Author: Benjamin Boyd

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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.

Revised Gehry Design Approved by Eisenhower Commission

After years of congressional bickering and Eisenhower family protests, the latest revision of the hotly debated Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. has been approved by the commission set up to manage it. The new design was unveiled Tuesday in order to help quell months of of criticism regarding architect, Frank Gehry’s original design. 
 
The metal tapestries that surround the urban park areas are to remain to the dismay of many. However, the new design gives more prominence to the Eisenhower statue as a centerpiece. Gehry submitted a statement that endorsed the amount of negative feedback he was receiving – dubbing it “collaboration.” According to the architect, “It is a process that I think is vital to the success of any endeavor and one that was necessary to make sense of sometimes contradictory characterizations of President Eisenhower.”

Some background per the Washington Post:

The Eisenhower family criticized the original design as invoking images of Soviet mythmaking and Nazi-era barbarism. The family did not attend the Tuesday meeting but is expected to weigh in on the new design before the commission meets again, possibly within a week. At that meeting, the commission is expected to decide whether to send the plan forward to the National Capital Planning Commission.

Planners hope to break ground on the four-acre memorial this year. Projected to cost an estimated $110 million, the memorial would be bisected by Maryland Avenue SW, just south of the Mall and would be situated in front of the Education Department and across from the National Air and Space Museum — buildings that tie in with Eisenhower’s legacy.
 
It remains to be seen how the family and other members of Congress will react to the design. However, this is a step in the right direction for a memorial that has only seen conflict and criticism for as long as it has been on the drawing board.
 
 

Book Review: Tree Gardens: Architecture and the Forest

Tree Gardens: Architecture and the Forest, written by Gina Crandell, is a sweeping exploration of projects that changed the way we think about trees in the landscape. Beginning with the wooded defense embankments of Renaissance Lucca, Italy and reaching to the powerful Memorial Forest of New York’s 9/11 Memorial, Tree Gardens examines not only the experience of each garden, but also the hidden story of care and nurturing that they have endured. The gardens of the book tell a story of an artistic statement whose success is measured not by the fashion of the day, but by the ever changing effects of time.

Tree Gardens outlines 15 projects that exemplify the idea that trees and their arrangements can become the architecture of a garden. Crandell explores the different impetuses for the gardens construction – defensive fortifications in Lucca, vanity in the case of Versailles, and the adaptive reuse of a airport in Munich.

IMG_20130313_223414

Maintenance and Longevity

As an idea, trees in groves and tight arrangements are some of the most difficult designs to pull off. Trees when planted are often not as big as reflected in the original design and it takes years to grow to maturity. On top of this, as the trees age the growth becomes more dense and interior space makes sustaining growth year after year difficult. The book explores the many ways that designers have addressed maintenance and how the sites have been altered over time to react to the obstacles of growth.

Versailles is an interesting case study because of its polarized historical significance. To many, cutting down a 100 year old tree seems like a crime against nature. However, many trees are reaching the end of their life cycle at about that age and it benefits the rest of a design to sometimes remove and replant. Versailles has done an exemplary job of this and subsequently the towering walls of growth keep their original intention.

One instance where a proper maintenance schedule was not maintained is Dan Kiley’s Gateway Memorial Park. According to Crandell, “Kiley employed various spacing schemes for the massing of particular species to draw attention to the tree’s character. These sculptural masses then perform spacial functions within his landscapes, such as compression and expansion.” Due to budget cuts and changes made by the National Park Service – some species and spacing of trees were changed. These and other problems negatively affect the design envisioned by Kiley – an issue that will hopefully be resolved in the new design by Michael Van Valkenburg and Associates.

Tree Gardens - Gina Crandell

Modern Tree Gardens

While Tree Gardens explores a few historical precedents, the meat of the book is about more modern projects. Crandell aims to show how contemporary landscape architects are utilizing the impact of tree form to create spaces for the next generation of open spaces. One of the themes of many of these projects is a large swath of space that is dominated by a monoculture tree grid. The 9/11 Memorial, Reimer Park, Oerliker Park, Parc de l’Ancien Palais, and Novartis Headquarters all utilize this convention with varying degrees of success. And while the impact of these bosques is immense, one cant help but wonder if designers are evoking the same generational design trend. The advantage of such design is that the rest of a scheme’s elements seem to be emphasized in their derivation from the grid. However, trees can also make a similar architectural impact in a more curved scheme such as Van Valkenburg’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. It seems that a grid can be the solution when immersion is the goal whereas forms that flank a space can give importance to a view.

Gina Crandell currently practices landscape architecture in Brookline, MA. She has previously taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the University of California at Berkeley, Iowa State University and the Rhode Island School of Design. The American Society of Landscape Architects honored Crandell with the Award of Excellence in 2006 and the Bradford Williams Medal in 1984.

Originally posted at Landscape Invocation

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