Author: Benjamin Boyd

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Design Intelligence 2016 Landscape Architecture Program Rankings

Design Intelligence, purveyors of annual school rankings, recently released their 10 best landscape architecture schools for 2016.  The America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools survey is conducted annually by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council. The research ranks undergraduate and graduate programs from the perspective of leading practitioners. The 16th annual survey was conducted in mid-2015. 

The top 3 in undergraduate studies remain unchanged since 2015. However, Cal Poly dropped 3 spots to be overtaken by Georgia and Texas A&M. In graduate studies, Harvard and UPenn stay #1 and #2 while Berkeley drops four spots to #8.

Another indicator of success could be the 2015 ASLA Student Awards whose recipients by and large go to the schools below.

To check out the full report, including surveys of professors and students, the 2016 edition available for purchase for $40.

UNDERGRADUATE
  1. Louisiana State University
  2. Pennsylvania State University
  3. Cornell University
  4. University of Georgia
  5. Texas A&M University
  6. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  7. Purdue University
  8. Ball State University (tie)
  9. Iowa State University (tie)
  10. Ohio State University
GRADUATE
  1. Harvard University
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. Louisiana State University
  4. Cornell University
  5. University of Virginia
  6. Kansas State University
  7. Pennsylvania State University
  8. University of California, Berkeley
  9. Texas A&M University
  10. University of Georgia
Benjamin Boyd is a landscape architect practicing in Baltimore, Maryland and hopes you wont hold it against him that he didn’t go to a school on this list.

Book Review: Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks

In 2011, the term “infographic” was added to Webster’s English Dictionary and solidified a popular movement to increase the visual expression of data for the general public. Before and since that word has been either praised for simplifying information or derided for overcomplicating or obfuscating for the sake of a graphic. What we all can agree on is that the best infographics are well thought out and present a clear message. Strategy and planning are important keys to the success of a graphic.
 
Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Rick Landers is the first publication to show the process that leads up to the creation of infographics. It features 73 case studies that show a wide range of both data and mediums. The projects range from your common “magazine-style” data presentation to some unexpected places.
 
Infographics have been around since the 19th century, however, it is only in recent decades that the art of data visualization has been rigorously geared toward the general public’s consumption. The internet provides an endless medium that has spawned both an opportunity for good design, as well as a wealth of less than useful examples. Infographics Designers’ Sketchbooks seeks to show how the best and most innovative people work toward a finished product. The process is often messy and less than polished – with various ideas tested and refined. The book offers a glimpse into the working mind of a designer rather than only presenting you with the finished graphic. What we learn is that, often, the process is just as interesting as the product.
 
Christopher Cannon of Bloomberg Visual Data grapples with massive amounts of data. He employs a stark style, often with just a few colors, to emphasize contrasts in data. Because the data is usually displayed online, tables become interactive presentations that users can highlight, reorganize, and explore on their own.
 
Zach Davenport and Michael Yap were interested in how New York’s new bike sharing program, Citi Bike, was being utilized. The amount of data they gathered was staggering, a fact that is less apparent in the clarity of the resulting diagrams. From the onset, the pair storyboarded how the resulting graphics would look in a presentation, regardless of what the actual data was showing. This provided a framework to curate individual points they wanted to make about the data they found. The result is a very legible infographic.

Serge Seidlitz is a former designer turned illustrator that represents information in a vastly different way than the two previously mentioned designers. His illustrations are whimsical and less reliant on data. His goal is to convey an overall idea at first glance while also breaking down the many facets of that idea. The work that is shown in Illustrators often takes one large form and breaks it down into individual points of information.
 

I found Infographics to be particularly useful in reflecting on my own process of graphic representation. Often, landscape architects are required to create seemingly simple diagrams to relate their process to clients – many of whom are not designers at all. One level of explanation is in the design’s final state. Another, arguably more important, are in the other layering elements that comprise the project. Program, circulation, ecology, etc need to be considered and related in a manner that all can understand. Architecture is for people, after all – even those that may never fully understand  the complexities of your design. Infographics reminds us that even the smallest diagrams deserve thoughtful consideration and that there is a careful balance between too much and too little information.

One caveat, I will say, is that the book is image heavy. Many of the sketches are very interpretive, with maybe a sentence or two to describe the thought process behind them. That being said, it was a feat to gather all these process pieces when most designers may have just thrown process out. Some examples could have had a little more explanation.

The physical book is large and does a great job of presently rough and, some would say, “ugly” sketches in an attractive manner. The are numerous and varied examples which made leafing through it a fun task. Inevitably, some of the final products may not be to one’s taste, but the sheer number of entries will surely provide you with no loss of inspiration. Thick, full-color pages make the quality of the read enjoyable.

Looking for other great resources for your design library?
We’ve curated a whole library of essential Landscape Architecture Books >>

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts and the author of many books on graphic design, including Shadow Type and Typography Sketchbooks. Rick Landers is a founding partner and co-creative director of graphic design studio Landers Miller Design.
Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks is available now through Princeton Architectural Press.
 

Book Review: Mellon Square – Discovering a Modern Masterpiece

Fresh off it’s six-year long renovation, Pittsburgh’s Mellon Square is recognized as one of the preeminent examples of urban renewal and as the first mixed-use modern garden built over parking. Mellon Square: Discovering a Modern Masterpiece chronicles the plaza’s development through a smoke ridden industrial age into the city’s first renaissance and beyond. It is a space beloved by Pittsburgh’s citizens – even when it wasn’t in its most pristine state.

Mellon Square is the second book in the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s Modern Landscapes series and the definitive book on the development of one of Pittsburgh’s most innovative landscapes. In the years post World War II, Pittsburgh saw its state as an industrial-centric city diminish and found that, like many other rust belt cities, the sacrifices made in the public realm to accommodate the needs of business were beginning to cause real harm. Big businesses made plans to leave the city and new residents were hard to attract. “Smokey City” had a reputation for being rough and polluted.

