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Archive for the ‘TECH’ Category

BY MARGARET SHAKESPEARE

A designer and a sculptor deploy an arsenal of digital and industrial tools to produce ContraFuerte.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The Philadelphia sculptor Miguel Horn’s latest work may not look particularly technological, but it is the product of a sophisticated design and fabrication process that many landscape architects may recognize. ContraFuerte is a new permanent outdoor installation set to be unveiled this fall. “It’s a monument to collective action,” Horn says.

The installation contains a strong element of discovery. Located in an alley in Center City, directly across 12th Street from Reading Terminal Market, the sculpture depicts two sets of male and female figures, entwined and buttressed against a small bridge as if, with superhuman force, they are keeping the bridge suspended above the roadway. To execute and install the work—which weighs 11,000 pounds and comprises more than 5,000 intricately connected aluminum pieces—Horn turned to the capabilities of design software and invited his longtime friend Chris Landau, Affiliate ASLA, a design technologist with a newly established eponymous firm, to collaborate. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Jennifer Mok’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park, set on the planet of Batuu. Image courtesy Disney 2021 Marvel.

 

Dream Big with Design meets kids where they are to help them find their place in landscape architecture.

 

Jennifer Mok doesn’t have a job like most landscape architects. “We build worlds,” she says. Mok, a landscape architecture studio executive at Walt Disney Imagineering, designs theme parks and resorts. “Our designs have to be complete; it has to be immersive. It’s putting the magic into that experience [for] the guest.”

The newest example of this design philosophy is her team’s designs for the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park. Set on the planet of Batuu, on the far rim of the galaxy, Black Spire Outpost is a dusty haven for villainy. There are seedy bazaars, parked space freighters, and spire-like petrified trees that meld into domed structures: unmistakably alien, but also of a piece with one of the most richly realized sci-fi universes ever made.

What Mok and her team of a dozen-plus landscape designers do is both a continuation of the legacy of Ruth Shellhorn, one of Disney’s first landscape architects, and also a wild extrapolation from it. As acts of sheer invention, where the singular purpose is amazement, these places are landscape architecture at a scale that’s unforgettable, and that makes Mok an ideal participant for “Dream Big with Design: A Showcase of Landscape Architecture and Pre-K–12 Design Learning,” ASLA’s two-day session of design introduction and education for primary and secondary school students. Mok and her team at Disney will present their work as landscape design Imagineers, along with landscape designers from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Legoland theme parks, and Minecraft-related programming, on September 23rd and 24th. “If it excites students to see what landscape architecture does with Imagineering, but opens up for them a world of, ‘This is what you could do as a designer, and apply that anywhere,’ that’s what we’re hoping to do,” Mok says. (more…)

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BY PHILLIP FERNBERG, ASSOCIATE ASLA, AND BRENT CHAMBERLAIN

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence creativity should make us rethink the future of landscape architecture practice.

FROM THE AUGUST 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

If you were to thumb through old issues of Science magazine, once you hit 1967 you would come across an obscure article coauthored by Allen Newell, an esteemed pioneer of artificial intelligence research, arguing for the validity of a new discipline called computer science. In the article, Newell and his colleagues Alan J. Perlis and Herbert A. Simon address some fundamental objections within academia to the idea that the study of computers was, in fact, a science or even a worthwhile pursuit. The questions are simple but fundamental: Is there such a thing as computer science? If so, what is it?

As you read the objections and their respective responses, you might begin to think as we did about the similar line of questioning that has been employed in landscape architecture. Substitute the computer speak with our own professional jargon and you have near carbon copies of themes from licensure advocacy meetings, ASLA conferences, or academic treatises on the state of the discipline. Computer science and landscape architecture have a surprising amount in common. They are both relatively new (at least in the official sense), they have both evolved in significant ways over the past century, and they both have been in an ongoing existential discussion about their position amid peer disciplines. This is nice to know but not revelatory.

Yet the intersection gets more interesting. One of the objections in the article states: “The term ‘computer’ is not well defined, and its meaning will change with new developments, hence computer science does not have a well-defined subject matter.” The authors’ reply is astute and resonant: “The phenomena of all sciences change over time; the process of understanding assures that this will be the case. Astronomy did not originally include the study of interstellar gases; physics did not include radioactivity; psychology did not include the study of animal behavior. Mathematics was once defined as the ‘science of quantity.’” So too is the phenomenon of landscape architecture; it just happens to work on an accelerated timeline. The field is ever shifting, retooling, and reassessing our place as our understanding of our medium and our instruments evolves. Before Olmsted, landscapes were gardens rather than systems; before Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, those systems were not intertwined with ecology; before CAD, GIS, or Adobe, our only tools were pen and paper. (more…)

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BY AIDAN ACKERMAN, ASLA

The pros and cons of adopting BIM have oversized impacts on smaller firms.

FROM THE JULY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Small landscape architecture firms face a unique set of challenges when deciding whether to adopt Building Information Modeling, also known as BIM.

