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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy ASLA.

A long-planned guide on construction documents for landscape architects is aimed at experienced and emerging professionals alike.

 

This week, ASLA’s Professional Practice Committee has released  The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration Services, which offers practitioners guidance to ensure that landscape projects are constructed in accordance with their contract documents. The guide is especially aimed at younger practitioners and emerging professionals starting their own firms, who may have less experience executing built work. “We decided that what we really needed was something that provided someone who is opening a business a basic understanding of where the risks and liabilities, as well as the responsibilities, lay,” says (William) Dwayne Adams Jr., FASLA, an Arizona-based landscape architect, and the editor of the guide.

The guide is arranged chronologically through the life of a project, and it presents the construction process from the perspective of not just landscape architects, but also the client and the contractor. Adams says that construction contract administration responsibilities often get delegated down to younger practitioners without much experience, and because of this, it’s necessary to provide greater context on what project partners are working through. “So what you have is a very parochial view of the world, that the landscape architect is pre-eminent in all the matters of site construction,” he says. But in reality, “you’re a team member, and you need to know what the other members of your team do.”

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BY ZACH MORTICE

A mirrored hut, in the shape of Thoreau’s New England cabin, reminds us to slow down our metabolism for appraising and interpreting landscapes. Photo by Justin Knight.

Günther Vogt on the limits of design, and the boundless reach of landscape architecture.

 

Ask Günther Vogt what the problems facing landscape architecture are, and he’ll tell you that there’s a bit too much design happening today.

This provocation suggests that it’s time for landscape designers to spend less time fussing with the proportions of a public square and more time working through urban and region-scaled problems. That was the thrust of Vogt’s Frederick Law Olmsted Lecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design earlier this month, which accompanied an exhibition of his work on display now at the GSD’s Druker Design Gallery at Gund Hall. First the Forests exhibits six of Vogt’s projects and is filled with artifacts, models, specimens, and dioramas presented in tactile wood boxes—references to the European tradition of the “Wunderkammer” or “cabinet of curiosities,” eclectic containers filled with wonder and mystery.

There are cylindrical core samples of Boston’s mineral geology, impossibly delicate 19th century Italian gypsum models of mushrooms, excerpts from German plant morphology diagrams, and deconstructed and collaged 19th century landscape paintings, with foreground and background elements cut out and separated between panes of glass, giving the painting a semblance of texture and depth. LAM spoke to Vogt before the lecture about the exhibition. (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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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

BY DIANA FERNANDEZ, ASLA

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Vicki Estrada, FASLA, opened Estrada Land Planning in 1985, and over the course of nearly 35 years, the firm has worked on planning and landscape architecture projects that have helped define the city of San Diego. Her work as a community planner and advocate over the past three decades was community engagement before there was “community engagement,” and her imprint can be seen everywhere in the city’s parks, streets, communities, and transit. We asked Diana Fernandez, ASLA, an associate at Sasaki, to interview Estrada about her career and her life, and what followed was a very candid and wide-ranging conversation about gender, representation, identity, and making landscapes that don’t pretend. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Diana Fernandez: I’m so curious to find out what brought you to landscape architecture. I often feel like all of us landscape architects have stumbled into the field somehow.

Vicki Estrada: It’s a funny, interesting story actually. There were two processes. First of all, when I was in elementary school, I would draw. They were little downtowns. I was supposed to be listening to the teacher, but I would draw little downtowns in isometric view and with a ballpoint pen and my dad’s old office papers. You can still see his office logo on them.

The principal came by one day and said, “Hey, Steve,” my name at the time, “you’re going to be an architect.” I am? So from fourth grade on, it was kind of ingrained in me. You’re going to be an architect. You’re going to be an architect.

I got accepted at Cal Poly for architecture, and I went off. I had one year to go. I met some architecture friends, and I went down to Cal Poly Pomona on one Saturday to visit them. I remember walking down to the campus on a Saturday afternoon. It’s all deserted. It’s all quiet. We looked at this great big new lecture hall. So I walked in—have you seen the movie, The Blues Brothers?

Fernandez: No, I haven’t.

