This University of Guelph Grad is a Future Rollercoaster Tycoon

David Fredenburgh is an intermediate landscape architect at FORREC, one of the world’s leading entertainment design agencies.

When David was studying Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, he was tasked with a project that entailed interviewing architecture firms of various sizes. One of the first firms he reached out to was FORREC – but, instead of conducting an interview for his school project, he ended up interviewing for (and securing!) an internship at the firm.

The world of entertainment design grabbed David’s attention in a big way, and he’s been with FORREC ever since. His innovative twist on landscape architecture has landed him major opportunities to design international theme parks for a living and see them come to life, from start to finish. One of his recent projects includes cutting edge design work for Wanda Nanchang theme park in China.


Who are you and what do you do?
I’m an intermediate landscape architect at FORREC, one of the world’s leading entertainment design agencies. In short, I get to design theme parks, water parks and other entertainment destinations from the ground-up. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some pretty amazing projects including Six Flags, Wanda Cultural Parks, and even Dynamic Earth, here in Ontario.

Where do you get your drive from?
I’ve always considered myself a highly motivated and competitive individual. I’m fortunate to love what I do and I’ve come to realize that because of this, my drive is second nature.

How do you stay self-motivated?
I try to think about my work from the mindset of the millions of guests who visit the theme parks and attractions that I help to create, and what I can do to give them the best possible experience.

And, I try to remind myself that I’m fortunate enough to have a job that, basically, let’s me play RollerCoaster Tycoon every day – I mean, how cool is that? Above all though, I think it’s key to stay focused, have a vision and to always think big picture.

What would you say is your preferred way to network?
While the entertainment design industry is niche, it is an industry that lives at an international level – so I really rely on social networks like LinkedIn to engage and stay connected. That said, nothing beats face-to-face interaction when you get the chance – which is why I’m a member of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and love getting out to attend their events.
How would you describe your process for deepening relationships?
In general, I think it’s easy to get caught up talking about work-related topics and shared industry experiences. But if you can open up and showcase your personality a bit, and talk about your interests and dislikes, you can really create a bond that goes beyond the standard “working relationship”.

What are your preferred tools for keeping organized?

I couldn’t live without my Outlook calendar and my notebook. And, I mean an actual paper notebook. There’s something about writing a daily task list and crossing things off that you just can’t replicate on a screen.

What is your favourite way to market your services?
The best way to market the services we offer at FORREC is to show off our portfolio of work so people can see first hand what we’re capable of. I’ve recently heard the saying that “A completed project can be your best business card”, and I couldn’t agree more.

Who has been your mentor in helping you find success?
It’s impossible to pinpoint just one. The senior designers and management team at FORREC have been instrumental in my growth and I really appreciate how they support and empower the younger generation, to build a strong future for the company. I’m eager to learn all sides of the business so I seek mentorship from everyone around me.

What social issue does your organization raise funds and/or awareness for?
We support a variety of organizations throughout the year, such as the Heart and Stroke’s Ride for Heart, the CHUM Food Drive and FORREC always supports a family in need during the holiday season.

How and where do you continue to learn?
To be honest – like most millennials I’m sure – most of my learning is self-guided. I use Google religiously and have become a huge fan of – it’s a great, accessible resource that makes it easy to brush up on skills via their wide array of video tutorials.

Do you have a fitness ritual that you live by?
I try to stay active four to five times per week. During the winter I play in a men’s hockey league and in the summer, you can find me on the golf course. My golf swing will end up being a life long project.

How do you feed your soul?
Fostering great relationships with both family and friends.

How would you describe the eating ritual that makes you feel most powerful?

I always feel awesome eating a big meal after a good workout. Guilt-free, of course.

Who is your favourite personality to follow on YouTube?
The Rock – he’s inspiring but bad-ass, in a good way.

What type of content do you find most compelling on Instagram?
Memes. I always have time for a good laugh.

Who is your favourite artist?
These days, I’m loving Kendrick Lamar’s new album.

What is your favourite meal?

A few dozen oysters.

What is your favourite sport to watch?
Definitely hockey. I love its fast pace and high energy.

Where is your favourite place to unwind?

On my balcony, people watching from afar.