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!
Where Should We Plant Urban Trees?
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Cities are generally both warmer and more polluted than non-urban areas, as paved surfaces absorb heat, leading to increased energy consumption, and vehicle and human activity produces waste and airborne particulate matter. These have huge negative consequences for human health, but a dense urban tree […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Cities are generally both warmer and more polluted than non-urban areas, as paved surfaces absorb heat, leading to increased energy consumption, and vehicle and human activity produces waste and airborne particulate matter. These have huge negative consequences for human health, but a dense urban tree canopy can help reduce these risks. The role trees play in making cities livable is well documented, and the increased recognition of the multiple benefits provided by trees has helped spur active planning and management for a healthy urban forest. But where to plant so as to provide the most benefits while efficiently using resources?
A recent study, “Where to plant urban trees? A spatially explicit methodology to explore ecosystem service tradeoffs,” a collaboration between the SUNY Department of Environmental Resources Engineering, the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, and The Davey Institute, and published in September 2016 by ScienceDirect, aimed to determine areas of high-priority for future tree planting across Baltimore, Maryland. The study explores strategies for tree planting by comparing the benefits and tradeoffs of five different planting scenarios. Each scenario focused on optimizing the benefits provided by trees, especially the role they play in mitigating heat island effects and removing air pollution. Developed to meet the city’s Baltimore Sustainability Plan goal of establishing 40% tree cover by 2037, the findings will be used by the city to develop a strategic planting strategy.
To learn more about the study, I spoke with Ethan Bodnaruk, environmental and geotechnical engineer at Atlantic Testing Laboratories, and co-author of the study (other authors include C.N. Kroll, Y. Yang, S. Hirabayashi, D.J. Nowak, and T.A. Endreny). Ethan previously worked as a research and teaching assistant at SUNY Department of Environmental Resources Engineering while receiving his Masters of Ecological Engineering. Here’s what he had to say.
In your study, you explore the benefits of urban tree planting. What are these benefits and why is a healthy and maintained urban tree canopy important?
We might not often think about all the things trees do to make our cities more enjoyable and beautiful places to live. They shade our urban surfaces like pavement that would otherwise soak up a lot of heat, and they further cool the local environment through evapotranspiration. It’s like they act as mini air conditioners when they “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “exhale” water through their stomata. Trees play an important role in efforts to reduce stormwater runoff that can pollute our local water bodies. Trees also remove small amounts of air pollutants either through direct gaseous uptake or by deposition of particles to leaf surfaces, known as dry deposition.
Trees, of course, can also provide food to us humans, as well as food and shelter to a variety of wildlife. There are too many benefits of trees to list, and many are very hard to quantify such as those related to aesthetics or beauty, stress reduction, and other cultural services. So it’s important to maintain our urban forests, and as some have pointed out, urban forests and urban green spaces can be the primary day-to-day experience of “nature” for many city dwellers.
In the academic literature, the concept of ecosystem services captures and describes the benefits of trees. Ecosystem services are organized in broad categories of cultural services, provisioning, regulating, and supporting services.
Why did you choose Baltimore, Maryland as your area of study?
I chose Baltimore for many reasons. One is that there was a lot of previous research done there on a broad range of related topics through the National Science Foundation’s long-term social ecological research (LTSER) project in Baltimore. For instance, much research had gone into quantifying the city’s heat island effect, quality of urban streams and the Chesapeake Bay, and exploring social and environmental inequalities. Our research partners at the US Forest Service had also focused on Baltimore in the past. Finally, Baltimore has a sustainability plan that includes a goal of establishing 40% tree cover by 2040, so that goal provided a useful constraint or parameter for my tree cover modeling work.
Tell me more about your methodology. How did you utilize i-Tree models and other available resources?
I utilized i-Tree models that quantify the air pollution removal performed by trees, avoided health outcomes due to reduced pollution, and estimates of the monetary value of the avoided health outcomes. The health outcome side of things is calculated from an EPA model called BenMAP, which stands for Benefits Mapping. Another i-Tree model estimates temperature and humidity across Baltimore based on land cover (proportions of trees, asphalt, short vegetation, etc.) given the recorded weather conditions from a weather station. By then changing the land cover (adding more trees) I could investigate the location-specific effects of tree cover on temperature and humidity. I then wanted to find priority locations for tree planting based on these pollution and temperature effects (more on that later).
You can imagine that a lot of data is required as inputs to these models. The US Forest Service completed an urban tree canopy assessment project in which high-quality aerial imagery was taken and processed to create land cover maps rich in data. This high-resolution imagery quantifies different types of land cover such as trees, grass, and different kinds of impervious surfaces. It was very important for our work, as well as spatially explicit US Census data, which provides information not just about overall population, but where people live and basic demographic data such as age. This type of data is needed for the health benefits. We also utilized other land cover data from the National Land Cover Database (NLCD). Estimates of fine particulate pollution (called PM2.5) and ozone were also obtained for Baltimore from the EPA.
You mention in the report that your main goal is to determine areas of the city where planting should be prioritized, and existing tree cover should be protected or maintained. What factors did you consider to determine which areas to prioritize?
Really the main goal of the work is to create a tool that communities can themselves use to determine priority areas for planting, weighing and considering a wide range of factors. My work was a first step in creating the first few pieces of such a tool and testing it out.
In this initial work, I focused on the air pollution removal and temperature mitigation (cooling) effects of trees. So we wanted to look at where trees can remove the most air pollution, where they can best reduce air pollution burdens for people in particular, and locations where trees are most needed to reduce extreme temperatures.
One consideration was to be aware and explicit through the modeling itself that there can be a big difference between where the hottest and most polluted locations are versus where people who can experience the benefits of mitigation are. That’s why we needed Census data to know where people are, and also demographic data because we know that the elderly and very young are more susceptible to extreme heat, for instance. Also, we experience heat stress through a combination of temperature and humidity so I used a metric that combines these (the heat index) to explore priority locations for tree planting.
Your report detailed five different “priority planting “scenarios. Can you briefly describe them and the different benefits they explored?
I created different planting scenarios that:
Maximized air pollution removal,
Maximized human benefits of air pollution removal,
Prioritized plantings based on locations with the worst heat index (combination of temperature and humidity)
Prioritized plantings based on a combination of the worst heat index, population size, and relative risk due to age (elderly and very young)
Prioritized plantings based on a combination of the previous point plus the modeled effectiveness of trees in reducing the heat index.
One point I wanted to make was that tree planting priorities could be very different even using the same model and general ecosystem service depending on how you set it up and what exactly is the focus, for instance, air pollution in general or air pollution in populated areas.
Which tree-planting scenario proved to be most beneficial to the city?
This is a very difficult question to answer for many reasons, including the limitations of our models, data, and the subjective or multi-faceted nature of the values and benefits associated with trees.
