Landscape Design Career Captured by Urban Design Studio’s Dinsmore


By Susan Salisbury

For the Palm Beach post

Rob Dinsmore discovered his love for creating landscape plans when he took a semester off from college and worked at a landscape company in Stuart.

Dinsmore, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture, is the new principal of West Palm Beach-based Urban Design Studio, an urban design, planning and landscape architecture firm. He joined the firm in 2016 and is now one of six directors.

The company was previously known as Urban Design Kilday Studios. Following a merger in May with Miller Land Planning of Boynton Beach, it is now called Urban Design Studio.

Dinsmore finds he sometimes has to explain that being a landscape architect is about much more than plant breeding. Licensed professional landscape architects create master plans and design outdoor spaces such as parks, gardens, university campuses, golf courses and shopping malls and other public spaces and plan the location of buildings, roads , driveways, parking lots, shrubs and trees in these environments.

“It’s about creating public spaces, designing sites and merging technical and artistic angles. I design the public domain that you use every day,” Dinsmore said.

A project completed in 2019 involved improvements to Florida Power & Light Company’s Manatee Lagoon, an eco-discovery center and manatee viewing site overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach. The facility completed in 2016 needed additional parking and as this expansion was underway, its manager Sarah Marmion said she would like to see more character in the waterfront landscaping.

“We did a complete facelift of the landscape and created outdoor event spaces. We worked with them to create a more vibrant and usable space,” Dinsmore said. “It was a really fun project to be involved in. They were willing to listen to our vision and ideas.

Dinsmore’s other projects include the expansion of the Sandhill Crane Golf Course, the long-term planning and design of the BallenIsles Country Club capital improvements, the general planning of the long-term redevelopment of the Oakwood Plaza Shopping Center in Hollywood and multiple public sector facility landscape upgrades.

When Dinsmore graduated from high school, he knew nothing about the field of landscape architecture.

Throughout elementary, middle and high school, Dinsmore enjoyed drawing and designing and also enjoyed science and math. He started out majoring in mechanical engineering in college.

After realizing that engineering wasn’t his calling, Dinsmore took a semester off to figure out what he wanted to do. He had family in South Florida and moved to Stuart where he started out as a manual laborer and later became a crew chief and maintenance manager.

Soon he was asked to design landscapes and his curiosity led him to learn more. He transferred from Virginia Tech to West Virginia University, which had a degree program.

“Watching the designs move from your head to paper, seeing them build, and watching people use the spaces has been hugely rewarding,” Dinsmore said.

“Early this year I was named one of the company’s directors, which was an honour. I was happy that they had the vote of confidence in me to be part of the team. direction,” Dinsmore said.

Last name: Rob Dinsmore

Age: 35

Title: Principal/Landscape Architect

Your hometown and current place of residence: Morgantown, West Virginia. Now lives in Port St. Lucie.

Family: Married to Melanie Dinsmore; Children: Layla, 5 and Emelia, 2

Education: West Virginia University, Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, 2010

Career: I joined Chapman Technical Group (a multidisciplinary design firm in St. Albans, West Virginia) in 2010 as a landscape designer. I then became a licensed landscape architect in West Virginia, Indiana and Kentucky with Chapman. I joined Urban Design Studios in November 2016

About your business: Urban Design Studio was founded in 1977 and has grown into an award-winning team of approximately 30 urban designers, planners, landscape architects and graphic designers dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of the physical environment of communities. The effective leadership and creativity of the staff has resulted in the firm’s enduring success and reputation in the areas of urban design, master planning, obtaining government approvals, landscape architecture, guidelines design and graphics. In 2008 UDS merged with Kilday & Associates, creating Urban Design Kilday Studios. In May of this year, UDKS merged with Miller Land Planning of Boynton Beach and reverted to its former name of Urban Design Studio.

First paid job and what you learned from it: I worked for my dad who owned an auto mechanic shop in Morgantown, West Virginia. By the time my brother and I were 13 or 14, we used to spend the summers there working on cars. There’s something about working for your father. He certainly makes sure that you understand the responsibility you have towards your employer.

First commercial break: My first break was my first job outside of school. I was hired as one of only three landscape architects in our design firm and was quickly propelled into the role of designer, project manager, marketer and business developer. It was a great learning opportunity, and it quickly taught me how to take a leadership role in my projects and in my business.

Best business advice you’ve ever received: It’s not so much advice I received, but something I read about leadership. In Ray Dalio’s book ‘Principles’, he explains how his leadership perspective has changed over time when dealing with his employees and colleagues from ‘I know I’m right’ to ‘How do I know I am right ? » Be a leader who can clearly convey or teach an idea or be self-aware enough to listen and make the effort to find the answer.

What you say to young people in your company: Landscape architects will play a vital role in influencing or being part of the development of public spaces and projects across the country. Environmental concerns continue to be a hot topic. Landscape architects are uniquely positioned to have this kind of perspective where they not only look at the built environment, but also the natural environment and how these two coincide.

What do you see for Palm Beach County? Well, my time in Palm Beach County was relatively short, but it’s hard not to see the dynamic growth and evolution that is happening. I am very intrigued to see how recent events will shape business and development. I think a lot of people have learned that it’s possible to live, work and recreate in one place. It will be fascinating to see how this influences things.

Energizing lunch spot: Either bring lunch or walk to Publix from our downtown office.

Where would we find you when you are not in the office? Five years ago, my answer would probably have been the golf course. Now I probably hang out with my girls at the pool or the beach.

Favorite smartphone app: Spotify

What is the most important characteristic you look for when hiring? Creativity and ability to design. I was once told that it’s easy to teach someone to make a plan that has all the proper notations and dimensions in it. However, very rarely can you teach someone how to conceive. It’s really one of those innate abilities that you either have or you don’t have.


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