Larry LeMaster joins LandDesign as Chief Operating Officer
Larry LeMaster, CPA has joined LandDesign as Chief Operating Officer (COO). With over 25 years of operations and financial leadership experience in the architecture and engineering industries, Larry is an expert in improving productivity, expanding business, protecting intellectual capital and keeping the technological edge. As someone who has always moved freely between the […]
Larry LeMaster, CPA has joined LandDesign as Chief Operating Officer (COO). With over 25 years of operations and financial leadership experience in the architecture and engineering industries, Larry is an expert in improving productivity, expanding business, protecting intellectual capital and keeping the technological edge.
As someone who has always moved freely between the worlds of business and art, he is passionate about standing beside artistic designers to help them build a studio, an office or a worldwide practice. His role at LandDesign will help strike a balance between our free-thinking process and organization and structure.
Larry has a proven track record for helping businesses in our industry grow new offices, expand their reach, and strengthen their brand. His passion for the arts, his affinity for business, and his personal mantra of “Make It Matter” make him right at home on our LandDesign team. Connect with Larry on LinkedIn HERE.
What matters to Larry:
Infrastructure Maintenance is Key to Managing Stormwater Runoff
Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas. Even before hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria produced catastrophic flooding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year, managing stormwater runoff was a top infrastructure priority for urban areas. Stormwater runoff occurs when roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces […]
Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas.
Even before hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria produced catastrophic flooding in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last year, managing stormwater runoff was a top infrastructure priority for urban areas. Stormwater runoff occurs when roads, parking lots and other impervious surfaces prevent rain or snowmelt from soaking into the ground. The excess water is carried to local lakes, rivers and other wetlands, becoming heavily polluted with oil, grease, trash and pesticides along the way, and causing flooding and erosion. That said, it comes as no surprise that stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas according to the Center for Watershed Protection.
Frank McMahan, PE, is a principal and civil engineer in LandDesign’s Charlotte office who manages storm drainage improvement projects for numerous municipal, residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects. He works with clients to design infrastructure to handle anticipated stormwater needs and relieve the demands on older, failing infrastructure.
Frank points to a proactive solution many municipalities are starting to employ to mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff: maintenance programs that are funded by nominal utility fees based on the impervious coverage of a home or business. “Generally, these are not huge fees for taxpayers. But, they are a valuable mechanism to help municipalities fund maintenance projects to fix their failing infrastructures before they become major problems.”
In 2016, roughly 1,600 communities in 39 states had stormwater utilities or fees. LandDesign has long-standing contracts with several municipalities, including the City of Charlotte, that utilize such a program to provide system assessments, make recommendations and produce construction documents for stormwater maintenance.
Mary Alexander Storm Drainage Improvement Project
One such project is the Mary Alexander Road Storm Drainage Improvement Project (SDIP) near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Storm drainage and erosion issues were made evident by street flooding in the area around Mary Alexander Road that affected transit through the neighborhood. To alleviate future flooding and erosion, LandDesign assessed drainage issues and analyzed the capacity of the existing infrastructure, recommended alternatives to remediate roadway and structural flooding and selected a preferred alternative to future design and construction.
Throughout the duration of the project, LandDesign maintained open communication with City Staff regarding remediation options, project fee and project schedule. The firm’s team of civil engineers attended internal and external project team meetings, implemented internal quality control procedures and was responsive to and available for all of the city’s requests. To date, this project has not been involved in any construction claims.
Client service matters.
Frank’s goal with each of these clients is to be a seamless extension of their staff to make their job easier. “You wouldn’t know if we work as a private consultant or in the local government building.”
The standard of service that LandDesign provides sets us apart and, with many of our clients, has become the bar by which other consultants are measured.
The firm’s efficient process begins with an initial site visit. It continues with a streamlined system to complete the existing conditions analysis and quickly get the job to the construction document phase. LandDesign works with each municipality to accommodate specific invoicing and billing requirements.
The firm also requires its subconsultants work to the same high standard that clients have come to expect. “The standard of service that LandDesign provides sets us apart and, with many of our clients, has become the bar by which other consultants are measured.”
LandDesign: The First 40 Years
LandDesign was founded in January of 1978 on the belief that working hard and caring more, matter. As LandDesign’s founder, Larry Best, will tell you, there was no grand plan for forming a new firm. He believed he could be successful because it felt right to be driven by a desire to show clients […]
LandDesign was founded in January of 1978 on the belief that working hard and caring more, matter. As LandDesign’s founder, Larry Best, will tell you, there was no grand plan for forming a new firm. He believed he could be successful because it felt right to be driven by a desire to show clients that he was as invested in a project’s success as much as they were, regardless of what it was.
Forty years later, the values that inspired Larry in those early days still sustain LandDesign today.
Being able to continue to provide the best work to our clients has been the driver behind the investments we’ve made to expand our services, our presence and our people. Growth that wouldn’t be possible without clients who have entrusted us to create their visions, collaborators who have worked alongside us and our supporters who have believed in us.
For us, this anniversary isn’t about looking back. It’s about the opportunity we have to look ahead. Opportunity that exists because of our core values that drive us every day: serving clients to our highest ability, working harder than anyone and growing passionate people.
To commemorate our first 40 years, we want to capture and share the ways these values have shaped our work and our culture in hopes that those who read this will keep us accountable to them, ensuring the next 40 years are even better. Follow along on social media to celebrate our past and future growth with us throughout the year.
Transforming Tysons [Land8x8]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on Land8. “Why just make something, when you can create something that matters?” That’s the firm slogan that Stephanie Pankiewicz, Partner at LandDesign, considers throughout every project, and especially as she has had the opportunity to completely transform Tysons, VA. Currently known for its office parks, shopping malls, and […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on Land8.