What we were aiming for is to create tools and approaches that city planners and other people can use to explore planting schemes based on multiple priorities and metrics. Where high priority locations overlap across several different metrics or priorities, we could say synergies are present. In locations where they do not, there are tradeoffs between different services or priorities. We want to use science and mathematical models to supplement local knowledge of where we need more green space, where issues of concern can be addressed, and so forth.
What results were unexpected and what factors may have altered your findings?
One thing that was surprising was that there were very few air quality monitors in Baltimore, so much of the data we used was interpolated and otherwise estimated using statistical techniques. I would have thought in a city its size with known industrial pollution sources there would be many more monitors that could capture the spatial variations across the city. This lack of monitors led to data that we knew underestimated peak pollution and predicted only very small differences in pollution levels across the city. This fact led to consider other locations with more robust data for future work, such as New York City.
The urban core of the city generally showed to be the area where trees had the highest monetary benefit of pollutant removal, however, these areas often have limited available space for tree planting. What strategies could increase planting in this area?
In terms of modeling where new potential tree cover could go, I used the simplification that impervious areas such as buildings and roads would not be replaced by tree cover. To a certain extent, this makes a lot of sense because people would laugh at a model that says to tear down buildings or get rid of roads to obtain more benefits from trees. We basically assumed that any land with bare soil or grasses could potentially be turned into tree cover.
Downtown areas are of course mostly buildings and roads so there is not much of what we defined as “potential plantable” area either according to the assumptions used in the model or in real life. But for future work, we wanted to utilize map-based data that includes estimates of how much paved surface area could be removed and replaced with trees. We generally know that removing impervious surfaces where and when possible and replacing them with green space is good across many different types of ecosystem services. It’s often possible to squeeze some trees into parking lots, or remove portions of sidewalks for trees.
Of course, local communities and people who have direct experience in their locale would know much more about such “potential impervious plantable” areas than a modeler who doesn’t live in the area. So that’s why we ultimately want to gear the tools toward the people who can use them combined with local knowledge.
What further work would you hope to study in order to supplement your data?
There are many avenues for further work. In the paper, I summed it up this way: With further development including consideration of additional ecosystem services, disservices, user input, and costs of tree planting and maintenance, this approach could provide city planners, urban foresters, and members of the public with a powerful tool to better manage urban forest systems.
In what ways do you hope your work will impact the future?
I hope this work will continue to raise awareness about the importance, and benefits of, green spaces in urban areas. One encouraging story I heard about the impact of i-Tree models in Baltimore was that engaged citizens and community groups used the models and their results to get a larger urban forestry budget. Results that indicated benefits of trees significantly outweighed the costs of planting and maintenance went a long way in the tight fiscal environment that many cities face.
To learn more about the research presented here, download the entire study on ScienceDirect. To see what else Ethan is researching, including topics of composting, science and spirituality, visit his blog at www.ethanbodnaruk.com.
Josh Orndorff Joins LandDesign as Director of Civil Engineering in D.C.
We are excited to announce that Josh Orndorff has joined us as the Director of Civil Engineering in our Washington, D.C. office! Josh brings over 16 years of experience in the Washington metro area managing public and private infrastructure and development projects. His areas of expertise include the design and construction of residential, multi-family, commercial, […]
We are excited to announce that Josh Orndorff has joined us as the Director of Civil Engineering in our Washington, D.C. office! Josh brings over 16 years of experience in the Washington metro area managing public and private infrastructure and development projects. His areas of expertise include the design and construction of residential, multi-family, commercial, industrial and mixed use projects.
Josh’s passion is utilizing collaborative design practices to make “yes” the answer. His experience with all stages of the development process, from site selection to bond release, allows him to anticipate potential conflicts and develop strategies to keep the project moving forward. He believes that great design inspires us to create more. On the weekends, you can find Josh playing in a baseball league and building a tiny house along the Shenandoah River.
What matters to Josh:
- Pragmatic problem solving matters.
- Relationships matter.
- Collaboration matters.
- Getting your hands dirty matters.
- Beer and laughter matter.
Six Civil Designers Walk into a PE Exam…And Pass!
By: Emma Davis, Marketing Intern Work, Study, Sleep. Repeat. This is what a group of our civil designers took on in preparation for their Professional Engineering exams. Recently, Paul Benton, Barrett Blackburn, Kate Goodman, Dan Melvin, Aly Moniaci, and Gurveer Uppal from our Charlotte office took the dreaded eight hour exam. Ultimately, their hard […]
By: Emma Davis, Marketing Intern
Work, Study, Sleep. Repeat. This is what a group of our civil designers took on in preparation for their Professional Engineering exams. Recently, Paul Benton, Barrett Blackburn, Kate Goodman, Dan Melvin, Aly Moniaci, and Gurveer Uppal from our Charlotte office took the dreaded eight hour exam. Ultimately, their hard work paid off as they successfully passed their exams, making them eligible for the designation of Professional Engineer in the State of North Carolina following four years of experience. While the process may have been rigorous and challenging, passing the PE exam ultimately furthers each designer’s professional career, providing the authority to advocate at the highest level for the design of infrastructure and environmental factors. Congratulations to all of you! Read below to learn more about these talented individuals.
Paul Benton graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree. He began his career working at LandDesign, and has been with us for three years. Paul has been involved in a variety of projects addressing multimodal needs in dense urban environments. His passion for non-motorized and active transportation transfers to his personal life, as a daily bike commuter, a co-chair on the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals, North Carolina chapter, and a vice chair on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bicycle Advisory Committee. Obtaining professional licensure has been a personal and professional goal of his for years now. With the exam under his belt, Paul can further his career designing urban infrastructure and promoting active transportation methods.
Barrett Blackburn has worked in the Civil Engineering industry for nearly six years. Of that time, he has been with LandDesign for almost four of them, working to ensure proper infrastructure and environmental conditions for projects while designing spaces that matter. Barrett graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. In his free time, Barrett enjoys the outdoors with a variety of activities including fishing, golfing, hiking, and camping.
Kate Goodman attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. Kate has worked as a Civil Engineer for five years, working with LandDesign for two of them. Having these years of experience, Kate has officially earned the title of Professional Engineer. Kate says, “It is a great accomplishment and honor to be recognized by the state and country as a registered engineer to design infrastructure for my community.” But for her, passing the Professional Engineer exam meant much more than recognition. With relatives in the industry, Kate says, “I am proud to carry on the legacy of engineers in my family.”
Dan Melvin has been with LandDesign for two and a half years, working as a Civil Designer. He has been involved with site design and coordination of land development projects, including urban mixed-use, multifamily, single family subdivision, and commercial developments. Dan graduated from Florida State University with his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree. Music is a big part of Dan’s life. He enjoys playing the guitar and discovering new artists. In addition, he enjoys spending time outdoors, especially running around Freedom Park and snowboarding on Sugar Mountain.
