She’s brand new to PSU, but Cate Breneman, Pitt State’s new landscape architect, is already responsible for some of the most universally appreciated work on campus.
In her new role, Breneman is the lead designer of the university’s green spaces and supervisor of PSU’s 15-member landscape maintenance crew. After earning her degree in landscape architecture from Colorado State University in 2003, she has now spent nine years in the field - the past three years working for a landscape contractor in Topeka.
Replacing Larry Miller, who oversaw PSU’s grounds for decades, Breneman is responsible for the health and beauty of approximately 600 acres. Her recent acceptance of the position and quick move to Southeast Kansas would have been head-spinning were it not for the partnership of her husband Mike, who also recently began working at PSU as a contractor with Energy Solutions Professionals, the company hired to do a campuswide energy audit.
“It immediately felt like a very homey place,” she said of the area. “I’m very impressed by the existing campus and how the old is melded with the new, especially around the Oval.”
Right off the bat, Breneman’s biggest challenge will be to create the new landscaping plan for the University House. In her formative planning of the space, she is considering the use of low-water plants to make the area natural and appealing to the eye. She’s also thinking ahead on the look of the future fine and performing arts center, and on how to make the existing campus even more beautiful.
Breneman said she is going to have to learn more about banana trees, which are planted in warmer seasons throughout the Pitt State campus.
“I’m going to have to get used to the banana trees,” she said with a laugh. “I’m certainly using my crew as a resource.”
It’s an exciting challenge for Breneman, whose love for her work is evident.
“I love place-making and guiding a user’s experience in the space; how they see that space and the buildings around them,” she said. “There’s a holistic part of my work. I love helping people see the buildings and environment the way those things are meant to be seen.”
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