Thursday, August 6, 2009

Landscape Architects = Green

Originally published in Engineering News-Record, and now posted in Architectural Record, the big news of the day is "Landscape Architects Play Central Role in Green Design." Wow, that's some real journalism :) But kidding aside, it's great to see the profession getting some much deserved accolades in the realm of sustainability - which has been a touchstone of our work (with some notable gaps into design-focused solipsism) since the days of Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 1800's.

:: image via ENR

A few choice quotes:

"The movement is variously called performance-based, ecological, sustainable or green landscape architecture. Some use the terms “landscape infrastructure” or “landscape urbanism”. A rose by any name would smell as sweet, not only to landscape architects, long suffering from low self-esteem, but to localities seeking economical, less invasive and more beautiful ways to deal with the poisons of development."

:: image via ENR

"From green roofs and green streets to waterfronts and watersheds, from exurbs to “urbs,” landscape architects are helping turn eyesores into eyefuls. They are using a combination of natural and engineered systems, including soil biofiltration and carbon sequestering, that manage and clean water and air. Permeable pavements and bioswales—depressed planters that soak up and filter stormwater runoff polluted with oils and metals—are starting to pop up in parking lots and along streets from Portland, Ore., to Philadelphia."

:: image via ENR

There's still a lot of weird info, such as the costs ($25-50 per square foot for sustainable landscapes... what the hell does that mean?) and the fact that LEED is driving this renaissance (a factor yes). What LEED has done for green buildings is great, but what it has actually done is more of a disservice to sustainable landscapes both marginalizing and oversimplifying the complexity of landscapes into drip irrigation and native plants. This is now being re-evaluated and expanded with the Sustainable Sites Initiative - but the groundwork of these endeavors into regenerative design predates LEED by years - if not decades.

:: image via ENR

The stats on the rise of the profession are interesting as well - showing an amazing amount of growth in comparison to architecture and civil engineering. This is due to a newfound relevance - but also the fact that compared to these two somewhat bloated professions - making it a small group that will continue to grow in prominance and size in upcoming years. As mentioned in the article, it's not a bad time to be an landscape architect.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate your contribution to landscape architecture discourse. It is a rare thing to read such honesty and truth regarding the direction of the profession.


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