DECEMBER PROFESSIONAL MEMBER OF THE MONTH | MOLLY RENNEBOHM WOOD
Molly Rennebohm WoodRennebohm & Associates, LLC Vice-President, Landscape Architect
Our profession is built on the value of relationships and opportunities; how do you prepare for a meeting with a new client?
When I meet with new clients, it is often while also visiting a new project site. I generally try to educate myself about the site in advance and I will often visit prior to the meeting if possible. I also try to learn about the new client before our first meeting. For example, with corporate clients I will read the company philosophy to understand their beliefs and principles. This allows me to incorporate these values into my design. Many times the initial meeting with a residential client can cover a wide range of topics. I typically leave the client with a questionnaire that allows them to comment and reflect on the design discussion at their leisure, and I use this document throughout the design process to ensure I am meeting my client’s needs.
We often design to improve the health of people and the environment; how do you wind down in the evenings to maintain a balanced lifestyle?
In the evenings, I enjoy spending time in the backyard with my husband, our two boys, and the world’s laziest dog. Depending on the season, some of our favorite activities include playing catch, gardening, sledding, and roasting marshmallows. Regardless of season, I am thankful to be surrounded by a family who enjoys the outdoors as much as I do.
In 2016 technology is at our fingertips - what is your favorite app and/or website?
I spend a lot of time outside so I am constantly checking various weather apps. I also like using Sun Seeker. It is a great tool for determining the sun’s path throughout the day as well as various times of the year. I also like the Dirr’s Tree and Shrub app because it allows me to have a library of Michael Dirr’s plant information with pictures easily accessible.
As designers we are versed in community interaction and collaboration; what are you involved in outside the realm of architecture?
Most of my activities outside of work are related in some way to design. I have served on the board of Iowa ASLA and have been a member of charrette teams for the Iowa Architecture Foundation as well as completed pro-bono projects for a local elementary school and church. I also enjoy volunteering at my boys’ schools, church, and the local food pantry. While in college I was on the Crew Team for the University of Wisconsin. I have remained involved with rowing through coaching for various colleges and high school teams.
We are Iowa Women in Architecture; who were the female role models that inspired you?
I have been fortunate to have had several great female role models in my life including my mother who played a large role in the success of the family business when I was growing up. It was inspirational to watch my mom, Mary Anne Rennebohm, develop a lilac mail order business from almost nothing to become internationally recognized and featured in the New York Times and Martha Stewart Living as well as in many horticultural publications. Her business and marketing skills provided a great example for me to use in my business today.
In the design profession, Chris Hilt, an ASLA Fellow and the owner and president of the firm I worked for when first out of graduate school, has been one of the most influential. Chris Hilt started CLH Design, a Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering firm, over 20 years ago. While I worked for Chris I learned a great deal from watching how she developed and fostered relationships with clients as well as how she maintained a positive work environment during various economic climates including the recent recession. While Chris was very willing to stand her ground in a time and place in which the industry was dominated by males, she also had an amazing ability to ease a tense situation with a joke and never met anyone who was not a friend. Philosophically, the manner in which Chris incorporated sustainability and education into the design of projects was inspirational for me and something I strive for today.