“Why just make something, when you can create something that matters?” That’s the firm slogan that Stephanie Pankiewicz, Partner at LandDesign, considers throughout every project, and especially as she has had the opportunity to completely transform Tysons, VA. Currently known for its office parks, shopping malls, and traffic congestion, the future vision for Tysons is that of a high-density city — with walkable streets, an iconic skyline, and quality public spaces. With 14 active projects in Tysons, LandDesign is uniquely positioned to lead the city’s transformation, create something that MATTERS to the community, and set precedent for edge cities around the globe. However, communicating these large-scale changes to the many stakeholders, community members, and county officials has had its challenges. During the Land8x8 Lightning Talks, Stephanie shared how her company has utilized new and innovative technologies to best convey their vision for a vibrantly transformed Tysons.
Tagged by Washingtonian as “what may be the most ambitious suburban redevelopment project not just in Washington, but in all of American history,” the Tysons redevelopment project is a game-changer for the region. Currently a sprawling suburban office park with 167,000 parking spaces, or, as Washingtonian puts it, a “4.3-square-mile tangle of parking lots and office parks that’s long been considered one of the least habitable parts of Washington,” Tysons caters to cars not people. In 2014, four new metro stations opened on Metrorail’s Silver Line, increasing the area’s ease of access and bringing a direct connection from downtown DC to Tysons. Taking advantage of the new transit, county officials initiated a 40-year urbanization plan defined by a walkable urban center, seamlessly integrated public transportation, and acres of parkland. Envisioned at Fairfax County’s new downtown, it is estimated that by 2050 Tysons will be home to up to 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs in that year.
With 1,600 acres of land undergoing construction, such a transformation is hard to fathom – especially for the roughly 19,600 existing residents who may not be so sure about all of this development in their backyard. To convey their vision, LandDesign utilizes 3D visualization, including virtual reality headsets and 3D animations. A grassroots effort among employees, LandDesign uses these tools as a storytelling technique. As Stephanie explains, “To go from surface parking lots to a new downtown with 19 story buildings is quite a transformation, and the neighbors around it are in single-family homes, primarily…to imagine going from your single family neighborhood, a few minutes’ drive away, to a new downtown that is going to have 19 and 20 and 22 story towers is…quite a change. And to be able to explain that in 3D has been very critical.”
The use of 3D technologies have become more prevalent in the design industry, not only as a tool to collaborate with team members, but also to engage the community and realistically express a design idea to those who may not be able to visualize through the typical 2D plan renderings.
The use of 3D technologies have become more prevalent in the design industry, not only as a tool to collaborate with team members, but also to engage the community and realistically express a design idea to those who may not be able to visualize through the typical 2D plan renderings. 3D animations allow users to get a better sense of scale, and a real understanding for how the built product will look and feel. Stephanie adds, “It is also very authentic, which again is very important to the community members, because they don’t want to come to a meeting and think they are seeing a Photoshop montage, they want to know when this park is coming.”
Stephanie urges designers to go beyond the typical use of these 3D tools, as representational imagery, and to instead utilize 3D technology to better understand topography, materiality, scale, and the ultimate functionality of a space. With the assistance of such technology, Stephanie’s team was able to assure neighboring residents, work more collaboratively with team members, and receive county approval – moving one step closer to a new Tysons.
People Matter: Beth Poovey
I believe a person’s past forms who they are. Beth Poovey’s years of wanderlust became the journey that led to her role as Director of Greenways, Parks and Open Space for LandDesign. Recently, Beth shared her passion for parks as places with other park and recreation professionals as a speaker at the National Recreation […]
I believe a person’s past forms who they are.
Beth Poovey’s years of wanderlust became the journey that led to her role as Director of Greenways, Parks and Open Space for LandDesign. Recently, Beth shared her passion for parks as places with other park and recreation professionals as a speaker at the National Recreation and Park Association annual conference in New Orleans.
“I believe a person’s past forms who they are.” It can also help someone discover their passion.
Beth grew up in a small town, yearning to experience a big city lifestyle and the diverse mix of people that came with it. She found it at George Mason University and in nearby Georgetown. However, her studies were cut short when she left school to care for her terminally ill mother.
Afterwards, not ready to return to college, Beth moved to the Netherlands to be a nanny and learned to love gardens and bikes. “I realized I had been born in the wrong country! I was supposed to grow up biking to bakeries and buying fresh flowers on the street. But all good things must come to an end, and I had to go back to school.”
It was the best setting for me to combine my love of community with learning about the planning and design of space.
It was at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, where Beth learned she liked process and people. “I changed my earlier studies in economics to psychology, and took the required sociology class. That was it for me.” Studying sociology uncovered Beth’s desire to understand the nuances that make a community unique. “I would study people in public places, watching and interviewing them to learn how they experienced these open spaces.”
After graduation, Beth moved to Toronto to study landscape architecture, captivated by the city’s internationally diverse neighborhoods, urban fabric and natural ravines and waterfronts. “It was the best setting for me to combine my love of community with learning about the planning and design of space.”
Getting dirt under your nails matters.
Beth’s first job was a park gardener for the City of Toronto’s Parks and Recreation Department. “One of my all-time favorite gigs! It helped me appreciate the demands placed on park and recreation staff to maintain these public places, which is very important to understand when you are designing them.”
Open public spaces matter.
In 1999, Beth joined LandDesign. Today, she is the firm’s Director of Greenways, Parks and Open Space, where she leads a studio focused on the creation of public places that matter.
I love them all.
Combining her sociology and landscape architecture degrees, her passion has evolved into the planning and design of urban open spaces that authentically integrate community assets with environmental stewardship opportunities. She is also responsible for producing construction documents for urban streetscapes, greenways and park facilities.
When asked to pick a favorite project, she responds like all good mothers. “I love them all.” However, there is one in particular that has spanned nearly her entire career at LandDesign, involving numerous clients and contracts: Little Sugar Creek Greenway and its extension, the Cross Charlotte Trail.
In 2000, the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Department hired LandDesign to master plan the development of a linear greenway along an environmentally degraded creek corridor that spanned 16 miles from uptown Charlotte south to the South Carolina border. The plan included opportunities for stream restoration, recreation and place-making all at once, providing an amenity for the community that also has become an economic development tool.
“This has been an awesome legacy project to work on in terms of the planning, design and implementation.” Fast forward 17 years and many related projects later, and the City of Charlotte’s transportation department has joined with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation to provide public funding to accelerate the development of additional stretches of the greenway to the north, understanding the economic value it brings to the community.
