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MNLA Heralds a New Era as Firm Elevates Four to Associate Principals

MNLA, a leading landscape architecture firm responsible for the design of Little Island and Waterline Square in New York City, ushers in an era of transformative change and proudly announces the elevation of Alexis Gagné, Dan Yannaccone, Johanna Phelps, and Martha Desbiens to the role of Associate Principals. This strategic move marks a pivotal moment in MNLA's journey and underscores its commitment to growth, innovation, and steadfast values.

For over three decades, MNLA has upheld its core values, defined by transformation, a comprehensive vision and inclusive process that guides its design methodology and approach, and advocacy, a fundamental tenet of engendering incremental positive change. This leadership progression is a testament to the firm's evolution, as it continues to shape resilient business strategies.

“At this crucial juncture in landscape architecture, shaped by environmental challenges and a commitment to systemic change, MNLA stands poised for growth," said Founding Principal Signe Nielsen. “As the firm steps into an exciting new chapter, we will continue to apply the same care and thoughtfulness as we have in the past to our clients, design, and staff. I have full confidence in our new associate principals and am thrilled to work closely with them through this progression.” 

The newly appointed Associate Principals bring a wealth of expertise and dedication to MNLA's legacy. As they continue their leadership roles, they will offer mentorship and act as reliable resources for the entire team while also taking on expanded responsibilities. Their multifaceted contributions are poised to significantly fuel the firm's success. 

The leadership progression includes a close collaboration between existing Principals and the new Associate Principals. To ensure continuity and guidance during this shift, Founding Principal Signe Nielsen, along with Principals Rob DeMarco and Molly Bourne, will draw from their successful experience having assumed Principal roles in 1994 and 2014, respectively. Notably, as the firm celebrates its 30th anniversary, Signe’s leadership mirrors a rich history spanning three decades of dedication to the firm’s development. 

"What employees can expect is a continued commitment to design, mentorship, training, and a collaborative approach to project success," said DeMarco. "We believe in the collective strength of our team, and this progression is an opportunity for advancement and growth for all."

“We are confident that Alexis, Dan, Johanna, and Martha will play pivotal roles in steering projects toward success while nurturing the development of our team members,” added Bourne.

The new leadership marks a strategic move for MNLA, reinforcing its unwavering dedication to advocating for transformative change, innovation, and a collective vision that shapes landscapes for the betterment of communities and the environment. It also demonstrates the firm's commitment to maintaining private, female-majority ownership and its recognition as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and to pursuing work aligned with its core values, exploring new markets, and making tangible contributions to society.

January 23, 2024

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MNLA 2024 Internship

MNLA is seeking a dynamic student to fill our 2024 summer internship position. The role runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, requiring a minimum of 10 weeks, and is a paid position where the student will gain experience in a variety of project phases and typologies.

Please email letter of interest, resume with three references, and portfolio to Ms. Katrina Williams, Human Resources Administrator at No phone calls please.

  • Subject line shall indicate SUMMER 2024 INTERNSHIP. 
  • Portfolio images must be sent as a single PDF no larger than 10 MB.
  • Candidates will receive email confirmation that their material was received.

Skills Required:

Undergraduate or graduate students advancing to their second through final year of study in an accredited landscape architecture program with the following characteristics:

  • Team-orientated, with good communication and organizational skills
  • Graphic skills using the Adobe Suite
  • AutoCAD proficiency
  • Plant knowledge
  • Rhino 3d modeling
  • ArcGIS skills a plus
  • Lumion is a plus

What you may be working on:

  • Design collaboration with project teams.
  • Preparation of Graphics and Construction Documents.
  • Attend internal and external project meetings.
  • Site visits to construction sites.
  • Research

The office is currently working in a flexible-hybrid model that allows interns to balance their individual schedule with a minimum of three days in our lower Manhattan office. If an intern chooses to work in the office and remotely then the intern must have a reliable remote computer and internet service.

MNLA requires all employees and interns to be fully vaccinated with booster.

MNLA is an equal-opportunity employer.


  • Deadline for submission of application materials is February 9, 2024
  • Selection, including video conference interviews, by February 23, 2024

January 15, 2024

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Molly Bourne Leads ASLA NY Plant Research Walk at Governors Island November 17

The ASLA-NY Plant Research Group is for professionals to collectively expand and share our knowledge of urban plants. This month’s walk will explore the gardens and meadows of Governor’s Island and will be led by MNLA Principal Molly Bourne.

If interested in the event, please email

Event Timing – walk begins at 4:00 pm – please take the 3:15 ferry from the Battery Maritime Building. Meeting Location – Liggett Terrace

November 15, 2023


Signe Taking Part in NYBG's 24th Annual Winter Lecture Series

MNLA's Signe Nielsen is one of three whose work will be celebrated in NYBG's upcoming 2024 Winter Lecture Series From Skyline to Shoreline: Imaginative Waterfronts of NYC.

Signe's talk will discuss the importance of the choreography of Little Island and how its pathways allow the visitor to choose their own experience. Please click through for more info.

November 14, 2023

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ALL ARTS Documentary Premiere July 18 - Exploring Little Island

Explore NYC’s unique public park in this documentary and discover how the island came to be from founder Barry Diller, landscape architect Signe Nielsen and Park leadership. ALL ARTS Docs can be streamed on demand through their app on Apple TV, Roku, and AmazonFireTV. The full episode can also be viewed by clicking here.

July 18, 2023

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