Brief bio of James Martin
Alum and long-time supporter of the department Jim Martin earned a BLA at University of Illinois in 1972. He founded his company, James Martin Associates, in 1976, and incorporated it in the following year. The company grew quickly into a nationally-recognized, employee-owned, multi-specialty landscaping firm designing, installing, and managing private, commercial, and civic landscapes throughout the Chicago region. The company also became an experienced leader in environmental stewardship—as, for example, through the independent production and use of recycled materials and an emphasis on “green and lean” strategies, efforts that have been acknowledged through many state and national professional awards.
Martin established the James Martin Family Scholarship in Landscape Architecture in our department in 2021. Awarded annually to a BLA or MLA candidate through a course-based competition, the scholarship recognizes and supports students with a passion for planting design, an interest Martin has shared since his own time as a student. When asked about his decision to endow an annual scholarship, Martin remarked, “Landscape architecture is not well known as a profession. Making scholarships available creates more awareness of what landscape architecture is. We need more professionals in the field. Landscape architects are involved in city planning, urban development, and environmental restoration, and, hopefully, this scholarship will help communicate how important this profession is.”
In keeping with his interest in planting design, Martin also established the Terry Harkness Plants in Design Endowed Fund in our department in honor of his life-long friend and favorite University of Illinois professor and mentor. The fund supports an annual lecture and other plants-focused initiatives. In 2022, Harkness and Martin were joint recipients of the department’s Alumni Medal, bestowed annually on those whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of the public, the environment, and the department.