Archive for the ‘TECH’ Category

BY AIDAN ACKERMAN, ASLA

The collaborative power of information-driven modeling software.

FROM THE JUNE 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE. 

 

It’s a familiar scene in landscape architecture offices of all sizes: Around a conference table, a debate arises about the benefits and drawbacks of adopting a Building Information Modeling (BIM) work flow. The advantages of BIM adoption are rarely as obvious as the drawbacks. The popular architecture-centric Autodesk Revit software lacks functional landscape modeling tools, though it has a library of building objects such as floors, windows, doors, and roofs. Vectorworks, a more landscape-focused BIM software, does not exchange files directly with Revit, an obstacle that impedes digital collaboration with architects. Regardless of the software being used, the up-front costs of adopting BIM, such as software and training expenses, can quickly eat up profits. Yet despite these challenges, landscape architects are beginning to include BIM in their digital toolboxes. A recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Digital Technology Professional Practice Network, with Benjamin George, ASLA, of Utah State University and Peter Summerlin, ASLA, of Mississippi State University, found that 21.8 percent of the 480 ASLA members who responded said their firm currently uses Revit, and 30.6 percent were interested in adopting a BIM work flow. Of those currently using Revit, 12.39 percent use the software daily, and 11.06 percent said it is extremely important to their work flow.

The “B” in BIM stands not for an architectural building but for the process of building something, an acronym that hints at BIM’s strengths in capturing the construction feasibility of a design project. BIM models contain information such as material assemblies, structural details, and quantities, all coordinated in a single file that can also be used to generate plans, sections, perspectives, and detail drawings. BIM is a popular and established work flow for architects: In a 2018 survey of more than 2,000 architecture firms, the American Institute of Architects found that 45 percent of architecture firms use BIM for billable projects, an increase from 40 percent in 2015. The largest area of growth in BIM adoption is among firms with fewer than 10 employees, which increased to 34 percent in 2017 from 28 percent in 2015. The report also shows that 71 percent of architecture project revenue comes from BIM projects, with no major differences across firm sizes or areas of specialization. With greater numbers of architects adopting BIM, landscape architects have begun to forge their own path toward this complex technology.

The main draw of using BIM for landscape architects lies not in its modeling prowess, but rather in the ways it enables communication among designers. Landscape architects who work with architects typically encounter frustration when it comes time to (more…)

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FOREGROUND

Early Exposure (Education)
An Ohio middle school teacher is holding a class in landscape design to point
students toward possible careers.

The BIM That Binds (Tech)
For landscape architects who have crossed over to building information modeling,
collaboration with architects is considerably easier.

FEATURES

The Schoolyard Is Sick
The ecological designer Claire Latané believes much of student stress in public schools comes from the schools themselves—locked-down buildings and hard lots. She is on a collaborative mission to redesign them.

Creature Comforts
In Germany, a landscape architect and a biologist have developed an approach to invite animals into urban development projects. It involves providing all, not just some, of what species need as habitat.

Omni-Boss
Ursula Hoskins, ASLA, is the first landscape architect to run major capital projects at the New York Botanical Garden. Her latest project, the Edible Academy, addresses the problem of food security found right outside the garden gates.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for June can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 250 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting June articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Schoolyard Is Sick,” Edmund Barr; “Creature Comforts,” Robert Bischer; “Omni-Boss,” Marlon Co/The New York Botanical Garden; “The BIM That Binds,” CRJA-IBI Group; “Early Exposure,” Haley Masey.

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LIVE AND LEARN

BY MIMI ZEIGER

Algorithms are bringing new kinds of evidence and predictive powers to the shaping of landscapes.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Tree. Person. Bike. Person. Person. Tree. Anya Domlesky, ASLA, an associate at SWA in Sausalito, California, rattles off how she and the firm’s innovation lab team train a computer to recognize the flora and fauna in an urban plaza.

The effort is part of the firm’s mission to apply emergent technologies to landscape architecture. In pursuing the applied use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the research and innovation lab XL: Experiments in Landscape and Urbanism follows a small but growing number of researchers and practitioners interested in the ways the enigmatic yet ubiquitous culture of algorithms might be deployed in the field.

Examples of AI and machine learning are all around us, from the voice recognition software in your iPhone to the predictive software that drives recommendations for Netflix binges. While the financial and health care industries have quickly adopted AI, and use in construction and agriculture is steadily growing, conversations within landscape architecture as to how such tools translate to the design, management, and conservation of landscapes are still on the periphery for the field. This marginality may be because despite their everyday use, mainstream understandings of AI are clouded by clichés—think self-actualized computers or anthropomorphic robots. In a recent essay on Medium, Molly Wright Steenson, the author of Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (The MIT Press, 2017), argued that we need new clichés. “Our pop culture visions of AI are not helping us. In fact, they’re hurting us. They’re decades out of date,” she writes. “[W]e keep using the old clichés in order to talk about emerging technologies today. They make it harder for us to understand AI—what it is, what it isn’t, and what impact it will have on our lives.”

