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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Design firms are (finally) using social media for marketing, but in the era of physical isolation, it has also become a kind of social infrastructure.

FROM THE JANUARY 2021 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Gina Ford, FASLA, wants me to know that she was asked to get on Twitter. It was early 2011, and the marketing team at Sasaki, where Ford was a principal at the time, felt that the firm needed to be more active on social media and also needed a fresh voice. “I was one of the only principals that was on Facebook actively. I think that’s why they thought I was fertile ground,” she says.

What Ford didn’t anticipate was how comfortable she would feel online compared to some of the other environments in which she found herself. “As a woman who doesn’t like traditional networking, social media was a place that I could channel my energy and be myself,” she says. This was especially true “when I started in the early 2000s,” she says, “being the only woman in these big rooms with businessmen in suits.” By the time Ford left Sasaki to start her own firm, Agency Landscape + Planning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she was highly involved in helping craft the firm’s external messaging, including on social media.

With Agency, which Ford founded with Brie Hensold, Honorary ASLA, in 2017, she wanted to try something different. The firm has an express focus on social and environmental justice, and Ford wanted that to be reflected across the firm’s social media channels. “We wanted social media to be an expression of our culture,” she says. Prior to that, Ford says she had been “a little understated” in the role feminism played in how she approached practice. “I don’t shield the world from that anymore. I’m very proud that feminism is part of what we do.”

Agency’s social media feeds are full of stylish illustrations, snapshots from site visits, and photos of community events, but also articles about race and gender, critiques of design culture, and celebrations of design heroes—an ode to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or an interactive star chart of Ford’s most influential mentors and teachers designed for Women in Design Boston.

The looser, more personal—and more political—approach has earned Agency a sizable online audience. The firm has nearly 3,000 followers on Instagram, about the same number that follow Ford’s personal Twitter account, which makes her one of the more visible and vocal landscape practitioners on the platform. (Ford is infamous for calling out publications that refer to landscape architects as architects.) That visibility has paid off in speaking gigs and interview requests in mainstream outlets. On the day she and I spoke, Ford was quoted in a New York Times article about the omission of female landscape architects from the larger landscape discourse, inspired by the theme of the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead.

“People say to me all the time, ‘Does Agency hire a PR firm? Because you guys are always in the news,’” Ford says. “And I’m like, that is 10 years of hand-over-fist slogging through a very consistent point of view on social media.” That word choice—slog—is not incidental. Social media can feel demoralizing, she says. “The first few years I was doing [it], it did feel like I was screaming into a black hole. And I think that’s where a lot of firms go wrong. You can’t post something and expect an immediate return. That’s not the way social media works. You post, you post, you post, you post, you post; someone’s like, ‘Oh, she’s into that thing’; and then five years down the road, they’re writing a piece about that thing and they’re like, ‘Oh, we should talk to that girl who’s always posting about that thing.’ It’s a long game that a lot of people don’t want to play—or don’t even know to play.” (more…)

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FOREGROUND       

A Resilient Renewal (Maintenance)
After Hurricane Sandy upended a planned redesign, Joanna Pertz Landscape Architecture committed to the
upkeep of a flood-control landscape at NYU’s Langone Medical Center.

Ahead of the Curve (House Call)
An artful take on an underused suburban yard by Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture
turns around a few key elements.

FEATURES    

Reveal the River
Though 100 protected miles of the Chattahoochee River flow through the Atlanta metro area, a lack of access
and a long history of segregation have kept locals away and distrustful.
SCAPE lays out a path, or three, forward.

Mixed Media
Landscape architects have been slow to adopt social media, but with the pandemic closing off
traditional marketing, social platforms are giving rise to new forms of connection
and collaboration.

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

Credits: “Reveal the River,” SCAPE; “A Resilient Renewal,” Joanna Pertz; “Ahead of the Curve,” Jennifer Horn Landscape Architecture.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy of Land8: Landscape Architects Network.

The landscape architecture websites Land8 and Landscape Architects Network (LAN) have merged. The resulting media platform aims to add focus to original content creation while serving an international audience. “We want to be the most visited website in landscape architecture,” says Matt Alcide, Land8’s majority owner.