For her presentation to the National Recreation and Park Association, Beth was joined by HR&A Advisors to explore how the park and recreation community can secure public funding for open park spaces by partnering with other departments, such as economic development or transportation. Using Little Sugar Creek Greenway and the Cross Charlotte Trail as a case study to frame the discussion, they explained the importance of viewing linear parks and greenways in their own communities through the lens of different departments and then leveraging these projects to produce partnership funding to get them built and implemented.
On Nov. 15, Beth will host a mobile workshop on the greenway and trail system with the National League of Cities City Summit in Charlotte. The tour will combine recreation and transportation to show city leaders how public-private investment in projects like the Little Sugar Creek Greenway and the Cross Charlotte Trail spur new development and sustainable growth.
Design Details: It’s the Little Things That Matter
If you didn’t already know, LandDesign doesn’t just create beautiful places—we create places that matter. We consider the environment of each place we design and the people who will use it to help us identify the unique qualities that tell that project’s story. Then, we translate these ideas into smaller design details that ultimately […]
If you didn’t already know, LandDesign doesn’t just create beautiful places—we create places that matter. We consider the environment of each place we design and the people who will use it to help us identify the unique qualities that tell that project’s story. Then, we translate these ideas into smaller design details that ultimately impact how people experience each moment in that space.
We dig deep into the details, but are never lost in the weeds.
That means that we are never bogged down by the challenges that come with realizing a great design; in fact, we see challenges as opportunities to introduce innovative solutions. Our ability to connect the dots between design and implementation strongly relates to the collaborative nature of LandDesign—urban planners, landscape architects and civil engineers designing together. If you look closely at each of our projects, you can see how our designers work together to dig deep into the details and capitalize on the opportunities that make a place matter.
Discovery at the Realm
Discovery at the Realm is a perfect example of how we focus on the details to create opportunities that really make each project unique. The Discovery at the Realm design is centered around a manmade lake that functions as part of the site’s stormwater management system and serves as an amenity feature for the community. We faced two big challenges in designing the lake—the varied topography of the site and the unstable clay soils. We capitalized on this challenge and took the opportunity to introduce a waterfall as a central design feature to enhance the aesthetic and audible experience within the community. Head over to our Instagram to find out what details contributed to the implementation of the waterfall at Discovery at the Realm.
Continue to follow along with #DesignDetails on Instagram as we uncover the design details that make places all over the world matter!
Leveraging the Outdoors in Workplace Design
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Today’s workplaces are a notable departure from those of the cubicle-filled past. With a better understanding of how design affects the mind, forward-thinking companies have rethought florescent lights, desk partitions, and separate departments, opting for natural light and flexible work zones to support creativity, focus, and […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Today’s workplaces are a notable departure from those of the cubicle-filled past. With a better understanding of how design affects the mind, forward-thinking companies have rethought florescent lights, desk partitions, and separate departments, opting for natural light and flexible work zones to support creativity, focus, and teamwork. As companies strive to keep a competitive edge, several are leveraging the measurable benefits of outdoor spaces to improve employees’ creative thinking, refresh, and inspire. Coined by The Huffington Post the “new workplace frontier”, exterior office spaces may be the next design trend, driven by changing work styles, innovative technology, and the growing presence of millennials in the workforce.
What we can do with this outdoor office space is still in its infancy, however, many innovative companies have been able to effectively leverage outdoor space to meet the following needs:
Flexible and open workspaces
New technologies, such as the development of wearables and tablets, have given employees the ability to work from anywhere. As workers become increasingly mobile, the division between indoors and outdoors is breaking down. Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, CA was designed with plenty of both indoor and outdoor space. Featuring an open floor plan and a 9-acre rooftop park, the headquarters promotes flexibility and mobility, providing a range of choices for different workstyles. This trend of supplying a variety of spaces for workers to inhabit is shown to increase productivity, as the spaces adapt to the employee’s needs instead of requiring the employee to adapt to them.
Similarly, the Under Armour headquarters in Baltimore, MD features a fully-equipped gym, basketball court, and outdoor turf field for warm-ups, yoga classes, or circuit training. Other companies, such as the law firm Venable, are utilizing the outdoors to create an active, animated environment, transforming the area into the new social hub. Featuring a bocce court, lounge, and fire pit, this space is intended to relieve stress and make the office feel a little more exciting.
Integration of work and social space
In addition to indoor/outdoor flexibility, many offices are becoming more comfortable, simulating the relaxed feeling of home in their furniture and layout choices. In an effort to boost satisfaction, productivity, and retention, some employers are replacing or supplementing assigned desk seating with a variety of less-conventional workspaces, such as oversized lounge seating or café tables and chairs, for workers to hold impromptu work sessions.
As companies move toward a more flexible and comfortable workplace, they also are encouraging employees to linger in communal spaces. These shared spaces, where casual meetings and impromptu exchanges occur, often have a different ambiance than the work zone. The use of lounge furniture, bar-height tables, and WiFi invites employees to get away from the formal conference table setting in favor of something cozier. By providing plenty of communal space for chance encounters, employers spur unexpected collisions and collaborations. Data suggest that such collisions improve performance and creativity. Yahoo, for example, notoriously revoked at-home work privileges because, as the chief of human resources explained, “some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions.” By creating shared space where employees can work with partners, consultants, and customers, a shared sense of community emerges, and with it, innovation.
A focus on personal health and wellness has become increasingly prevalent recently, and companies are responding to the trend, often considering the health of the environment as well.
Not only are employers providing healthy snacks and fitness classes, some are even considering employee health in the overall design of their facilities. Certifications like LEED and WELL Building Standard are becoming more widespread, with a focus on how to best build a healthy, people-centric office. Kickstarter’s headquarters in Brooklyn, NY is one example of a company choosing sustainable, human-centered design. Formerly a pencil factory, the space was transformed to let in light and features nature-filled spaces, including a central solarium and rooftop edible garden.