Estrada: Well, there’s a scene in The Blues Brothers where they walk into a church, and James Brown is the preacher, and the door opens up and you see the sunlight come down. I opened up the door, and there’s this room full of students, and onstage was this old guy with long, gray hair, with a cane. He pounds on the stage and he points—I swear it looked like he was pointing at me. “Imagine the Earth as a canvas,” he says. “Architects put dots on the canvas. Engineers connect the dots. You are the only ones who can paint the entire canvas.” Being an architect, I go, “What the fuck? What is he talking about?” (more…)

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BY MARK R. EISCHEID

The site manager Ben Wever talks about maintenance at Dan Kiley’s Miller Garden.

FROM THE JULY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Considered a modernist masterpiece, Dan Kiley’s Miller Garden in Columbus, Indiana, is now more than 60 years old. Previously the private residence of the J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller family (1957–2008), the property has been owned and managed by Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) since 2009. Ben Wever, the site manager of the Miller House and Garden, was born and raised in Columbus and has a decades-long history with the site. His grandmother, Barbara Voelz, worked for the Miller family, and he would occasionally visit the property as a child. He later became a part-time gardener for the Millers while in high school, and eventually a seasonal and then a full-time groundskeeper and a personal assistant to J. Irwin Miller. Wever—an Indiana-accredited horticulturist, member of Landmark Columbus’s Advocacy and Education Committee, and a midcentury furniture collector—also has experience maintaining other Kiley designs throughout Columbus. In his current role, Wever oversees the care, curation, and maintenance of both the Miller House and Garden. The following are excerpts from a conversation regarding the practices and challenges of maintaining the Miller Garden. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Michael Geffel’s Field Mechanics installation. The site is a former pasture, Christmas tree farm, and nursery. Photo by Michael Geffel, ASLA.

For a few years after his undergraduate studies in geography, Michael Geffel, ASLA, worked as a gardener, performing the most literally and conceptually reductive type of landscape maintenance—weeding.

But after a while, Geffel, now a visiting professor of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon, found his compositional hand here, even if it was glued to a Weedwacker. “Because we’re removing things that are aggregating, we feel we’re not changing anything,” he says. “We’re removing what’s accumulated and we’re trying to keep what’s there. But in the removal, and how we remove these things, there’s all the different outcomes in the landscape.”

It’s an idea he carried with him while in graduate school at the University of Virginia’s landscape architecture program, where Julian Raxworthy, another gardener turned landscape architect with transformative ideas about landscape maintenance, was then a visiting professor. Geffel pitched a thesis on “the generative capacity of maintenance and how it might be a design instrument,” he says, and was on his way. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The lago at Roberto Burle Marx’s Sítio, which he composed by eye from truckloads of species collected during his botanical expeditions. Image courtesy Julian Raxworthy.

It’s time for landscape architects to re-embrace what makes them fundamentally different.

 

Since its inception, it’s been hard to find much agreement in landscape architecture over the profession’s purpose and how it should work. For some contemporary designers, landscape architecture, in theory if a bit less in practice, is most visible when ecological systems are designed and deployed to remediate the earth, water, air, and biomes, often at an infrastructural scale. And yet, a profession wholly obsessed with infrastructure would seem to miss the trees for the forest.

The Australian landscape architect Julian Raxworthy posits a way forward in his new book, Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening, published by The MIT Press. Landscape architects, he notes, have retreated from the defining element of their corner of the spatial world: the development and management of planting design. Plants, he argues, are defined by their growth over time and the maintenance used to train them. Gardeners (whose ranks Raxworthy once populated) haven’t lost track of this fact. Growth is landscape architecture’s fundamental currency. From there, he launches into a populist call to tear down the blue collar/white collar divide between gardeners and landscape architects. Raxworthy (who is headed to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, after living in Cape Town, South Africa, for five years, teaching at the University of Cape Town) seems to admire messiness and rebellion against the bespoke and delicate. That preference is not surprising if you chat him up about his days as a music writer in the 1980s in Sydney, attending shows by Public Enemy and Dead Kennedys. Of one of his case study projects (created by a designer who never studied landscape architecture), he writes: “As a gardener rather than a landscape architect, the only plans Korte produced for the project were to satisfy the authorities. All other decisions arose organically through spending four years on site with a gang of four young German laborers who had returned from Brazil and smoked marijuana constantly. He looked back on this way of working with some nostalgia, saying that this time on site was the height of his career.” (more…)

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