LAN will largely dissolve into Land8 with the merger, as the Arlington, Virginia-based Land8 will (more…)

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Launching a design firm is not for the faint of heart. In building a landscape architecture business, mobile tech and shared work spaces have changed the game, but some things remain the same—long hours and total dedication are a given. Kevan Williams talked to more than a dozen young firms about what it takes to take the leap in a postrecession world and what keeps principals up at night. If big demands take time away from design, they also deliver independence and professional growth. Principals talk candidly about finding balance, building on experience, and focusing on a few key elements among other backstage insights.

Steve Durrant, FASLA, is a bike evangelist, and that makes him a bike lane evangelist, too. Fred Bernstein profiles Durrant and his firm, Alta Planning + Design, about the current state of our bicycle infrastructure. Chicago’s Riverwalk is a triumph of patience and public landscape design. The work, by Sasaki, is an insertion into the long-used but somehow underutilized spaces along the channelized Chicago River that runs right through the heart of the city’s iconic Loop.

In the Foreground, Timothy Schuler looks at the emerging questions about aesthetics and renewable energy. Can we—and should we—make wind and solar farms look better and relate more meaningfully to the places where they are increasingly part of the economy? Allyn West looks at the opportunity that drought and tree die-off made in Houston’s urban forest in Ecology. Now has student-creature design collaborations, a park design that enlarged after a social media takeover, and a Baltimore firm using a development requirement in an innovative way to provide a community benefit. The full table of contents for March can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 700 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 ungating March articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Start Your Engines,” Brandon Stengel/http://www.farmkidstudios.com; “Walking the Walk,” Christian Phillips Photography; “Pedal Harder,” Michael Hanson; “The Upside of a Die-Off,” Design Workshop, Inc. and Reed Hilderbrand; “The Art of Infrastructure,” Robert Sullivan.

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WLAM2016-1

Every April is World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), when students and professionals from around the world work to promote the best of what landscape architecture has to offer. Born from the need for public outreach for the profession, the celebration quickly evolved from a national to an international platform, and has since created a greater appreciation for landscape architecture through social media and networking.

To build on the success of last year, the April subscriber’s print edition of Landscape Architecture Magazine comes with cutout cards reading “This Is Landscape Architecture” to take pictures with that favorite landscape and share on social media using the hashtag #WLAM2016. And this month’s digital issue of LAM is free in celebration of WLAM to share with friends, coworkers, and the odd family member who still thinks landscape architects mow lawns.

For more information on World Landscape Architecture Month and how to get involved, please visit here.

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IMG_7846 In a profession as diverse as landscape architecture, it can be hard to get a sense of how the profession is performing as a whole. So each quarter, ASLA sends out its Business Quarterly Survey to a wide variety of firm types to get a snapshot of the profession’s health. The survey helps measure activity in firms’ billable hours, inquiries for new work, and hiring.

For the second quarter of this year, about 86 percent of firms reported stable to significantly higher billable hours over the previous quarter, which is slightly better than reported for the same quarter of 2014. About 84 percent said inquiries for new work were stable to significantly higher in quarter two. Slightly fewer than half (48 percent) said they plan to hire in the coming quarter; during the first quarter, the figure was 62 percent.

The survey also asked firms about their recruiting approaches and the use of social media. Although nearly 42 percent of respondents said they use social media in recruiting, only 16 percent said they think a potential job candidate should have strong social media skills.

For the full news release and highlights from the 2015 second quarter BQS, visit ASLA’s website here.

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PHOTOS AND TEXT BY TOM STOELKER

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Students stop to take a group photo on their environmental justice tour in Hunts Point.

Last November, Charles Orgbon, the 19-year-old founder and CEO of Greening Forward, was in New York City to organize the annual International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit. Outside his hotel near Times Square, he heard helicopters, sirens, and chanting. People were streaming onto the streets shouting, “Black lives matter!”

Earlier that day, Orgbon had been at the Point, a community center in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, the nation’s poorest congressional district. He met with teen leaders from ACTION, a group working on social and environmental justice issues. They took a selfie. Later that night, with frustration flowing through the streets of midtown, he studied the image, trying to make sense of the day.

(more…)

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