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Meet Pamela Shadley, FASLA

Shadley Associates, P.C., Lexington, Massachusetts


Pamela Shadley, FASLA, Principal

Shadley Associates, P.C. is led by two principals, Pamela Shadley, FASLA, and JP Shadley, FASLA, each with 30 years of experience. Pam Shadley is the director of Shadley Associates, P.C., and manages day-to-day operations. She is responsible for project leadership, design, client communications, public/community process and project production. Ms. Shadley leads the design and production efforts for many projects, focusing on public and private educational projects. Her focus includes primary/secondary and university work; waterfront planning and design; economic revitalization; park and open space planning; planting and design; master planning and transportation and streetscape work. She is a specialist in community process and consensus building.

Ms. Shadley is principal-in-charge for work under two indefinite quantities contracts with the Malden Redevelopment Authority, and the city of Medford, Mass. Over the last eight years, Ms. Shadley has led project work that has included the public process, design and estimating, bidding and construction phase services including compliance review for HUD and prevailing wage requirements.

RLA in Mass. (#994), Connecticut (#934), New Hampshire (#17) Maine (#2747), Rhode Island (#436), New York (#002113-1) and Vermont (#125.0071432).

Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Mass., Masters in Landscape Architecture, 1986
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., Bachelor of Science in Architecture, 1983

Professional History:
Shadley Associates, Principal, 2004-present
Carol R Johnson Associates, Principal, 1987-2004

Government of Bermuda, Landscape Architect, 1986-1987

Peter Hornbeck and Associates, Landscape Designer, 1985-1986
Don Swofford Architect, Project Architect, 1983-1984


Bangor Waterfront Master Plan and Phased Implementation, Bangor, Maine
Approximately 10 years ago the city of Bangor desired a master plan for the Waterfront District. Working with city departments and civic leaders, Pamela Shadley led the consultant team that created that master plan. Ms. Shadley led that planning work while a principal with another firm; since 2003, Shadley Associates has worked on implementing the master plan. In 2010, SA designed and was prime consultant for $2 million of improvements to the 11-acre waterfront park. Bangor has invested approximately $11 million on the construction of roadways, parking, sidewalks, parks, a universally accessible dock, lighting, street furnishings, signage and plantings.


South River Park and Greenway, Marshfield, Mass.
Shadley Associates recently worked with the town of Marshfield, Nitsch Engineering and LEC Environmental Consultants on a feasibility study for a riverwalk, and the design and construction of South River Park, a new public park on 1.65 acres of acquired land bordering the South River. In 2010, the team performed a feasibility study for a .56 mile 
river walk trail connecting the park with the recently completed Dandelion Park and the existing multiuse trail on the former Old Colony rail bed. This new river walk will link with a larger trail network along the old rail bed and with other trails. The protection of the South River is identified as a key goal of Marshfield's open space and recreation plan. The park contains priority habitat designation for endangered species. The town is working to return degraded riverfront parcels to a more environmentally sensitive use and provide new recreational amenities.


Boston Harborwalk, Boston, Mass., Marshfield, Mass.
Shadley Associates worked with a large consultant team to design and construct a segment of the Boston Harborwalk along Dorchester Bay at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Shoreline stabilization was designed by the prime consultant, a marine engineer, to combat severe erosion and to accommodate a cap over the existing soils as a result of the site's historic use as a landfill. Shadley Associates designed and detailed all of the upland improvements including the bollard and chain edge treatment, new multiuse walkway, seating areas, stone veneer retaining wall, site amenities including benches, trash, ADA viewing machine and bicycle parking, lighting, kiosk and coastal planting. This segment of the Boston Harborwalk closes a critical missing link and its design complements its two immediate neighbors, the John F. Kennedy Library and Old Harbor Park. Completed in 2015, the harborwalk is a well-used public open space.


Park at River' Edge, Boston, Mass. (Oct. 2014 LASN feature)
Shadley Associates was the co-site master planner for the landscape at River's Edge Park along the Malden River waterfront, just seven minutes by light rail from downtown Boston, which is a story of transformation. The site endured more than a century of environmental abuse from the chemical and paint factories that manufactured their products and left behind toxic waste. The site required two decades of planning, environmental remediation and reconstruction. Ten acres of waterfront have been reborn. Flowing granite walls are woven with plantings into rolling landforms, recalling a meandering riparian landscape, instilling a sense of permanence in the reclaimed landscape. Flora includes three-toothed cinquefoil, river birch trees, "living fence" roses and juniper plantings.

