Posts Tagged ‘software’

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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LIVE AND LEARN

BY MIMI ZEIGER

Algorithms are bringing new kinds of evidence and predictive powers to the shaping of landscapes.

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

Tree. Person. Bike. Person. Person. Tree. Anya Domlesky, ASLA, an associate at SWA in Sausalito, California, rattles off how she and the firm’s innovation lab team train a computer to recognize the flora and fauna in an urban plaza.

The effort is part of the firm’s mission to apply emergent technologies to landscape architecture. In pursuing the applied use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the research and innovation lab XL: Experiments in Landscape and Urbanism follows a small but growing number of researchers and practitioners interested in the ways the enigmatic yet ubiquitous culture of algorithms might be deployed in the field.

Examples of AI and machine learning are all around us, from the voice recognition software in your iPhone to the predictive software that drives recommendations for Netflix binges. While the financial and health care industries have quickly adopted AI, and use in construction and agriculture is steadily growing, conversations within landscape architecture as to how such tools translate to the design, management, and conservation of landscapes are still on the periphery for the field. This marginality may be because despite their everyday use, mainstream understandings of AI are clouded by clichés—think self-actualized computers or anthropomorphic robots. In a recent essay on Medium, Molly Wright Steenson, the author of Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (The MIT Press, 2017), argued that we need new clichés. “Our pop culture visions of AI are not helping us. In fact, they’re hurting us. They’re decades out of date,” she writes. “[W]e keep using the old clichés in order to talk about emerging technologies today. They make it harder for us to understand AI—what it is, what it isn’t, and what impact it will have on our lives.”

So then, what is a new vision—a vision of AI for landscape? (more…)

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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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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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