News & Events

News & Events

2014 National Olmsted Scholars

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Sara Zewde of Harvard University and Erin Percevault of Louisiana State University are the 2014 National Olmsted Scholars and recipients of the $25,000 graduate and $15,000 undergraduate prizes.

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2014 Scholarship Winners

2014scholarshipwinners78wThis year, LAF awarded over $40,000 to 10 outstanding students through 8 Leadership in Landscape scholarships

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Landscape Performance at CELA

The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference gets underway in Baltimore later this week, running March 26-29.

cela2014This CELA conference is the first to feature a Landscape Performance track with sessions that “explore the impact of landscape projects of various types and scales through the observation and measurement of environmental, economic and social benefits.” A total of 18 presentations and panels will be part of this track.

LAF will present during two Concurrent Sessions, serve as a Research Funding Workshop panelist, host a meet-and-greet for CSI Research Fellows and Landscape Performance Education Grant Recipients, and give updates at the CELA Board Meeting and Administrators Meeting .

Research from and about LAF’s Landscape Performance Series and Case Study Investigation (CSI) program will be part of four sessions:


Concurrent Session 1- Thurs, 8:00-9:30am

Presentations Based on 2012 and 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) Research

Presentations:    A ‘Texas Three-Step’ Landscape Performance Research: Learning from Buffalo
                              Bayou Promenade Klyde Warren Park, and UT Dallas Campus Plan
                              Taner Ozdil, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington

                              How Does It Change After One Year? A Comparison of Benefit Composition of
                              LAF’s Published Case Studies in 2011 and 2012
                              Yi Luo, Texas A&M University

                              Park Seventeen Residential Roof Garden: Landscape Performance and
                              Lessons Learned
                              Ming-Han Li, PhD, Texas A&M University

                              Assessing Residential Landscape Performance: Visual and Bioclimatic
                              Analyses through In-Situ Data
                              Bo Yang, PhD Utah State University


Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 11:00am-12:30pm

Waterfront Ecologies: Opportunities and Challenges of Assessing Site Performance

Panel with:          Kristina Hill, PhD, University of California at Berkeley
                              Mary Pat Mattson, Illinois Institute of Technology
                              Aidan Ackerman, Boston Architectural College


Concurrent Session 3 - Thurs, 2:30-4:00pm

Landscape Performance Series Case Study Review and Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Prospects

Panel with:          Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation
                              Mary Myers, PhD, Temple University
                              Bo Yang, PhD, Utah State University


Concurrent Session 4 - Thurs, 5:00-6:30pm

One Project at a Time: Measuring Social Performance for LAF Case Study Investigations

Panel with:          Katharine Burgess, Landscape Architecture Foundation
                              Elen Deming, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
                              Taner Ozdil, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington

Vectorworks to Estimate Landscape Performance

By Doug Robb, MLA Candidate, University of Toronto

As landscape architects, we are faced with the challenge of situating our designs within a broader ecological and climatological context. A design proposal must invariably contend with the active forces of its environment, however these forces (such as rainfall, flooding, heat gain, wildlife migration, etc.) can be incredibly difficult to model through conventional CAD and BIM software. The strategy of simulation modelling is often employed, whereby multiple design iterations are compared and contrasted based on a standard rubric. Yet this form of exploratory design can be time-consuming, and is often problematised by the dual expectations placed on landscape architects to quickly represent their creative vision whilst simultaneously ensuring its performative functionality.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is continually looking for new tools and methods to evaluate landscape performance. LAF asked me to investigate how Vectorworks Landmark software could be used to estimate the performance of a given design. 

For landscape architects, the greatest strength of Vectorworks Landmark lies in its ability to handle a wide variety of filetypes, and to modify these external files through the built-in Site Planning tool sets. These tool sets are analogous to pre-defined CAD blocks which cater specifically to the require- ments of landscape design, from an extensive library of plant material and irrigation heads to site modifiers and grading tools. When used in tandem, these features allow a designer quickly to import a survey shapefile, modify the topography through massing models, hardscape, or planting, then begin to calculate site metrics such as runoff, cut and fill, and shading.

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vectorworks-reportFor example, the Hardscape Tool Set can be used to assign different materials and classes to different components of a drawing. The software can then calculate site statistics, such as ratio of hardscape to softscape, site permeability, and potential runoff by “Creating a Report” and selecting from the preloaded lists of site metrics. Using this straightforward process, peak runoff rate can be calculated using the Rational Method. Vectorworks’ built-in libraries of blocks and calculation tools make quantitative landscape analysis easy and relatively straightforward. 

Currently, Vectorworks Landmark is a powerful tool for landscape architects to assess the impact of their designs upon the environment. In the words of Carl Steinitz, this design-led approach to project evaluation is useful for conducting site analysis and generating project metrics, however it is a somewhat limited strategy for generating future design possibilities. It would be tremendously useful if the rigorous analytical functions of Vectorworks Landmark were better able to foster a decision-based approach to landscape design. For instance, a number of possible design outcomes could be generated by limiting certain variables such as site permeability or shade cover. This feature is partially available through the intelligent Massing Model tool set, which allows for data-driven design by appending building data and code requirements to flexible massing models, however an equivalent for landscape performance is not readily available. This process would not only provide landscape architects with a wider range of design alternatives, but also encourage a more participatory design process with non-specialised stakeholders, such as environmentalists or community groups. 

While Vectorworks Landmark may not have the full capabilities offered by more specialized programs such as ArcGIS or Photoshop, its “jack-of-all-trades” approach to file management and site design makes it a powerful tool for the simulation modelling of multiple proposals within a single program. I believe this fast and flexible workflow is an invaluable tool for landscape architects who wish to efficiently test the environmental repercussions of their designs. In this sense, Vectorworks Landmark allows for the rapid prototyping of landscape futures as part of both a creative process, and an analytical device.

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