MaraLee Olson

Lecturer
PLA, ASLA
Master of Landscape Architecture – University of Minnesota, 1998
 Bachelor of Environmental Design in Landscape Architecture – University of Minnesota, 1996

M25V Ag Hall
(608) 263-7301

Shaping the built environment for over a decade, MaraLee has experience in land planning, urban design, community design, site design, graphic design, and project management. In both public and private practice, MaraLee has lead and participated in many community design charrettes, and her attention to detail, ability to see the ‘big picture’, and stubbornness when it comes to deadlines and bottom-lines, enables MaraLee to manage diverse design projects and multidisciplinary teams.

From 1998 to 2013, MaraLee served as the project manager for the Hamer Center for Community Design Assistance at the Pennsylvania State University. Alongside the inaugural director, MaraLee assisted in defining the Center’s mission and goals, and managed service learning, community design, planning, and research projects. MaraLee has worked on scales ranging from neighborhood revitalization to inter-state greenway systems, and she has the ability to think across multiple scales and engage multiple constituents. During her tenure with the Hamer Center, MaraLee was part of the project team that created PennSCAPES: an illustrative, multi-media planning tool designed to increase people’s understanding about how to create walk-able neighborhoods and compact development that is sensitive to a site’s environmental features, while also providing housing, transportation choices and usable open space.

Since 2003, MaraLee has worked in private practice, leading projects and teams that design personal sanctuaries, therapeutic gardens, healing and hospitality landscapes, and natural playgrounds and outdoor classrooms. Her skills in facilitation and team leadership, coupled with her love of community design dynamics enable MaraLee to bring an inclusive design experience to many of her clients – offering the level of interaction that they desire, and forming collaborative teams of professionals, educators, families, children, administrators and officials.

MaraLee has taught the Open Space Design Studio in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 2012, and she has been an invited speaker and guest panelist on topics related to resilience, sustainability and community design, at both the national and local levels. She has been published in articles and book essays covering topics in design, land use regulation, community participation, community design processes and computer technology related to design.