Aly Moniaci has been a Civil Designer for LandDesign for just over a year. She attended Texas Tech University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree. With three and a half years of experience in the industry, passing the PE exam was always a goal of hers. “It means that I can continue to excel in the career I enjoy doing every day, and continue to learn and take part in exciting and innovative projects.” Aly enjoys running and exploring. One of her favorite pastimes is two-stepping to Texas country music.
Gurveer Uppal graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Civil Engineering degree. He has been working in the field for almost four years, and has been with LandDesign for nearly two of them. Gurveer works on all stages of project design while utilizing AutoCAD Civil 3D and other software to plan and design for the sites’ development. When he is not designing, Gurveer likes to travel and stay active. He also enjoys going to football games and tailgating.
We congratulate all these talented individuals for their hard work and achievements! We look forward to their continued success, ensuring that LandDesign creates places that matter for years to come.
Designing a Better Lifestyle for our Employees: LandDesign Recognized as Healthiest Employer
By: Alexis Rosamilia, HR Generalist LandDesign is in the business of creating places that matter, places that contribute to peoples’ health and happiness. One of our priorities in HR is to design a wellness program that contributes to and facilitates the health and well-being of all our colleagues. Recently, LandDesign was recognized by Charlotte […]
By: Alexis Rosamilia, HR Generalist
LandDesign is in the business of creating places that matter, places that contribute to peoples’ health and happiness. One of our priorities in HR is to design a wellness program that contributes to and facilitates the health and well-being of all our colleagues. Recently, LandDesign was recognized by Charlotte Business Journal’s Healthiest Employers of Greater Charlotte for our commitment to wellness and our above (national) average wellness initiatives. With our wellness score exceeding the national average, LandDesign was awarded 4th place in the mid-size business category (100-499 employees).
Wellness is more than just exercise and diet, it’s everything that contributes to our daily happiness. At LandDesign, we incorporate the social, emotional, financial, physical, and nutritional components that people need to be well-rounded and content with their lifestyle. A successful wellness program begins with listening to the most important asset: the employee. We listen to their needs and their feedback. Our approach is simple – go directly to the source (our employees) and ask them what they want. What type of program would benefit them the most? And most importantly, what do they want to learn and takeaway from such programming? After all, a wellness program can only be as successful as the people it supports.
There are many components that make up our program but I’ll highlight two of the more prominent ones. The first one being to foster social connectivity within our culture. It can be intimidating to find yourself in a new place with new people. But how great does it feel when you find the person sitting next to you values the same things you do? We give our employees the autonomy and the resources to promote and participate in various activities inside and outside the office. Why? Because it encourages them to get together and establish non-working relationships with each other. We have bike riders who ride together, runners who run together, musicians who play together, foodies who lunch together, adventurers who explore together, humanitarians who volunteer together, and that’s only to name a few.
Another component of our wellness program is community engagement. We are lucky to be a part of a culture that loves to give back. At LandDesign, we participate in various volunteering efforts around our offices to engage with the community. We even offer 8 hours of paid time off for employees to use towards volunteering efforts. Even when our employees are not physically volunteering, they can still consistently participate in a charitable effort through Plus3, an innovative social platform that hosts our wellness clubhouse. The system converts points assigned to logged wellness activities into currency which is then donated by LandDesign to charitable organizations. The program adds another layer of linking community engagement with wellness; and as a nice bonus, we found that the charitable factor acted as an additional incentive for our employees to participate. During hard times, you always wonder, what can I do; I want to help but how? We essentially gave that power to our employees. A way to help get involved with a good cause by doing what they already do so well, by being healthy.
It goes without saying, but you cannot have a successful wellness program without the support of the leadership team. We are extremely thankful to have a leadership team that embodies wellness in their own daily lives and finds the value in promoting and participating in wellness initiatives throughout the firm. All of our wellness initiatives are 100% funded by LandDesign.
We have come to a point in time where employees are seeking more than just a competitive salary. They are seeking flexibility of a job, positive work culture, supportive management, social connectivity, a robust benefits package, community engagement, and other great initiatives that we are able to provide. At the end of the day, we work for a company that values wellness and understands that it is not simply a physical component, but rather a balance of physical, social, emotional, financial, and nutritional components. Feeling connected to ourselves, our culture, our team, and our work is what we aim to cultivate within our wellness programming.
Performance Metrics for Sustainable Landscapes
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Today’s landscapes are asked to perform much more than functional or aesthetic services: they filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve human health, and more. As projects become more complex, and clients aim higher to meet today’s climate challenges, the […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Today’s landscapes are asked to perform much more than functional or aesthetic services: they filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve human health, and more. As projects become more complex, and clients aim higher to meet today’s climate challenges, the use of performance metrics is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Why Use Data?
While the design of green space and lush plantings seems inherently ecologically beneficial, quantifying the actual value of those benefits is a little more complex. This barrier makes it challenging as we advocate for high-performing landscapes. Meanwhile, the drawbacks of initial cost and maintenance are seen as barriers to the development of more green space. This is where landscape performance metrics are valuable; using data to estimate the positive benefits of design elements and ensuring a landscape performs to the anticipated standards. Data allows us to quantify the benefits of a designed landscape and provides hard evidence for a client trying to balance a project’s budget, schedule, and demands.
Using performance metrics enables designers to show a design’s value and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions. As a landscape architect, I’m increasingly asked to provide performance targets for my designs. Whether I’m advocating for installing a green roof, providing a space for social engagement, or planting more trees, data helps clients understand the long-term value of these decisions, and align our visions. Landscape architects must be able to speak to a design’s performance, which is where data becomes crucial to support a claim. Being able to make rough performance calculations, and having evidence to support decision-making in the infancy of a design, is crucial to the successful implementation of a design vision.
This newfound need to quantify and measure the impacts of design decisions has brought about collaborations and research that is transforming the practice of landscape architecture. Many resources are now available to quantify the likely results of a project goal and determine the value of a landscape. The development of peer-reviewed methods of evaluating environmental impact has emerged, and a number of case studies, toolkits, and resources are available to help better define how to achieve sustainability.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is the first comprehensive rating system for the design, construction, and maintenance of sustainable landscapes. The rating system provides a wide-ranging set of guidelines needed to measure the performance and the value of sustainable landscapes.
Applicable to projects varying from 2,000 square feet to over 200 acres, the program aims to ensure that landscapes are planned, designed, developed, and maintained in a way that either avoids, mitigates, or even reverses the harmful impacts on the environment. SITES advances best practices in landscape architecture and ensures clients that their project has achieved field-tested standards for sustainability.
