For as far back as I can remember I have been fascinated with how people interact with their environment and the ability of landscape design to build communities. And while I couldn’t articulate my passion for the aesthetic component of exterior spaces at a young age, I knew there was more to landscape architecture than what I was exposed to in my immediate, small town surroundings.

I envisioned people connecting with their own environment in unconventional ways. From pruning my family’s tomato plants into topiaries and forcing them to see more than just a vegetable garden, to working on an apple farm and planting trees in perfectly straight lines for a quarter mile, I dreamed of spectacular green spaces. I was passionate and curious about the aesthetics of my surroundings. I wanted people to connect with their environment in surprising ways.

I continued to explore how exterior space could connect communities at every turn. I convinced fellow students to come together, sponsor and construct two adventure playgrounds. I was inspired to use more natural, less formal, unexpected materials; create a space that allowed the kids to play in unique ways; and bring families together. I wanted the playgrounds to be different than the others in town.

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When I left my small hometown to attend Cornell University, I further propelled my dreams of designing creative outdoor spaces that people wanted to be in. After being reprimanded and praised for my willingness to break the rules and look beyond the boundaries of my studio assignments, I realized my designs celebrated the relationship between people and the landscape… And I designed spaces that created a sense of community.

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I wanted to think about exterior spaces in unconventional ways, and that has served me throughout my career.

After years of urban planning and designing, I now lead a studio of talented and committed architects and designers on a diverse collection of projects in my own firm.

Our desire to celebrate how people use their space fuels our designs. From large mixed-use, urban infill, multi-family downtown loft conversions, to commercial and retail spaces as well as residential gardens, we celebrate how outdoor spaces bring people together.

Thanks to LinkedIn, I can continue look beyond my immediate surroundings. I use LinkedIn to further my passion for building communities and reach beyond my current network. While I can interact with my colleagues, stay updated on their current achievements and careers, LinkedIn also provides opportunities to discover new connections with professionals. LinkedIn helps me build communities.

I continue to dream beyond my surroundings…

Editor’s Note: This story was originally posted on Mark’s profile via LinkedIn’s publishing platform as part of our Picture Yourself campaign. If LinkedIn has helped you transform your career or business, please share your story with us.