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BY BRIAN BARTH

Landscape architects feel the push of architecture-centric software.

Landscape architects feel the push of architecture-centric software.

From the February 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Building information modeling, or BIM, has become the default digital format for designing buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure the world over, though in theory it is just as applicable to landscape design. You are not likely to find an architecture or engineering firm that does not employ BIM software, but there are surprisingly few landscape architecture firms that do. It’s not that landscape architects don’t appreciate the information-rich approach of BIM—quite the contrary—but many loathe its building-centric nature.

“Landscape architecture as a profession is kind of down on BIM,” says James Sipes, a landscape architect based in Atlanta who was an early proponent of adapting the technology for landscape architecture purposes. “It seemed to be exactly what we were looking for—that combination of CAD and 3-D modeling and smart software that linked things together in the way we as landscape architects design.” But, Sipes says, companies like Autodesk, which publishes Revit, a BIM software used widely by architects, “put a lot of time and energy into building BIM data for buildings and building components, but none of that had anything to do with landscape architecture.”

All of which would be fine if landscape architects weren’t being pulled into (more…)

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BY FRED A. BERNSTEIN

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Daniel Biederman sweats all the details in a crusade to make parks that work.

From the December 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Daniel Biederman’s desire to improve America’s parks has him patrolling green spaces from Santa Monica to Boston, issuing complaints about everything from a messy bicycle rack weld (“it looks like Play-Doh”) to the quantity of caution tape around an out-of-order bathroom (“people will think it’s a crime scene”). When he is in Manhattan, in his office overlooking Bryant Park, he tries to speak with each of his employees daily—he describes it as essential to their professional development. (“I have to build them up so they can interact with clients.”) But, as in the business of renovating parks, building up often involves tearing down. During a weekly meeting of his business improvement district minions, Biederman browbeat one employee over how he approached newspaper circulation executives (who, he explained, “are former truck drivers, with IQs of 97”); corrected the grammar of another; and ordered his social media team never to tell him a mention of one of his parks had “gone viral,” which he dismissed as a cliché. Instead, he told the team, “Give me real data.”

Asked about his tough leadership style, Biederman later said, “I can’t have kindergarten.”

He also can’t achieve (more…)

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BY ADAM REGN ARVIDSON, FASLA

Diane Jones Allen works to put public spaces and neighborhoods back together in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Diane Jones Allen works to put public spaces and neighborhoods back together in post-Katrina New Orleans.

From the November 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, at a community garden baking in the March sun, some herbs struggle up out of cinder block planters, and irrigation lines snake through the beds, which are awaiting springtime seeds. On the side of a toolshed is a big chalkboard announcing an evening movie screening and other community events. In the shade of a wooden arbor, Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, is meeting with Jenga Mwendo, the director of the Backyard Gardeners Network, which runs the garden. They are discussing not this place, the Guerrilla Garden, but the vacant city block across the street. Mwendo wants to claim it as community space, and Jones Allen is helping her envision what that might look like.

Jones Allen starts up her laptop on the wooden picnic table and presents a few sketches: plastic crates repurposed as small gardens, movable tables on a gravel bed, a pile of tires as a play area. That last idea intrigues Mwendo. “I just came across a pile of tires,” she says. “I’m just trying to remember where I saw that. There are lots of tires in this neighborhood.” She says she could probably make that happen right away, and it would offer some more options for Kids’ Club, an after-school program at the Guerrilla Garden. As Jones Allen presents her ideas, (more…)

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As part of the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Pioneers of American Landscape Design oral history series, the landscape architect Nicholas Quennell recounts his early influences and the work that shaped him into the architect, artist, and landscape architect he became. The interview is broken up into 13 one- to three-minute videos from his early years to his professional working career. This is the 12th installment of the oral history series; the others can be found here.

 

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“If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” by Susanna Rustin from The Guardian on December 5, 2014.

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Susanna Rustin

Every year LAM honors two articles that stand out in the realm of landscape architecture with the Bradford Williams Medal—one that has appeared in LAM, and one from outside the magazine. For the 2015 medals, articles from the 2014 calendar period were nominated by LAM’s Editorial Advisory Committee and then were narrowed to two winners from the nominees.