The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Landscape Performance Series is another online resource for quantifying the value of the landscape. With over 100 case studies and dozens of toolkit calculators, the Landscape Performance Series aims to transform the way landscape is considered in the design and development process. Bringing together innovations from research, industry, academia, and professional practice, the website is a handy place to find precedents, explore metrics, and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) also provides a number of sustainable design resources, including toolkits and guides. The toolkits are broken down into environmental, economic, and social models. The resources are a compilation of the available assessment tools, checklists, and modeling software for a variety of projects and project goals. ASLA has also compiled 40 case studies, which highlight the transformative effects of sustainable landscapes. These tools are aimed at putting sustainable design theory into practice.
Recently, I have become increasingly involved in performance metrics, delving deep into the available resources and even receiving SITES AP credentials. Being able to pull from existing resources and project examples has made the process more manageable, as I try to more fully integrate performance metrics into my practice. Data allows me to evaluate my design decisions, and make sure I’m proposing the best solution for my client.
New metrics and guidelines are helping to better define the benefits of sustainable landscape design, allowing designers to test their methods, become better practitioners, and speak authoritatively about the environmental benefits of sustainable landscapes. They also ensure that projects perform to the quality the client expects. As practitioners we have a unique opportunity to both utilize and advance this important work, creating landscapes that provide clear sustainable performance, and, eventually, elevate the practice as these metrics create new standards.
People Matter: Dale Stewart
Two weeks ago, employees from LandDesign’s Charlotte office built a learning garden for Idlewild Elementary School, designed as part of a firm-wide partnership with REAL School Gardens. The organization is a labor of love for LandDesign Partner Dale Stewart who is creating a lasting and positive impact on two of the most compelling issues that […]
Two weeks ago, employees from LandDesign’s Charlotte office built a learning garden for Idlewild Elementary School, designed as part of a firm-wide partnership with REAL School Gardens. The organization is a labor of love for LandDesign Partner Dale Stewart who is creating a lasting and positive impact on two of the most compelling issues that matter today: education and the environment.
I think the kids are our future.
Even before Dale was a father of four with two grandkids and more on the way, environmental stewardship projects that benefit children have long held a special place in his life. “I think the kids are our future.”
It all began 30 years ago with a competition by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte to create a new wilderness camping experience for its summer program. LandDesign won the competition, in part by deftly determining the location of the undisclosed 2,000-acre site. “I think they were impressed, in part, by our sleuthing skills.”
The new camp, which now serves 300 kids a week, typifies Dale’s passion and LandDesign’s mission. “This is one of the places we’ve helped create that truly matters; to our community and to the kids who go there and the memories they create for a lifetime.”
Land Stewardship Matters.
Early in his career as a civil engineer, Dale developed an attitude of servant leadership, focusing his community involvements on advancing environmental stewardship, from member of the first board of directors for the Catawba Lands Conservancy to the board of the Conservation Trust of North Carolina. Later, he was involved in the creation of the Catawba River District (CRD) that sought out and enticed developers to create sustainable projects. “Our goal was to spur land development that was more respectful of the natural environment.”
When the recession hit, the CRD organization pivoted from development to environmental education, transforming to the Green Teacher Network. Working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, they created learning gardens and orchestrated teacher workshops. “The idea was to engage kids in an experiential education that got them out of the classroom and gave them exposure to how food actually grows, and to inspire teachers to use the gardens.”
In July 2016, the organization merged with Washington, D.C.-based REAL School Gardens, a nationally-recognized nonprofit that creates learning gardens at low-income elementary schools and provides teachers with the resources to incorporate the outdoor classroom into their overall curriculum to improve academic achievement and lift up poor performing schools. Dale is now on the national board of REAL School Gardens and serves as board chair for the Carolinas Region.
Community Service Matters.
At about the same time, LandDesign began offering a new benefit of one paid day off a year for employees to give back to the community and, as a firm, chose to partner with REAL School Gardens to deploy all of its assets, from design expertise to sweat equity.
At LandDesign, we apply our skills and knowledge in service to both our clients and the community to create places that matter.
The firm’s skill-based pro bono support includes designing the outdoor garden classrooms and working closely with REAL School Gardens’ design/build team, to providing office assistance, event support and social media development.
Last month, employees from the Charlotte office joined other volunteers for a day-long “Big Dig” at Idlewild Elementary, a high-poverty, high achieving neighborhood school of 1,100 students that was recently named the best magnet school in the nation. The outdoor garden they built will help Idlewild students for years to come learn how to grow vegetables and eat nutritionally while supporting the school’s STEM and language arts curriculums.
Dale views LandDesign’s partnership with REAL School Gardens as a legacy project for the firm. “At LandDesign, we apply our skills and knowledge in service to both our clients and the community to create places that matter. That means not just turning dirt and building the next project, but creating successful schools that improve the quality of life for an entire community.”
Long term relationships and mentoring staff matter.
Beyond his social good, Dale is a soft-spoken, yet powerful, force for creating relationships and people that matter for LandDesign.
Your sense of satisfaction in your career is going to be greatly enhanced if you become engaged in your industry and community.
“One of the things I’m pretty proud of in my career, and encourage our staff to aspire to, is cultivating long-term client relationships.” He points to his association with the Harris family and Crescent Resources that, over 30 years, has produced projects such as Ballantyne and Phillips Place, a groundbreaking project in the mid 1990s that was among the first true mixed-use developments. Currently, his work with Crescent Resources and Lincoln Harris includes a 1,400-acre regional development involving one of the last greenfield sites in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.
Dale shares the wisdom he’s gained from his 40-plus year career to help others at the firm mature in theirs. “You can make a perfectly good living by sitting in your office all day and turning out plans. But, your sense of satisfaction in your career is going to be greatly enhanced if you become engaged in your industry and your community. Not only will you be making the community a better place, but you’ll meet and forge relationships with a lot more people you may never have met otherwise.”
New Intern Class Kicks Off Their First Week with a Design Charrette
By: Emma Davis, Marketing Intern New people, new office, new project, and for some, a new city. This is what our newest class of interns took on as they started their first week at the Charlotte office. After some introductions, a tour of the office, and a trip around surrounding Charlotte neighborhoods, the […]
By: Emma Davis, Marketing Intern
New people, new office, new project, and for some, a new city. This is what our newest class of interns took on as they started their first week at the Charlotte office.
After some introductions, a tour of the office, and a trip around surrounding Charlotte neighborhoods, the interns went right to work on a current project in the Design District of South End. The intern class was split into two teams, each composed of seven individuals of varying fields. From civil engineers and landscape architects to urban planners and marketing majors, the interns had to bring their skills together to create a final product.