Mellon Square - 02
Richard King Mellon recognized the need to change the image of downtown Pittsburgh’s “Golden Triangle” after assuming control of his family’s bank. He spearheaded an effort with the city’s civic and business leadership to create Mellon Square and bring some green space back into the heart of the city.
 
The book itself is full of diagrams and sketches that show the process of the architects, James Mitchell and Dahlen Ritchey, and landscape architects, John Simonds and Phillip Simonds. There is a welcome focus on the influence Walter Gropius had on John Phillips and the legacy of his Harvard “class of rebels.”

Mellon Square - 04

Despite the overall success of the square, recent years has seen the need to revitalize a space for a new generation of Pittsburgh’s citizens. The major restoration is being lead by Patricia O Donnel of Heritage Landscapes and “aims to restore this urban garden and help revitalize downtown Pittsburgh.”
 This writer admits that the review of this book came later that planned, but with good reason. A planned trip to Pittsburgh over the holidays to visit family seemed like an excellent opportunity to check out the new and improved square (and also a nearby Primanti Brothers sandwich). Even in the winter months, it would be nice to see the details up close. No such luck, however, as I was greeted with the below sign upon arrival.
It is rather disappointing to think that, in a place where the winter months can be cold and disconcerting, one of the best open spaces in a city is off limits to its citizens. Apparently there is a good reason for its closure related to maintenance and safety, but I believe that a minimum requirement of a park “highest and best use” should be that is open – even in a limited capacity. Better luck in the spring I suppose.
 
Ultimately, Mellon Square is a sweeping, detailed recap of the exciting history of a modern, milestone of landscape architecture. Today’s designers are often addressing congruent concerns about the redevelopment of outdated, polluted, or underutilized spaces in crowded city centers. The lessons of development, need for private backing, and quantitative results related to the success of Mellon Square can inform the solutions of modern cities. While “mixed-use” has been the cornerstone of many a development in the last few decades, understanding the fundamental shift in design theory is rooted in acknowledging its pioneers. Admittedly, a car park isn’t the shiniest example on which to hang a tectonic shift in planning mantra, but it is often these challenges that are the backbone for a city’s reimagined, prosperous future.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Susan Rademacher is parks curator for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, preserving, enhancing, and promoting the cultural significance of parks through master planning and project design. Previously, she was president of the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy and assistant director of Louisville Metro Parks. Her published books include Bold Romantic GardensOutdoor Living Spaces; and Garden Design: History, Principles, Elements, Practice. A former editor in chief of Landscape Architecture magazine, she was also a founding editor of Garden Design magazine. Rademacher was a Loeb Fellow of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and is a graduate of Miami University.
 
Charles Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR is the Founder and President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). He has authored and edited numerous publications, including Shaping the American Landscape (2009), Design with Culture: Claiming America’s Landscape Heritage (Press 2005), and Pioneers of American Landscape Design (2000), among others.Release Date – November 18th, 2014

Review: Digital Drawing for Landscape Architecture – 2nd Edition

The advent of the digital age has long been upon us. For most practices, this has created an interesting mix of skill sets within an office. Recent graduates have a great handle on the most current programs while those that have been in the industry for a little longer are finding themselves playing catch up. More often than not, a general amount of knowledge and appreciation is present, but the ability to produce the most striking of visuals is usually not there. Digital Drawing for Landscape Architecture is a comprehensive presentation of easy to follow tutorials and guides to help the digitally aware become the digitally adept. 

Digital Drawing is the most recent offering by Bradley Cantrell and Wes Michaels. Bradley has been featured here on Land8 in 2013 as the recent winner of the Rome Prize Fellowship. The book is not best for those that are just starting out with the programs that the industry uses everyday. However, if you are versed enough recognize some of the tools that are in play, this book can take you to the next level. In a world where everyone is going digital, there is a subtle difference between a computer drawing and a finely tuned illustrative rendering. Understanding what it takes to elevate your techniques is crucial to having your work stand out amongst the others.
The second edition of this ASLA award winning book includes over 50 new examples and has updated all graphics to be aligned with the most up to date applications. When first published in 2012, Digital Drawing won an national ASLA Award of Excellence because of its ability to “bridge analog and digital landscape representation techniques” as well as “provide context for how we use digital media as designers and landscape architects.”

Digital Drawing does an excellent job of stressing the important things about this form of graphic making – flexibility is key. You can achieve the same result a multitude of ways, however, your ability to adjust a graphic quickly down the road will vastly improve the efficiency of your overall project.

Some highlights include Chapter 3 which explores the basic concepts of digital rendering. Though these are introductory – they still can be complicated for a beginner designer. The authors provide a great refresher for even the studio weary rendering specialist. If you are anything like me, then you picked up how to use Photoshop and Illustrator on your own through experimentation (read: frustration). Digital Drawing takes you back through the basics to remind you of the simple things that you may have never picked up. Do you remember the subtle difference between opacity and fill or perhaps the merits of different masks and when to use each?

Some of the most seemingly mundane tasks that are part of a graphic’s construction are given entire chapters in Digital Drawing – and for good reason. Chapter 8 gives some quick but extremely useful directives for managing large files while Chapter 18 is 10+ pages on importing PDF line work. I believe that getting these mandatory techniques correct is very important because it sets the tone for the rest of your work on a given product. Better layer management, for instance, can be the difference between a quick, last minute edit and a sluggish, deadline missing revision.

Ultimately, Digital Drawing is an excellent resource for students, entry level designers, and those looking to refine their graphic skills for actual workplace applications. Even a person who believes themselves to be well versed in the ways of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc, such as myself, can find a ton of useful time saving tricks and refined techniques to make their workflow more efficient.

