Design Software Survey Results

Design Software Survey Results

Last year, the Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team released a survey to gather information about available technology applications currently used by landscape architects to operate effectively and efficiently. In collaboration with professors Benjamin George, ASLA (Utah State University), and Peter Summerlin, ASLA (Mississippi State University), PPN co-chairs Matt Wilkins, ASLA, Eric Gilbey, ASLA, and officer Nate Qualls, ASLA, collected over 480 responses, capturing the industry’s current state of software usage.

Software and technology are thoroughly entrenched as an essential tool for designers. However, there are many available options vying for designer’s attention and use, and it is often difficult to assess and understand the ramifications of adopting certain software packages. For educators, working to prepare students to become future practitioners, it is important to understand how software is being used in the profession in order to better train their students. For practitioners, these results may inform decisions on software investment or adoption of emerging technologies for your practice.

This data provides a detailed picture of the current state of software use in the profession and enables an analysis of how software usage varies across the discipline. Not unexpectedly, the results of the study indicate that AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, and SketchUp are the most commonly used and most important software packages in the profession. However, when factoring in the type of projects that a firm works on, this ranking changes and other software, such as GIS, Revit, Rhino, and Civil3d, become more prominent. There is also variability in what software is used based on the geographic location of the firm. Larger firms are also more likely to use and value a broader range of software applications. The survey also found that individual emerging technologies are closely related, indicating that some firms are very entrepreneurial in adopting new technologies.

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Preparing for the Future: O&M Manuals

by Nate Lowry, ASLA

Operations and maintenance manuals
image: courtesy of IndypendenZ at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have all seen that new project or development get constructed, and have initial community impact and luster, only to see it become dilapidated and run-down over time. The truth is a project’s success is not determined by only the initial product or outcome—on-going maintenance and upkeep needs to be adequately addressed by designers and owners alike to ensure a project remains a success into the future.

Proper time and planning is needed to ensure operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals aren’t an afterthought or get thrown together on minimal time at the end of the project. Controlling future maintenance costs, knowing what to replace and when, troubleshooting technical products, and understanding maintenance intervals are a few aspects project owners need to be well-versed in and where O&M manuals are essential. Without adequate O&M manuals and requirements to produce them, project owners are likely set up for failure and not given the tools to make their project a continued success. A tight package of project specifications is often vital to a project’s initial success, and including complete O&M requirements is crucial for understanding perpetual maintenance and the continued success of a given project.

First things first, what is an O&M manual? An O&M (operations and maintenance) manual is generally a series of documents produced by the contractor to help the owner in perpetuity properly maintain, understand, and address key maintenance milestones and other project aspects. It is key for the design professional(s) to ensure steadfast contractor requirements in producing complete and informative O&M manuals for project hand-off.

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‘Constructing Landscape’ Film Series

by Christian Gabriel, ASLA

Kathryn Gustafson at the National Portrait Gallery
Kathryn Gustafson, FASLA, at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. / image: Taylor Lednum

Over the past few years we’ve been developing a series of high-definition thematic films covering a range of subjects of critical importance to landscape architects. The primary goal of the project is to aid in articulating many of landscape architecture’s collective concerns for friends and family, allied professionals, new and prospective students, policy makers, land developers, and the general public. The films are not directed at experts (or the few), but instead the general public (the many).

The series, titled ‘Constructing Landscape,’ is now available for viewing on our website. The individual five-minute shorts are edited interviews with 18 landscape architects. The films are titled “Material and Perspective” to help distinguish the world-view and concerns of landscape architects, “Designing with Time” to address the very unique temporal issues associated with landscape materiality, “Ecological Infrastructures” to address natural systems and the concerns of scale, “Site as Security” to address the deployment of security features within our public landscapes, and finally “Preservation and Design Evolution” to address both the process of landscape evaluation and the re-purposing of sites.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Action

2019 Diversity Summit participants
images: from the 2019 Diversity Summit Report

2019 Diversity Summit Report

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Action: Supporting Emerging Professionals – Inspiring the Next Generation of Landscape Architects – Connecting Design to Real-World Solutions

In 2013, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) convened its first Diversity Summit with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of why landscape architecture as a profession doesn’t attract a more diverse profile. Each summit brings together a group of experienced and emerging landscape architects who identify as African American or Latinx to develop strategies that address diversity issues in the field. These strategies are compiled into Diversity Summit summaries and reports, which are implemented throughout the year and reexamined at the following year’s summit.

This year, seventeen landscape architects from across the country participated, representing a wide array of sectors including residential design, education, horticulture, and urban planning. They were chosen to help address challenges in diversifying the profession and build upon recommendations for a path forward. Interested parties apply to participate in the summit, and are chosen by a panel of experts each year.

Today, ASLA released the 2019 Diversity Summit Report, the product of the summit held this spring. The report examines issues that African American, Latinx, Native American, and other underrepresented groups face in the landscape architecture profession.

