Wandering, Wondering: Musings of a Hoosier in the Land of the Pines
By: Katie Klug, Landscape Architect Design Intern Aside from an exceptional firm, a unique location was one of the qualities I was looking for in an internship experience. A born-and-raised Hoosier, I was seeking to expand my boundaries outside of the Midwest this summer. LandDesign has provided me with the opportunity to check both of […]
By: Katie Klug, Landscape Architect Design Intern
Aside from an exceptional firm, a unique location was one of the qualities I was looking for in an internship experience. A born-and-raised Hoosier, I was seeking to expand my boundaries outside of the Midwest this summer. LandDesign has provided me with the opportunity to check both of those boxes on my internship list.
Charlotte is a geographic gem!
Seasoned travelers often preach about the power of traveling and wandering, as it exposes and opens one’s mind to the outside world. Beyond exploring new landscapes, immersing oneself in different cultures is refreshing. As a student of landscape architecture, I may be biased, but I agree with Yi-Fu Tuan’s theory of topophilia, or in other words – people’s natural bond with, or affinity for, place. Charlotte and the surrounding regions have an excellent sense of place. So much so, that it is easy to feel connected here.
Today, it’s easy to get swept into the current of a fast-paced, plugged-in world. As contemporary designers, we shouldn’t forget about the lessons of our ancestors. Take Lawrence Halprin for example, who drew much inspiration from hikes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and preached about the ever-changing and cyclical nature of nature.
In the short time I’ve had to explore my new City, I have been able to fuel my wanderlust and travel to some notable areas with breathtaking landscapes. I have visited Crowders Mountain in Gastonia, NC; Wilmington Beach in Wilmington, NC; Historic Downtown Charleston, SC; Sullivan’s Island in Charleston, SC; Raven Rock in Linville, NC; Black Balsam Knob and Skinny Dip Falls in East Fork, NC; Blue Ridge Parkway in Canton, NC; and Catawba Falls in Old Fort, NC.
My adventures in the Southeast have been much more than just weekend getaways to the nearby beaches or mountains, they have been inspirational experiences that will inevitably influence, inform, and grow my designs in the future…all while feeding my affinity for nature. #winning
Never Stop Innovating
By: Shelby Harden, Landscape Architect Design Intern As landscape architects, we will embody many roles over the course of our careers: designer, environmental steward, urban planner, storyteller and innovator. Particularly in the tech-driven world we live in today, embracing innovations is paramount to good design and successful careers. One of my favorite aspects of […]
By: Shelby Harden, Landscape Architect Design Intern
As landscape architects, we will embody many roles over the course of our careers: designer, environmental steward, urban planner, storyteller and innovator. Particularly in the tech-driven world we live in today, embracing innovations is paramount to good design and successful careers.
One of my favorite aspects of landscape architecture is placemaking. To design a successful place, with its own unique character, we must be able to understand its history, sense of scale, and feel the space’s potential to be something great. During my internship at LandDesign, I have had the opportunity to work on both local and international projects. While a biergarten project in Fairfax, Virginia might be a short drive from the office, it’s a bit more difficult to send everyone in the studio over to Mexico to understand how the mountains dwarf the urban landscape in the valley.
This is where emerging technologies become invaluable tools for designers. Virtual reality headsets, such as the Samsung Gear VR, allow you to take a 3D-model from SketchUp or Lumion and virtually stand inside the model. You can turn your head and see more of the space that has been rendered by the headset to allow the user to see depth and get a sense of scale. While it does look silly to see someone in the office with a headset on twisting around in a circle to look at a virtual skyline or pointing at something only they can see, I have seen firsthand how it helps us understand the space better, thus be better designers.
The Gear VR uses a smartphone cradled in the headset to render the 3D-model. Other mobile technology, such as augmented reality (AR), is already starting to integrate into a normal lifestyle for many. Pokemon Go, an AR mobile game, has been a tremendous phenomenon since its launch several weeks ago. The game uses GPS and aggregated location data (much like landscape architects employ when using a program like GIS) to populate a map with points of interest to travel to. These points of interest, or Pokestops, are real-life locations, generally monuments, historic landmarks, local business, or public art.
My experience with the game has been overwhelmingly positive. The psychology behind playing a game is the instant gratification one gets by leveling up or capturing a new creature in the game. Pokemon Go has turned this into an incentive for people to explore their city in a new way. Instead of taking the quickest route to my destination, I have found myself taking a different detour while playing the game and finding hidden gems around my neighborhood that I would have never bothered to explore on my own. Since the game has launched, I have noticed an increase in people walking around my neighborhood, gathering by landmarks, and interacting more with each other and the landscape.
Designers must be flexible and open to new ideas, techniques and technologies to continue creating successful spaces. By understanding and utilizing new tech like virtual reality and augmented reality, we are able to gain new perspectives and think differently about how we design. This innovative shift in how we interact with our environment is the cusp of a new paradigm, one that designers must stay abreast with to continue creating places that matter.