Looking for other great resources for your design library? 
Head over to our resource section where we have curated a collection of essential Landscape Architecture Books >>

About the Authors:

Bradley Cantrell is Principal of Visual Logic and Associate Professor of Architectural Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Bradley has been interviewed here on Land8 in 2013 as the recent winner of the Rome Prize Fellowship. 
WES MICHAELS is a Principal at Spackman Mossop Michaels Landscape Architecture and an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University.


Benjamin Boyd is a licensed landscape architect working Baltimore, Maryland and is a proud graduate of the University of Florida School of Landscape Architecture. He also writes at Landscape Invocation.

Review: Private Landscapes – Modernist Gardens in Southern California

Modern landscapes are a dime a dozen these days, but have you ever wondered how they got started? “Private Landscapes” by Pamela Burton and Marie Botnick explores the development of modernist gardens in this updated paperback reprint of the 2003 original. The book profiles twenty significant homes and landscape gardens created by celebrated architects such as Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano, Harwell Hamilton Harris, A. Quincy Jones, and John Lautner. Although the Southern California modernist style has been abundantly covered by architectural books over the years, “Private Landscapes” shines the spotlight on the landscapes that helped create a harmonious relations with the home design. 

The modernism movement is generally regarded as a European movement (see: Bauhaus), but there are many examples of modernist design in Southern California dating back to 1911, such as the works of Irving Gill. Gill was one of many American architects that contrasted European designers such as Mies van der Rohe in that they included the landscape as an integral park of their designs. The most significant leap in the modernist movement occurred with the arrival of Garrett Eckbo, who brought his work in and around Los Angeles between 1945 and 1965.

The first six projects focus on Richard Nuetra and chronicle his rise to fame on an international scale. Nuetra had only completed one major commission by 1932, the Lovell House, before he was included in the “International Exhibition of Modern Architecture” in New York. By 1949, he was on the cover of Time magazine. Nuetra’s houses are spectacular and Private Landscapes does an excellent job of highlighting how the landscape and plan considerations created the architect’s innovative designs.

(Related Article: Five Modernist Landscape Architects)

The book then begins to break down a plethora of other mid-century gardens by various architects that were built anywhere from 1934 to 1963. Notably mentioned here are Saphael Soriano’s Richard Strauss House (1940) and Joseph Van der Kar’s Albert Wohlstetter House. There is a nice mix of original photography and present day condition photographs that give you a great sense of the passage of time. Many of the homes look downright new and are representative of current styles and minimalist trends. Mostly, I am a fan of the plans and diagrams that the authors managed to include. There are initial brainstorming ideas, planting plans with bold colors, and a few nice detailed ones that must have been done specifically for the book.

Overall, Private Landscapes explores a very influential era in private architectural design. On a residential scale, the use of materials, splashes of color, and space management become ever more important elements because of scale. It is impressive to see many of these homes cared for and in great conditions after all these decades. The book is filled with big glossy and beautiful photographs shot by Tim Street-Porter. Hopefully, the southern California sun and foliage will be as inspiring to you as it was to me.

PRIVATE LANDSCAPES: MODERNIST GARDENS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Lead image of Pamela Burton via Pamela Burton & Company

Looking for other great resources for your design library? 
Head over to our resource section where we have curated a collection of essential Landscape Architecture Books >>

Benjamin Boyd is a landscape designer in Baltimore, Maryland. You can follow him on Twitter at @benboyduf.

Norway’s “Memorial Wound” for Victims of Massacre is Beautiful Land Art

It’s been nearly three years since a right-wing extremist blew up a bomb in the city of Oslo and then attacked a summer camp on the coast of Norway. These horrifying terror attacks claimed 77 lives in total, marking the deadliest attack in Norway since World War II

To commemorate the victims, Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg was recently awarded the bid to design Norway’s memorial after a closed competition. Titled the “Memorial Wound,” the winning entry uses land art as a major component.

 

The first memorial will be located on the Sørbråten peninsula facing the island of Utøya. The memorial is designed to be a “wound or cut within nature itself,” says Dahlberg. “I noticed how different the feeling was of walking outside in nature, compared to the feeling of walking through the rooms of the main building. The experience of seeing the vacant rooms and the traces of extreme violence brought me—and others around me—to a state of profound sadness.”

Outside, however, the environment feels very different, as though nature was already in regeneration. “Although we stood directly on the very place where many people had lost their lives, nature had already begun to obscure all traces,” he explains.

The design concept slices the rocky promontory in two, creating a 70-foot wide channel between the two land masses. The names of the victims will be inscribed on one side of the gap and a viewing platform for visitors will be located opposite. “The names will be close enough to see and read clearly, yet ultimately out of reach,” says Dahlberg, “the cut is an acknowledgement of what is forever irreplaceable.”

To strengthen the connection between the two memorial sites, Dahlberg proposes using excavated material from the “wound” in Utøya as the foundation for the temporary–and later permanent–memorial in Oslo. Trees and plant life from the rocky island landscape would also be transported to the Oslo site as well.

Similar to the design at Utoya, the Oslo memorial will cut into the land to create another “channel.” One side of the channel is enclosed by a curving wall engraved with the names of those who perished in the attacks, a design reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The other side would consist of seating or steps that connect to an elevated landscape planted with Utoya trees.

These “symbols of regeneration,” writes Dalhberg, “from the trees along with the inscribed names, will be transferred to the permanent memorial, carrying with them the patina and fullness that comes with the passage of time.”

Via BustlerGizmodo

Images via KORO
Benjamin Boyd is a landscape designer in Baltimore, Maryland. You can follow him on Twitter at @benboyduf.

LARE 101: 10+ Essential Resources for Section 4 Grading, Drainage, and Construction Documentation

LARE’s Section 4: Grading, Drainage, and Construction Documentation is, in my opinion, the hardest portion of the exam. It has the lowest passing rate of any section – before and after the change in format. You will find in your preparation for this section that there is a wide range of topics that need to be covered, most of which you have seen, but probably haven’t mastered.

