College of Architecture + The Arts

Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts

Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
11200 SW 8th Street Miami, Florida 33199

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Alumni Spotlight: Séfora Chavarria, Landscape Architecture ‘11

Born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami, FL, Séfora Chavarria’s natural surroundings throughout her life consisted of tropical jungles and lush landscapes. She knew a career in landscape architecture would allow her to work with nature and create places where people can connect with the land through design.

This was the exact path she’d take earning her master’s degree from FIU’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental + Urban Design in 2011.

During her time at FIU, she learned to master the art of visualizing complex natural systems in relation to the built environment and making the intangible understandable. The curriculum encouraged her to explore new ideas and challenge existing norms.

“FIU’s Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design program provided me with the tools I would need to succeed not just as a landscape architect, but as an individual as well,” said Séfora.

“My leadership skills grew as I collaborated with my peers across disciplines and learned to take on a leading role coordinating design teams. Most importantly I was mentored to think worlds ahead.”

After graduating, Sefora traveled to Southeast Asia to work with renowned landscape architect and author, Made Wijaya. During her time in Bali, Indonesia, she worked on the iconic and award-winning the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, FL, and contributed towards Wijaya’s last published book, Modern Tropical Garden Design.

Returning from her travels, Séfora took on a role at EDSA, Inc., an international landscape architecture and urban design firm with over 50 years of expertise. While working there, she was able to gain experience in over 30 projects spanning across 15 different countries around the world. One of her leading projects was designing the lush tropical gardens at 1 Hotel & Homes in Miami Beach where she was responsible for overseeing the project.

Sefora then decided to be her own boss and open her own landscape design studio, Tropical Alchemy in late 2017.

“My studio was born out of inspiration to raise the collective consciousness through the design of public spaces that serve as catalysts for social change and equality.”

Since its one-year anniversary, Tropical Alchemy has worked on some exciting projects including what will soon be El Jardín de Little Havana in the heart of Calle Ocho, a new urban master plan for the Ocean Terrace Neighborhood in the City of North Miami Beach, meditation gardens and many other projects.

She is also currently working on creating a butterfly and hummingbird garden at the prehistoric Well of Ancient Mysteries in Brickell and publishing a notebook for designers and completing her license requirements as a landscape architect. Aside from her projects, she is an avid member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Urban Land Institute, Tropical Audubon Society, and the Florida Native Plant Society.

Through Sefora’s professional experiences, apprenticeships and most recently her newest venture, Tropical Alchemy, her true passion shines through blending the natural world with built environments.

To find out more Séfora’s design firm, visit her website.

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