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Designing for Decarbonization [Land8x8 Video]

2022 has been a year in which we are reminded in headline after headline that climate change is, in fact, not a problem to prepare for but a present and dire force to be reckoned with. The effects of increasingly frequent natural disasters and extreme temperature shifts are global issues that require innovative and imaginative solutions. Fortunately, the end is not nigh, as those same headlines are coupled with the groundbreaking news of climate capturing technologies and an increased awareness of what, exactly, our natural world is capable of. At the Land8x8 Lightning Talks, Matthew Gindlesperger, PLA and Associate at Martha Schwartz Partners (MSP), sees the potential of these climate resiliency technologies to play a substantial role in the practice of landscape architecture. “[We are] t...Read More

Adaptive Landscape Master Planning [Land8x8 Video]

How can we better prepare for the future unknown? Martha Desbiens, Associate at MNLA, recounts how the last few years brought radical change and emphatic proactivity to the heart of her work at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks. Desbiens reflects on how much landscape architects have improved communication skills between colleagues, clients, and communities alike during the COVID-19 pandemic. The voice landscape architects have forged in the public discourse, especially around social issues and the climate catastrophe, has been massively impactful, but “largely reactive”. Looking towards the future, landscape architects must shift communication and action to proactive, adaptive design choices and communication efforts. To provide precedent, Desbiens details how MNLA’s Smith College “20-Year Visi...Read More

Landscape as Infrastructure and Other Imaginary Tales [Land8x8 Video]

When it comes to resiliency infrastructure, machine-like futures seem to lie ahead for our shorelines. As sea level rise threatens our coastal communities, projects are typically driven by the works of engineers in order to create the mechanical layer of protection cities and neighborhoods need. It may seem as if landscape as infrastructure is an imaginary tale, but according to Gonzalo Cruz, Studio Design Principal, it is the core of what he and the landscape architecture team do at AECOM New York. “There’s a lot of made-up stuff that we think through… that actually becomes realized” Cruz states in reference to the firm’s projects at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks. Driven by engineering, the team is juxtaposed to design a landscape in which the technical infrastructure necessary for resilien...Read More

Grounding Stories in Place [Land8x8 Video]

Taewook Cha, founding principal and landscape architect of Supermass Studio, discusses how stories in the landscape are the key to professional excellence at the Land8x8 Lightning Talks. With 25 years of experience, Cha notes how landscape architects often use phrases and terms that seem like vaguely grand yet promising gestures. “Urban Life Forms” and “Exemplary Environments” seem like shining examples of design integrity but lack clear meaning and impact. Thus, the outlook of landscape architecture may not fall in the pinpointing of the terms that buzz the community. “There were times where we believed the future of landscape architecture depended on our ability to conceptualize and theorize abstract words, but the future relies on our ability to relay people’s stories through the landsc...Read More

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

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