For me, the most difficult of the 120 questions were those pertaining to grading and specific construction details. I would encourage everyone who is thinking of taking Section 4 to give yourself a few months of studying in order to cover the wealth of material out there. There is only one year’s worth of up to date practice tests, but there is a lot you can take from previous incarnations. If you have already taken Section 3 then you are going to be familiar with the advanced question types that are present on this section. There is a lot of detail in this section so I would just be patient and expect to learn a bunch of information that may not show up on the test. That huge list of fasteners that you have to memorize may seem like overkill, but you can expect it to help you on at least one question (it did for me).

 

OVERVIEW OF SECTION 4
Section 4 of the LARE focuses solely on Construction Documentation. There are advanced type questions, multiple choice, and multiple response questions. If you are not familiar with the advanced type questions, take a moment to watch ASLA’s video overview of the new computerized format.

Before moving forward – please take a look at CLARB’s LARE Orientation Guide if you haven’t already.

SECTION 4 ONLINE RESOURCES

Because of the difficulty and breadth of Section 4, there are more than usual online resources for it. The ASLA has put out study guides and examples as well as the aforementioned video.

ASLA LARE Prep Study Materials
ASLA has provided a good amount of examples and guides for your Section 3+4 studying needs. They pin point some of the more difficult and multidimensional questions on the exam. These are provided for free as opposed to the practice tests listed further down. I would also like to spotlight their Section 4 Review Materials as a good starting resource.

LARE Exam Google Group
One of the best places on the Internet right now to get study materials as well as feedback on questions that you might have about the exam is the unofficial LARE EXAM Google group. Here hundreds of test takers as well as test prep professionals exchange exam tips and study materials.

L.A.R.E. – ANYTHING GOES Land8 Group
If you haven’t already joined Brandon Reed’s Land8 LARE group, what are you waiting for? This is also another fantastic resource for members to swap study materials and ask questions.

Digital Flash Cards
Using flash cards is one of my favorite ways to study, especially if they’ve been pre-made. Many people – including myself – have created personal study material flashcards that are ready to use. Making your own flashcards is a great way to study however, so I still encourage you to create your own set tailored to your own preferences. I would also recommend installing a flashcard app that links to a site like Cram so you have your cards on the go.

SECTION 4 TEST PREP PRODUCTS
CLARB Practice Test
These are a must-have if you want the most accurate representation of topics covered in the new exam.

PPI: Power to Pass Exam Reviews
PPI has long provided test prep materials including practice exams and study guides. The books are written by professors and professionals in the industry and are a good overall resource to study for the new exam formats. They seem to have retrofitted their older Section A-E materials into a new package for Sections 1-4, however which may make the materials a little less accurate than before.

Kevin Worthington’s LARE Study Guides

Cheryl Corson Design Webinars
Land8 member Cheryl Corson is well known for her LARE webinars and her great advice for taking the LARE. Cheryl has a good focus on Section 4 and her personal experiences passing it.

Local Test Prep Course
Take a look and see if there is a test prep course in your area. Some colleges offer courses or you may be able to find a practitioner that is getting their side-hustle on.


SECTION 4 READING LIST
The Section 4 reading list has a few hold overs from Section 3, but adds one important text. Site Engineering is a very useful book that outlines a variety of topics that will be covered in the Section 4. All of the books on the below list are very large and, as with other tests, I would recommend a good study guide to accompany these. If you have given yourself enough time to go through each and take notes then you are ahead of the game. If not, then go out and pick up a study guide to help you outline your study targets.

Site Engineering for Landscape Architects  |  Strom, Nathan, Woland

Site Engineering is an essential book for understanding the actual construction of land forms. This book includes more recent details of green stormwater management options, a new focus of the test, as well as other complex construction concepts. Because of the new content of the 6th edition vs earlier editions, I would recommend picking up the newest book if possible. There is a more concerted focus on green infrastructure which coincides with the new versions of the test. Though I wouldn’t say the book is “intellectually stimulating” as the publisher does, I would say that the topics are important and this book is a must have for studying.

Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards | Hopper
While you should have a solid understanding of the contents of this book already. It never hurts to touch up on your graphical standards. For Section 4, the diagrams of common construction details can be very beneficial for studying. This book is also listed for Section 3: Design.

Time Saver Standards for Landscape Architects | Harris and Dines
This book is every landscape architect’s best friend. It will remind you of minimum turning radii, maximum slope on ramps, etc etc. However, it will also bog you down with a huge amount of information if you are not careful. As a former student, you should be familiar with this book. Pay careful attention to the topics provided by CLARB in the Orientation Guide and tailor your reading to it. If you don’t already own a copy then you should. Lest you spend over an hour searching the internet for angled parking standards. This book is also listed for Section 3: Design.

Landscape Architect’s Portable Handbook  |  Dines and Brown
Don’t let this book’s title fool you. At 400 pages and $65 the “portable” handbook is just as massive as some of the other books in this list. While if does do a nice job over quickly covering a variety of topics, I personally would not recommend it to those that are purchasing the above books. It outlines roughly some of the same things and doesn’t really add any sort of new material. At best, this book is a reduced version of Time Saver Standards. If are not able to get your hands on a copy of TSS, then this book may be a good substitute. However, if you are already covering the rest of this list then I would let this one slide.

RECOMMENDED STUDY METHODS FOR SECTION 4

Unlike Section 3, older vignettes are a good study resource for Section 4. The advanced type grading questions are roughly the same with addition of a possible answer bank and a computerized format. I would encourage you to take a look at the examples provided by ASLA mentioned in the “Study Materials” section. Section 4 is a monster of a test that covers the largest amount of material. For me, it was the only exam that I left feeling totally unsure of my result. As with other sections, you are only graded on the questions you get correct. However, there are many questions that require you to have solved a different question in order to answer it. Grading questions are one example of this. Take your time and try to no overthink your answers. You are inevitable going to come to a few questions that you don’t know the answer to. Take an educated guess, flag the question, and move on. Often there are clues in the rest of the exam that can help you go back and make a better choice.

