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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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FOREGROUND

Get with the Program (Tech)
As workflow patterns change, designers are diversifying in the types of software they rely on,
a recent survey of landscape architects shows.

Lunch Break Brutalism (Preservation)
The water is flowing again at M. Paul Friedberg’s much-disputed Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis,
after a renovation by Coen+Partners adjusts the space to latter-day concerns.

FEATURES

Look to the Sky
In Santa Fe, Surroundings Studio relies on scarce rainfall for all the water one
house’s garden could need.

Floods That Know No Bounds
Nogales, Mexico, and Nogales, Arizona, have a border wall between them, but an unruly, overstressed watershed needs a binational solution to stop flooding. Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, ASLA, and a colleague, Francisco Lara-Valencia, have some ideas.

Get Real
Vicki Estrada, FASLA, talks about the change in her practice at Estrada Land Planning in San Diego
since her transition 13 years ago. For one thing, it has meant no more going along to get along

In Kīlauea’s Wake
After a series of violent eruptions of Kīlauea in 2018, the staff of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is figuring out ways to proceed with a natural and cultural treasure that is constantly changing.

All this plus the regular Now and Goods columns. The full table of contents for November 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 November articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Floods That Know No Bounds,” Gabriel Díaz Montemayor, ASLA; “Look to the Sky,” Stephen Dunn; “Get Real,” Brian Kuhlmann; “In Kīlauea’s Wake,” USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory; “Get with the Program,” Drew Hill, Student ASLA/Utah State University; “Lunch Break Brutalism,” Peter Bastianelli-Kerze.

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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 BRIAN BARTH

FROM THE FEBRUARY 2019 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is all the rage in academia these days. STEM degrees confer significant prestige in a high-tech world, and STEM education is funded to the tune of billions of dollars by the federal government. Privileges afforded to STEM students include eligibility for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which excludes non-STEM students. Minority students are incented to pursue STEM degrees by grants available to those who attend historically black colleges and universities and Latinx-serving institutions.

STEM is also deeply enmeshed in immigration policy. Out of concern that the flow of native-born STEM graduates falls short of labor market demand, the United States offers foreign graduate students in STEM fields an extension on their F-1 student visas to encourage them to remain in the country as high-skilled workers—a boon to the students, but also to firms that are seeking to retain top global talent in a country increasingly bent on tightening its borders. F-1 visa students in any field of study are eligible for 12 months of “optional practical training” (OPT), a form of temporary work authorization that may be used for jobs or internships related to their field. But in 2008, an additional 17 months was offered solely to students in STEM fields; in 2016, the OPT visa extension grew to 24 months, for a total of three years of work authorization.

The three-year OPT visa extension is no small trinket for foreign students who are eyeing U.S. degree programs. The ability to stay in the country after graduation greatly enhances their job prospects, which in turn enhances their long-term immigration prospects: The H-1B visa that typically comes with a job in an American firm is a well-worn path to a green card and, eventually, citizenship. Because STEM figures so heavily in career choices and funding streams, professions of every stripe clamor to get in its tent. But the door is heavily guarded.

The list of federally designated STEM fields is maintained not by the Department of Education but by the Department of Homeland Security—specifically by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division, better known as ICE. (more…)

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University of Virginia Landscape Architecture Chair Bradley Cantrell, ASLA, sees the future of landscape design as a spectrum of interactions between technologies that sense the environment, model and simulate it, and then finally affect the physical world—all without constant human input and monitoring. As argued in his March 13 LAM Lecture (and in his recent book Responsive Landscapes, written with Justine Holzman, ASLA), the future of landscape architecture is one of designing protocols for how natural systems behave, and tuning these algorithms and eventually the land itself, thus loosening the stranglehold static and monofunctional infrastructure has on the planet.  “It’s not about us controlling every aspect,” he says. “It’s about us setting a range of ways those behaviors can act within.”

