Business People Vermont April 2017 : Page 13

ynthia Knauf loves her job as a landscape archi-tect but she admits there are days when she’d like to trade her desk for more time outdoors. In spite of the necessary indoors work, she’s thankful that her position as founder and owner of Cynthia Knauf Landscape Design, Inc. allows her to help connect others to the natural world she loves. C K nauf g rew up i n easter n Pennsylvania, the daughter of a pair of educators. “My mother was a history teacher and then a kindergarten teacher, and my dad was an elementary school principal,” she recalls. “They were very much people-oriented and loved sharing their interests and passions with others.” Knauf loved walking and hiking in the woods. “My parents were gardeners and naturalists,” she says “and they edu-cated me about how the native plants Green Mountain Home in north central Vermont. Infinity pool, spa, pergola, and outdoor dining deck with fireplace overlooking the Green Mountains. CYNTHIA KNAUF L ANDSC APE DESIGN, PHOTOGR APHER JIM WESTPHALEN Meadow Home, Morrisville. Afternoon sunset porch overlooking a rain garden and native plant garden. Featured in Sarah Susanka’s book Outside the Not So Big House . of eastern Pennsylvania grow and how to identify birds by sight and sound. I spend a lot of time outdoors so it makes sense that I’m in a profession that helps people enjoy the outside of their homes.” Landscape architecture was not Knauf’s first profession; in fact, she’d never heard of the field when she was growing up. Instead, she channeled her love of the outdoors into a journalism degree from Moravian College in 1980. While journalism and the outdoors don’t always go together, they did for Knauf since her first job in the field was as an editor for Rodale, which publishes mag-azines on gardening, outdoor sports, health, and nutrition. “Journalism is very much about orga-nizing thoughts into a composition,” she says. “It’s a bit like designing and I enjoyed it, but I really wanted to do something where I could incorporate my outdoors lifestyle into a career.” With that thought in mind, Knauf took a sabbatical from Rodale to work for the Appalachian Mountain Club in the White Mountains as the manager and naturalist for the Crawford Notch Hostel. “That gave me time to take a deep breath and do some research,” she says. “I was trying to learn about career options by talking with other people and reading. That’s when I learned about landscape architecture.” She subsequently left her job to study at the Conway School of Landscape Design, earning her mas-ter’s degree in landscape design and planning in 1989. Knauf had always wanted to live in New England, so she was excited to land a position with Charles Burnham Land Planning in Stowe after graduation. Unfortunately, the economy was in a downturn, and when Burnham had to reduce his staff, Knauf lost her job. She had developed a friendship with architect Milford Cushman, who invited her to work on some projects. Through those projects, she tried to get to know as many people as possible in the field, networking with architects and civil engineers. “The success of this business depends on building a reputation and making connections,” she says. Through Cushman, Knauf met Ernest Ruskey, an architect with whom she developed both a personal and professional relationship. Their firm, Ruskey Knauf, started in 1992 and dis-solved in 2005 after the pair divorced. From there, she moved to Montpelier where she opened Cynthia Knauf Landscape Design Inc., but in 2009 she relocated to Burlington. Knauf believes that having had her business in different BUSINESS PEOPLE–VERMONT • APRIL 2017 CYNTHIA KNAUF L ANDSC APE DESIGN, PHOTOGR APHER SUSAN TEARE 13

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