Good luck!

This is part of an ongoing series spotlighting the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (LARE) administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). If you have any resources that you can add to this guide we would be happy to include you and give you credit. Please contact the author Benjamin Boyd if you have any additional resources that you’d like to share.

Images via Bryan D. Kniep and Benjamin Boyd.

LARE 101: 10+ Essential Resources for Passing Section 3 Design

LARE’s Section 3: Design is where, in my opinion, things start coming together. The last two sections are hard for a number of reasons. First, this section requires you to use multiple facets of your knowledge at one time to solve a problem. Second, Section 3 is the most changed in format from previous exams and there is less study material available to you. Lastly, test makers have a difficult job in testing creativity in a computer format. After looking at vignettes from previous years, I felt that Section 3 might actually be easier now as long as you don’t get hung up overthinking some of the questions. However, I cannot be sure because I haven’t taken the older format. Comparatively, this new format seems to push test takers to solve one specific problem at a time instead of a whole design at once. 

 
OVERVIEW OF SECTION 3
Section 3 of the LARE focuses on Concept Development covering 58% and Design Development covering 42%. This is where advanced type questions are first seen and what has many test takers nervous. Because of the lack of historical data regarding these question types, it is hard to predict how hard or easy they can be. Personally, I felt that the new test was much easier than the older vignettes that I tried to complete from study guides. Each question of the new version will ask you to solve a specific issue or problem with a drawing. Breaking the questions out like this gives you a better chance of being right more often. In the older vignette versions, you can potentially make a wrong decision that ruins the entire problem.
 
Another thing test takers were very worried about was the accuracy of these new advanced questions. Because the test is not individually graded, many felt that they could potentially get something wrong if they somehow interpreted the question differently. After taking the exam, I felt that the questions were pretty straight forward. Where is the biggest conflict? Where should what topo lines go? Where would you place this building? At first glace, that may seem completely subjective. I encourage you to use ONLY the information given to make your decision. I believe that overthinking could be your worst enemy on this section. If you take things that they give you at face value then you will be in much better shape.

Before moving forward – please take a look at CLARB’s LARE Orientation Guide if you haven’t already.

 

SECTION 3 ONLINE RESOURCES

This section is relatively the same at the others when it comes to online resources. There is a lot of useful information already explored by others. Take some time to seach about a question you are unsure of. Odds are someone else is looking at the same study guide or practice exam and has already raised the point.

LARE Exam Google Group
One of the best places on the Internet right now to get study materials as well as feedback on questions that you might have about the exam is the unofficial LARE EXAM Google group. Here hundreds of test takers as well as test prep professionals exchange exam tips and study materials.

L.A.R.E. – ANYTHING GOES Land8 Group
If you haven’t already joined Brandon Reed’s Land8 LARE group, what are you waiting for? This is also another fantastic resource for members to swap study materials and ask questions.

Digital Flash Cards
Using flash cards is one of my favorite ways to study, especially if they’ve been pre-made. Many people – including myself – have created personal study material flashcards that are ready to use. Making your own flashcards is a great way to study however, so I still encourage you to create your own set tailored to your own preferences. I would also recommend installing a flashcard app that links to a site like Cram so you have your cards on the go.

 
SECTION 3 TEST PREP PRODUCTS
CLARB Practice Test
These are a must-have if you want the most accurate representation of topics covered in the new exam.

PPI: Power to Pass Exam Reviews
PPI has long provided test prep materials including practice exams and study guides. The books are written by professors and professionals in the industry and are a good overall resource to study for the new exam formats. They seem to have retrofitted their older Section A-E materials into a new package for Sections 1-4, however which may make the materials a little less accurate than before.

Kevin Worthington’s LARE Study Guides

Cheryl Corson Design Webinars
Land8 member Cheryl Corson is well known for her LARE webinars and her great advice for taking the LARE.

Local Test Prep Course
Take a look and see if there is a test prep course in your area. Some colleges offer courses or you may be able to find a practitioner that is getting their side-hustle on.
 

SECTION 3 READING LIST
Two of these books are straight repeats from Section 2 and one is, in my opinion, unnecessary. Because there is not definitive guide to all aspects of design, CLARB has thrown it’s biggest and widest reaching books into this section’s reading list. Here is where looking at the practice exams and a study guide can really give you an advantage by honing down your studying. If you want to build your own expansive study guide, my advise would be to use the first book on this list to frame it and the rest to supplement those topics. While most of my comments below may lead you to think that you don’t need any textbooks, please make sure you are are taking a real assessment of your own skill and studying accordingly. 

 

Basic Elements of Landscape Architectural Design  |  Booth
This book is also mentioned for Section 2 and the same sentiment applies. It is a great resource to have whether you are studying for the test or not. The book breaks down landscape architectural concepts into simple graphics and explanations. Originally published in 1989, this book covers the gamut including “landform, plant materials, buildings, pavement, site structures, and water.”

Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards  |  Hopper
While you should have a solid understanding of the contents of this book already. It never hurts to touch up on your graphical standards. The test is going to make you draw, however, so I would not devote a significant percentage of your time to this book.

Site Planning and Design Handbook
You should have already known about this book from Section 2 if you are taking the tests in order. There is a lot of repeated information that you can get from other sources. Given the price of the book, unless there is a way that you can borrow or rent it, I would try and find an assembled study guide rather than shell out so much for some of the same information. I do however feel that a lot of the concepts in this book are more applicable to Section 3 than Section 2.
 
