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In Profile: LA’s Alice McLarty takes on monumental tasks in Washington

In Profile: LA’s Alice McLarty takes on monumental tasks in Washington

For landscape architect Alice McLarty there are no routine jobs among her daily duties; not when the names of her projects are synonymous with some of the nation’s most important treasures. Over the past 20 years the ’87 graduate of Texas Tech’s Department of Landscape Architecture can list the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, DC War Memorial and the Mall Grounds among her work sites.

Her tasks as a landscape architect with the National Park Service’s National Mall and Memorial Parks in the nation’s capital include reviewing design concepts for new memorials and rehabilitation of existing ones, such as the reflecting pool, which is slated for completion this spring. Construction on the $30.7 million project began two years ago.

“A well-done landscape architecture project looks like it belongs there,” McLarty said. “If it’s done right, then the casual visitor doesn’t think about it.”

The National Mall and Memorial Parks manages more than 1,000 acres of parkland that includes the country’s most recognized symbols – Washington Monument, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Jefferson Memorial – as well as dozens of lesser known parks and memorials throughout the Washington D.C. area. With each project, McLarty said she is mindful of three important factors: their historic context, the user experience and good stewardship of public funds.

The Little Rock native received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Arkansas in 1973 and her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Texas Tech in 1987. McLarty said she approached going back to school as a wife and mother of two young children – Rain and Justus – as an adventure. “To go back to school in my 30s was like a gift,” McLarty said. “I approached it differently than the first time around.”

After McLarty graduated, she and her husband, Lynn, looked for work in several cities and found success in the Washington D.C. area. In July 1988, she started as an entry-level landscape architect with Mortensen, Lewis and Scully Landscape Architects, and then in 1991, started full-time in National Park Service’s department that works on park roads.

McLarty later was assigned to projects in the Park Roads and Parkways Program, the Scenic Byways Program and the Federal Lands Highway Program. In 2000, she moved to her current assignment on the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

Asked for a best advice for a graduating Texas Tech student, McLarty said, show up, be happy and be open to volunteer opportunities.

Written By Laura Gutschke

CONTACT: Alon Kvashny, Chair, Department of Landscape Architecture, Texas Tech University at (806)742-2858 or

0507NM12 | PHOTO: Ann Heisenfelt


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