Jun 27th 2019

Illinois Tech Student Wins IL-ASLA Outstanding Student Award

The American Society of Landscape Architects’ Illinois chapter recognized Illinois Institute of Technology alumna Jiaming “Jamie” Sun (M.L.A./M.ARCH. ’18) by honoring her with an Outstanding Student Award for her work and efforts to promote the field of landscape architecture during her time as a student at the College of Architecture.

“Jamie Sun is certainly one who has brought, and will continue to bring, her considerable energies and talents to the service of the profession of landscape architecture in addition to her commitment and ambition for her own work,” says Ron Henderson, professor and director of the Landscape Architecture + Urbanism program at the College of Architecture. “She exhibits strong leadership potential, and I anticipate that she will continue to give an amplified voice for landscape architects in her career.”

Sun grew up in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, and says that both of her parents were from rural farming communities. Sun says that the city exposed her to urban architecture, but her mother instilled a love of planting and green space. “My mom always told me about the joy of this childhood experience of planting and farming,” she says.

Sun began her studies at Illinois Tech in 2014, where she entered the College of Architecture as the second student to enroll in the dual degree, culminating in both a Master of Architecture degree and a Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism degree. Previously, she earned her bachelor of architecture at Yantai University in Yantai, China.

“I would say it was a good balance, since at Illinois Institute of Technology we have this very good focus on building details and structural expression, but landscape architecture definitely gave me something else,” says Sun. “It provided a more comprehensive understanding to see both the infrastructure and landscape in cites and how the built environment develops through the agency of multiple disciplines and constituents.”

During her time at Illinois Tech, Sun’s work in the Landscape Architecture + Urbanism program has received considerable acclaim. The Jazz Fence surrounding the Great Migration Sculpture Garden in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, which she completed with fellow Illinois Tech graduate Yu Si (M.L.A. ’18), won an ASLA Honor Award in 2018. Likewise, her rendering for landscape architecture in a driverless city was featured prominently in a Chicago Tribune article by architecture critic Blair Kamin.

Since graduating in 2018, Sun has been working in Chicago on the design of public spaces, which she intends to continue when she returns China.

“Back in China we are facing a transforming status in society. I want to continue to investigate the spatial and participatory aspects of public space. The notion of public is different back in China, but I would like to apply what I learned here back there,” she says.

For Sun the award is an unexpected bookend for both her four years as a student at Illinois Tech and her time in Chicago. “It was a surprise when I got the news, but it’s such an honor,” she says. “I really appreciate the faculty nominating me, and for their continual support and help—not only the faculty within the landscape architecture program, but all the faculty here.”