Cantrell’s research is grounded in the previous century’s cutting-edge modeling and simulation methods, like the Army Corp of Engineers Mississippi River Basin Model in Clinton, Mississippi, which modeled the entire rivershed, scaled down to a mere 200 acres. From there, Cantrell details contemporary research that is equal parts computational and material, honing ever more granular data points toward more accurate models. For example, there’s USC Assistant Professor Alexander Robinson’s Office of Outdoor Research, Landscape Morphologies Lab work, which uses an articulated robot arm to scrape out dust-mitigating landforms at California’s Owens Lake. Cantrell’s own inquiries involve test bed river basin models that deposit sediment via the variable flow of water, which he has been able to manipulate as though it were a geologic 3-D printer, expanding and cutting back sediment deposit “land” where it’s desired. The resulting topographies are scanned and converted into point-cloud maps.

Cantrell’s approach pushes landscape architecture’s prevailing infrastructure fixation until it ricochets out of the physically imposing world of concrete and culverts and into abstract data, underpinning the omnipresent ways we reengineer ecologies with quantitative facts. The biggest challenge for modeling and simulating dynamic environments, Cantrell says, is not gathering all the requisite data, but getting it to interact in a way that matches reality. At its core, it’s a call for new levels of observational rigor: first, to observe all the factors that make an ecosystem function, and then to understand how those factors work together to create a landscape.

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Image courtesy of the collection of Nicholas de Monchaux.

California is omnipresent in the world of science fiction. George Lucas filmed Star Wars: A New Hope in Death Valley, and the redwood forests of northern California sat in for the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Perhaps the most influential sci-fi document in terms of futurist urbanism, Blade Runner, showed us the megacity Los Angeles with its rain and neon-slicked streets unmistakably reminiscent of a polyglot Chinatown. Larry Niven’s Ringworld books drew their prescription for a sun-orbiting space station—a million miles tall and 600 million miles across—from California’s own impressive history of infrastructural development.

Because of its historic reputation as the final, unspoiled end to the American Western horizon, California has always looked ahead into bracingly new futures. But as espoused by a studio to be taught at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design, unpacking California’s contributions to sci-fi urbanism and landscapes is also a look back.  BLDGBLOG’s Geoff Manaugh and the Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux will lead this Studio ONE master’s program, which will begin next school year.

“We have already terraformed one world whether we like it or not,” says de Monchaux. “We are living science fiction to some extent. We might as well acknowledge it and mine it.” Their studio asks: (more…)

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Technologist landscape architects rejoice—the November issue of LAM is packed with imagined scenarios, myth breakers, and tantalizing possible futures for urban design. Whether or not autonomous vehicles will allow for utopian cities of tomorrow depends on careful planning and policies today, says writer Brian Barth. And the future of autonomous vehicles might not look as green as we’re imagining. A new landscape by Ki Concepts on Honolulu’s Ford Island—site of the Pearl Harbor attack in World War II—weaves the richly layered history of the site into a sleek, cohesive design. And a new streetscape redesign by CRSA in the Sugar House business district of Salt Lake City turns a large thoroughfare into an inviting multimodal streetscape.

In Materials, Jane Berger discusses the stigma—and benefits—of the often-misunderstood bamboo. And in Tech, geodesign unites academics and agriculturists in the pursuit of the most optimal yield for their yearly crops. All this plus our regular Books, Now, and Goods columns. The full table of contents for November 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 posting November articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Retraining of Salt Lake City,” CRSA; “Before and After Pearl Harbor,” Alan Karchmer; “Dream Cars,” Illinois Institute of Technology; “Raising Canes,” OvS; “Models of Collaboration,” Len Kne. 

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BY ZACH MORTICE

Improbable Botany. Illustrations by Jonathan Burton. Published/Curated by Wayward.

Wayward is a collective of landscape architects, architects, urban growers, artists, and other assorted creative types who design landscape installations for “exploring new models for how green space can work in cities,” says its founder, Heather Ring. The group’s experimental and often temporary projects emphasize creating “narrative environments that tell stories through the spaces.” The projects have included chromatic explorations of algae growth and weaving slow-growth sculpture from living trees.

It’s an outsider’s perspective on landscape design that might have earned Ring’s London-based band of designers the high school graduation accolade of “landscape architect most likely to commission a science fiction anthology,” because that’s just what Wayward has done.

Having raised nearly $16,000 during a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wayward will publish (more…)

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