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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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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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FOREGROUND

Bona Fide BIM (Tech)
Legal considerations regarding liability and ownership of intellectual property are emerging
for firms that use building information modeling.

Steel and Sand (Parks)
On Lake Michigan, the newly designated Indiana Dunes National Park thrives on a plan by JJR (now SmithGroup) that balances a rich shoreline ecology and the toxic footprint of industry.

FEATURES

The Water You Can’t See
On the Duke University campus, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects turned a
water conservation project into a mesmerizing mirror of a pond, surrounded by plantings
that show the clear stamp of Warren T. Byrd Jr., FASLA.

On the Edge
The city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, has made a new pact with its surrounding waters,
one that its people overwhelmingly love.

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 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 December articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Water You Can’t See,” Mark Hough, FASLA; “On the Edge,” Leonardo Finotti; “Steel and Sand,” SmithGroup.

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BY BENJAMIN H. GEORGE, ASLA, AND PETER SUMMERLIN, ASLA

Software and technology trends in landscape architecture.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In 1982 a new tool landed on the desks of engineers that would revolutionize the construction and design industries. That tool, eventually known as AutoCAD, ushered computer-aided design into the field with the goal of increased accuracy and efficiency. In the decades since, a variety of software programs have become embedded in nearly every step of the design process, from site inventory and analysis to final project deliverables and beyond. Software has evolved from tools to represent design to those actually affecting design ideas. It’s more than just software, as emerging technology such as drones, virtual reality (VR), and 3-D printers have found their way into offices. Whereas it was once adequate to master only AutoCAD, Photoshop, and SketchUp, many firms are now expected to collaborate and communicate using technology beyond this “big three.”

As firms wrestle with their software decisions and changing collaboration needs, knowledge of technology trends across the industry can be a valuable tool. With this in mind, ASLA’s Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (DTPPN) teamed with professors from Utah State University and Mississippi State University to document and assess current developments in the profession. The survey was sent to a third of ASLA’s members and garnered 482 responses, 72 percent of whom were full members of ASLA, and 17 percent associate members. When compared to surveys from previous years, the findings paint a picture of a profession in the midst of a watershed moment in how technology is used. While the big three are still staples, there are now many alternatives and add-ons to augment and expand the design workflow. (more…)

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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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