Another way to promote wellness is by encouraging movement throughout the day, an activity that research has shown to be important to employees’ physical and mental health. By providing both active spaces for walking, and reflective, serene spaces for contemplation, Kickstarter’s headquarters provides multiple places for employees to get relief from mental fatigue.
Recruitment and retention
Today, the employment experience is just as important as the job. Workplace design is all about designing for people, and organizations must offer a range of options to meet the needs of different groups of workers. What matters most is making employees feel valued, and recognizing that their quality of life matters. As Building Design + Construction states, “community gathering spaces, appealing food offerings, workout facilities, outdoor break areas, recreational amenities, modern furnishings, and advanced technology platforms communicate the message that an employer cares for the well-being of employees, which can be a big aid to recruitment and retention.”
While many companies are beginning to incorporate some of these elements into their workplace design, there’s plenty of room for even greater awareness and implementation of this way of thinking holistically about the workplace.
Building Design + Construction, “Workplace design trends: Make way for the Millennials”
Fast Company, “8 Top Office Design Trends for 2016”
Forbes, “10 Workplace Trends You’ll See in 2017”
Forbes, “Office Design Trends Driven by Millennials”
Gensler, “The 2008 Workplace Surveys”
Harvard Business Review, “Why You Should Tell Your Team to Take a Break and Go Outside”
Harvard Business Review, “Workspaces That Move People”
Huffington Post, “Outdoor Workspace: The Next Workplace Frontier”
SFBI, “9 Essential Workplace Design Trends for 2017 and Beyond”
Wired, “Planning a New Silicon Valley in the Heart of Brooklyn”
WorkDesign Magazine, “2017 Office Design Trends Forecast”
WorkDesign Magazine, “How to Create More Collisions in Your Workspace”
Olmsted Scholar Feature: Coal Ash Wastescapes – Advocating for Design Remediation
By: Lauren Delbridge, LA Designer. Originally posted on LAF News. Landscape architecture naturally combines aspects of science, engineering, ecological understanding, and design in a way that sets us apart from scientists, engineers, ecologists and other designers. We as a profession have the skill set to tackle large-scale issues, which is an aspect of the field […]
By: Lauren Delbridge, LA Designer. Originally posted on LAF News.
Landscape architecture naturally combines aspects of science, engineering, ecological understanding, and design in a way that sets us apart from scientists, engineers, ecologists and other designers. We as a profession have the skill set to tackle large-scale issues, which is an aspect of the field that has always captivated me. I quickly became drawn to design projects focused on the remediation of disturbed sites, and I began to find my niche in the complexities of scientific engineering, natural systems, and experimental design.
Nearly 140 million tons of coal ash are produced each year in the United States.
As coal is burned to produce energy, the ash created during the process is collected, mixed with water, and piped to create ponds, which are typically unlined. Coal ash itself contains questionable amounts of heavy metals such as chromium, arsenic, and lead that become problematic as these unlined ponds allow seepage into the underlying groundwater systems.
I framed my year-long thesis project around the issue of coal ash ponds and delved into the complex nature of coal ash, the workings of coal-fired power plants, existing engineering strategies, and applied methods of phytoremediation and bioremediation. With EPA rulings mandating the safe closure of coal ash ponds across the United States, I recognized the great potential for thoughtful, designed remediation strategies that would safely transform a coal ash pond into a space for human interaction, education, and experience.
I focused my work around Dominion’s Chesterfield Power Station, situated along the James River south of Richmond, Virginia. As the largest coal burning power station in the state, the site offers opportunities for remediation at a large scale that could act as a precedent for the treatment of other coal ash ponds across the country. One of the more unique aspects of the site is the adjacent Dutch Gap Conservation Area that creates a distinct juxtaposition between the degraded industrial landscape and thriving ecological habitats. In addition to remediating the coal ash ponds and designing with people in mind, my project also responds to the surrounding ecological conditions.
My thesis project focused on Chesterfield Power Station in Chesterfield, Virginia.
The most challenging aspect of my project was creating a landscape that was more than a beautiful space. I worked to design a system of remediation that would continue to accept coal ash waste as the Chesterfield Power Station continues to burn coal. The coal ash waste travels through a series of remediation cells and is ultimately transformed into a growing medium. The act of turning waste into soil is the ultimate form of responsible waste management.
The extensive research that went into discovering strategies to remediate coal ash was a huge part of my project, and informed my design work in ways that went well beyond the explorations that I had engaged in previous studio projects. While site inventory, analysis, and synthesis played a role in design development, the overlay of remediation processes introduced me to a new way of going about site design. This coal ash remediation project was ultimately a culmination of science, engineering, and ecology that came together as a space designed to be beautiful and to foster human education and experience. While still experimental and theoretical in nature, “Coal Ash Wastescape” opens the conversation to what coal ash ponds could become in their future lives.
I am interested in continuing to merge science, engineering, and ecology in an artful way to create landscapes that offer more than just a beautiful view. Beginning to understand the complexities of remediation has inspired me to seek out opportunities for landscape architects that expand beyond the traditional boundaries of the profession. I plan to continue research on the remediation of coal ash and get involved with organizations that have the motivation and mandate to explore alternative solutions to the disposal of coal ash. As these conversations develop, I would like to focus more attention on the future of the coal ash pond site as a whole.
In addition to staying involved with the developing conversation about coal ash, I plan to travel to remediated or reclaimed landscapes of note to expand my knowledge of redesigned disturbed lands, with a view to documenting a set of case studies. This documentation could be used as an educational tool for public and/or industry information and as a basis for further design research. Even though to date, very little remediation work has focused on coal ash ponds specifically, much could be learned from current projects that deal with similar issues while creating spaces for people to experience.
I want to push the profession of landscape architecture into conversations currently dominated by scientists, engineers, and ecologists. I feel that we as designers should hold the power to bring together these technical fields in a way that creates environments for people.
Lauren Delbridge is LAF’s 2017 National Olmsted Scholar and winner of the $15,000 undergraduate prize. The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s (LAF) Olmsted Scholars Program recognizes students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication and service to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.
