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Master of Landscaping

René Fransen

Photographed by Greg Miles

Tell us about your background. I was born and raised in New Orleans. At age 5, I decided I wanted to be a horticulturalist. In my teens, architecture had gotten my attention. When I went to LSU for architecture, I discovered there was a degree in landscape architecture, which fit my twin interests like a glove. In 2005, I was named a fellow of landscape architecture for the body of my work. My firm’s philosophy is, “It can be done.”

Who are the principals of your firm? I am the principal. My associate is Greg Pierce, an architect who has worked with me on and off for over 20 years. John Mills is my junior associate.

How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleans is a place of passionate extremes and excesses. There is so much beauty in the plant materials, architecture, ironwork and natural features that it energizes your creative spirit. I have lived in the Quarter since 1978 but still discover new historic design details on a daily basis. The challenges are that the fine craftsmen are dying out and I am hoping a new generation will fill the void.

Tell us about your current projects.  For several years we have been working on a 1932 Tudor estate with a 43-foot grade change on a bayou with a bay view. We are also creating a garden for a large Georgian home on over an acre in Mobile, Alabama. We have many New Orleans projects and are also finishing an office building in Houma for an offshore energy company.  

What else would you be doing if you weren’t doing this? There is nothing I would rather do, but I would give more time to my charity causes if I were able.

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