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The Digital Landscape Architecture Conference is Coming to Cambridge, MA

by Stephen M. Ervin, FASLA

Digital Landscape Architecture Conference attendees
130 landscape architects from 30 countries attended the 20th Digital Landscape Architecture Conference in 2019. / image: DLA

Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) Conference
Abstracts due: November 1, 2019
DLA Conference: June 1-3, 2020 at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
2020.dla-conference.com

Not too many US landscape architects may have heard of the International Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) conference, coming to the US for the first time next year in June 2020. The conference attracts a mix of landscape architecture academics, students, practitioners, allied professionals, technologists, scholars, and interested lay people from all over the world. In 2019, participants represented 30+ countries worldwide!

DLA was started in 1999, at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Bernburg, Germany, a small agricultural town 100 km (62 miles) south of Berlin with a strong international landscape architecture program. In its first years DLA was primarily an academic conference, held in Bernburg. In recent years it has become larger, more international, and multidisciplinary, and has recently been held regularly at the nearby Dessau campus—the home of the famed Bauhaus school from the early 20th century. The architect Walter Gropius was the director of the Bauhaus in its most impactful era, in the 1930s, before he left Germany just before World War II, came to Cambridge, and became the head of the Architecture Department at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University.

The links between Harvard and the DLA conference go back to the beginning, when I co-founded the conference with my German colleague Professor Erich Buhmann. GSD Professor Carl Steinitz, Hon. ASLA, now Emeritus, was among the speakers at the first conference; we have both been regular attendees, speakers, and organizers over the years. In recent years, the DLA conference has grown (in 2019, speakers were from more than 30 countries world-wide); and has traveled further and further afield from its base in Germany (the conference has recently been held in Switzerland and Turkey). Next year for its 21st meeting, DLA2020 will be held for the first time in the US, at the GSD just following Harvard commencement, June 1-3, 2020. The conference theme will be Cybernetic Ground: Information, Imagination, Impact.

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Travel Grants for Students to Attend Dumbarton Oaks’ Garden and Landscape Studies Colloquium

Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks / image: Karl Gercens, DC Gardens

Dumbarton Oaks has announced the Mellon Colloquium Award, a travel grant for students wishing to attend the annual colloquium or symposium in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C. The awards offer reimbursement up to $600 for the cost of travel, local accommodation, and other approved expenses related to symposium or colloquium attendance. Registration fees are waived for holders of the awards.

Travel grant applications for the Fall 2019 Colloquium, Interpreting Landscapes of Enslavement, are due September 16.

Eligibility:

Applicants (and recipients) must be currently-enrolled graduate students or undergraduate juniors or seniors.

To apply:

Candidates should prepare an application consisting of:

  1. A cover letter that provides a brief summary of the candidate’s research interests, plans for future research, and an explanation of why conference attendance is important to the candidate’s intellectual and professional development.
  2. A résumé.
  3. A letter of support from the applicant’s thesis advisor or department chair.

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Share Your Point of View: Urban Wilds and Unclaimed Landscapes

by John Gibbs, ASLA, Jill Desimini, ASLA, and Susan Moffat

Urban wilds
Left to right: Former Beltline Railroad Switching Yard, Alameda, CA, Rivka Weinstock; Mount Sutro, San Francisco, CA, Peter Trio; Former Reading Viaduct, Philadelphia, PA, Joshua Ketchum

In anticipation of the upcoming panel Urban Wild! Making the Case for Our Unclaimed Landscapes with Jill Desimini and Susan Moffat, facilitated by John Gibbs, at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego, we’d like to hear from you about your experiences in urban wilds and unclaimed landscapes.

How can you get involved? Post a photo on Instagram or Twitter of an urban wild that you care about or have spent time in. Tell us about it! What makes it unique? What was it formerly? Is it under threat in any way? Use #UrbanWildASLA and #ASLA2019 and make sure to include the location. (If on Instagram, we will only be able to see the post if your account is public.)

What will happen with this information? Your photos will be mapped and featured at this year’s ASLA conference at the panel on urban wilds.

What do we hope to learn? Since these places tend to go unmapped, by gathering and mapping these, we hope to gain greater insight into geography, patterns of use and typology of urban wilds across the country. What are some commonalities between them? What makes these places unique? Why are they important?

What do we hope to spark? A timely conversation about the place of urban wilds within our larger urban framework. How are these spaces different than parks? What can designers learn from urban wild landscapes and how they function? How should we respond to shifting patterns of abandoned land in our cities?

Wait, what IS an urban wild? You tell us! Sometimes these places are also called ‘vacant’, ‘abandoned’, ‘brownfield’, ‘forgotten’, ‘free’, ‘site taken over by wildlife,’ etc.

Join the conversation!

Follow us on Instagram @urbanwildasla to see what urban wilds others are posting!

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Back to School with Landscape Architecture

Back to School
image: iStock

School bells are ringing and classrooms are buzzing with learning adventures of all kinds. Whether you’re a parent of a child in grades K–12, an active ASLA member, or a retired landscape architect with a passion for the profession, there are many opportunities for you to introduce landscape architecture to young audiences in a school setting. Let us help you get started with ASLA’s Back to School Toolkit!

ASLA has assembled a set of fun and informative back-to-school resources, and the start of a new school year is an excellent opportunity for members and educators to explore ASLA’s new toolkit, which includes a growing collection of downloadable PDFs packed with articles, videos, exciting topics, and other free ASLA resources to help introduce landscape architecture as a fun and engaging profession.

Check out these helpful resources to get students interested in landscape architecture:

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