American University of Beirut

Nour Hajjar | '17

​​Landscape Architect and Planner, WATG and Wimberly Interiors

London, United Kingdom

Nour takes us through her academic and professional journey from Beirut to London, discusses how the BLA program was a great decision and a major contributor to where she is today, and uncovers how her distinctive day as a landscape architect looks like.


After graduation, where did your BLA degree take you?

After graduating from the American University of Beirut in 2017, I knew I wanted to stay in Lebanon to get a feel of our industry locally. Back then, finding a respectful job that suited my degree in Landscape Architecture and my aspirations, was not too dissimilar to the way things are today – challenging and limited. However, I was never the type of person to sit and wait for the opportunity to present itself. 

At the time, I was eager to start my career at Imad Gemayel Architects in Beirut who, like many others, were not hiring. But I wasn't taking no for an answer. Ultimately, what started off as a temporary training, turned out to be one of the best steps I have taken for my career so far. After a year at IGA, I came out learning some of the most valuable lessons of my career which I still carry with me today. The most important one being that a great designer is not one who designs beautiful things, but rather one who designs beautiful things that serve a good purpose – to the environment, humanity, and the world we live in. 

With this in mind, I went on to pursue a Masters in Sustainable Urbanism at University College London which allowed me to combine what I have learnt in my BLA with a deeper understanding of strategies and frameworks to design sustainable urban developments. Today, I am part of a very inspiring team at WATG in London where I will soon celebrate 2 years at the firm. With 75 years of experience, WATG have built a reputation as a global multi-disciplinary firm which has become a pioneer in hospitality, tourism and destination design. With the recent United Nations' call to recognize the role that tourism plays in providing opportunities and preserving cultural and natural heritage, I am proud to be part of a team who is widely contributing to the positive change and breaking the boundaries in re-defining tourism. 

Do you think that LDEM equipped you well in comparison to other peers in the field?

In my opinion, pursuing the BLA degree at LDEM was definitely a great decision and a major contributor to where I am today. It gave me the knowledge and personal growth that enabled me to hit the ground running and be prepared for the professional world. With the current global pandemic and the environmental crisis we are facing today, the industry of Landscape Architecture is becoming more relevant than ever. This has put the importance of open spaces, healthy cities and nature at the forefront of mitigating climate change, improving well-being and contributing to positive social change. That being said, I can proudly say that LDEM has equipped me with a wide set of technical skills, developed my knowledge in creatively responding to urban challenges through design, and has most importantly given me the basis for creating safe, sustainable and resilient landscapes. 

As a practicing landscape architect, what does a typical day at work look like?

Contrary to common belief students have, there is no such thing as a typical day at work when you are working in the creative industry. Every project is distinct and offers its own set of challenges and opportunities. With every new brief comes endless design possibilities and therefore different ways to approach the project. However, for me, one of the key stages of every project is the pe-concept phase whereby you explore the site and its potential. In my opinion, a successful landscape project is one that protects and celebrates the natural and cultural heritage of a place while responding to the client needs in an innovative yet authentic way – so typically, you’ll find me immersing myself in the research before anything else! Currently at WATG, my work involves working closely with architects, planners, landscape designers, consultants and developers, and collaborating together to design masterplans focused around tourism and hospitality. Similarly to the process of the Final Year Project in the BLA program, each project develops from the Concept Phase into Schematic Design and sometimes Detailed Design using different skills and softwares to deliver a vision in the most effective way possible.


Do you feel that your current job sustains your daily life?​

On average in London, a Landscape Architect with less than 2 years of experience would have a salary ranging between £30,000 £35,000 annually ​depending on qualifications, skills and years of experience.

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