A Day in the Life of a LandDesigner Intern
By: Lauren Delbridge, Landscape Architect Design Intern Interning with LandDesign has taught me so much about the field of Landscape Architecture, but even more about what it’s like to be a part of collaborative and enthusiastic firm culture. Each day spent in the office, I learn what working as a LandDesign intern means to me. […]
By: Lauren Delbridge, Landscape Architect Design Intern
Interning with LandDesign has taught me so much about the field of Landscape Architecture, but even more about what it’s like to be a part of collaborative and enthusiastic firm culture. Each day spent in the office, I learn what working as a LandDesign intern means to me.
Working for LandDesign means:
- Coffee or tea at 8:00am (and often many more refills throughout the day).
- Bringing a sweater or space heater because good work clearly takes place in freezing temperatures.
- Learning AutoCAD commands that make your life so much easier.
- Learning shortcuts for any program that make your life so much easier.
- Grabbing lunch from the local Harris Teeter.
- Knowing ‘cruise industry news’ forward and backward.
- Learning the lengths of the longest cruise ships.
- Knowing everything about cruise ships.
- Researching precedents that I’ve never heard of before.
- Knowing how to change the roll of paper on the plotter.
- Getting to know the other great LandDesign interns.
- Froyo birthday parties.
- 4th floor nerf gun wars.
- Asking questions.
- Researching how to grow coconut palms.
- Become a master at scanning.
- Asking more questions (usually about AutoCAD).
- Learning all that you can from the people around you.
- Learning that relationships matter.
Although my months spent with LandDesign have been short, I am grateful for the opportunities this internship has given me. I’ve enjoyed experiencing a new city and work culture and I am thankful for the warm welcome LandDesign has given me and all of the interns.
On the Run in a New City
By: Griselda Ruan, Civil Engineer Design Intern I check the weather, lace up my sneakers, and put my headphones in. It’s a good day when it’s 7:00 PM and Florida’s daily thunderstorm has passed by, meaning it’s time to wind down with a nice run around town. Shortly after moving to Orlando to start my […]
By: Griselda Ruan, Civil Engineer Design Intern
I check the weather, lace up my sneakers, and put my headphones in. It’s a good day when it’s 7:00 PM and Florida’s daily thunderstorm has passed by, meaning it’s time to wind down with a nice run around town. Shortly after moving to Orlando to start my internship with LandDesign, I knew I had to find at least one good running route that I could rely on. I know, I know – running? It’s Orlando! As a Floridian, I’ve enjoyed Orlando as a tourist plenty of times, but I wanted to experience it as a local. What better way to integrate myself as a local than getting to know my new city through a daily run? And so, my new routine began.
My first run (in a long time) was near my apartment at a versatile park with a dog park (need I say more?) Many recreation fields, an outdoor hockey rink, a skate park, and the cutest pups were the main attractions. The family-friendly park definitely satisfied my expectations and allowed me to get back on track as well. I wanted more though: a more scenic trail with more than one or two runners. On my way home after work, I drove passed a lake just outside of downtown. It caught my attention due to the amount of running enthusiasts surrounding the park. It’s always nice to be around people who share the same interest as you and encourage you to keep going, so I gave it a try. Lake Underhill Park includes a fitness course along the trail – probably the closest I’ll ever get to a gym, honestly. Running 2-3 laps around the 1.5 mile loop trail, smelling the trees, and seeing downtown Orlando peeking out above the horizon of the lake – it was paradise.
A few weeks into my internship, I learned through a friend about a running group that meets every Wednesday just blocks away from LandDesign. Running for Brews (RFB). Yes, there is beer dangling at the finish line just waiting to be engulfed by thirsty runners. Well not literally, but a group of people do meet downtown, run a 5k, and then mingle over a few cold ones. Sounds amazing, right? My thoughts exactly. The route, located in downtown Orlando, varies every week, and running with a large group makes it even more challenging as there are regulars who seem impossible to keep up with. The route usually starts or ends at Lake Eola (which, fun fact, is actually a sink hole). Ah, nature is amazing. I will always choose to exercise outdoors over indoors…unless there’s a torrential downpour happening at 7:00 PM. I’ve met the most wonderful people through RFB, and not only do they motivate me to not give up when I’m burning out towards the end of the route, but they’ve allowed me to build these new relationships that make me feel like I’m home.
Working with LandDesign, I am able to be a part of creating developments like these that bring communities together. As a civil engineering intern, it is important for me to not only understand the technical aspects of land development design, but also the gratifying experience that public places, such as these beautiful lakes and parks, provide. I think it’s safe to say, my new running habit has helped achieve that.
More Than Just a 9 to 5
By: Andrew Breit, Civil Engineer Design Intern Thursday night. To some it may mean one more day until relaxation begins or to some – even reliving their college years with “Thirsty Thursday.” But to those at LandDesign who are part of the team, Trivia Matters, it means trivia night at The Local. Within my […]
By: Andrew Breit, Civil Engineer Design Intern
Thursday night. To some it may mean one more day until relaxation begins or to some – even reliving their college years with “Thirsty Thursday.” But to those at LandDesign who are part of the team, Trivia Matters, it means trivia night at The Local.
