding to have an influence on people’s experience with the outdoor environment. My favorite part is to see how people interact with spaces, the smallest details can make or break a project—that’s why design is so important.

What do you enjoy doing outside the office?

I love playing soccer, hiking, and cooking in my free time. I also enjoy traveling because it gets me out of my comfort zone and forces me to try new things, eat diverse foods, meet new people and ultimately see new landscapes. I made a promise to myself after graduating from college that I would go to a new city or country at least once a year.

What’s your favorite hiking trail?

Mount Tam East Peak, by far the best view of the Bay. Going up will definitely burn your thighs, but it’s well worth it.

What’s your favorite type of landscape space?  

Multi-functional urban plazas. They are prevalent in most cities and absorb the culture from the past and present. The design of plazas not only affects user experience and aesthetic but is also the central hub for many different aspects of a city that bring people together into a community setting.

What was your favorite recent vacation?

I just took a short weekend trip to New York and it was fascinating how much people enjoyed being outside—something we take for granted in California. Everyone was happy to be biking, running, and lounging in Central Park, even though it was a little too hot. New Yorkers take advantage of their rooftop gardens and pocket parks as their own little oasis as a departure from the constant urban surroundings.