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Archive for the ‘TECH’ Category

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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FOREGROUND

The Scripted Surface (Tech)
For a complex paving pattern that was less of a chore to design, DAVID RUBIN Land Collective embraced
parametric modeling.

Not Just Any Garden (Preservation)
A historic garden is redesigned at the White House, but not without attracting partisans on both sides.

FEATURES

Good Work
The founders of Portland, Oregon’s Knot used pandemic relief funding to sustain the firm during a work slowdown, but staff needed purpose with their paychecks. Pro bono projects with a public service bent were money in the bank.

The Divining Rod
Stephen McCarthy has turned Greenseams, a program that converts disused agricultural lands to stormwater-soaking green infrastructure, into one of Wisconsin’s most successful
open space programs.

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

Credits: “Good Work,” Knot; “The Divining Rod,” Zach Mortice; “Not Just Any Garden,” Andrea Hanks/White House Photo Office; “The Scripted Surface,” DAVID RUBIN Land Collective. 

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BY PATRICK SISSON

A high-tech greenhouse developer argues that preserving the agricultural landscape
requires a sustainable, scalable start-up.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

One of the first things visitors will notice inside the sprawling AppHarvest complex—a 60-acre, 2.76-million-square-foot, 30-foot-high greenhouse in Morehead, Kentucky—is the blinding, almost antiseptic whiteness. A forest of tomato plants, green tendrils reaching up from nutrient-rich charcoal beds toward the glass roof, will soon be arranged in rows that stretch nearly a mile end to end. Walls, gutters, and flooring, all coated in white to reflect the sunlight, give the appearance of a soundstage.

“It’s just awe-inspiringly massive,” says Kentucky native Jonathan Webb, the company’s founder, about the experience of standing inside a space the size of 30 Tesla Gigafactories. Seedlings have already been planted, and by the end of the year, AppHarvest will be shipping the first of what it hopes will be an annual haul of 45 million pounds of fresh, Kentucky-grown tomatoes to grocers including Kroger, Walmart, and Costco. “We’re trying to use technology to align with nature and put nature first,” Webb says.

As its name suggests, AppHarvest views farming and food through a start-up lens. For Webb, who has a background in the solar industry, the central argument is sustainability. Tomatoes are grown year-round in a climate-controlled, chemical-free greenhouse using hydroponics, robotics, more banks of LED lights than a ballpark, and two species of wasps for natural pest control, resulting in significantly more produce per acre. Strategically placing one of North America’s largest greenhouses within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population means less time between harvest and consumption, ideally resulting in a tastier tomato and less trucking emissions. Nearly $2 billion worth of tomatoes are currently shipped into the United States annually from farms and greenhouses in Mexico.

Webb argues he needs to go big to fight the dystopian farming practices of Big Agriculture, which run ever-larger industrialized operations that emit noxious levels of animal waste and fertilizers. Animals raised on huge CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations), for instance, live in crowded misery, amid complexes that stain the landscape with so much ammonia and nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, and methane that children nearby developed elevated levels of asthma. Artificial structures of glass and steel the size of airport terminals can free up the land by concentrating production. It’s a pragmatic strain of tech utopianism that asks if the sacrifice of a small portion of the landscape can serve the greater good. (more…)

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BY LYDIA LEE

When designers need to calculate the environmental cost of projects, a new tech tool crunches the numbers.

FROM THE OCTOBER 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

For the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge project in Washington, D.C., landscape architects at AECOM made sure that the bridge’s adjacent 80-acre waterfront park would provide many environmental benefits: bioswales and rain gardens for treating stormwater, pollinator meadows, and extensive tree cover to reduce the urban heat island effect. But when they did a rough estimate of how long it would take for the carbon dioxide absorbed by the plantings to cancel out the carbon dioxide emitted from producing asphalt and concrete paving and from maintenance, they got a surprisingly high number: 39 years. Two other completed projects they investigated took even longer to become carbon neutral: 346 and 154 years. “It was pretty interesting—we had no idea we were that far off,” says Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, FASLA, the vice president of landscape architecture and urbanism for the Americas at AECOM.

These calculations can be done painstakingly by hand, but Bunster-Ossa’s group was able to get these results by using Pathfinder, a new carbon calculator and design tool designed specifically for landscape architects. The app’s developer, Pamela Conrad, ASLA, a principal at San Francisco-based CMG Landscape Architecture, has spent the past four years thinking about the carbon footprint of landscape projects. “A landscape looks green, so we assume that it’s good and that we do good things,” says Conrad. “But it has a unique carbon impact that is hidden to the eye—it’s only when we measure that we can fully understand this complex formula.” (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Curbing Sediment collects sediment washed along curbs and street aprons in shallow troughs. Image courtesy Halina Steiner and Ryan Winston.

Research at the Ohio State University aims to keep stormwater sediment stranded on the road.

 

When Halina Steiner tested new sediment-collecting infrastructure in her lab at the Ohio State University (OSU), she noticed a mysterious magnetism pulling people toward the bits of beveled foamboard she had crafted into sediment collectors. As water mixes with dirt and sand starts flowing across the planks of foam, and sediment settles into intricately carved CNC-milled grooves, “it’s very mesmerizing,” Steiner says. It’s like sending a paper boat down a stream or, more accurately, “down the gutter,” she says, because that’s the exact place Steiner is looking to intercept sediment that pollutes and clogs waterways. (more…)

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BY JARED BREY

Robert Hewitt, FASLA, at Clemson University leads students and colleagues through a studio project where they designed a satellite city outside Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. Image courtesy Robert Hewitt, FASLA.

Even before the latest round of social distancing efforts and shelter-in-place orders began to shut down American communities, colleges and universities were making plans to finish their semesters online. And for some courses, the transition is trickier than for others. Students and teachers in landscape architecture design studios are facing the same day-to-day meeting and communication questions as everyone else. But they’re also facing challenges to the long-standing culture of the studio, where casual interactions are encouraged and friendships are formed, professors give in-person feedback to students in real time, juries convene to evaluate student projects that take months to complete, and students experiment with materials and fabrication techniques. At the same time, educators at nearly a dozen schools of landscape architecture in the United States say the technology needed to carry out the most critical functions of design studios is largely available, and most schools are well-positioned to switch to online learning, at least temporarily. 

“The conversation around the shift to remote instruction has always found this uncomfortable relationship with how you do that for a design studio,” says Roberto Rovira, ASLA, an associate professor and the chair of landscape architecture at Florida International University. “In some ways, I see this as an opportunity to really test that, and see how we can bring about a paradigm shift that is no longer really a choice but rather a need. That is something we all saw coming, but now we have to respond to it.” (more…)

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BY AIDAN ACKERMAN, ASLA

BIM’s rise in design has brought about new legal considerations for designers.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

With the increasing adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in landscape architecture, questions have begun to arise around issues of ownership, liability, and accountability that are not easily answered by current professional standards and contracts. Who is legally responsible for the information contained in different parts of the BIM model? Who is allowed to use the information in a BIM model after the project is complete? How can landscape architects using BIM protect their intellectual property? Many of these questions have been bubbling since BIM first began to be adopted by the profession. (more…)

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