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BY BRIAN BARTH

One practitioner defies the handicaps of building Information modeling for landscape, determined not to remain an exception.

FROM THE AUGUST 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Meghen Quinn, ASLA, has a secret. BIM—an acronym that puts moonbeams in the eyes of architects, but makes some landscape architects cringe—is her software of choice. BIM, shorthand for building information modeling, is the 3-D, data-rich software platform embodied by Revit, a product launched in 2000 by Charles River Software and acquired by Autodesk two years later. By 2012, 70 percent of architecture firms in North America reported using BIM, and in 2016 the American Institute of Architects reported that BIM was used for nearly 100 percent of projects at large firms.

It seems that so few landscape architects use BIM, however, that no one has ever bothered to collect the data. Its reputation in the field is as a clunky, building-centric, overly complex tool that has put up yet another barrier between landscape designers and architects.

Yet Quinn, who merged her San Francisco practice with the Office of Cheryl Barton in January, is all moonbeams. Well, mostly. “I never want to use CAD again,” she says. “Moving to BIM is like (more…)

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REVIEWED BY GALE FULTON, ASLA

Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualising Design and Making

From the October 2016 Issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine

 

Warning: possible confirmation bias ahead.

One of the most perplexing aspects of landscape architecture education and practice that I’ve encountered is what I’ll grossly refer to here as representation. In the nearly two decades that I’ve been a student, professional, or involved in some capacity with teaching at the university level, I can think of no other domain as consistently polarizing than the critically important area of how landscape architects generate and communicate their ideas. Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of this issue is the ongoing divide between digital and analog processes—using the computer versus hand drawing. At first glance, one may likely assume this issue to simply be generational—older generations of designers were not educated in the use of the computer and so are less accepting of it than of those techniques and media with which they were trained. But, surprisingly, there seems to be a continued skepticism or distancing from advanced computational processes even by those of the postdigital generations, which is much more troubling given that these will be the future leaders of the discipline, and, as the authors of this book so effectively demonstrate, not embracing the digital in a robust way at this point significantly reduces the potential of the discipline to have the type of impact it aspires to have.

Landscape Architecture and Digital Technologies: Re-Conceptualising Design and Making, by Jillian Walliss and Heike Rahmann, both academics based in Australia, is a well-reasoned, well-written, and at times polemical book. It critiques landscape architecture’s failure to more fully embrace the potentials of digital media. It educates readers about the ways designers are using sophisticated digital processes right now in very real professional and academic projects and research. And it aspires for landscape architecture to leverage digital technology (more…)

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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 BRIAN BARTH

Virtual Reality is making a leap:

Virtual Reality is making a leap. Will landscape architects be ready?

From the December 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

Early next year, Oculus—a company recently purchased by Facebook from its founder Palmer Luckey for $2.3 billion—is expected to release Rift, the first mass-produced virtual reality headset. With a price tag around $300 to $400, the Oculus Rift will allow video gaming enthusiasts to slay each other in an immersive, true-to-scale, viscerally realistic three-dimensional world—a world where gamers on any continent can join each other inside their goggles.

Gaming junkies are far from the only crowd salivating for access to the technology. The software industry is falling over itself to produce new web and media applications for the Oculus Rift, ranging from immersive 3-D movies (think IMAX inside a pair of ski goggles) to tutorials on how to properly dissect a human cadaver to combat simulations for the military. At its core, virtual reality (VR) is an advanced way to experience a 3-D model of anything a designer can come up with; naturally, architects, engineers, and landscape architects are also standing in line for a chance to plug their designs into the new technology.

Computer engineers have been chasing the idea of VR since (more…)

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