Author Archive for Eric Galvin


Entry Feature – 8 steps from concept to reality

Getting things built is the most exciting part of being a landscape architect. (for me at least)… (although i really like coloring things and making them pretty as well…) But seeing an image in your head and then seeing it actually exist is fascinating. I think ill try to examine what it took for me to get something built. (by the way, its definitely not the most amazing thing in the world, i do like the final product, im not happy with one or two things, and its not even really landscape architecture in a traditional sense, just a piece of a design; i wasn’t even part of picking out the plants around it!)….

K, to the list of the process:

  1. design lots of crazy stuff in school thats awesome and wont get built
  2. get a job and draw other peoples design every day
  3. get a chance to design something which gets critiqued and set aside
  4. get a chance to design something which gets critiqued and is thought is ok, then development never comes to fruition
  5. get many chances to design, development never quite gets there
  6. finally one design breaks through the barrier and moves forward.
  7. few questions from builders
  8. finally the design or something very similar exists!!

yay! 6 years of school and 4 years in the workforce and i got a thing made! ;-9




Landscape Architects Helping Each Other Out

Recently I was happy to help a fellow landscape architect out with a graphic header for his blog, Landscape Architecture Resource.  He had crowd sourced the idea of designing a new header and put out a challenge for the design, and i was lucky enough to have won!larbanner1

yay! arent we a happy community of LA’s on the internet.  Speaking of which, have you checked out Land8Lounge. Awesome place to share ideas and talk to other like minded individuals about landscape architecture. Its also a great place to see others drawing techniques and built projects in the gallery or profiles sections (Here’s a link to mine).


Landscape Graphics – unrelated, but a learning experience

Green ink edits




The Landscape Planning Drawing Process

This is my process for land planning drawings, from conceptual drawing to final illustrative site plan (its a bit different for smaller site scale projects).

Step 1. Preliminary Information

I love to start with a survey. If that’s not available at the time, i check the Cities GIS for the site, hopefully thats available. As a last resort i use just an aerial photo. In any case, i always use an aerial photo of the site under the property boundaries and any other info i have at the time, the more the better. A new source ive been using is Google Street View to take a look at the character of the site as well as microsoft live maps “birds eye feature”

(google maps aerial)

(microsoft live maps birds eye)

(google maps street view)

(final cad drawing with aerial and boundaries as well as any additional information obtained about the site)

Step 2. Sharpie and Tracing Paper (Sometimes)

I like to start with pen and paper. I don’t always do this, as i am addicted to drawing in cad, but it really does help get the major ideas out of the way. Points of egress, circulation, where major elements should be, views to preserve, etc. This is a really, really rough drawing. Its simple meant to locate where i want to draw things. Shown Below is the same drawing made pretty to show the client.

Step 3. CAD – Concept

Now i move back into CAD and develop a plan. The final product will be conceptual, but will have all the major elements laid out. This stage lasts a long time as major ideas are hammered out back and forth with all the individuals involved in the process.

Step 4. CAD – Illustrative

Once the ideas are finalized and i feel that we are getting fairly close to the end product, i illustrate the CAD drawing. Im placing emphasis on the word illustrate for a reason. This part of the drawing can and should be outside of your offices standard CAD rules and procedures. This is purely meant to make a high quality illustrative drawing. Emphasis should be on line weights, type of planting symbols, details like roof lines, adding vehicles or people, paving materials, and again line weights (good line weights and details together make all the difference). This is a chance to add some personal style to your drawings as well. Many people think its all in the coloring, but an early part of the style is in the illustrating.

Step 5. Rendering (or coloring as i like to call it)

Isn’t it so much more fun to go to work and color than going into work and rendering? It doesn’t sound as professional, but it is fun to come home and tell your friends and family that your tired from coloring all day. Coloring is another chance to add your own style. There are many ways to do this, from computer aided to colored pencils, so you really have to do what you are most comfortable with and what fits into your time frame. For me, its almost always markers unless im lucky enough to have time for colored pencils. Usually my marker drawings at least get an hour of colored pencil added at the end.

Step 6. Final Product

No we have a 95% rendered plan. I scan this and bring it into photoshop where i clean up mistakes and add fun lighting effects to the water or special shadows. I also adjust the hue and saturation so it prints as close to the true colors as it can be. That image is then taken into Adobe Illustrator where logos, scales, title blocks and labels are added. Bringing the drawing into illustrator to do these things reduces the overall file size and gives you more flexibility since illustrator is meant to work better with text and vector lines such as logos.

I hope this can be helpful for some who are still trying to get a grip on the process they want to use. its taken me some years to develop this and it changes more and more every year as new tools become availble and as i learn new skills. I would love to hear from anyone who has there own process and what they would change about mine –


Precedents and Sense of place

Sense of place can be described as characteristics that make a place feel unique and help foster an attachment to that place. “The term sense of place has been defined and utilized in different ways by different people. To some, it is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not, while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself). It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.” –Wikipedia

Many of us strive to create this sense of attachment to the sites we design and the most valuable tool we have for creating it is history. Each place has grown into itself over the course of its life time and factors unique to its location have shaped the way it looks and feels. Landscape architects can capitalize on these features and use them to create a place that is unique, while still being harmonious with its surroundings. When designing neighborhoods in the tidewater region of Virginia, we strive to have developers build houses that have always been appropriate for the area. Illustrations below from East Beach, Norfolk give an overview of what types of houses have always been built in the area:


landscape architecture in San Francisco

Are there any San Francisco natives reading? Just got back from a week long trip and tried to take a quick survey of the local landscape architecture.  First up: Union Square….. A piazza. in america.. kinda, but mainly filled with tourists.

although the palm tree in sand at a public park is very cool!

Most of the shops around the square are basic american mall fare, which detract from the space a bit, but the non-U.S. visitors find a lot of interest in them.


Best of Bike Paths

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