GHA Connections: Janet Cherbak


Janet Cherbak, PLA

Engineering and artistry don’t always go hand in hand, but for Janet Cherbak, PLA, Gewalt Hamilton Associate’s (GHA) Landscape Architect, they’re inseparable. Her unique approach adds a new layer to our engineering solutions by incorporating natural elements. An upbringing in a bustling city heightened her awareness of the essential role green spaces play across all landscapes. “Creating spaces that everyone can enjoy is what inspires me,” she remarks. This focus is not only a personal passion but also a professional mission, as evidenced by her award-winning projects.

The Washington Park tennis courts renovation, completed for the Fox Valley Park District, showcases her innovative approach to design. Utilizing the slip sheet method, the new courts were constructed atop the existing ones. This approach not only saved money and preserved the original structure, but also enhanced drainage. This project earned Janet the Renovation Award from the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA).

Janet’s work goes beyond mere visual appeal; it’s a carefully crafted blend of history, culture, and community engagement. This is especially evident in her contributions to the Crystal Lake Public Place project. After investigating the Crystal Lake Historical Society, she was inspired to incorporate the area’s rich terra cotta history into the design. “Exploring the Crystal Lake Historical Society opened my eyes to the unique history of the area, inspiring our design team to bring those elements into the site plan,” she remarks. This insight enhanced the design, adding layers of historical context to the project.

This approach is a natural fit within GHA’s Site Design Services Division, where innovative thinking is not only welcomed but encouraged. “I joined GHA because here, there are no boundaries to creative problem-solving,” Janet shares.

Her addition to the GHA team is more than just a hire; it’s the opening of a new chapter that allows the firm to diversify its service offerings. “Having Janet on our team elevates the range and depth of solutions we can offer our clients,” says Brian Wesolowski, P.E., CFM, Director of Site Design Services. “Her expertise in landscape architecture seamlessly complements our engineering capabilities, providing a more comprehensive approach to our projects.”

Janet’s passion for the outdoors isn’t confined to her professional life; it spills over into her personal interests as well. An avid birdwatcher and horse enthusiast, her hobbies reflect her professional commitment to making the natural world more accessible to everyone. “It’s about bringing nature back to us, working smarter, and optimizing our use of resources,” she says, encapsulating her philosophy of sustainable and thoughtful design in a single phrase: “Do the green thing.”

Whether it’s a playground that sparks joy or a public space that pays homage to its historical roots, Janet’s work is a celebration of the outdoors, designed to be accessible and inspiring for all. Her projects are not just about beautifying a space; they’re about enhancing the quality of life for everyone who uses them.

In today’s world, where the boundaries between the built environment and natural landscapes are increasingly blurred, Janet Cherbak serves as a shining example of how these two fields can not only coexist but also mutually enhance each other. Her presence at GHA strengthens our ability to meet the evolving needs of our clients, offering solutions that are as sustainable as they are imaginative. With her unique skill set and passion for landscape architecture, Janet is not just a valuable addition to the GHA team, she’s an asset to communities looking to enrich their public spaces in meaningful ways.