In this article, we define small firms as those with fewer than 10 employees, including sole practitioners. Each firm we interviewed falls into this category. For a small firm, the decision about whether to adopt BIM is fraught with questions about cost, loss of productive work time, employee training, and even impacts to the firm’s design culture. Few examples of successful BIM implementation in small firms have been documented, contributing to a fear that some of those firms are being left behind as the technology advances. Yet BIM adoption in small design firms is not as uncommon as it may seem. A 2018 survey by ASLA’s Digital Technology Professional Practice Network surveyed 480 ASLA members on their digital technology usage. Of the 27.3 percent of respondents who identified information modeling or BIM as important to their work, more than half were from firms of 10 or fewer employees. Of the 19.8 percent of survey respondents who identified information modeling or BIM as something they were interested in pursuing, more than half were again from firms of 10 or fewer employees. (more…)

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Foreground

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, 1921–2021 (In Memoriam)
Remembering the life and career of the celebrated landscape architect.

On the Safe Side (Maintenance)
A landscape laborer is far more likely to get hurt on the job than a landscape architect. Some firms are starting to take a harder look at their role in reducing worker risk.

Features

Small Firm, Big Leap
BIM training and software costs are a significant debit for small design firms. As principals weigh the pros and cons of adoption, the competitive cost of not being “in the model” is part of the equation.

Mine, Ours
As Western nations look to a postcoal future, the Lausitz region of Germany eyes turning its defunct mining pits into lakes and its industrial scrapes into tourist attractions. For now,
the contradictions are delightfully instructive.

The full table of contents for July 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 July articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Mine, Ours,” Michael Dumiak; “Small Firm, Big Leap,” http://www.shutterstock.com/Italy3d; “Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, 1921–2021,” Kiku Hawkes Photography; “On the Safe Side,” SiteWorks.

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FOREGROUND

Print to Scale (Tech)
A low-budget student project meets new 3-D printing technology, and an award-winning garden
is the result.

        Room to Lead (Advocacy)
The National Association of Minority Landscape Architects formed in a moment of recognition. Now it is using its platform to reach out to students.

FEATURES

    Alternate Ending
Silver Lake Reservoir in Los Angeles was once a gathering place, but when it was decommissioned, the future went hazy. Navigating a vocal public process, Hargreaves Jones and the local firm Chee Salette honed a jumble of ideas into a plan for people and wildlife.

Whose Eyes on the Street?
Design strategies meant to prioritize safety in public housing often increase surveillance and overpolicing instead. A new program for New York City Housing Authority communities returns the keys to the people who live there.

The full table of contents for May 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 May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Alternate Ending,” Hargreaves Jones; “Whose Eyes on the Street?” Geoff Manaugh; “Room to Lead,” NAMLA; “Print to Scale,” Mississippi State University.

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BY JESSICA CANFIELD, ASLA

Parametric modeling aids the design for a complex paving pattern at a corporate campus.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

When stepping off the city sidewalk and into the site of the Cummins headquarters building in Indianapolis, there’s an immediate sense of arrival into a distinct landscape. David A. Rubin, FASLA, the principal and lead designer at DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, says that the site is an expression of choice, with amenities for collaboration and contemplation, “allowing people the capacity to choose where to be most creative.” This could be in a cluster in the amphitheater, in movable seating, at an isolated bench, or around the long, Wi-Fi-enabled community table, dubbed the “High-Tech Harvest Table” by the design team.

Located in downtown Indianapolis, the Cummins DBU (shorthand for Cummins Inc.’s Distribution Business Unit headquarters) site spans a full city block. Along the site’s western edge is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a citywide bike and pedestrian path. Sweeps of vegetation planted atop elongated berms extend inward from here to guide circulation and, as Rubin describes it, to create a sense that the landscape was intentionally carved back to reveal the underlying hardscape. The main path, which zigzags east–west to connect the building entry and parking garage, widens at the heart of the site to become the central plaza. This multifunctional gathering space is framed by amphitheater seating and can accommodate performances and special events. Just adjacent is a communal work space, the Social Hub, where employees can bring their laptops and connect to power and Wi-Fi. A more secluded area, the Dell, offers benches for quieter work. These distinct subspaces are threaded together by a continuous two-toned paving pattern, creating a unified surface and visual identity for the site.

The eye-catching paving pattern, comprising alternating bands of light and dark concrete pavers, echoes the calibrated facade of the new Deborah Berke Partners building and is emblematic of a checkered flag, in reference to the Cummins diesel engine enterprise. The design team first explored concepts for the paving pattern through sketches and a 3-D model. According to Land Collective’s project manager, Henry Moll III, Affiliate ASLA, “Early studies included larger concepts of fading patterns and pixilation,” but ultimately they went with the more geometric and focused pattern. After selecting the two-toned scheme, the team turned to Grasshopper to further explore and refine the pattern’s scale and color distribution.

Grasshopper, which is now included in Rhino 6, is a visual scripting tool used for parametric modeling. In parametric modeling, design outcomes are created through the application of scripts, which establish and define relationships between components within given constraints. In a design workflow, a script can be used for ideation or for accomplishing a specific task. Moll describes Grasshopper as ideal for working with repetitive elements, because you can automate complex goals, which lends itself well to developing patterns. (more…)

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