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Conflict Wood [Land8x8 Video]

The use of tropical hardwood lumber, such as ipe, in construction is damaging the world’s ecosystems at an alarming rate. During the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Austin, Texas, Zac Tolbert, a licensed landscape architect and Business Development Representative at Delta Lumber & Millworks, outlined the detrimental environmental impacts of specifying tropical hardwoods and the sustainable alternatives available. As a call to action, Tolbert urged design professionals to be stewards of nature and lead the building and construction industry to a sustainable future – starting with eliminating the use of tropical hardwoods in their projects. While wood is considered a renewable resource, standard harvesting practices such as clear-cutting, in which large expanses of forests are cleared, do not...Read More

The Icon: From Concept to Reality [Land8x8 Video]

Iconic elements in the landscape – whether sculpture, public art, or branded graphics – accentuate the experience of a place. These “icons” become identifiers that capture the character of a place and act as a physical interpretation of a development’s brand. However, sometimes the intention of such placemaking icons can fall short, as ideas conceptualized early-on in the design visioning process are not fully realized. How can designers ensure an initial design vision is carried through to implementation? To answer this question, Alex Ramirez, Office Director at Design Workshop’s Houston office, formed a research group with his fellow coworkers as part of Design Workshop’s Emerging Leaders Group* program. During his presentation at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Houston, Texas, Ramirez, s...Read More

What Automation Means for Landscape Architecture Practice [Land8x8 Video]

We are in an era of digital transformation. The emergence of new technologies is rapidly transforming the way we approach design, with firms utilizing computer software more heavily than ever before. Does this mean the jobs of landscape architects are soon to be replaced by automation? Probably not, but it will challenge us to do things differently. Formerly of Clark Condon at the time of this video and now as Senior Associate at TBG Partners, self-proclaimed “tech nerd” Chris Gentile put it, “In order to maintain relevance, we must adapt.” At the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Houston, TX, Gentile explains why he has embraced automation, not only for its efficiency, but also because it frees up time for more creativity in the design process. Recognizing the benefits, TBG Partners ...Read More

Evoking Soul in Landscape Architecture [Land8x8 Video]

There has been a trend in landscape architecture to measure the success of a project using research and quantified data. However, to Christine Ten Eyck, founding principal of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects (TELA), evaluating the success of a project extends beyond quantifiable metrics and measurable outcomes. Ten Eyck defines successful projects as places designed with “soul” – those that people connect to on a deeper, more meaningful level. Soul – the inspiration, feeling, emotion, passion, spirit and energy of place – is that added sense of surprise and delight that brings meaning to a space. When you design a landscape with soul, every detail has a purpose and the use of texture, vegetation, and water form a dialog between beauty and functionality. During her presentati...Read More

Creating Binge-Worthy Nature: Rediscovering How Children Play in Nature [Land8x8 Video]

When you think back on your happiest childhood memories, you probably think about playing outside. Those long summer nights camping in the backyard, catching fireflies, and climbing trees are among my most vivid adolescent memories. Not only did these experiences create happy memories, more and more studies show that they provided countless mental and physical health benefits too. Nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. However, in part due to the influx of technology, there has been a recent shift in how children spend their free time, often replacing outdoor time with screen time. The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen. How can we create “bi...Read More

Feeling the Weather [Land8x8 Video]

The weather affects us every day, but rarely receives the attention it deserves. Often relegated to small talk conversation, we downplay the many ways weather influences our daily life, culture, and health. The weather – the day-to-day state of the atmosphere generally perceived as a combination of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind – is a moment in time. However, when we move beyond a single weather event and study the weather of a place averaged over time, a pattern can be established. The climate, or the pattern of weather moments, is not as easy to perceive, but greatly affects ecosystems and communities around the world.  Falon Mihalic, founder of landscape architecture and public art firm Falon Land Studio, seeks to give form to this in...Read More

The Aesthetic of Proof [Land8x8 Video]

As designers, we are constantly seeking new tools and strategies to better express our design vision. Technological advances have enhanced our visualization capabilities dramatically over the years, from hand-drawn perspectives to photo-realistic renderings and 3D digital models. Yet, much of what makes a landscape unique – the feelings, smells, and sounds of the natural environment – are not being communicated in our graphics. Andrew Sargeant, landscape designer and visualization specialist for Lionheart Places LLC, believes that augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) provide greater potential than all previous rendered visualizations of landscapes. During his presentation at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Austin, TX, Sargeant shared why he believes immersive technology is the future ...Read More

Plant Stuffing [Land8x8 Video]

From urban farming to forest bathing, there has been a growing desire to connect with the natural world. In an effort to bring nature to urban settings, some landscape architects are turning away from conventional horticultural practices, where plants are organized in orderly rows and treated as separate, distinct clumps, in favor of a freer aesthetic that reflects the wildness of nature and is attuned to ecology. During her presentation at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Austin, TX, Jennifer Orr, a founding principal of Studio Balcones, discussed the importance of designing “wild” landscapes in the public realm to help restore ecological diversity in urban settings. Orr advocates for crafting landscapes that work with nature instead of trying to control it. This plant-driven approach for p...Read More

Altering Human Habits [Land8x8 Video]

Spending time outside not only makes us feel healthier, it also impacts our long-term wellbeing. Studies have shown that people with high exposure to green spaces yield significant physical and mental health benefits. Yet, most of us do not prioritize outdoor activity in our daily lives. According to the EPA, the average American spends 93% of their time indoors, leaving very little time for outdoor activity each day. To promote human wellbeing, we need to alter our daily routine to accommodate outdoor activity. In her presentation at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Houston, TX, Cynthia Dehlavi, Senior Research and Design Associate at OJB Landscape Architecture, shared how landscape architects can use design to influence human habits and increase people’s daily exposure to green space. Duri...Read More

Managing Risk [Land8x8 Video]

The work of landscape architects work involves complex decisions and responsibilities — detailing and designing projects, observing construction, achieving owner satisfaction, and ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Landscape architects are subject to professional liability as a direct result of the higher expectations placed on us due to our specialized education and training. When a project doesn’t go according to plan, owners can file lawsuits against the design firm. Risk are inherent in the landscape architecture profession, but we rarely talk about it. During the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Austin, TX, Marissa McKinney, Principal at Austin-based landscape architecture firm Coleman & Associates, discussed the many ways in which design professionals expose ...Read More

Creating Better Places [Land8x8 Video]

The research is clear: Spending time outdoors, especially in green, natural settings, is good for our health. A growing body of research is demonstrating the positive measurable effects spending time in nature has on our well-being – from reducing mental distress, increasing physical activity, and extending our life span. In fact, spending time outside is so vital that doctors around the world have begun prescribing time in nature as a way of improving their patients’ health. Unfortunately, natural settings are not readily accessible to everyone, and the quality of our outdoor environments are not always conducive to human well-being. Understanding that how we shape our environment impacts our health, Stephen Cook, Principal at the Planning and Landscape Architecture firm Hitchcock Design ...Read More

UT Austin [Land8x8 Video]

As the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture celebrates the completion of its 15th year at the University of Texas at Austin, Director Hope Hasbrouck reflects on the radical change the program has experienced since its establishment. This transformation, Hasbrouck explains, is in response to the changing context of landscape architectural design. As perspectives within the profession shift to re-orient design goals from program to performance, research and academia topics have expanded to explore the dynamics of urban systems, historical and theoretical basis for design approach, and the complexities of multidisciplinary projects. During her presentation at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Austin, TX, Hasbrouck shared five words she is seeing in academia that she believes will guide the...Read More

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