As a child, Andrew “Drew” Sargeant, TYL ’16, loved playing with Legos—but never followed the instructions. Today, as the director of open space and planning for a nonprofit in Cleveland, he is furthering that innovative impulse—and the community-oriented ethos he learned at Temple—by creating well-designed landscapes accessible to all.
“I loved taking things apart and reworking them in my own way,” he said. “Legos were my introduction to design.”
Born in Jamaica, Sargeant was raised, from the age of 6, in Englewood, New Jersey. His AP environmental science teacher inspired him to blend his passions for the built world and the environment with landscape architecture. After transferring from Rutgers University, Sargeant—supported by four scholarships—split time between Temple’s Main Campus and the Ambler Campus and its 187-acre arboretum.
“At Ambler, the professors did a great job of preparing us for careers after graduation, with plenty of hands-on design experiences that gave everyone a strong foundation with both plant material and how it all gets built,” he said.
Sargeant served as president of the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Association at Ambler. His real-word experiences included helping build an award-winning exhibit at the renowned Philadelphia Flower Show and designing trails and other features to revitalize the abandoned Mount Moriah Cemetery in Southwest Philadelphia.
During a study abroad trip to Rome, he helped design the landscape around a soccer stadium. He particularly credits Professor of Landscape Architecture Lolly Tai: “She really influenced me as a person, designer and student,” he said. “She pushes you to go beyond your threshold and brings out your best work."
After graduating, Sargeant worked for three years at Olin, a Philadelphia-based international landscape design firm which also coincidentally employed Diana Fernandez Bibeau, TYL ’12—a 2020 30 Under 30 honoree who became Boston’s deputy chief of urban design last summer. Then, following a year-and-a-half stint with a design firm in Austin, Texas, he was awarded a three-year fellowship from the Enterprise Foundation to work with Cleveland Neighborhood Progress—a nonprofit community developer dedicated to the equitable revitalization of Cleveland’s neighborhoods—where he now works full time.
“Everyone deserves good design, not just people who can pay top dollar for it,” he said. “The folks who need it the most live in underserved, divested areas.”
His proudest project to date: launching the ongoing restoration of Cleveland’s historic Sidaway Bridge and the surrounding green space. Unusable since its planks were burnt in 1966 to keep Black children out of a white elementary school, the massive trestle bridge was listed last fall on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The bridge is a living manifestation of racism,” said Sargeant. “Although tensions still exist, we’re using these stories and landscapes as tools of connection and healing.”
Andrew at a Glance
As the 2018 recipient of the Landscape Architecture Foundation Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership, and the co-chair of the ASLA Digital Technology Professional Practice Network, Sargeant is recognized for his use of state-of-the-art technologies—including virtual reality, 3D CAD and LiDAR lasers—that enable him to simulate and quickly revise designs.
“Technology allows us to have a more honest, critical conversation with clients and construction managers, raises the confidence in our recommendations and, as a young practitioner, enhances my credibility,” said Sargeant.
Only 2% of landscape architects are Black. Sargeant is a member of the Black Landscape Architects Network, which is working to change that. “We’re shedding light on the work that the profession is doing in communities,” he said. “Me being a face for landscape architecture is also doing that work.
“Ultimately,” he added, “I want to start my own practice and employ more Black people in a growing, bustling practice that does life-changing work.”