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An interview with landscape architect John Jackson III

Part one of a two-part series

Public spaces, monuments, buildings, and parks shape the environment we live in. They influence who we know ourselves to be – consciously and unconsciously. The landscaping of space can give us a feeling of powerful potential. Landscaping – or a lack of landscaping – can also reinforce feelings of neglect or hopelessness. While we may not always be conscious of the physical settings we live and move within, there is a group of professionals who dedicate their lives to imagining, creating, and sculpting our environment. These are landscape architects.

The works produced by landscape architects are powerful. Think of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. The way these spaces are designed bring history to life evoking deep emotional responses. It’s not only the monument or the museum but the way in which the environment is shaped. Nationally recognized landscape architect John Jackson III president of JPA Inc. opened our eyes to the powerful impact of how public spaces are designed.

Founder of one of the country’s few African American owned landscape architecture firms, Jackson and his team work nationally on projects large and small. While serving all clients, they also have a special niche where very few can compete. That is their work to ensure that future generations understand the past. In his own words, “we plan and design culturally significant projects so that the eyes of future generations can see and experience the legacy of African American history and its contributions.”

His work is especially relevant now as communities across the country – and around the world – come together to envision, advocate for, and build public spaces that bring Black history, visions, and aspirations to life. Having a vision is the first step. Then you need a landscape architect to help with planning, cost estimating, and community engagement. There is so much to consider: site suitability, irrigation design, pedestrian and vehicular improvements, site design, visual enhancement, tree planting and landscaping, materials, and more.

Jackson encourages those who are organizing to develop public spaces and monuments to “clarify what you want the monument to convey to the viewers, clearly define the impact that the monument will have or had; its niche in the world and consider the long-term maintenance of the monument for its longevity.” He also underscores the critical importance of community engagement. “It is invaluable; it provides the designer/planner the opportunity to obtain the user’s needs, desires/wishes for the project.  Community engagement also provides the community an opportunity to be a part of a project which in turns gives them a voice in the direction of a project.” 

Jackson and his firm have decades of experience creating African American culturally significant developments. “Our work, as it relates to African American culturally significant projects is one of our core competencies.  We have worked on projects all over the United States and have won many honors and awards for our work.” 


You can reach JPA Inc. at 901-207-5231.


Click here to read Part Two!

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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