So then, what is a new vision—a vision of AI for landscape? (more…)

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BY SARAH COWLES

Designers find new ways to tell communities about climate change.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In the early 1920s, leaders of the Soviet Union had a communication problem: how to relay the abstract and complex communist ideology and economy to their scattered constituents across several nations, languages, and varying literacy levels. Enter the agit-train, a multimedia spectacle covered with constructivist supergraphics that drew crowds at every stop. The agit-trains carried agitprop (agitation propaganda) acting troupes, movie theaters, printing presses, pamphlets, and posters.

Today, leaders of coastal cities are facing an urgent communication issue: how to draw public attention to the looming threats of climate change and sea-level rise. Last winter, 10 teams in the San Francisco Bay area were selected to participate in the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge, “a yearlong collaborative design challenge bringing together local residents, public officials, and local, national, and international experts to develop innovative, community-based solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea-level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes.” Resilient by Design, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, built on the success of the Rebuild by Design initiative, which focused on the post-Hurricane Sandy landscape of New York and New Jersey. Each team was assigned to a swath of bay lands, where a confection of urbanization, predevelopment remnants, and infrastructure collide. A significant component of the initiative was public outreach, to address the issues germane to the most vulnerable communities that are already facing pressure from gentrification.

A significant, and perhaps unexpected, outcome within the Resilient by Design process was a revolution in public outreach, one that echoes Soviet agitprop methods. Three teams, Field Operations, Bionic, and HASSELL+, designed new physical devices, events, or spaces that kick-started public participation in the design process and informed residents on methods of climate change adaptation. Bionic and Field Operations wrapped vehicles with supergraphics to create a striking visual presence at community events, while the HASSELL+ team repurposed a former bank as an info shop. Their agitprop works were especially suited to the constraints of Instagram. The supergraphics make striking backgrounds for selfies, and all teams made liberal use of hashtags. These bold environments prompted action in real and virtual communities.

The Field Operations concept for urban resilience is simple: (more…)

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BY HANIYA RAE

Technology helps shape what hardscapes can be.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Courtney Goode was working on a project in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit. Buffalo Bayou, one of the slow-moving rivers that Houston relies upon to hold stormwater, flooded, and the waters would end up spilling out over the city’s aging infrastructure and impermeable surfaces, exacerbating the problem.

“My heart was in my throat,” Goode says. “We had been working on these super-detailed axonometric drawings of all angles of the city—we knew the city like the back of our eyelids. It was a total shock to see the bayous obliterated and murky, debris-filled water covering the walkways, roads, and even ground floors of the buildings near the bayou. The flood just engulfed everything we had been designing.”

For Goode, a landscape designer in Sasaki’s Urban Studio and a Fabrication Studio coordinator, the disaster afforded her a very real account of how the city managed stormwater and led her to think more about how low-impact development can divert stormwater from streets during flooding. She describes a scenario in which a city like Houston could divert some of the excess water by excavating 40-foot-deep gravel dry wells (the size of a typical four-story parking garage) topped off with permeable pavers that could hold excess rainwater until it’s able to seep back into the ground. (more…)

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It’s the beginning of December, which means the latest issue of LAM is here! You’ll find these stories inside:

FOREGROUND

 Crisis Actors (Outreach)
In San Francisco, teams in the Resilient by Design challenge found that agitprop—an old Soviet-style publicity technique—still works in the Instagram age.

Pairings with Wine (Plants)
The horticulturist Sean Hogan brings a palette of low-water, high-interest plants to Argyle Winery.

Practice Makes Permeable (Tech)
A research project takes advantage of rapid prototyping with 3-D printers.

FEATURES

Here Comes Everybody
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates’ transformation of a postindustrial New York waterfront to the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge Park took two decades to realize. It was worth the wait.

Always Working
A constructed salt marsh at Pier 1 makes a beautiful defense.

How to Overstuff a Sterile Site
The plantings at Brooklyn Bridge Park follow a strategy of “exaggerated ecology.”

Softening the Sound
Noise reduction in the park takes the form of a mountain.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for December can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be posting December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Here Comes Everybody,” Alex MacLean; “Always Working,” Lexi Van Valkenburgh; “Softening the Sound,” MVVA; “How to Overstuff a Sterile Site,” MVVA; “Pairings with Wine,” Doreenwynja.com Horticultural Photography; “Crisis Actors,” HASSELL+; “Practice Makes Permeable,” Matthew Arielly.

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SELECTIONS FROM THE 2018 STUDENT AWARDS

BY ZACH MORTICE

“Stop Making Sense” resists applying easily explicable narratives to the open question of nuclear waste storage. Image courtesy Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA, and Kasia Keeley, Student Affiliate ASLA.

The winning entries of the 2018 ASLA Student Awards offer solutions for extreme sites and surreal conditions, completely appropriate to the times in which they were crafted. Here is a selection of six award-winning student projects that greet such days with humanity, nuance, and rigor.

Stop Making Sense: Spatializing the Hanford Site’s Nuclear Legacy

General Design: Honor Award

Composed of a pair of inscrutable concrete bunkers that are 1,000 feet long and dug 60 feet into the earth, “Stop Making Sense” by Kasia Keeley, Student Affiliate ASLA, and Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA, pushes aside dominant narratives about how our nation treats and digests nuclear waste.

“We didn’t want to give people answers, and we didn’t want to force a perspective,” Keeley says. “What we wanted to do was raise questions and incite curiosity.” (more…)

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