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The Consilium Interview Series – Craig Karn

February 9, 2018
Craig Karn Interview

For our first installment of the Consilium Interview Series, we will be conducting staff interviews to give you a chance to meet some of the incredible members of our team. We recently conducted the following Q&A with Craig Karn, Principal of Consilium Design.

Where did you grow up?

Richmond, Indiana and Grand Haven, Michigan.

Were you influenced at an early age by architecture, landscaping, etc.?  If not, what or who WERE you influenced by?

I have been an outdoor person my whole life. I have been a gardener since grade school. I spent many of my grade school summers in summer school at the Hayes Arboretum near my home, learning about bugs, trees and critters of all kinds. As a Boy Scout, I learned about stewardship of the natural environment and living in the great outdoors.

What was your path to becoming a LA?

My path to landscape architecture is different than most. Many people I know found their way to landscape architecture while they were in college pursuing another degree. I learned about the profession from my high school guidance counselor after he quizzed me about my interest in art, gardening and science. Then he told me I could go to landscape architecture school at Michigan State University. The rest is history-go green!

How did you end up in Colorado?

I took the long way. After struggling to find and keep work in the profession in Michigan after graduating in 1980, I moved to Houston, Texas where I knew I could find work in the boom town. I came to Denver in the fall of 1982 to visit a dear college friend. After a trip over Berthoud Pass in a snow storm and a hike into Rocky Mountain National Park the next day, the deal was done. By the spring of 1983 Denver was home.

Where were you before joining CD?

Before Consilium Design was founded, I worked at Nuszer Kopatz Urban Design Associates.

What do you like/love about what you do?  What gets you passionate about a project?

The thing that makes me like “a pig in mud” is drawing and creating something from nothing. It’s like a puzzle with all the pieces, but no picture to guide you. My passion comes from challenging the status quo. The truly great places in this world are great because they exist nowhere else. It is the anomaly in a pattern of sameness that stands out, not the pattern. In the modern city squares and straight lines serve their purpose, but I am always looking for opportunities to draw circles.

Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on?

After 37 years of practice, picking a favorite is tough. I would say my favorite project of late is probably Sun Kingdom. Not so much because of the work itself, but the life experiences the work afforded me. I may never do work in China again, but I will always remember the place and will always have the friends I made half way around the world.

Advice for people just starting out in LA?

Don’t get discouraged by the difficult times you may find yourself in getting started. When I graduated from MSU in 1980, I thought that was a “great recession”, but then 2008 and “The GREAT Recession” came along. None the less, there has been a few challenging times among many years of success and growth. It’s hard to value the good times if you don’t have some tough times.

Now some fun questions:

Dog or cat?

Yes. Often many.

His/her name?

Cooper and Molly. Past ones – Hey You, Hey You II, Wacko, Layla, Blackie to name a few. 

Favorite song?  (yes you have to pick just one)

In My Life, John Lennon