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Open Letter to the Design-Build PPN: Kinman Associates
by Michael A. Sidlowski
Those of us working in the residential landscape architecture arena were treated to a tremendous speaker at the 2006 NJASLA Annual Meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A newcomer to the NJASLA Conference, Gary Kinman, delivered the closing keynote address, “Partnering for Success”. His practical and common sense approach to a design process has provided him with countless unique projects, which dot the landscape throughout his home state of Ohio. It is this design process that has most recently led him to work with the wealthiest family in Ohio on a private garden project in the several million dollar range.

Gary has promoted professionalism in our industry for over 20 years and feels very strongly about creating real value for clients. The most important ingredient in creating this value, he believes, is to set standards and methods which all design professionals can pull from. Using fundamental tools and practicing simple communication, Gary guides his clients through the design process. By educating them on history, design and other elements of the process, he frees their imaginations and encourages their active involvement.

“Fitting ourselves with a new pair of glasses to see the project through the client’s eyes is so difficult… so why do it?”

“I feel as though I have become a facilitator for my client, a tour guide of texture and materials to ensure the end result meets their appropriate needs and desires.” –Gary Kinman

Gary gives clients the tools to become an integral part of the project. With the proper guidance, he lets their imaginations take the project to a place he himself might not have envisioned.

How do we really structure our relationships with our clients? And do we ultimately sacrifice our projects by not involving the client properly and communicating the steps of an overall design process? The voice and work of Gary Kinman can help us answer these and many other critical questions.

Michael A. Sidlowski, ASLA is a partner at Live Oak Landscape, Piscataway, NJ. He can be reached at:

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Jay Gehler, ASLA, Chair
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