Every year the Alexandria Beautification Commission canvases the city looking for properties and projects that represent the best beautification efforts in Alexandria. Beautification includes improvements to a community encompassing landscaping, architecture, and sustainable environmental practices creating a healthier community and higher quality of life. Landscape architects Gabriela, Matt and Susan attended the awards ceremony on […]
Every year the Alexandria Beautification Commission canvases the city looking for properties and projects that represent the best beautification efforts in Alexandria. Beautification includes improvements to a community encompassing landscaping, architecture, and sustainable environmental practices creating a healthier community and higher quality of life. Landscape architects Gabriela, Matt and Susan attended the awards ceremony on September 27 where three LandDesign projects were presented with awards by Mayor Allison Silberberg and members of the City Council.
LandDesign’s Washington, D.C. Office – Excellence in Sustainable Design Award
LandDesign accepted the award for our Washington, D.C. office, an adaptive reuse space located in Alexandria.
With its ivy-covered walls, urban garden and green roof, LandDesign’s office has become a well-known and appreciated building in the community. The green roof has many benefits including reducing energy costs with natural insulation, creating peaceful retreats and absorbing stormwater. The green roof and garden both provide the benefit of reducing the heat island effect (urban areas that are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas due to human activities). The garden also has an environmental and social impact on LandDesign and the local community, as a variety of plants in the garden provide vegetables and herbs as well as food and cover for insects and birds.
The addition of a beehive in 2014 has provided pollination for flowers and crops in our garden and the community. Approximately 30 lbs. of honey is harvested each year, which is used in the office kitchen and shared with our neighbors and friends. Recently, Gabriela gave a garden tour and class to the Da Vinci preschool group – a great opportunity to educate the children with a sustainable and hands-on experience.
Matthew Maury Elementary School – Excellence in Sustainable Design Award
Matthew Maury Elementary has a strong academic learning environment, with a staff that is committed to making sure everything they do leads back to the students’ success.
The landscape design of the playground contributes to this goal in many ways, intertwining academic success with students’ social and physical environment. Once eroded from lack of adequate stormwater facilities, the playground now includes a multipurpose turf field and court, play space, bio-retention facilities and a learning garden with an amphitheater and pathways lined by vegetable and flower beds.
We are proud that Matthew Maury Elementary engaged with our collaborative partner, REAL School Gardens, to make this learning garden the first REAL School Gardens endeavor in the Mid-Atlantic, helping students become more engaged through hands-on outdoor learning. This project was a measure of true collaboration among the City of Alexandria, the school board and the local community, with a large portion of the budget coming from donations and tireless fundraising efforts by the non-profit Maury Schoolyard Initiative.
Alexandria Renew Enterprises – Green Practices in Beautification Award
AlexRenew is dedicated to sustainability and the expansion of public education and outreach opportunities, leading to a desire to design their facilities to match their vision statement “Environment and People—the Best of Both!” After working with Alexandria Renew Enterprises on several other landscape architecture and greening projects, we jumped at the opportunity to provide landscape architecture for the Environmental Center, a six-story Energy Star certified building on track to achieve LEED Platinum status.
LandDesign’s planting design includes a native landscape that provides habitat for wildlife and reduces maintenance and environmental impacts on the community. We added an indoor living green wall to help filter air, improve efficiency and provide a calming view. The signature main entrance features an integrated water fountain that highlights one of AlexRenew’s key products – reclaimed water. Surrounding the building and fountain are park spaces open to the public, including green park space on top of the parking garage and an artificial turf soccer field on top of the Nutrient Management Facility treatment tanks. The trail that leads to the field will ultimately connect to the wider Alexandria trail network, further servicing the employees and greater community.
Brian Forster Joins LandDesign as Director of Civil Engineering in Orlando
LandDesign is pleased to welcome Brian Forster, PE, Director of Civil Engineering, in our Orlando office. For more than 16 years, Brian has been involved in numerous high profile projects in the Central Florida region. His expertise includes the design and construction of residential, hospitality and entertainment projects. “Brian’s experience working in a multidisciplinary […]
LandDesign is pleased to welcome Brian Forster, PE, Director of Civil Engineering, in our Orlando office. For more than 16 years, Brian has been involved in numerous high profile projects in the Central Florida region. His expertise includes the design and construction of residential, hospitality and entertainment projects.
“Brian’s experience working in a multidisciplinary environment, providing civil engineering leadership and local land development knowledge, will drive success for our clients and projects,” stated Ray Waugh, PE, Managing Partner.
Brian enjoys bringing together engineers and landscape architects to help guide clients through the entire development process – a true nod to our successful collaborative nature. He believes that it’s easy to work hard when you love what you do and the clients you serve. As a testament to his design leadership, Brian was awarded Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) Southeast 2016 Top 20 under 40 recognition.
What matters to Brian:
- Being the best husband and father I can be matters.
- Loud music matters.
- Loving my job matters.
- Serving my client matters.
- Problem solving matters.
A Walkable City is a Better City
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Intrinsic to the success of cities and the quality of life they offer is how people move within them. For the past century, the car has been the central consideration in the design and planning of our urban areas. Increasingly, however, the car-dominated planning era […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Intrinsic to the success of cities and the quality of life they offer is how people move within them. For the past century, the car has been the central consideration in the design and planning of our urban areas. Increasingly, however, the car-dominated planning era is behind us, as city dwellers are more frequently walking, biking and using public transit to get around. It’s time for city planning and design to catch up with this new trend. That is why Arup Group, a leading international consulting firm of planners, designers, and engineers, is making the case for walking. “From 70 years of practice we know that a walkable city is a better city and that the more we walk the better the city is in every respect,” declares Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman of Arup Group.
Arup’s recent publication, Cities Alive: Towards a Walking World, shines a light on the impact walkability has on the success of a city. This new report analyzes research and trends in city design to show how walkable cities can improve the local economy, the environment and personal wellness. Highlighting 50 drivers of change, 50 benefits of walking, 80 international case studies, and 40 actions that city leaders can take to inform walking policy and design, the report aims to inspire action and aid cities in improving city walkability.