Within a three day span, the interns were responsible for creating an identity for the site, analyzing the site inventory and surrounding area, and generating detailed plans for the project’s design. Each day of work was followed by a critique provided by the charrette managers and other staff members. The experienced designers gave the interns insight to the strengths and weaknesses of both the project design and presentation. From the given advice, the interns were able to focus on what they needed to accomplish in order to improve upon their initial design concept.
Thursday arrived, and the teams hurried to complete all tasks in order to give the client and designers throughout the office a clear presentation of their unique plans for the project. Site maps, vignettes, precedent photos, objective outlines, and master plans covered the walls as the interns prepared for their presentations.
The interns were eager to show off their designs and compilations. This project would be their first chance to showcase their skills to the LandDesign staff. How did they do? Jeff Mis, a charrette leader, commended the group, “These interns were fantastic to work with, and the civil and landscape designers worked extremely well together. It is a strong group we have!” The interns not only proved their ability to create exceptional products, but also their ability to work with others of a variety of disciplines.
While the charrette could have been viewed as an intimidating task, both teams demonstrated that they were up for the challenge and ready for a summer of interdisciplinary work experience with LandDesign.
To see the final charrette presentation, check out our Facebook Live post.
People Matter: Bike to Work Spotlight
Alison participates in National Bike to Work Day each year with co-workers in what she describes as “a bike gang of landscape architects rolling deep through the streets of Alexandria.” Bike-friendly places matter. Bike To Work Day is part of a national movement to make America bike friendly. What does that mean? It means […]
Alison participates in National Bike to Work Day each year with co-workers in what she describes as “a bike gang of landscape architects rolling deep through the streets of Alexandria.”
Bike-friendly places matter.
Bike To Work Day is part of a national movement to make America bike friendly. What does that mean? It means a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling along with creating safe and convenient places to ride and park. In honor of the occasion, meet two members of LandDesign who are local trailblazers for the bike-friendly movement and help carry the torch for our firm’s bike culture.
- Alison Peckett is a landscape designer in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. A positive attitude matters. Being socially and environmentally conscious matters.
- Matthew Weschler is a civil engineer designer in our Charlotte office. Travel and adventure matter. Complete neighborhoods matter. Freedom of expression matters.
What sparked your passion for bicycling?
For Alison, it certainly was not the repetitive bike rides around her suburban neighborhood cul-de-sac as a child! As an urban designer and environmentalist though, she’s studied the influence that innovative transportation planning can have on cities and the important role bikes play in community design. “I’m fortunate to live and work in Washington, D.C.; a city that promotes a bike-friendly lifestyle.”
Conversely, Matt grew up in a neighborhood on top of a really tall hill. “One of his favorite activities was riding to the top of my neighbor’s driveway and racing my friends to the bottom of our street. I still feel that thrill when I’m coasting down hills in Charlotte.”
What type of bike do you own?
Matt owns a Kona Dew Deluxe, a lightweight nine-gear hybrid bike with hydraulic brakes that he describes as “a nice commuter bike.”
Nothing so fancy for Alison who owns an old vintage red Schwinn road bike that is her main source of transportation. “A wise bike mechanic once told me the key to a good city bike is finding something that is dingy enough that no one wants to steal it, but also decent enough that you can use it to zip around town. Once you achieve this equilibrium, you’re golden.”
Alison also has a bike share membership (a short-term bicycle rental program). “Most mornings, I walk to a bike share, bike share to the metro station, then take the metro to work. It seems kind of nutty to most people, but it is this seamless synergy of all these modes of transportation that makes living in the city so fun.”
What is your most memorable/interesting bicycling trip?
For Alison, it was a bucket-list solo bike trip through Berlin, Amsterdam and the tulip fields of Holland. “I essentially planned the entire trip around this one single activity.” Alison was struck by the region’s biking culture where bike lanes were seamlessly integrated into every roadside and neighborhood, allowing her to navigate through several small towns to her dream destination: Keukenhof, the largest tulip park in the world where more than 7 million flower bulbs are planted each year.
Matt’s most memorable bike trip is still before him. “While it’s high on my to-do list, I have yet to undertake a bike-packing trip.” In the meantime, he enjoys interesting monthly group bike rides with fun themes as a “Sushi Roll” biking tour of Charlotte’s sushi restaurants and the “Tour-de-Dough” ride to some of the city’s many fine donut shops.
How are you active in support of making Charlotte/DC-Alexandria a great bicycling community?
Matt supports car(e)free streets including volunteering for the recent Open Streets event in his Elizabeth neighborhood. The event featured local nonprofit groups, government agencies and businesses all aimed at educating the public about efforts to make Charlotte a friendlier place for people to walk and bike. “The streets were closed to all vehicular traffic, and opened up for pedestrians and cyclists to roam free. It was inspiring to meet so many people working on this critical problem.”
Alison helps organize the Potomac ASLA’s Landscape Architecture Bike Tour that takes riders throughout D.C. to experience several notable design landmarks around the district. “This is always a fun event to see the city by bike and share the importance of what we do with the larger community.” She also participates in National Bike to Work Day each year with co-workers in what she describes as “a bike gang of landscape architects rolling deep through the streets of Alexandria.”
Bike friendly communities require a welcome and supportive infrastructure, including well-connected bicycling networks, quiet neighborhood streets and shared use trails. What bike-friendly aspects of your community do you enjoy most and why?
Allison believes bikes are an indicator of the vibrancy of an urban area, and Washington, D.C. does not disappoint. “Within minutes, I can be riding through the lush forested canopy of Rock Creek Park and then suddenly be among the monuments on the National Mall.”
She is also the rare person who loves her commute to work, often joined by co-worker Lisa Biddle. “We always look forward to beautiful days when we can hop on our bikes and ride to work along the Mt. Vernon Trail; a greenway that winds along the Potomac River. No matter how your day goes, you always know it will end with a beautiful ride home, especially the approach to city with the Washington monument and Jefferson Memorial illuminated in the background. I definitely don’t take for granted that I live in a city that allows me to do this.”
Matt also commutes to work on two wheels using a bike path behind his house, often stopping to enjoy the cooler air and quiet separation from heavy traffic. Sometimes, he takes a detour on the way home, hopping on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, one of LandDesign’s iconic projects. “Even though it runs right through the heart of midtown Charlotte, it still feels like a break from the city’s constant movement.”
In her work at LandDesign, Alison is finding that more clients are realizing the value of “bikability,” including several municipalities that have strict requirements for bike infrastructure and parking. “There is a strong relationship between the urban projects we design and their accessibility by biking or other alternative forms of transportation.”
“Biking has the power to create mobility and accessibility for everyone as an efficient and affordable means of transportation. Our role as landscape architects is directly tied to this, where we play an instrumental role in helping transform cities into more socially inclusive and viable places to live.”
