Kirk Bereuter (‘98 Sculpture) has created a successful career incorporating his artistic skills into landscape architecture. His journey from focusing on environmental sculpture at KCAI to becoming a landscape architect has created a career of creativity, technical proficiency, and a deep understanding of the design process.

Bereuter's artistic journey began with his parents, their creativity naturally flowed through him. He chose the Kansas City Art Institute over several other institutions, and he dove into the world of environmental sculpture. His fascination with earthwork sculpture, inspired by artists like Andy Goldsworthy, led him to explore the concept of creating environments and experiences rather than traditional objects.

As he immersed himself in the Sculpture Department at KCAI, Bereuter’s passion for creating environments grew. The study of earthworks artists expanded his creative language, focusing on engaging site environments and utilizing the materials of a specific site to bring concepts to life. The transition to landscape architecture came naturally as he pursued further education at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

“KCAI really helped me build a creative vocabulary and discover processes and design in art. It helped me develop an intelligence in how to further develop work.” acknowledges Bereuter.

Post-graduation, Bereuter embarked on a dynamic career path, working as a senior project manager and staff landscape architect for various design firms. His portfolio boasts diverse projects, from federal/national park designs to urban and campus master plans, earning him recognition and awards from prestigious institutions.

The evolution of his career led Bereuter to establish his own landscape architecture company Kirk Bereuter Landscape Architecture, LLC. The decision to start his own company was sparked by a mix of necessity and opportunity. The journey involved navigating the intricacies of project management, client relations, and business development.

“I had my license, and it was the first time I ever utilized unemployment benefits…I thought, if I can live off this small amount of money, maybe I should start trying to find my own unemployment benefits through projects.” Bereuter recalls the pivotal moment that pushed him towards starting his own company.

Among his recent projects, Bereuter found inspiration in the emerging industry of hemp farming. The legalization of marijuana in Virginia opened doors to creative endeavors in designing hemp farms, including innovative ideas like cannabis parks or destinations for people to come and consume products, attend music events, and enjoy an immersive environmental experience. Projects for local hemp farmers showcased the layered nature of agricultural land plans, blending history, destination experiences, and environmental considerations.

“I think a lot of wineries, similar to hemp farms, are now realizing that you can’t just grow grapes and sell wine and make a profit, you have to do other things that attract people.” Bereuter explained. “I think the agricultural land plan destination hemp farms have such a creative, interesting, dynamic and that there are so many different layers to explore.”

For Bereuter, the balance between artistic expression and technical aspects is crucial. In his view, landscape architects should be involved in every phase of a project, from conceptualization to technical execution. His broad technical expertise guides the initial design phases, ensuring practicality and successful creative ideas.

Having witnessed over 20 years of industry evolution, Bereuter acknowledges the challenges in the public’s understanding of landscape architecture. He emphasizes the profession’s role in addressing climate change and sustainability, hoping for increased recognition and understanding in the future.

“There’s certainly an interesting history with our profession…I think there’s a lot of room to grow in building the visibility of what we do.” Bereuter says.

Kirk Bereuter encourages students to study extensively, become intelligent about their projects, and expose themselves to diverse creative and professional environments. His journey from KCAI to a successful landscape architect and entrepreneur exemplifies the transformative power of artistic expression in landscape architecture, serving as inspiration for aspiring professionals.

Carrington Farm Estate Project

Kirk Bereuter (’98 Sculpture)