Benefits of walkability
A walkable city has a multitude of benefits. The report demonstrates the significant social, environmental, economic and political benefits of walking and highlights the opportunities available for cities to embrace walking. Here are just a few of the 50 benefits discussed:
- Social benefits: The health benefits of walking are perhaps the clearest, including reducing the likelihood of obesity and chronic disease, as well as improving mental health and happiness. Walking also provides other social benefits, including an opportunity to foster social interaction, reduce crime, and strengthen community identity.
- Environmental benefits: Walking provides an active means for people to mitigate and address local and global environmental concerns. From noise and air pollution to heat island effect, a shift from car-dominated design to pedestrian walkability mitigates a range of environmental concerns. Pedestrian-focused design also allows reclamation of underused road space. Space previously reserved for cars can be shifted towards green space that better addresses community needs, provides wildlife habitat, and functions as stormwater management.
- Economic benefits: Businesses and property owners can also benefit from more walkable places, with research showing that pedestrians spend approximately 65% more than drivers (p.55). Walkability has been proven to boost prosperity, support local business, promote tourism, and encourage inward investment – attracting investors and private companies that in turn feeds higher employment, property values, and more (p.55). Furthermore, investing in better streets and spaces for walking can provide a competitive return compared to other transport projects. Cycling and walking are estimated to provide up to $11.80 in return of investment per $1 invested.
- Political benefits: Walking is increasingly a political agenda item as cities fight to reduce car congestion and pollution while striving for a safer, healthier, more vibrant community of residents and visitors. Promoting walkability addresses sustainable development and city resilience to climate change, while also encouraging inclusiveness and equality.
How walking is changing the city
Car culture is in decline in many parts of the world, including North America, Japan, Australia and European countries. This cultural shift, especially among the millennial generation, is in part due to a change in priorities, where car ownership is no longer a status symbol. In fact, a renewed focus on health and sustainability has caused many to shun cars in favor of walking, cycling and public transit. The 2008 recession made it difficult for many people to afford cars, and the general move toward more flexible employee commuting arrangements has made it easier to get around without owning a vehicle.
Planning efforts to reduce vehicular traffic in favor of more active modes of transport have already begun to show positive results. In particular, an increased prevalence of walking has forced us to design public spaces and streetscapes that are appealing at a human scale. Cities are realizing that in order to encourage walking, routes must be safe and entertaining, which has led to an increased attention in the design of public plazas, green spaces and corridors. Shifting the design focus to walking, access and mobility for people of every age group, income level and ability has also received renewed attention, connecting all parts of the city.
Many cities are taking active steps to encourage more walking among residents and visitors, several of which are already experiencing the wide range of benefits that come from creating places for walking. To show what can be achieved, the report outlines 80 case studies, including improved wayfinding systems, open street events, pocket parks and traffic calming measures that exist today.
Footbridges, such as the one in Rocinha, Brazil, are one strategy to connect communities previously divided by highways, waterways or other impediments. The footbridge, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, connects Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha, to a new sports facility as well as to the surrounding community in an attempt to provide walkable connectivity to an area once divided by a busy highway. Projects such as The Goods Line (in Sydney, Australia) or the High Line (in New York City) similarly connect multiple neighborhoods while keeping pedestrians separate from vehicle traffic. Crossings of pedestrian networks with other transport networks and natural barriers are often the biggest barriers to overcome on foot. Footbridges are a simple option to maintain safe connections and bridge previously divided communities.
Small parks, called parklets, and other nodes of activity also encourage walking by activating streets and enhancing the pedestrian experience. To ease this process, the Department of Transportation in Los Angeles recently initiated “People St” Do it Yourself Street Regeneration Initiative. This program essentially offers DIY urban design kits to create pedestrian plazas, mini-parks and bike parking that is intended to re-appropriate any of the 7,500 miles of street within the city. One project that sprung from the initiative, Sunset Triangle Plaza, closed a portion of the street to vehicular traffic, using treated pavement and large planters to delineate the new pedestrian space, and brought movable furniture and public programming to an underserved area. These innovative public spaces encourage exploration by foot and promote community interaction. Public plazas also inject art and culture into the city, strengthening a neighborhood’s identity.
Improving the wayfinding and signage of a region also promotes walkability simply by making street navigation easy. Signage created by Applied Wayfinding at Brighton, UK combines on-street wayfinding with an iPhone app containing 3D illustrations and searchable content, to help navigate the city. Such maps incentivize walking and make it easier for people to choose walking as a regular daily mode of transport – a public health benefit and an advantage for local retailers that experience an increase in footfall.
By the shifting the focus from cars to people, and placing walking back into the center of urban design, we can create cities that are healthy for people, the environment and businesses. Arup’s comprehensive report proves how walkability is central to the economy, environment and personal health of the city. View the full report here.
Continuous Growth Matters
At LandDesign, we believe that supporting the growth of our people will ensure the continued growth of our firm. To support this growth, we have identified new opportunities to recognize rising leaders in each of our six offices through the creation of new leadership roles and job promotions. The contributions of the following individuals to […]
At LandDesign, we believe that supporting the growth of our people will ensure the continued growth of our firm. To support this growth, we have identified new opportunities to recognize rising leaders in each of our six offices through the creation of new leadership roles and job promotions. The contributions of the following individuals to their respective offices have played a key role in maintaining LandDesign’s reputation for providing high-quality services for our clients and supporting our overall mission to create places that matter.
Congratulations to the following individuals:
Urban Design is Affecting Our Brains
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Design affects the brain. We know this intuitively, as we get frustrated when poor wayfinding causes us to get us lost or we feel renewed after a run in the park, but only recently are we starting to understand how and why. Our immediate environment […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Design affects the brain. We know this intuitively, as we get frustrated when poor wayfinding causes us to get us lost or we feel renewed after a run in the park, but only recently are we starting to understand how and why. Our immediate environment can prompt both negative and positive effects and it’s becoming evident that the way spaces are designed can exert a strong influence on our behavior. This is especially important in cities, where mental health problems caused by overstimulation, isolation, and loneliness, are particularly high. To alleviate some of these city stressors, we turn to urban design.
