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Spring 2012
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Senior Portraits

Won Joon Seol

Text: Hannah Stamler ’12 | Photo: Kent Loeffler

Won Joon Seol

When the sophomore slump strikes, most students consider mixing up their course load or spending a semester abroad. For Won Joon Seol, his “change of pace” came in the form of a two-year stint in the Republic of Korea Marine Corps.

The Korean landscape architecture student, originally slated to graduate in 2010, decided to serve his mandatory term of military service after his second year at Cornell.

After two years spent doing tough drills, he longed for the freedom of a student life and was excited to return to campus. The transition back to Ithaca was seamless, he said, thanks in part to really supportive friends and the fact that he had already completed his distribution requirements before leaving, allowing him to study exactly what he wanted upon his return.

This included taking lots of classes with Professor Peter Trowbridge, the “father of the Department of Landscape Architecture,” according to Joon. Among those classes is a special studio project to propose designs for the new CornellNYC Tech—Home of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Joon also participated in the group DesignConnect, which pairs students with local communities for design and planning projects. He said the work helped him understand how to apply his design ideas to real-world contexts.

To gain further real-world experience, Joon took an additional semester off to do a seven-month internship in Korea, where he worked at Park Kim, a landscape architecture and urban design firm based in Seoul.

Joon’s love of landscape architecture was nurtured at Cornell but began much earlier, with his family’s business. As a child, he often went along to visit construction sites, and grew up “seeing dirty places transformed into beautiful ones.” He said the process fascinated him so much that he couldn’t imagine doing any other kind of work.

His commitment to landscape architecture is the reason he applied early decision to Cornell as a high school senior.

“Cornell has the best landscape architecture program and was my natural first choice,” Joon said.

Joon is dedicated to creating innovative sustainable landscape design that reintroduces nature to urban environments and provides eco-friendly park and recreation space.

He plans to continue his landscape architecture education by pursuing a graduate degree at Harvard.