 

The Dimensions of Parking  |  ULI
I am going to level with you here… I didn’t even crack open this book. Parking dimensions can be found in Time Saver standards and I didn’t feel the need to get into the “Financial Feasibility” of “Bidding Methods” of parking facilities. You are going to need to know a decent amount about parking requirements, layout, and safety in order to complete many of the advanced question types. If you are rusty or unsure of your parking knowledge then by all means this book is for you. However, if there is one $80+ book I personally didn’t need, it was this one.

 

Time Saver Standards for Landscape Architects | Harris and Dines
This book is every landscape architect’s best friend. It will remind you of minimum turning radii, maximum slope on ramps, etc etc. However, it will also bog you down with a huge amount of information if you are not careful. As a former student, you should be familiar with this book. Pay careful attention to the topics provided by CLARB in the Orientation Guide and tailor your reading to it. If you don’t already own a copy then you should. Lest you spend over an hour searching the internet for angled parking standards.

RECOMMENDED STUDY METHODS FOR SECTION 3

As you can probably tell from any of the up to date practice exams, older vignette’s are not going be as big a help as you might have thought. That is not to say you shouldn’t look over them. Instead of spending time trying to figure out the answers to each practice vignette on your own, try analyzing the answers first. Look for the key differences between a FAIL, BARELY PASS, and PASS. These differences are the things you should be paying close attention to. As with other sections, read as much as you can beforehand and then take the practice exams a couple times closer to the test date. This will allow for the greatest impact.

Good luck!

This is part of an ongoing series spotlighting the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (LARE) administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). If you have any resources that you can add to this guide we would be happy to include you and give you credit. Please contact the author Benjamin Boyd if you have any additional resources that you’d like to share.

Images via  MEDEA MALMO licensed under Creative Commons and Benjamin Boyd.

LARE 101: 10+ Essential Resources for Section 2 Site Inventory & Analysis

LARE’s Section 2: Site Inventory and Analysis at first glance is one of the easier sections because it is one of the most covered set of topics in school. However, the section covers topics that include a level of analysis that will require you to brush up on specific regulations and requirements and apply those in a critical manner on a wide range of exercises. Some of the information here is also applicable to others sections of the exam.

 
OVERVIEW OF SECTION 2
The focus of Section 2 of the LARE is Analysis and Site Inventory with ‘Site Inventory’ covering 22% of the topics and ‘Analysis of Existing Conditions’ covering the remaining 78%. This is essentially a part of Section B of the old version of the test. While the topics are the same, this section, like the other three, is now completely computer-based. The entire section is also multiple choice. One benefit of the new computer-based test is the ability to flag a question so you can easily come back to it at a later time.
 
You will have 2 hours for the test consisting of 80 questions. Because analysis takes up the vast majority of the exam, you are going to have to be able to think critically with limited information given and apply your skills to very specific situations. One problem that myself and other test takers discovered is that you find yourself thinking too outside the testing parameters. Pay careful attention to the information given and first try to determine your solution based on the presented variables. Often times over thinking is possible in these situations so try and do your best to stick to what they give you.

Before moving forward – please take a look at CLARB’s LARE Orientation Guide if you haven’t already.

SECTION 2 ONLINE RESOURCES
LARE Exam Google Group
One of the best places on the Internet right now to get study materials as well as feedback on questions that you might have about the exam is the unofficial LARE EXAM Google group. Here hundreds of test takers as well as test prep professionals exchange exam tips and study materials.

L.A.R.E. – ANYTHING GOES Land8 Group
If you haven’t already joined Brandon Reed’s Land8 LARE group, what are you waiting for? This is also another fantastic resource for members to swap study materials and ask questions.

Digital Flash Cards
Using flash cards is one of my favorite ways to study, especially if they’ve been pre-made. Many people – including myself – have created personal study material flashcards that are ready to use. Making your own flashcards is a great way to study however, so I still encourage you to create your own set tailored to your own preferences. I would also recommend installing a flashcard app that links to a site like Cram so you have your cards on the go.

 
SECTION 2 TEST PREP PRODUCTS
CLARB Practice Test
These are a must-have if you want the most accurate representation of topics covered in the new exam.

PPI: Power to Pass Exam Reviews
PPI has long provided test prep materials including practice exams and study guides. The books are written by professors and professionals in the industry and are a good overall resource to study for the new exam formats. They seem to have retrofitted their older Section A-E materials into a new package for Sections 1-4, however which may make the materials a little less accurate than before.

Kevin Worthington’s LARE Study Guides

Cheryl Corson Design Webinars
Land8 member Cheryl Corson is well known for her LARE webinars and her great advice for taking the LARE.

Local Test Prep Course
Take a look and see if there is a test prep course in your area. Some colleges offer courses or you may be able to find a practitioner that is getting their side-hustle on.
 

SECTION 2 READING LIST
As with Section 1 of the test, I believe that a lot of the knowledge for this section is material that you covered in school. Most of the information in these books will be a refresher. See if there are any other low cost options such as the public library, your company purchasing the books, or renting. The first three recommended readings on this list from CLARB are large books filled with tons of information. A lot of that info is repeated and some feel that purchasing all of them is a waste of time. If you have your hands on a good study guide such as the PPI, I would recommend just getting one of the first three.

Basic Elements of Landscape Architectural Design  |  Booth
This book is great resource to have whether you are studying for the test or not. The book breaks down landscape architectural concepts into simple graphics and explanations. Originally published in 1989, this book covers the gamut including “landform, plant materials, buildings, pavement, site structures, and water.”

 

Site Analysis: A Contextual Approach to Sustainable Land Planning and Site Design
Site Analysis has a lot of the same information as the above book, just in much, much more detail. Some of this is also repeated in another gigantic textbook – Time Saver Standards. Unless you are starting to study months in advance, I would recommend using your money to invest in a good study guide rather than leaf through this entire to me.

