The Board of Landscape Architecture (BLA) of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) defines the practice of landscape architecture as “the act of planning, designing, specifying, supervising and giving general administration and responsible direction to the functional, orderly and aesthetic arrangement, changing and development of natural scenery and land areas to produce the most desirable effect for human use and enjoyment of various outdoor spaces such as gardens, sports fields, playgrounds, and other open spaces; the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the natural environment and scenery to enhance the ecological system and the quality of life; the scientific coordination of all the processes which enter into the full development of such land area and teaching major landscape architecture subjects.”
Joaquin M. Zialcita is among the pioneer landscape architects in the Philippines, proof of which is that his PRC license number is well below 00050. He began to work with Rockwell Land Corporation in 1998 as Rockwell Center’s West Block went into finishing and prepared for handover to most fortunate and greatly delighted owners. As Power Plant Mall opened, his load included working out the holiday themes and décor, unifying the look of all the buildings in Rockwell Center and lighting them up for the much-awaited view of the buildings’ outline during the Christmas season.
Coming from a family with many architects (three uncles, a brother and a cousin), Zialcita’s specialization took some 10 years to accomplish because landscape architecture was not yet offered at the time he went to college. He was among the first to enroll in the University of the Philippines when the degree program was offered in the late 1970s. By that time, he had already finished interior design in the University of Santo Tomas and even dabbled in commerce for a couple of years in De La Salle University.
First engaged full time, Zialcita went on sabbatical a couple of years ago, but has since returned as consultant for design and planning. He is very much involved with Rockwell Land’s expansion, with the list of projects spanning The Proscenium right next to Rockwell Center, 32 Sanson in Cebu, The Grove by Rockwell in Pasig, Rockwell Business Center’s three towers, The Vantage at Kapitolyo by Rockwell Primaries and a joint venture in San Juan, among others.
For Power Plant Mall, his main challenge is how to carry every year’s concept to the same level enjoyed by patrons in previous years. But because he enjoys what he does, he is inspired to create and recreate various concepts until he finds the right one.
“I like my work here (in Rockwell). I like what I do. For me, it’s not exactly ‘just work,’ but really work that I like doing. It comes so naturally to me. One time I was just sitting in one of the restaurants in Rockwell Center and I observed all these employees and chefs and lots of other people going to this hidden place across the loading dock (of the mall). It sparked my curiosity and I went, too. I discovered a sort of lounge where they smoke or take a nap when they are off duty. So I said to myself, we have to improve this, it can’t stay this way, and I thought of ways to make it better,” he says.
Part of his design philosophy is to provide for as much green and open space as can possibly be accommodated by a project. The Grove by Rockwell has 75% dedicated to open space. Rockwell Center in Makati has corner landscapes which now hosts indigenous trees. Energy Development Corporation (EDC) chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez even came to plant the first of the seedlings under the EDC greening program Binhi, which focuses on propagating prime endangered Philippine tree species. Zialcita says this is an example of how landscape architecture can show unity with the Lopez Values.
His message to LopezLink readers: “Come to Rockwell Center and enjoy our pedestrian- friendly community. We have nice restaurants and very nice Christmas décor at the mall this year. It’s a really different concept from previous years. It will be fun.” (Story/Photos by: Carla Paras-Sison)