New Maury Playground Will Spur Student Success
What started as a 2014 project for us, Maury Playground is officially open for the Matthew Maury Elementary School and community! Landscape Architects, Gabriela Cañamar Clark and Susan England, had the pleasure of attending the balloon-filled ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, April 21. In between rain storms, students helped cut the ribbon along with […]
What started as a 2014 project for us, Maury Playground is officially open for the Matthew Maury Elementary School and community!
Landscape Architects, Gabriela Cañamar Clark and Susan England, had the pleasure of attending the balloon-filled ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, April 21. In between rain storms, students helped cut the ribbon along with Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley, and all were very excited and grateful to be seeing the results of everyone’s hard work. Sean Haviland, landscape designer, was unable to attend the ribbon-cutting, but also played a key role in the design.
This project was a measure of true collaboration amongst the City, School Board and local community. Though a public school, all the design fees and a large portion of the construction budget came through donations and the tireless efforts of parents, teachers and school staff, volunteers, community members, and even the students who organized lemonade stands. Maury Elementary has a strong academic learning environment, with a commitment to making sure everything they do leads back to the students’ success. The playground contributes to this goal, allowing the relationship between academic success and student’s social and physical development to intertwine as they learn to create relationships.
LandDesign provided landscape architectural services, ensuring the original vision was taken through the City of Alexandria approval process. A detailed design was provided through implementation of a full program: multipurpose turf field and court, play space, bio-retention facilities, and the learning garden which includes an amphitheater, pathways lined by vegetable and flower beds.
The learning garden is the first REAL School Garden endeavor in Virginia. REAL School Gardens is now a collaborative partner of LandDesign with more opportunities to change children’s lives for the better. The program allowed for parents, students and Maury staff to review the garden designs, making sure it is tailored to the school’s unique needs. REAL School Gardens works closely with teachers, training them in ways to integrate outside learning into their classrooms, ensuring students are able to engage.
“The learning garden will help every student at Matthew Maury Elementary School succeed academically by creating a strong foundation for learning in Math, Science and Language Arts in ways they will remember, relate to and be able to apply long term. Kids learn best when they are learning in ways that are real, stimulating and hands-on,” said Jeanne McCarty, Chief Executive Officer of REAL School Gardens.
A Tale of Two Tree Saves
Saving trees was a major priority in establishing the vision of LPL Financial’s new campus on the outskirts of Kingsley Town Center in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The site was designed with the intent that employees be able to engage with nature and walk within the trees without realizing they are surrounded by development. The […]
Saving trees was a major priority in establishing the vision of LPL Financial’s new campus on the outskirts of Kingsley Town Center in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The site was designed with the intent that employees be able to engage with nature and walk within the trees without realizing they are surrounded by development. The end result is a greenway-adjacent campus with over 10 acres of tree save area, about 30 percent of the total site.
The Sealed Air headquarters located at the Lake Pointe Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina also boasts about 30 percent tree save acreage, totaling over 12 acres. The vision for the Sealed Air campus was that of tree houses cut within the existing vegetation across the campus. Very early on in the project, the team flagged trees that were important to preserve throughout the campus during construction.
LandDesign landscape architect, Eric Pohlmann, summed up the tree save efforts for both projects, “The tree save concepts were ideas generated early on with the teams for both projects and really continued to be owned by the clients as decisions were made during the design and construction process.”
The LPL Financial headquarters has obtained LEED Gold certification through design elements such as the 99% regionally native and drought-tolerant plant palette, the use of permeable pavers for hardscaped areas, and a 20,000 gallon cistern that captures runoff from the parking deck.
The Sealed Air campus is more than 60% open space, and of that, only 8,000 square feet is ‘water thirsty’ sod. The project is pursuing LEED Gold certification, and will likely be certified thanks to these elements, and the additional design effort taken to preserve 12 acres of woodlands onsite, use of crushed gravel throughout the site to maximize permeability, and the 50% reduction in irrigation demand due to the drought-tolerant plant selection.
Dallas Multi-Family Project Recognized with Best Outdoor Living Space Award
LandDesign is proud to announce Discovery at the Realm, our luxury apartment project in Dallas-Fort Worth, has won two Dallas Builders Association Awards: Best Outdoor Living Space and Best Architectural Design-Multi-Family Community, Apartment or Condominium. In collaboration with 505Design and BB+M Architecture, we had the opportunity to work with project developer, Bright Realty, to bring their unique […]
LandDesign is proud to announce Discovery at the Realm, our luxury apartment project in Dallas-Fort Worth, has won two Dallas Builders Association Awards: Best Outdoor Living Space and Best Architectural Design-Multi-Family Community, Apartment or Condominium. In collaboration with 505Design and BB+M Architecture, we had the opportunity to work with project developer, Bright Realty, to bring their unique vision for phase one to fruition. “It’s always an honor to receive recognition for our work but we couldn’t have done it without our teaming partners,” said Rhett Crocker, CEO and President of LandDesign. “There’s something special that happens when you get a group of designers and visionaries together to create a living space that challenges the status quo.”
Something like Discovery at the Realm. An urban oasis in the next frontier of the Metroplex’s development. A gathering place with friends, where a cohesive design blurs the lines between interior and exterior living spaces. These multi-family apartments are more than meets the eye – they’re only phase one of the newest lifestyle option within the Castle Hills Community, a master-planned community of more than 2,600 acres. The project’s 400+ units are part of three distinct buildings which are unified through modern design elements, careful space planning, inspired landscape features and desirable amenities.
As the landscape architect and civil engineer consultants on this project, LandDesign was responsible for the entire exterior realm of the project. Varied topography across the site was used to create a variety of features and seating options all organized around a central stormwater lake featuring a 65-foot long boulder waterfall. A “clean + contemporary” aesthetic was carried throughout the project with a touch of Texas Hill Country for an experience that feels authentic, yet new. To further that appeal, mature trees were brought in to lend immediate permanence as well as resident comfort, while outdoor spaces were sited and designed to take advantage of natural protection from wind and sun provided by the buildings.
Activity in the community is encouraged with a variety of places such as the on-site Club serving craft beer and wine, unique courtyards with grilling stations, fire pits, lounge areas and more. Walkability was paramount throughout the design process, with a variety of pedestrian options to connect the amenities, from meandering trails to the urban-feeling lakeside promenade. Add to that a sparkling resort-style pool and pavilion as well as an easily-accessible dog park, and it’s hard not to choose this residential sanctuary as the Best Outdoor Living Space. The thoughtful planning and design of this project proves that a traditional suburban apartment setting can be more than just that. A place that matters.