City dwelling and mental health
Many factors contribute to mental health and wellness, including biological factors, experiences, and lifestyle, but the built environment also plays a critical role. While mental health and happiness can be difficult to measure, cities are associated with higher rates of most mental health problems compared to rural areas. City dwellers have an almost 40% higher risk of depression, over 20% more anxiety, and double the risk of schizophrenia, in addition to more loneliness, isolation, and stress — including chronic stress, such as gridlock traffic or work demands. Good mental health is critical for both individual well-being and overall human health, but it is under-prioritized in the design of our cities.
Contributors to positive mental health
Urban design has the potential to help support mental health. Urban conditions like pollution, noise, crime, and overstimulation can be reduced with appropriate planning. The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH), an independent research collaborative, is working to increase the body of knowledge and awareness of strategies to support better mental health in cities.
The center highlights the importance of mental health, stating that “good mental health can improve our enjoyment, coping skills, and relationships, our educational achievement, employment, housing and economic potential, help reduce physical health problems, ease healthcare and social care costs, builds social capital, and decrease suicides.” UD/MH has developed a set of policy recommendations, called the Mind the GAPS framework, which encourages city planners and developers to create spaces with the following attributes: Green, Active, Pro-Social, and Safe.
Access to green spaces and nature is continually linked to improved mental health, reducing depression, and improving cognitive functioning. The experience of nature is an antidote to the stressors of urban living. Incorporating street trees, views of nature, and community gardens are all ways to reduce stress. Increasing community walkability and bike-ability, as well as providing good public transit, ensures opportunities for people to be active, which is also linked to improved mental health. Dedicated spaces for sports fields and tennis courts provide active space, as do walking loops in parks. Collectively, green space and active space should be weaved throughout the urban fabric.
Creating social places that encourage interaction is one of the most important opportunities for promoting good mental health. Designing cities that enable human connection helps combat loneliness and feelings of isolation. Social interaction builds self-confidence and fosters a sense of community and belonging. Mixed-use development, which blends shops, offices, and residential spaces into a single neighborhood, is one design approach that sparks interaction among individuals. Design elements as simple as street benches promote conversation, and the creation of open spaces allows for informal meeting spaces for groups. The perceived safety and security of a space is also a component of how people feel. Proper wayfinding and minimized traffic congestion reduce anxiety and help improve feelings of security.
To learn more about the relationship between urban design and mental health, the Urban Realities Laboratory at the University of Waterloo is using tools to conduct psychological research on the streets of cities. From 2011 to 2013, they conducted studies in New York City, Berlin, and Mumbai in which participants were monitored for their psychological state while being lead through city streets. Wristband sensors measured stress levels and emotional states while participants were shown different styles of urban aesthetic. The study showed that many aspects of the urban environment exert a strong effect on our emotions and influence our attraction to particular areas of the city. For example, long, featureless facades caused passersby to become unhappy and bored, while respite from the crowding and noise of the streets, such as green space or a quiet courtyard, produced psychological restoration.
Urban design in action
Some architects and urban designers have already put this research into action. For example, the Trust for Public Land has several urban greening initiatives underway, such as those in Chicago and Los Angeles, which recognize the importance of green space to promote mental health.
In Chicago’s Northwest side, one recent project transformed nearly three miles of unused rail line into an elevated trail. The 606 integrates the community with green space and provides an alternative, uninterrupted commute through the city. This 2.7-mile trail acts as a community connector between four neighborhoods and six ground-level parks. This alternative transportation corridor provides commuters with a less hectic travel and gives low-income neighborhoods spaces to connect to nature and thrive as a community.
In South Los Angeles, a 16 square mile area of concrete alleys is being converted into safe, green, community spaces. The Green Alley Master Plan creates a network that improves community walkability and green space to serve one of the most underserved communities in the region. Both projects highlight the potential urban design has to alleviate city stressors and create livable cities.
While more research is needed, there is already clear evidence that proper urban design can promote good mental health. Given the importance, we need to make positive mental health a priority in urban design. Understanding the effects of urban environments on mental health is the first step in helping to create saner, happier cities.
LandDesign Expands – New Boulder Office
The latest addition to our western expansion is officially open! Brent Martin, PLA, has relocated from our Washington, D.C. office to lead the Boulder, CO office as Managing Principal. This move actualizes our commitment to bring LandDesign’s 40 years of experience and expertise to the region and to support the growth and development of the […]
The latest addition to our western expansion is officially open! Brent Martin, PLA, has relocated from our Washington, D.C. office to lead the Boulder, CO office as Managing Principal. This move actualizes our commitment to bring LandDesign’s 40 years of experience and expertise to the region and to support the growth and development of the Intermountain Region as a whole.
Brent has been key to LandDesign’s national growth over the last 20 years. He brings design knowledge in resort-style communities, mixed use developments and urban design. Currently, Brent is working with our collaborative partner, 505 Design, on Peña Station NEXT, a sustainable and connected futuristic neighborhood in Denver, CO.
Emily Sexton will join Brent as a designer in the Boulder office. Emily joined LandDesign in 2014 and has played a vital role in growing our Dallas office. She grew up in the Denver area and brings knowledge of Colorado planting material and understanding of the region that will be a huge benefit to the growth of the firm.
People Matter: Leadership Promotions
LandDesign has built its nearly 40-year reputation on high-quality client service, a passion for the work we do, and talented people who make the process fun. Last month, some 25 leaders of LandDesign gathered to discuss the firm’s growth and how to deliver on our brand promise: Great people, working for the best clients, […]
LandDesign has built its nearly 40-year reputation on high-quality client service, a passion for the work we do, and talented people who make the process fun.
Last month, some 25 leaders of LandDesign gathered to discuss the firm’s growth and how to deliver on our brand promise: Great people, working for the best clients, creating meaningful and impactful places. Fulfilling this promise includes creating new and exciting opportunities for people to advance their careers, and consistently building leadership from within to transition the firm to the next generation.
“From the day LandDesign was founded, it was intended to be a firm that transcended generations; one that was about ideas and inspired by ideals,” explains President Rhett Crocker. “The talent, expertise and ability we have in our offices today is the best I’ve ever seen. That’s exciting.”
From last month’s gathering, several people were elevated to senior positions at the firm.
