The new website will launch later this month as “Land8: Landscape Architects Network.”
By Zach Mortice
The landscape architecture websites Land8 and Landscape Architects Network (LAN) have merged. The resulting media platform aims to add focus to original content creation while serving an international audience. “We want to be the most visited website in landscape architecture,” says Matt Alcide, Land8’s majority owner.
LAN will largely dissolve into Land8 with the merger, as the Arlington, Virginia-based Land8 will absorb LAN’s original content, e-mail list, and Facebook audience.
The merger was initially announced in June. The new website will launch on August 21 under the name Land8: Landscape Architects Network. Both Alcide and Scott Renwick, LAN’s founder, declined to disclose the amount paid for LAN.
Renwick started LAN on Facebook in 2010. It grew rapidly and organically, he says, with no marketing or PR push. Today, it has a Facebook audience of nearly 1.5 million.
Land8 received two million page views in the past year, Alcide says; LAN has generated six million page views annually. With the combined site, Alcide expects about eight million page views in the coming year.
Many of these will come from LAN’s international audience. Its stable of 40 volunteer landscape architect writers (also located around the globe) was another boon for Alcide. “We plan to create as much original content as possible,” he says.
Though it began as a news aggregation effort by Renwick, LAN evolved into an original content portal, funded by paid membership subscriptions. Land8, meanwhile, combined user-contributed website functions into something like an ad hoc, microtargeted social media platform. That includes a native jobs board, professional development resources, an events calendar, a blog with original content, practitioner and firm profiles, and a busy set of discussion forums. Land8 is funded by companies posting to its jobs board and by a handful of sponsoring product manufacturers, such as Permaloc.
Though Alcide didn’t examine any other similar media platforms while pursuing this merger, there are obvious parallels in the architecture world. Sites like ArchDaily and Architizer combine original commissioned content with architect and product manufacturer-generated content to build information hubs that unite manufacturers with architects. It’s a mark of maturity for the small landscape architecture media market that websites like Land8 and LAN are converging into better designed and organized platforms to appeal to both landscape architecture product vendors and their customers.
The merger came about as both Land8 and LAN’s founders wanted to move on professionally. Land8 founder Andrew Spiering handed the reins to Alcide shortly before the merger was announced. Meanwhile, Renwick had grown out of his landscape architecture career (he was previously a practicing landscape architect in Tel Aviv) and into other professional interests. He’s currently refashioning himself as a technology entrepreneur and creating a fitness app. “I felt that I’d taken [LAN] as far as I could,” he says.
Through the transition, Alcide says Land8 will maintain its status as a neutral environment for landscape architects to have discussions and ask questions as they see fit, outside of any trade or general interest media’s set of editorial priorities. “I want to see landscape architects talk about what they want to talk about,” he says. “Maybe [at] other venues, there’s a lot of telling. But we have an open forum. The writers are landscape architects. The people who comment are landscape architects. It’s for and by landscape architects.”
Founded in 2008, Land8 predated LAN by two years, and Renwick first heard of it while studying landscape architecture at the University of Gloucestershire. Land8 “basically inspired the creation of Landscape Architects Network,” Renwick says, which he began as a way to keep current on the profession during his studies. He didn’t see Land8 as a literal model to copy, because it functioned more as a self-contained social media network than what he envisioned for LAN. But it demonstrated that there was a vibrant audience online for landscape architecture. “If it wasn’t for Land8 there would be no LAN,” Renwick says. “It’s kind of a poetic ending: full circle.”