Earlier we announced Mimi Zeiger’s “Fresno v. Eckbo” as the winner for an article in LAM, from December 2014. Today we’re proud to announce Susanna Rustin, a feature writer at The Guardian, as the winner for an article outside of LAM for her December 2014 story “If Women Built Cities, What Would Our Urban Landscape Look Like?” Rustin’s article focuses on the need for diversity, particularly women, among those who shape the human environment.

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The Bradford Williams Medal is awarded to two outstanding articles in landscape every year.

The medal’s namesake, Bradford Williams, was an editor and publisher of LAM in its earlier days when it was Landscape Architecture Quarterly. The medal was named to honor his contributions to the magazine and to ASLA. A list of past winners can be found here.

The medals will be presented at ASLA’s 2015 Annual Meeting & EXPO on Monday, November 9 in a ceremony at Chicago’s McCormick Place for the ASLA Student and Professional Awards.

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Mia Scharphie delivers a dose of start-up energy to people and projects.

From the August 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The merging of soul and role is a laudable idea—it refers, very broadly, to the ability to bring a set of personal, mission-driven values to your professional life—but it’s hard to integrate into full-time practice. For most designers, it means working on public projects with a community engagement component, or collaborating on one-off social impact design projects, or cordoning off pro bono work into a separate part of their business. Mia Scharphie wants to shake that up a bit.

Scharphie runs two consulting businesses—Proactive Practices, a research collaborative with Gilad Meron and Nick McClintock, and Build Yourself+, a workshop series. At first glance, they seem unrelated, but when you talk to her, you begin to see the kind of connections that are at the core of Scharphie’s work. Drawing on her training in landscape architecture (she began her career at the firm Public Architecture in San Francisco), which Scharphie says is “supercore” to spatializing community projects, she also brings in current thinking from the world of entrepreneurship, citing Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, Tara Mohr’s Playing Big, and Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup as touchstones and agents for social change that shape both Proactive Practices and Build Yourself+.

Build Yourself+ is a six-week course aimed specifically at women working in the design fields, investing women designers with the skills to articulate issues and obstacles to their own success and then get past them. Scharphie says designers, and women designers in particular, can be hobbled by the total work ethic of design. “The strange irony of design is that we do these renderings of super-happy people in our parks walking with infinite numbers of dogs and strollers,” yet the design culture of work-all-hours doesn’t permit any of this. “There’s a disconnect between what we try to imagine for people and what our social lives are like.” It’s a workshop approach that frankly acknowledges that the personal is deeply embedded in the professional, and it builds on the current cultural conversations about gender equity and cross-cultural communications in the workplace.

(more…)

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Researchers will be paid an honorarium of $2500 if their work is accepted forthe LATIS series.  Credit: ASLA

Researchers will be paid an honorarium of $2,500 if their work is accepted for the LATIS series. Credit: ASLA.

Solid peer-reviewed research in new landscape practice areas is highly valuable and not always easy to find, and that’s why LATIS (Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series) is such a terrific resource.

LATIS papers provide practicing landscape architects with peer-reviewed technical information about new and evolving practices and products and offer an economical way to earn the professional development hours (PDH) needed to meet state licensure requirements. This work is important to the growth of the field, and the production and distribution of this new research is supported by the ASLA Fund with $2,500 honoraria for accepted papers and free access to LATIS papers for ASLA members (a $50 fee applies for nonmembers). The papers are accompanied by a 10- to 15-question test you give yourself, through which practitioners can earn LA CES approved PDH for an additional fee.

If you are pioneering a new practice area or are successfully using an innovative technique, publicizing your work through LATIS will help increase the fluency in new and developing topics within landscape architecture. Authors of all papers are carefully selected by ASLA, and all papers are subject to a blind review process. ASLA is now accepting proposals for the 2015–2016 LATIS cycle, and accepted LATIS authors will be offered honoraria of $2,500 for their work.

If you’re interested, email Shawn Balon, ASLA, the Professional Practice Manager, at sbalon@asla.org for additional information. Responses to the LATIS Call for Abstracts must be received by COB on Friday, August 14, 2015, to be considered for the 2015–2016 LATIS publications.

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