Everything’s Bigger in Texas: LandDesign Attends ASLA TX Conference
By: Emma Davis, Marketing Intern That’s a wrap! LandDesign took on the ASLA Conference in Austin, Texas. Heth Kendrick from our Dallas office alongside Beth Poovey and Jake Petrosky from our Charlotte office shared their expertise, speaking Tuesday and Thursday respectively. Heth Kendrick kicked off LandDesign’s involvement in the conference, speaking on […]
By: Emma Davis, Marketing Intern
That’s a wrap! LandDesign took on the ASLA Conference in Austin, Texas. Heth Kendrick from our Dallas office alongside Beth Poovey and Jake Petrosky from our Charlotte office shared their expertise, speaking Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
Heth Kendrick kicked off LandDesign’s involvement in the conference, speaking on how Transit Oriented Development is a catalyst for city planning, great design, and land use development. Kendrick teamed up with Tom Yantis, Assistant City Manager for the City of Leander, Texas, and Jack Wiersenski, a representative for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Together, they collaborated to share the possibilities of designing complex projects with a variety of spatial tools, thus linking the roles of analyst, planner, and designer to create successful products.
Beth Poovey and Jake Petrosky followed up Kendrick’s “performance” with their presentation on Thursday. With experience designing and collaborating on projects such as the Charlotte Rail Trail and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, they were able to successfully speak on bicycle facility design and the integration with urban development. Their presentation included how to conduct economic impact analysis and key engineering principles for future trail and transportation projects.
Thanks to Heth, Beth, and Jake, LandDesign was able to share its creative insight and inspire future projects. We look forward to being involved with future ASLA Texas Conferences and the opportunity to collaborate with other talented firms.
People Matter: Ashley Clark
A professional colleague once summed up Ashley Clark this way. “Cat herder. Smart as a whip. Cool as the other side of the pillow.” Unlike some, Ashley had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I had way too many interests! I loved art, but also math. I liked to […]
A professional colleague once summed up Ashley Clark this way. “Cat herder. Smart as a whip. Cool as the other side of the pillow.”
Unlike some, Ashley had no idea what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I had way too many interests! I loved art, but also math. I liked to make things and appreciated quality materials.”
During high school, she considered communications, design and business programs until her calculus teacher and mentor recommended architecture school. “At the time, I had no idea what a gift it was for someone to understand that an education in architecture could expose me to all of these things.”
I struggled to understand the studio culture. We were supposed to be learning how to design places for the community, but there was a lack of interest in engaging the community.
As a first-year architecture student at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Ashley quickly became frustrated by the culture of students who stayed up all night in the studio, absorbed by their projects. “I struggled to understand the studio culture. We were supposed to be learning how to design places for the community, but there was a lack of interest in engaging the community.”
At the same time, the American Institute of Architecture-Students (AIAS) was beginning a movement to advocate for a healthier studio/life balance and working with schools to monitor the health of its culture as part of the accreditation process. It would be Ashley’s first foray into the role of cultural change agent, but not her last.
“By graduation from architecture school, it was clear I wanted to pursue a non-traditional career path that would allow me to communicate the value of design.”
Ashley’s first job after graduation had her working directly with the leadership of an architecture firm to support client development, presentations and communication efforts. It set the foundation for her career as a marketing professional within the AEC industry.
She also continued her leadership growth with the AIA – with a focus on advocacy for non-traditional career architecture graduates – advancing from the Associate Director for AIA North Carolina to the AIA South Atlantic Regional Board, and eventually, the AIA National Executive Committee as the Associate Director.
There, she was part of a strategic planning process to change the structure of the national organization to provide better representation for the profession and better services for its 80,000 architect members. Ashley’s role involved advocating for and elevating the collective voice of emerging professionals who represent one-third of the AIA’s membership.
Ashley’s advocacy and volunteer leadership did not go unrecognized. In 2012, she became the first architecture graduate to receive UNC Charlotte’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award. She is also a recipient of the AIA National Associates Award, the highest honor given to an Associate member.
The opportunity to leverage my collective experiences as an advocate for great design and even better people is extremely satisfying.
At LandDesign, Ashley has found a place where she can share her passion within a culture that allows her to contribute. “I am so fortunate to have a position that allows me to sit at the intersection of communications and strategy for the firm.”
Ashley manages the firm’s marketing communications, including LandDesign’s 2014 rebrand, and has guided and supports the firm’s strategic vision through both large and small initiatives. She also works on a number of projects that support the firm’s strong culture, a nod to her college roots that prompted her early involvement with the AIA.
“The opportunity to leverage my collective experiences as an advocate for great design and even better people is extremely satisfying. And, it just proves that you never know how the opportunities you have to engage the profession will come back and impact your career.”
On her bucket list? Completing a home renovation with her husband who is also a non-traditional career architect. “We are fixing up a beautiful old southern home, room by room. It has incredible bones, but we are modernizing it and doing most work ourselves from reconfiguring spaces to running new plumbing and electrical. Between that and our 4-year-old, there’s not much room for other hobbies; though I’ve been trying to make time to get outside and work on my golf game.”
People Matter: Jeffrey Mis
On the occasion of his one-year anniversary with LandDesign and the start of spring, we’d like to introduce you to our favorite horticulturist. Family matters. Jeff Mis and his brother were raised in a multi-generational family in the blue collar “Region” of northwest Indiana outside of Chicago. His mom is the dean of students […]
On the occasion of his one-year anniversary with LandDesign and the start of spring, we’d like to introduce you to our favorite horticulturist.
Jeff Mis and his brother were raised in a multi-generational family in the blue collar “Region” of northwest Indiana outside of Chicago. His mom is the dean of students at an inner-city Catholic school and his dad is a retired Marine, turned chemical operator. Much of his youth involved the family caring for his maternal grandparents who passed away at a young age.
I wanted to choose a career that would honor my parents and grandparents, and do something that was going to help people.
“My parents and grandparents always instilled in us the value of a college education. But, where I grew up, going to college was a luxury. No one in my family, except for a cousin, had ever attended college.” Through scholarships and working full-time throughout college, Jeff was able to attend Purdue University.
“When I started college, I wanted to choose a career that would honor my family and do something that was going to help people.” Civil engineering was the direction he decided to take.
After one semester in the Engineering program, Jeff quickly realized he didn’t connect with the other students and didn’t feel the drive and passion he had hoped for. Then, came a chance meeting with a friend from home who was in the Landscape Architecture program.
“I’ll never forget, we were sitting at a Greek restaurant on campus. I was studying for an engineering final, and she was working on a final project for landscape architecture. I looked at what she was doing; making beautiful art that was functional, and I trying to run a program that would calculate the number of crystal sizes on the back of a stop sign.” Dawn broke for Jeff in that moment.
