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Im a bit tired of LID and LEED. I know, please don’t hurt me for saying that. Some would say they are the future of our profession. I don’t really disagree, but i don’t think that they need to take the main stage. Leed and LID concepts are part of what our profession is founded on, an environmental ethic, they are a foundation on which to build artistic and expressive creations, but they are not an end in them selves. A recent winnder of the analysis and planning award of honor for the 2008 ASLA professional awards called Porchscapes seeks to do just that. From ASLA:

“Based on the Dutch woonerf, shared streets are designed as parks, combining pedestrian gathering spaces, parking, landscape systems, and stormwater facilities with traffic throughways.””Streets and attending green spaces are recombined as a treatment network to create “productive park” space for the project.”

Porchscapes: An Affordable LEED-Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND)

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
client: Habitat for Humanity of Washington County

Landscape Architect of Record:
Chris Suneson, RLA, LEED AP, McClelland Consulting Engineers, Inc.

images via ASLA

The end goal is to create art from the basic ideas of what makes Landscape Architecture important.


Boring Engineering Stuff – Silt Fences

Found an amazing article on silt fences that every Landscape Architect should be familiar with at Urbanworkbench. When going on site, the most common mistake a landscape architect will see, is poorly installed silt fencing. We might not deal with these things on a daily basis, but having the knowledge greatly improves ones ability to talk to contractors and increases your credibility. Check out the rest of the content at Urbanworkbench while you are there; they have some very interesting content from engineering to sustainability! For a more indepth look at proper silt fencing, they also link to a feild guide on proper instalation.



“Because everybody loves a playground.”

Thats part of the tag line to one of my new favorite sites, Playscapes. One advantage of being a landscape architect, is the ability to design playgrounds. There are very few things in life that remind you of your childhood and keep you young at heart more than designing a playground. I do, however, prefer the term “playscape.” It implies that it is not just a structure that you are desiging, but modifying the landscape for play. The first project that i incorporated the term in, was a park design for the Gainsborough Neighborhood in Roanoke, Virginia. Here we used the undulating forms of the neighborhood around it as a metaphor for the site itself, recreating the blocks of varying heights and vistas into a playfeature.


Community Entry Features – Part 1

This is will be the first in a series of posts on community entry features. Those of us in planning firms who’s hearts are firmly set on being site designers, cherish the small moments we have to create intimate park like settings. The community entry feature offers us a valuable opportunity to give a structure that is normally just seen as a sign, a more comprehensive solution. In my work i seek to create structures that are placed in usable settings, while providing some benefit to the users of the site beyond its face value. In the illustrations below, i tried to create a destination for the community while separating the users of the park from the incoming traffic.


Using Google Maps to Keep Track of Projects

Google Maps makes my life better. i can honestly say that. i use google maps all day long and im always suprised at the different ways i can incorporate it into my work flow. My favorite part is their somewhat newish “My Maps” feature. Planning and landscape firms deal with many sites and multiple projects per day. Sometimes i will work on one, and then two months later, comeback to the job and have no idea where it was located. The My Maps feature allows you to save the sites location to quickly find it later.  Theres also the convinience of being able to embed the map in a web page (shown below), quickly  get diretions, share locations with others, have the map editable by the whole office…. the list goes on. Here’s the map of all the projects i have worked on across Virginia and North Carolina:

Of Course, there is always just using the satellite views to quickly beef up your graphics and to place a project in context. The biggest error i see with this, is when the satellite colors conflict with the colors of the rendering. Use photoshop to adjust the hue and saturation of the image so that the images blend together and the colors are more compatible.

Another thing to keep in mind, as related to Landscape Architecture, is the power of street view to get a quick feeling for a neighborhood. Hampton Roads has just been lucky enough to get this feature, and im loving it so far.  Let me know if you have any other ideas on how to use this, or if you have found that other mapping services get better results.


a little from the “about” page

With People in Mind is losely based on the concept from the original publication by by Rachel Kaplan , Stephen Kaplan, and Robert Ryan called With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature.  From the publishers:

With People in Mind explores how to design and manage areas of “everyday nature”-parks and open spaces, corporate grounds, vacant lots and backyard gardens, fields and forests-in ways that are beneficial to and appreciated by humans. Rachel Kaplan and Stephen Kaplan, leading researchers in the field of environmental psychology, along with Robert Ryan, a landscape architect and urban planner, provide a conceptual framework for considering the human dimensions of natural areas and offer a fresh perspective on the subject.

With this as a starting point, the entries here after will seek to identify and examine landscape architectural pojects and processes and will hopefully be a creative tool for the author, as well as the readers.

A Little About Me:

I have been involved in the field of landscape architecture for the past 8 years. I started in 1999 exploring professions and personal interests, hoping to find a career that would be psychologically fulfilling and still pay the bills. I was heavily involved in art all my life, but i had no misgivings that i would strike out on my own and become a famous artist. I still had to find something that the left side of my brain could enjoy. It was during this search that i stumbled upon Landscape Architecture.  From Wikipedia:

Landscape architecture is the art, planning, design, management , preservation and rehabilitation of the land and the design of human-made constructs.

This definition really sparks ones imagination, at least it does for me. There are so many fascits to the built world around us; it can be artistic on one hand, or it can be ridgedly mathmatical on the other.

I was involved in the design and building of this Marketing Piece for the LA Department In College. The Idea was that the main line across was a transect of Virginia, depicting the rural mountains in the west and traveling to the coastline on the east, that one would have to walk up to to see into the window that show cased various LA projects within.

Now i work in a small planning and engineering office, Land Planning Solutions, in Virginia Beach, VA where there is ample oppurtunity to change the built environment, trust me, its not the prettiest place in the U.S. Hopefully, over the course of my lifetime, i will be able to have a little impact on that ;-9


Translucent Concrete

When some true artists get there hands on this stuff, i think we could see some really interesting projects. I would assume it will show up in the garden shows and specialty projects before we ever see it in the real world.

image via

May 2017
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