 

Site Planning and Design Handbook
The same can be said for this book as the one above it. There is a lot of repeated information that you can get from other sources. Given the price of the book, unless there is a way that you can borrow or rent it, I would try and find an assembled study guide rather than shell out so much for some of the same information.
 

The Living Landscape: An Ecological Approach to Landscape Planning
CLARB is really trying to integrate more sustainability into the LARE in recent years. Because of this, I would recommend picking up a copy of this book if possible. Older study guides do not cover as much “green” material and there is only one current practice exam at the time of this post. The checklists and step-by-step guides are particularly helpful to remember. While there wont be as many sustainability questions as there are simple analysis ones, this book is useful mostly because it isn’t the same book repeated 2 times (see above 3 books).

 

RECOMMENDED STUDY METHODS FOR SECTION 2

My process for studying for Section 2 closely resembled that of Section 1. I also took Sections 1 and 2 at the same time because they both require you to study the same way. Get your hands on a good study guide or read through the books and make your own. Flash cards are your friend here as much of the exam is subject/definition style and less problem solving. As with Section 1, wait until you have covered most of your study material before you jump into the practice exams since there is only one that is up to date.

Good luck!

This is part of an ongoing series spotlighting the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (LARE) administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). If you have any resources that you can add to this guide we would be happy to include you and give you credit. Please contact the author Benjamin Boyd if you have any additional resources that you’d like to share.

Check out our guide to Section 1: Project and Construction Administration

Images via Mauna Lani, Sam Hames licensed under Creative Commons, and Benjamin Boyd.

LARE 101: 10+ Essential Resources for Section 1 Project & Construction Administration

For me, the LARE’s Section 1: Project & Construction Administration was one of the most daunting parts of the exam due to the fact that I don’t handle contracts on a regular basis. Consequently, Section 1 is also one of the hardest sections for new professionals to tackle because the topics deal with business and legal matters that they often have not yet experienced. An understanding of project management, however, proves incredibly beneficial and I was able to sufficiently prepare myself for the exam by supplementing my real life experience with the following study materials and tips.

 
OVERVIEW OF SECTION 1

The focus of Section 1 of the LARE is Project and Construction Administration with ‘Project Management’ covering 62% of the topics and ‘Bidding and Construction’ covering the remaining 38%. This is essentially a part of Section A of the old version of the test. While the topics are the same, this section, like the other three, is now completely computer-based. The entire section is also multiple choice. One benefit of the new computer-based test is the ability to flag a question so you can easily come back to it at a later time. 

While the topics are the same as Section A, many test takers have noticed that there has been a shift in focus. All previous study materials are applicable, but I strongly recommend using the most up-to-date practice tests and rubrics. Many people have noticed that there is less focus on very specific topics such as the different types of liens or methods of payment. As with other sections of the LARE, Section 1 aims to make sure a licensure candidate has more of a understanding of the overall project process, different stages of design and construction, and 

Before moving forward – please take a look at CLARB’s LARE Orientation Guide if you haven’t already.

 

SECTION 1 ONLINE RESOURCES

Section 1 Glossary of Terms

This is a list of general contract terms that can be on the exam. It is important to make sure that you understand client/contractor relationships, the contracting schedule of events, notifications to bid/proceed/etc, and the legal requirements to start/finish a project.

LARE Exam Google Group

One of the best places on the Internet right now to get study materials as well as feedback on questions that you might have about the exam is the unofficial LARE EXAM Google group. Here hundreds of test takers as well as test prep professionals exchange exam tips and study materials. 

 

L.A.R.E. – ANYTHING GOES Land8 Group

If you haven’t already joined Brandon Reed’s Land8 LARE group, what are you waiting for? This is also another fantastic resource for members to swap study materials and ask questions.

 

Digital Flash Cards

Using flash cards is one of my favorite ways to study, especially if they’ve been pre-made. Many people – including myself – have created personal study material flashcards that are ready to use. Making your own flashcards is a great way to study however, so I still encourage you to create your own set tailored to your own preferences. I would also recommend installing a flashcard app that links to a site like Cram so you have your cards on the go.

 
SECTION 1 TEST PREP PRODUCTS

CLARB Practice Test

These are a must-have if you want the most accurate representation of topics covered in the new exam.

 

PPI: Power to Pass Exam Reviews

PPI has long provided test prep materials including practice exams and study guides. The books are written by professors and professionals in the industry and are a good overall resource to study for the new exam formats. They seem to have retrofitted their older Section A-E materials into a new package for Sections 1-4, however which may make the materials a little less accurate than before. 

Kevin Worthington’s LARE Study Guides

Cheryl Corson Design Webinars

Land8 member Cheryl Corson is well known for her LARE webinars and her great advice for taking the LARE.

 

SECTION 1 READING LIST

Below I’ve listed CLARB’s reading suggestions for Section 1. If you are already feeling the hit to your wallet from the study guides and test fees, the last thing that you’ll want to do is spend an additional $300+ dollars for the below books. I would say that depending on your method of study, you should pick either the comprehensive study guides mentioned above or the books; it’s probably not necessary to buy both. Remember to check your company, school, or library to see if they have these books on hand or if they are willing to purchase them as additions to their library. If so, this is a great way to supplement your studying for free.

Construction Contracts, 2nd Edition / Hinze

This is probably one of the most useful books in this list as it outlines many concepts that most landscape architects do not use everyday. However, it was my conclusion that most of the very specific material covered in this book is not really mentioned on the exam. If you are confused about any of the legal aspects of contracts then this is definitely a book that you should look into. To pass section 1, you must have proficient knowledge of the process by which contracts are given and fulfilled. There is less emphasis on topics such as lien types and specific clauses for different circumstances.

