Feb. 26, 2014
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Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award 2014

Carl C. Kincaid, BS '99

"Be passionate about design, but remember that in design there is a fine line between passion and arrogance."

Carl Kincaid
(Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)
Carl Kincaid served as deputy project manager for the award-winning Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a scenic walkway winding through and around Indianapolis. 

This article is the fifth in a series highlighting the 2014 recipients of the Purdue University College of Agriculture’s Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award. The award honors mid-career alumni who have a record of outstanding accomplishments, have made significant contributions to their profession or society, and have exhibited high potential for professional growth.

The 11 honorees are John Becherer, Lynda M. Ciuffetti, Johann (Joe) R. Garwood, Anetra L. Harbor, Carl C. Kincaid, Donald J. Leopold, Maurício Antônio Lopes, Nicholas L. Rozzi, S. Richard Tolman, Geoffrey C. Waldbieser and Carla N. Yerkes. They will receive their awards Friday, March 7, during a public reception and convocation in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom.

Carl Kincaid joined the landscape architecture firm of Rundell Ernstberger Associates (REA) in 2000 and became a partner in 2008. During his 14-year career, Carl Kincaid, BS ’99, has been a project manager, lead designer and principal-in-charge of a variety of projects, including parks, greenways, trails, and urban streetscape improvements as well as projects throughout Indiana and the Midwest.

His projects include several at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, namely the Indiana Pioneer Village Gateway, Dow AgroSciences Celebration Park in the 4-H complex, and Indiana Department of Natural Resources exhibit. He was the deputy project manager for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, an eight-mile urban greenway integrated into the urban infrastructure of downtown Indianapolis.

But you don’t even need to leave the Purdue campus to see examples of Kincaid and REA’s work. The company is responsible for the landscape design surrounding Discovery Park and Yue-Kong Pao Hall. And Kincaid is currently working on the Purdue Integrated Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for the West Lafayette campus.

In addition, an estimated 10,000 drivers per hour will experience Kincaid’s innovative, artistic bridge design spanning Interstate 65 at State Road 39 in Lebanon, Ind., which is currently under construction.

Through his career, Kincaid has remained dedicated to his alma mater. He serves as the chair of the Purdue Landscape Architecture Professional Advisory Council. He also served as an adjunct professor in 2007 and has returned to teach this semester as well.

Which Purdue faculty member had the most profound impact on your professional career? Rob Sovinski, chair of the landscape architecture program, and Don Molnar, the former chair of the program. Both have had a major impact on my time at Purdue as a student as well as my time dedicated to the Landscape Architecture Professional Advisory Council.

What part of your visit back to campus in March are you most looking forward to? I have been fortunate to be on campus frequently as the chair of the Landscape Architecture Professional Advisory Council, and I always look forward to the interaction with the faculty and students.

Why did you select Purdue as the place to continue your education? Because of its national reputation and the outstanding program in landscape architecture.

Where was your favorite place on campus to study? The Landscape Architecture Studios on the second floor in the Horticulture Building. Our class was a small, close-knit group and we all learned a lot during the late-night hours of studying together in the design studio.

What do you miss most about your college days at Purdue? The flexibility with your time and the friendships with individuals are what I miss most. And the freedom to just be able to go outside to toss around a Frisbee with other students on the Agricultural Mall in front of the Horticulture Building on a warm spring afternoon, even when knowing that wasting the time would force you to be up all night working on a project due the next day.

Were you a good student when you were at Purdue? I was a good student in my core classes, but it was late in my junior year before I really began to enjoy the challenges of my elective courses.

What was the most difficult course you took at Purdue? What made it so difficult for you? HORT 217 with Prof. Harrison Flint: plant identification. It was a rigorous class that had multiple tests each week with 20 different plant species. We had a plant identification test and a characteristics test in the Horticulture Building and a second identification test on campus where the plant material was growing — everywhere from the Purdue Mall to Horticulture Park. We were required to know and spell the scientific Latin names of each plant even though none of us had ever studied the Latin language. Points were deducted for misspelled scientific names, and this proved to be a great challenge.

What is the best advice you got while you were at Purdue? Who gave you the advice? When I was a student, we had to make the cut into the landscape architecture program after our sophomore year. The program only accepted 25 students. If you weren’t good enough, you couldn’t get into the program. I was considering transferring out of landscape architecture because I wasn’t sure I could make the cut. I considered landscape horticulture and design. Prof. Gene DeTurk said, “Do not give up on your dreams because of the challenges that lie before you.” I made the cut and earned my degree. Had I switched, my career track would have been dramatically different than it is today. It would have meant working for a landscape contractor and not owning a design firm that has worked on world-class projects like the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.

What is the best advice you have ever given? To whom did you give the advice? I have been fortunate to return to campus many times over the years, and I always encourage the students to be passionate about design, but I caution that in design there is a fine line between passion and arrogance.

Coming next: Donald J. Leopold, PhD '84

Read about other 2014 Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award winners.

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