Leadership | Conversations with Leaders in Landscape

LPS #2: What is Landscape Performance?

August 20, 2010

While building performance is generally understood, landscape performance is a newer concept. Leaders offer their thoughts and definitions here. Featuring leaders from: AECOM, EDSA, LAF, OLIN, Sasaki, SvR, and Wolff Landscape Architecture.

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I think we constantly look to understand the impacts of our projects, but we don’t often enough measure them. So, does that mean metrics? I think yes it does when they are able to be quantified. But I think it’s more than how many cubic inches of rain did we detain or absorb. I think that’s one aspect that’s important, but I think there’s the social aspect of our practice, which is far less easy to measure, and then the economic side of that, also a little more elusive.
 - Mark Dawson, ASLA, Sasaki Associates

I see the value as going beyond the initial article in Landscape Architecture Magazine that has these fabulous photographs taken the day after it was opened, where the focus is on say the graphic design component of the landscape. So actually putting those things to the test and saying: Well, how do they function the day after the opening ceremony? How have they functioned five years later?
- Ted Wolff, ASLA, Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc.

Performance for me means that the poetry alone is no longer good enough. It’s important, it’s critically important. There are these other layers now that have to be considered as we design, as we plan our communities, as we design spaces. Hydrology, carbon, community, health – you can name them and list them. We’re beginning to try to assess that and understand where the benchmarks should be. And then to be able to look back and measure: How well have we done? We set the mark here — was it the right place? Do we have the right criteria? Is it good enough? Can we raise the bar higher? Did we miss the mark? Should we readjust? So to me performance is a dialogue.
 - Lucinda R. Sanders, FASLA, OLIN

Putting it together: landscape performance – we’re looking at the value of design. You know, we’ve all seen projects where they function ecologically, but if people don’t like them, if they aren’t designed for people, if they don’t meet certain aesthetic thresholds for beauty, people are going to use them, they aren’t going to pay for them with their tax dollars or their own private dollars, and they aren’t going to take care of them. And that’s not sustainable. So really looking at the value of design and tying it all together is part of landscape performance.
 - Barbara Deutsch, ASLA, Landscape Architecture Foundation

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