Project Management for Design Professionals / Ramroth

Often required reading in college, this book outlines the different stages of project management in fine detail. Any professional will tell you that this process is often thrown out the window based on unique client demands and schedule. However, since all test takers will be working off the same rubric, this books is perfect for outlining the reasoning behind each method. Since 62% of the exam covers project management, I think that this book is an essential resource.

Ready, Set, Practice:  Elements of Landscape Architecture Professional Practice / Sharky

Another mainstay of any collegiate level professional practice class, this book is a must read if you are not familiar with how a design-based business works. Topics in the book cover design process, client relations, and other topics that are tested on in the exam.

Sustainability and Design Ethics / Russ

This is a newer addition to the recommended reading list. I found that this book was not as conducive to studying, but it might be good to read through at least once to make sure you are familiar with the topics covered. CLARB is attempting to integrate sustainability into more areas of the exam (other than just design and construction) so do not be surprised when design ethics are brought up in Section 1. The books is fairly short and is rather expensive for its size. If you have a good study guide then this is a book I would omit.

 

RECOMMENDED STUDY METHODS FOR SECTION 1

To pass the LARE Section 1, you need to know the glossary of terms, read the textbook and take practice exams. My main method to prepare for Section 1 was to create a large collection of study flash cards. 

Instead of writing notes from the text book, I would create a flashcard that asked a question based on the material that I was reading. This way, I could incorporate all of my notes into one personal flashcard test session. Using a flashcard app, I was able to test myself during any down time I had.

I also strongly recommend waiting as long as possible before taking the practice exams. They are a great resource, but if you take them cold without any studying, you won’t have a chance to assess how well you’ve prepared later on. My advice is to wait until two weeks before the exam to break into those practice tests. This will give you enough time to get acquainted with the types of questions that will be asked as well as double back on topics that you may have not comprehensively covered in your studies.

All this said, everyone studies differently, so it’s important to find a study method that is best suited for you. The LARE really tests application of the study topics as opposed to just the definition to some term. Critical thinking is a big component so your success in Section 1 hinges on how well you can explain how the design process works, both from a project management standpoint as well as from the stance of a contractor.

Good luck!

 

This is part of an ongoing series spotlighting the Landscape Architecture Registration Examination (LARE) administered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). If you have any resources that you can add to this guide we would be happy to include you and give you credit. Please contact the author Benjamin Boyd if you have any additional resources that you’d like to share.

Check out our guide to Section 2: Site Inventory and Analysis

Images via CollegeDegrees360Sam Hames licensed under Creative Commons, and Benjamin Boyd

James Corner Unveils Plans to Build NYC’s Largest Solar Energy Installation into Fresh Kills Park

Fresh Kills Park, once the world’s biggest landfill, is once again making waves thanks to outgoing Mayor Bloomberg’s recent announcement to add 35,000 solar panels to Fresh Kills Park. Nearly three times the size of Central Park, Fresh Kills is an ongoing large-scale reclamation project in Staten Island led by James Corner Field Operations. Slated to “become a showcase (of) urban renewal and sustainability,” the park will soon be home to New York’s largest source of solar power.

The solar installation would be capable of generating up to 10 megawatts of power – enough to run about 2,000 homes. According to a statement by the Office of the Mayor, the solar array will double the City’s current renewable energy capacity. The renewable energy investment is also part of the PlaNYC initiative, NYC’s long-term sustainability blueprint to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

From the press release

“Freshkills was once the site of the largest landfill in the world. Soon it will be one of the City’s largest parks, and the site of the largest solar power installation ever developed within the five boroughs,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Over the last twelve years we’ve restored wetlands and vegetation and opened new parks and soccer fields at the edges of the site. Thanks to the agreement today we will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York City by 50 percent and it is only fitting that Freshkills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase urban renewal and sustainability.”

Fresh Kills Park represents a 30 year process by which New York City plans to change a massive collection of it’s own refuse into a rolling landscape equipped with ample active open space adjacent to one of the densest places in the modern world. The plan consists of 6 phases that outline both the process of trash decomposition and management as well as the establishment of staged plant communities. 

You can read more about the history of this park’s development here.

Photos courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

Book Review: Landprints: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor

Landscape Architect Bernard Trainor designs pastoral and coastal projects on the California coast and countryside. His projects use native plant palettes, recycled materials, and a ever-so delicate touch that almost makes you think that a stunning view of a rocky coastal bay had been that way all along. His appropriately titled book, LANDPRINTS, takes us on a tour of Trainor’s ten most ambitious projects. The landscapes are indeed beautiful and reflect how working with nature, instead of imposing a strict design, can ultimately yield a wonderful result.

Growing up in Australia, Bernard Trainor was influenced in a way that has carried throughout his work. The wilderness, with its innate honesty reflected in texture and pattern, resonated with him and thus Trainor, “made it his life’s work to honor California’s spirit in gardens across the state.”

His projects read like picturesque postcards you might see from California. A scenic bay flanked by jagged cliffs with an modern home sitting blissfully amongst the rocks. These are the projects Trainor is attracted to. And who wouldn’t be? When a designer is given a masterpiece to work with often the greatest challenge is not to mess it up. Like any good museum housing priceless pieces of art, a poor presentation can ruin it for the viewer.  Trainor uses a delicate hand to make living amongst these natural wonders feel seamless.

“I want my gardens to connect seemlessly with the surrounding plant communities; to look as they were meant to be,” says Trainor: “Nature is not a place to visit – it is home.” – Gary Snyder, poet

Trainor believes that it is a losing proposition to impose strict geometries on irregular, naturalistic sites. “My designs,” he notes, “are not based on any simple point or perspective. They respond to the complexity onsite and work with it to make landscapes harmonize with the bigger picture.”

While there are many lessons that can be gleaned from his work, finding the right situation to apply them takes some consideration and talent which Trainor himself has mastered and is clearly showcased in his book, LANDPRINTS: The Landscape Designs of Bernard Trainor.

All images by author.  Please do not use without permission.

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