Meet Our People: GAI Landscape Architecture Professional Sheeba West

Sheeba WestSheeba West, ASLA, PLA, ISA is one of hundreds of skilled GAI professionals who help create better communities, transportation infrastructure, energy generation and delivery, and more for people across the United States. Today we’ll find out a little about what makes Sheeba tick—the background, motivation, and methods that she brings to the table every day for GAI and GAI’s clients.

Sheeba has been a valued member of GAI’s Community Solutions Group (CSG) since 2018. She earned her master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida and works out of GAI Consultants’ office in her hometown of Orlando, Florida. Sheeba West is a charter member of GAI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

Q: Please tell us about your area of specialization, how long you’ve been practicing, and what drew you to this sort of work.

Sheeba West: I’m a professional landscape architect and certified arborist. I’ve been practicing for about 20 years. The integrated application of art, design, and science originally attracted me to the profession and still engages my curiosity.

People enjoy the beauty and respite of nature. People are drawn to spaces and places where this innate biophilic human desire is recognized and applied. Spaces and places may be stylized or natural in form, but the spatial foundation must recognize this ancestral connection to the Earth and nature. People prize these sensory experiences. It translates into tangible value added to projects, communities, and economies. This is the art of placemaking.

Landscape architects serve as key advisors to landowners and communities that want to create memorable, sustainable places that attract and retain talented people. We know that we are not separate from our environment, and I incorporate that connection into my work whether in an urban, suburban, rural, or natural context in communities throughout the state of Florida.

Q: What role do you play at GAI Consultants and what sorts of projects do you typically contribute to?

Sheeba: I’m the Community Design Manager within GAI’s Community Solutions Group, which is the company’s Planning, Economics, and Landscape Architecture studio.

My role is to provide placemaking art direction. I help design, organize, execute, and implement the innumerable details involved in translating innovative ideas and conceptual plans into the built form. I help create the shaded streets with outdoor dining where people want to meet up with their friends. I help create the neighborhoods where people want to raise their family and walk their children to a local park. I help create the communities where people get out of their cars and bike to work or bike along trails that reach local natural preserves.

Projects like these often go by technical terms like lane elimination, road diet, traffic calming, walking audit, or parks systems planning—but when these projects are designed and engineered thoughtfully, the resulting spaces simply appear graceful and natural.

The future transformation of Orange Blossom Trail and Princeton Street, Orlando, FL.

Q: What does your typical day as part of GAI’s CSG look like?

Sheeba: My typical day includes a great deal of variety. I provide and solicit guidance on design, which is the nature of a collaborative studio environment. I communicate design with clients and the public in graphic, verbal, and written form. I orchestrate schedules, timelines, and deadlines within and outside the studio. I preform many supporting business tasks from initial proposal writing to coordinating sub-consultants to invoicing clients. When I’m not in the office, I’m assessing pre-developed sites, impacts to existing trees, reviewing constructed designs, or coordinating public workshops and community walking audits.

I have a cool job.

Q: That’s great to hear—what do you like most about your job?

Sheeba: I love seeing ideas that started as conversations become built reality. I love that my built projects are local, public spaces that are accessible to everyone. I love working with a thoughtful team.

I take inspiration from nature, the universe, and its Creator—I’m passionate about connecting with nature for myself and creating connections to nature for others through my work.

Q: So how does being part of the GAI’s CSG bring out your best work, and how do you feel work like yours benefits the community and the world?

Sheeba: GAI’s CSG is a great place to put my expertise to work because of the complementary professionals I have the opportunity to collaborate with daily. I get to practice design within the paradigm of economics and planning—this can leverage community impact that spans decades.

I measure my success by the fact that I get to sit at a table of decision makers who create the built environment. Great design should reflect the community it serves. My own tapestry of cultural experiences makes me a good listener, which is the first essential practice of a great designer.

My work benefits the world in measurable ways like increased property values, cleaner air and water, and improved human health and well-being—but the best work transcends such measurable benefits to elevate invaluable ideas like beauty.

Sheeba West, ASLA, PLA, ISA is a member of GAI’s Community Solutions Group (CSG), a multifaceted practice committed to creating rich, diverse, sustainable, authentic places that allow people to connect to the environment, the community, and each other. Contact Sheeba at 321.319.3048 and find out more about what GAI’s CSG can do for your community—message GAI online and start the conversation about how our multidiscipline professionals can meet your unique project needs.

Sheeba WestSheeba West’s experience includes landscape architecture, master planning, site planning, and construction administration for public and private projects, in numerous roles, on all stages of a project from concept through construction. She has worked on wide range of built projects throughout the state of Florida, including hospitality and entertainment, Florida Department of Transportation roadway aesthetic improvements, commercial retail development, multifamily residential development, senior living communities, hospital campuses, public streetscapes, Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) improvements, public parks, and trails.

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