Q & A

1. What was the pivotal or motivating factor(s) that made you choose a career in landscape architecture?
I was fortunate when I was growing up to have an uncle who was a landscape architect. I remember visiting his office in the 1970s. The drawings on the wall were beautiful, the people were interesting and the spaces they designed were ones that I knew. I believed that I could combine my interests in art, the outdoors and in math in this amazing profession.

2. If you had not become a landscape architect, what profession might you have pursued?
I considered being a civil engineer, for a short time, but came to believe that there was not enough creativity in engineering. So, I have wanted to be a landscape architect since I was 16 years old, and I am grateful every day that I became one!

3. What do you most enjoy about being a landscape architect?
I enjoy creating outdoor spaces for people to use and enjoy. I enjoy the challenges of creating beautiful spaces that are within the client's budget, that can be maintained, and that prove to have long-term value. My workday is multidimensional and the tasks vary from running a firm, to working on grading plans, to investigating a new site and project, to working with the public to gain project support. There is no one thing that I enjoy most, as all the various tasks and responsibilities of being a firm owner and leader provide professional and personal satisfaction.

4. Do you think women landscape architects generally get the same respect as their male counterparts? Have you experienced any discrimination because of your gender within the profession or by clients?
I am fortunate in that I practice landscape architecture in the Boston area, where our profession is widely accepted, and there are many, many women landscape architects. Community groups, cities and towns, planning boards and engineering and architectural colleagues accept women landscape architects without any issues, usually. Working with contractors, however, can sometimes be difficult. I find that if construction issues can be resolved with fairness (to the contractor, client, and consultant), and discussions focus on the successful completion of the project, which is in everyone's interest, then problems are minimized. I have two additional thoughts. Sometimes on a construction site when I come up with a technical solution to a problem that has stumped everyone, I gain respect from the workers who might be surprised that a woman knows construction materials and detailing. Conversely, recently a large contractor waited until the site meeting had dissolved to lean over me and tell me, "I don't appreciate how you are nitpicking this punch list." My response was that I work for the owner and by itemizing how the work does not meet the requirements of the bid documents I am doing my job. I have found that by not taking comments personally and always keeping the success of the project as the primary goal, these differences can be surpassed.

5. When you first meet people not affiliated with the profession and explain that you are a landscape architect, how do you describe what you do?
I usually tell people that I design and assist with the construction of outdoor spaces, like playgrounds, parks, downtowns, waterfronts and office buildings. Then I may mention a project that is nearby that I worked on, if there is one, to give an example that they may know. And then when they ask the inevitable question, "What do you do in the winter?, I say that winter is usually a very busy time, because clients want their designs and drawings to use when construction begins in the spring. Then they get it!

6. What in particular do you attribute your success to?
In a nutshell, hard work. This is no different for a female than it is for a male landscape architect. The necessary characteristics of success are determination, grit, resiliency, good listening and communication skills, and a sense of humor.

7. What is (are) the most important contribution(s) made by landscape architects in the field of design today?
After 30 years of practice, I believe that our training on a wide range of factors is what separates our profession from others. We are trained to look at environmental factors so our plants will thrive, at human behavior factors so our spaces will be safely enjoyed, at technical needs so we can grade our sites, and at political and community factors so we can lead our clients through budgeting and estimating, and our communities through good decision making. Landscape architects' site designs can challenge community norms, respond to changes in society, create identities for communities, and change individual and community perceptions.

8. How has the landscape architecture profession changed since you first began working in the field?
When I began working, we used Kroy machines, ink pens and created hand-bubbled drawing revisions on many-times-erased mylars. I saw the transition to computers during my career, and in the beginning firm leaders wondered if the critical thinking skills and expertise needed by landscape architects could be handled by people who were trained to push keys and look at monitors.

Luckily, computers and software have changed as well, becoming more user friendly. The greatest change is the internet has made information readily available. Not only can site information be researched quickly, but we can also learn what others are doing on their projects. One of the most important skills for a landscape architectural leader is filtering. With so much information available, a leader needs to assess the critical information and use it for decision-making, without getting bogged down in the sheer volume of less-essential facts.

9. What career advice would you give to recently graduated landscape architectural students as they enter the profession?
My advice to a new landscape architectural graduate is to find a job with a good firm. Work on your portfolio to demonstrate the critical skills to get a job: CAD illustrative and technical graphics, illustrative plans, sections, and renderings, and also thinking and design skills. If you have a target firm, do what you can to get in the door and let them get to know you and your work ethic.

I believe that the formation of critical thinking and production skills early in your career, plus being around and learning from creative and effective landscape architects, will have a long-term positive impact on your career.

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2016.

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