If Madiha Mehdi’s parents, visiting from India, are proud to be witnessing their daughter graduating from UCalgary’s Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program, they must be delighted that she needed her boss’s permission to attend convocation.
That’s because the international student, who achieved the program’s highest GPA at the mid-year review, has already found employment in her chosen field, starting her new career last week.
“I started my job yesterday (May 23) – I already discussed it with them, and they have given me the day off for convocation,” says Mehdi with a laugh.
“My parents are visiting me from India, and they are very excited.”
Long list of achievements
Given their daughter’s long list of achievements while pursuing her master's degree at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL), it’s probably not surprising to see Mehdi snatched up by a landscape architecture firm in Calgary, even before collecting her hard-earned parchment.
Mehdi is the school’s MLA program 2023 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) University-Level Fountain Scholar, recognized for exceptional design skills and using their talent and ideas to influence, communicate, lead and advance design solutions for contemporary issues.
That achievement is just the latest in a lengthy list of inspiring accolades, including winning the Mayor's Urban Design Award (2022) for a group project named Urban Acupuncture. “The project redefines a traditionally car-centric area in Calgary into a high-density, unique, pedestrian-focused area that connects Calgarians to the past, celebrates the present, and builds the foundations for a socially, ecologically, and economically flourishing future,” reads the project description.
Embracing diversity and the past
Mehdi says the team’s work in conceptualizing the vacant land around Max Bell Arena as a hub for community engagement and residential growth, using existing infrastructure and recycled material, follows her own belief in embracing the past, rather than erasing it to start anew.
Mehdi says she also believes in landscape architecture that brings the entire community together,, breaking down barriers traditionally built by culture and class.
“Looking at Canada with so many people coming in, it’s going to become more and more multicultural, so I support projects where everybody is included and accepted,” says Mehdi.
Mehdi was published in the AALA Annual (2022) journal for an article detailing her exploration of diversity and inclusivity, and how they can be applied for the betterment of the City of Brooks.
Editing and research
While attending UCalgary, Mehdi also served as an editor for the Ultra Journal, a student-led academic publication that showcases the work of students at SAPL, while lending her time as a student representative on the Landscape Architecture/Planning faculty search committee.
Mehdi also worked as a research assistant under professor Alberto de Salvatierra, researching the revitalization of underutilized parking lots in downtown Calgary, while also working as a teaching assistant under Dr. Beverly Sandalack, PhD, delivering classes on urban design theory.
Madiha is the recipient of the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation, Canadian Landscape Charter Scholarship (2022), and is also the recipient of the Alberta Association of Landscape Architects BLA/MLA Scholarship (2022).