Meet the newest generation of emerging leaders at LandDesign.
Brian Dench, Managing Principal (Dallas)
Brian joined LandDesign in 2012 to establish the Dallas office and direct the firm’s civil engineering services there. His areas of expertise include managing entitlements, land planning, civil design, permitting and construction phase services for land development projects.
One of Brian’s most meaningful projects was the Discovery at The Realm, a luxury multi-family development in the Castle Hills community in Lewisville, Texas. “The client’s vision was to create an urban oasis that challenged the status quo of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It was accomplished through a focused effort by a wide range of design and construction professionals working together in a collaborative environment.” Completed in 2016, the project has already won several awards.
Brian’s passion is promoting the use of LandDesign’s unique collaborative landscape architecture and civil engineering design process to tackle difficult design challenges. “Creative, buildable, and cost efficient designs are achieved when both practices are working in tandem. The value added to our projects and ultimately our clients cannot be overstated.”
Heth Kendrick, Principal (Dallas)
Heth is a career-long LandDesign employee, beginning in the firm’s Charlotte office as an entry-level landscape architect in 2001 following his graduation from Auburn University. In 2014, he relocated to Dallas to join Brian in growing the office while developing the firm’s landscape architecture practice there. It is where he counts one of his most meaningful projects.
Alexan Henderson, a rental community development, represents the new office’s first proposal for landscape architectural services that did not involve a pre-existing relationship. “It was the first project the Dallas team grew from a handshake over breakfast into a relationship that continues to grow into additional developments and design opportunities today.”
Heth is passionate about the firm’s collaboration of landscape architects and civil engineers to create great designs. “This is what makes our firm distinctive, and I enjoy telling everyone I can about the unique design relationship and my talented colleagues at LandDesign.”
Eric Pohlmann, Principal (Charlotte)
Eric joined LandDesign five years ago as a designer. His emphasis includes urban design, master planning, community redevelopment, form-based codes, multi-family, office, and commercial development.
The Kingsley Town Center in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and LPL Financial’s new campus nearby are memorable projects that Eric helped to lead from master plan to completion. “The clients for both projects were great at pushing boundaries and wanting to ‘do the right thing’, which in turn challenged us to create something very unique and special.” These projects illustrate LandDesign’s strength in creating an idea and ensuring that the decisions made along the way follow through on that vision.
Speaking of illustration, Eric’s passion for hand drawings and renderings in an increasingly digital profession allows him to create a strong vision and tell a unique story that makes the client sit back and say, “Wow, that’s it!” That kind of powerful ideation is at the core of LandDesign’s brand. “I’m really looking forward to continuing to be a part of pushing the creative boundaries of our design and graphic capabilities, idea creation, and the end deliverables for our clients.”
The talent, expertise and ability we have in our offices today is the best I’ve ever seen.
Dawn Cagle, Director of Financial Services (Charlotte)
For nearly two decades, Dawn has had a front row seat to the firm’s growth. She’s spent nearly her entire accounting career at LandDesign, joining the firm in 1998 as a payroll coordinator. “I’ve worn many different ‘hats’ at LandDesign, from payroll and employee benefits to project accounting and more, giving me a great understanding how LandDesign operates from both a financial and project management perspective.” Her legacy accomplishment was transitioning LandDesign to a new a project management/accounting software system in 2006 that is still in use today, and ensuring the firm’s processes evolve with the software to gain optimum efficiencies.
Ashley Clark, Director of Strategic Development and Communications (Charlotte)
Upon entering the workforce, Ashley wanted to find a career path that would keep her engaged in the profession while capitalizing on the communication skills she had honed through her leadership within the American Institute of Architects and in school. At LandDesign, she has found that place. “I am so fortunate to have a position that allows me to sit at the intersection of communications and strategy for an incredible design firm. The opportunity to be an advocate for great design and even better people is extremely satisfying.”
Ashley rejoined LandDesign as marketing manager in 2013 and has been an integral part of the firm’s corporate rebranding and the development of a strategic plan process to support firm growth since. Today, she is responsible for leading the development of firm-wide marketing, communication and strategic initiatives, and strengthening the LandDesign brand both internally and externally. “It’s been rewarding to return to the firm and be part of building a team and the tools that serve LandDesign and its goals” she says.
“LandDesign has built its nearly 40-year reputation on high-quality client service, a passion for the work we do, and talented people who make the process fun,” said Crocker. “We have been fortunate to experience great success and growth with this model, and these future leaders will ensure our vision continues.”
Dallas Office Nominated for 2017 Best Places to Work
Open floor plans, an abundance of natural light, foosball games, watermelon eating competitions, outdoor fire place gatherings, beer:30s, a writeable surface wall – just a few of the items you’ll find in our Dallas office. A true testament to the culture and atmosphere our colleagues have cultivated over the years, led by Brian Dench, PE, […]
Open floor plans, an abundance of natural light, foosball games, watermelon eating competitions, outdoor fire place gatherings, beer:30s, a writeable surface wall – just a few of the items you’ll find in our Dallas office. A true testament to the culture and atmosphere our colleagues have cultivated over the years, led by Brian Dench, PE, and Heth Kendrick, PLA, both Principals of the firm.
With a tight-knit group and a new dig, we felt there was no better time to put our office up for the test. Out of more than 500 applicants, we are excited to announce our Dallas office has been nominated as one of the 101 companies to be seen as the Best Places to Work in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex by the Dallas Business Journal for 2017.
To ensure accurate results, the Dallas Business Journal utilizes Quantum Workplace, a third-party software company, to survey employees from each company. After they receive all their data, it is time to crunch the numbers. Quantum Workplace evaluates the responses and provides this information back to the Dallas Business Journal. In honor of the Best Places to Work program’s 15th Anniversary, we were pleasantly surprised by a hand-delivered notification of our nomination from the Dallas Business Journal, Frisco RoughRiders. Mascots Daisy, Deuce, Ted E Bear and Bull Moose.
We’re now looking forward to attending the Best Places to Work 15th Anniversary event held September 21st at the Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco where we will find out our ranking out of all nominated companies. Stay tuned!