The very next day, he visited Purdue’s Landscape Architecture program and met with the professors there. “Two hours later, I realized that I could combine my desire for creating the infrastructure like parks and greenways, and have the creative outlet that wasn’t there for me in civil engineering.” The rest is history.
Early mentors planted the seed and cultivated his passion for horticulture design.
Jeff’s first job was with Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects in Chicago. He considers Doug Hoerr and Peter Schaudt early mentors who planted the seed and cultivated his passion for horticulture design. His work ranged from the Michigan Avenue medians that changed the way people look at downtown Chicago to multi-million dollar lakefront estates.
From there, Jeff went to work for Craig Bergmann Landscape Design, a high-end residential landscape architecture firm that also played a significant role in his career development. “Craig and his firm exponentially grew my level of horticulture knowledge and plant understanding.”
“It was mind-blowing to me the fantastic projects I was exposed to at such a young age. They were dreams come true.” In 2016, Jeff joined Land Design. It was a decision that changed the trajectory of his career.
Jeff strongly believes his understanding of plants and spatial organization that he gained from designing residential landscapes is critical to the work he does today. “Doug Hoerr once told me that if you can’t design a 10×10 patio, how are you going to design a 10-block by 10-block master plan? Creating a beautiful residence is no different that creating a beautiful greenway.”
Among the LandDesign projects that are benefiting from his horticultural focus are the Stevens Creek Nature Preserve in Mecklenburg County and the Cross Charlotte Trail along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. “Now I’m working on legacy projects for all people instead of legacy projects for a family.”
Jeff has enjoyed sharing some of his work with his 95-year-old paternal grandfather. However, he deeply regrets that his maternal grandparents aren’t around to see what he has accomplished. For indeed, he is living their legacy; a dream where their grandson is using his college education to make his mark on the world.
The Livable City Revolution
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot. Around the globe, cities are rediscovering their industrial land. Once sustained by industry, in some places, much of this urban infrastructure has closed down, with only the bones remaining. Today, cities are drawing all types – techies, bankers, artists, and immigrants alike – but space […]
By: Stephanie Marino, LA Designer. Originally posted on DeepRoot.
Around the globe, cities are rediscovering their industrial land. Once sustained by industry, in some places, much of this urban infrastructure has closed down, with only the bones remaining. Today, cities are drawing all types – techies, bankers, artists, and immigrants alike – but space is limited. As urban land becomes more precious, communities reconsider the possibilities in once blighted areas and are finding new ways to accommodate the growing population and interests of city dwellers.
This resurgence has been triggered by a shift in cultural attitudes towards the city – one in which we celebrate the history and joys of city living, and find possibility in rubble, infrastructure that has fallen into disuse or disrepair, and formerly ignore brownfields
From small and often temporary pop-up parks, to the revitalization of entire riverfronts, landscape architects are playing an increasingly critical role in reclaiming abandoned urban spaces and transforming them into public commons. This investment is more significant than pure aesthetics; it contributes to larger goals such as environmental justice, social equity, and community resilience. Often, no matter the scale, a single project intends to ameliorate an entire array of issues.
Boston’s Lawn on D is an excellent example of how small-scale interventions can dramatically shift community livability. The Lawn on D was conceived as a way to temporarily activate an underutilized space on D Street, anchored by the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Formerly an urban fill site that blocked views and precluded access, the 2.7-acre space today is a platform for innovation. The design team, led by Sasaki, established a vibrant, flexible space to be utilized for endless programming possibilities.
Essentially an urban experiment intended to test configurations and programming, the space is a hub of activity for community events. Bright moveable furniture, interactive art installations, and engaging programming draw users in and invite them to make the space their own. The active and inclusive space provides this up-and-coming community with a space to come together. The flexibility of the space is key to its success, allowing for changes to be made to fit the future needs of the community.
In Aalborg, Denmark, an entire 30+ acre sustainable city district, Godsbanearealet, boasts being Aalborg’s first sustainable and carbon neutral quarter, and one of the largest climate adaption projects in Denmark. Rainwater management and flood control are built into the city’s masterplan, with green roofs, basins, and canals installed throughout the city district to store and collect rainfall. Recreational spaces, affordable housing, and retail are mixed together to make up this livable district.
Inspired by the areas former use as a freight train terminal, the city’s name is roughly translated to “freight train area.” Instead of straying from the site’s industrial past, the designers, POLYFORM Architects, embraced it and made a space that resonates with a unique cultural identity. Building upon the values of the area, the design seamlessly integrates the historic rail. This project is part of a gradual conversion of all freight railways in the area, and shows how a brand new, high-performance landscape can be integrated into derelict and abandoned railway land.
Hudson River Park is a 550-acre riverside park on the west side of Manhattan. The park includes 13 public recreation piers, a five-mile walk along the riverfront, and a tree-lined bicycle path. While the land was previously bustling with commerce, over time the shipping activity diminished and the piers fell into a state of disrepair. After years of industrial decline, the park arose from a 1997 master plan by landscape architecture firms Matthews Nielsen and Quennell-Rothchild. The goal was to create a people-centric, accessible greenway, making the riverfront a core part of the city again. Running adjacent to eight diverse neighborhoods, this plan aims to reclaim the waterfront for the public, a trend that has spread to many other waterfront cities.
Several projects have sprung from the master plan, including Pier 25, which features ample play activities, such as sand volleyball, mini-golf, and a multi-purpose turf field, as well as Segment 5, whose broad lawn allows for community gatherings, while playful hills provide views to the waterfront. Each parcel of the park uniquely speaks to the needs of the residents of the adjacent community.
Other features include a sports complex, playgrounds, water features, a dog run, and an abundance of lawn space. The park is also an estuarine sanctuary, designed to provide coastal fish and wildlife habitat, while the marine organisms filter and clean the water. Additionally, the park provides recreational and educational opportunities, such as kayaking and canoeing, expanding overall access to the waterfront. Hudson River Park acts as a park connector network, linking many recreational sites and landmarks as it runs along the edge of the Hudson River. While currently only 72% complete, the park is already an integral part of the lives of many New Yorkers, provided needed outdoor recreation space in one of the densest cities in the country.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Recent investments in infrastructure have resulted in inventive solutions to city issues of crowding, pollution, and blight at every scale imaginable. This investment is vital to creating sustainable, thriving, and equitable communities. Such community revitalization projects reconnect people to their beloved cities and help keep cities healthy places to live.
- Travel and Leisure, “Industrial Urban Green Spaces”
- Sasaki, “The Lawn on D”
- Landezine, “Godsbanearealet: A Pioneer Climate Adaptation Project”
- Sangberg.com, “Godsbanearealet“
- Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architecture: Hudson River Park Pier 25
- Michael van Valkenburgh Associates, “Brooklyn Bridge Park”
- The Dirt blog, “Landscape Architects Remake Cities”