Within my first week of working for LandDesign, I kept hearing the buzz about Trivia Thursdays and that I should definitely attend. Starting in a new city and not knowing anyone, I thought I might as well see what it was all about. After work, everyone meets up in the lobby and makes the hop, skip and a jump to The Local (crossing our fingers that it doesn’t rain the whole walk). Once we get there, it is usually a mad dash to secure one of the larger tables, due to the fact that we usually bring enough participants to make a small village. As soon as we nail down prime real estate, we order drinks and appetizers and the games begin.
There are four rounds of trivia with random themes for each round, such as things that start with M, Famous Movies and the dreaded Family Feud round that causes some heated debates. While we wait for our scores in between rounds, we converse about family back home, life stories and even unusual facts about someone like not being able to burp or an odd obsession with croissanwiches. Once the scores are all tallied up, we cross our fingers to see if we make the final Jeopardy round. If we do, we pick someone that has the best luck at answering a nearly impossible question like “What is the 4th largest city in North Dakota?” I’ll let you in on a little secret, the strategy is usually bet nothing and hope other people bet more and get it wrong. If we are lucky enough to be at the top of the scoresheet, we win the beloved grand prize of a discount on our bill for next week. While we can’t say we’re reigning champs on a weekly basis, it is something I look forward to every Thursday.
I had no idea the sense of family and community everyone shares at LandDesign, both in and out of the office. There has never been a moment I have felt overwhelmed or alone. To me, Trivia Night wasn’t about knowing “who and what order the top 15 active passing yard leaders are in the NFL,” but it was about spending time getting to know people I enjoy being around and cultivating friendships that will extend past this internship. This was especially meaningful for me when I had a family emergency this summer. I am so appreciative of how understanding LandDesign was in a difficult time for my family and I. So I have to say thank you, LandDesign, for making me feel right at home in Charlotte this summer and providing me the opportunity to drop some knowledge every Thursday.
Why Landscape Architecture? Why LandDesign?
By: Mack Drzayich, Landscape Design Intern My first exposure to landscape design was in the private residential sector. It was great being able to work one-on-one with homeowners to beautify their surroundings. I loved it. But I still yearned to create spaces that were meaningful on a larger scale – places that reached beyond the […]
By: Mack Drzayich, Landscape Design Intern
My first exposure to landscape design was in the private residential sector. It was great being able to work one-on-one with homeowners to beautify their surroundings. I loved it. But I still yearned to create spaces that were meaningful on a larger scale – places that reached beyond the backyard and benefited communities at large. A great deal of the individual experience is influenced by the bigger picture, and I wanted to help paint that picture. So naturally, my wife and I packed our bags and moved across the country for graduate school in landscape architecture at Penn State University. Two years and two kids later, I’ve found myself in Charlotte, NC, interning with LandDesign!
Wait, hold on. Let’s rewind. Why landscape architecture? And why LandDesign? (And while you’re probably wondering Why two kids in grad school?!? I’ll just stick to the first two).
Landscape architects bring a unique skillset to urban design, and as the world’s population continues to transition to urban living, I sense that we will play an increasingly essential role. There are a lot of players involved in shaping cities, including urban planners, architects, engineers, environmental scientists and developers, to name a few. Landscape architecture in many ways is a blend of all of these fields – art, ecology and sociology all in one. And I’ll never forget what world-renowned architect, James Wines, said in a lecture at Penn State, “Landscape architects are the true heroes in city sustainability.” Green matters, and we have the chance to be social and environmental advocates in urban developments – notoriously harsh environments. Landscape architects aren’t just minimizing damage, but reversing it, and yes, I wanted to be a part of it.
So why LandDesign? LandDesign’s ethos – creating places that matter – struck a chord with me. While simple, it embodied my earlier desires of doing something that actually had a positive impact on broader society and the environment beyond one person’s backyard. Thankfully, I’ve come to find out that this notion of creating places that matter isn’t just a slogan. I experience it at the drawing table, I hear it in the way my coworkers talk and I see it reflected in the work that goes out the door. In our Charlotte office, we are truly elevating Charlotte’s culture and quality of life through meaningful design, and I’m lucky to take part in it. I will also add that I am grateful for the culture at LandDesign. They value not only design and professional development, but community involvement and family, because well, you know…two kids.
The Tools, Tricks and Techniques behind Landscape Architecture
By: Natalie Spinola, Landscape Design Intern As landscape architects, designers and engineers, we understand the importance of being able to express our ideas both accurately and creatively. We use a wide range of software programs from Adobe products, AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup and Lumion as forms of communication in this profession. However, sometimes the most effective […]
By: Natalie Spinola, Landscape Design Intern
As landscape architects, designers and engineers, we understand the importance of being able to express our ideas both accurately and creatively. We use a wide range of software programs from Adobe products, AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup and Lumion as forms of communication in this profession. However, sometimes the most effective way to express our ideas, concepts and design solutions is through hand drawing. At LandDesign, I had the opportunity to see how all forms of expression are used in professional practice while also learning new tools, tricks and techniques.
Coming from a master’s program where my peers and I had different undergraduate degrees, that for the most part were not related to design, architecture or art, we were all slightly intimidated by technical programs like AutoCAD, ArcGIS and even our own ability to hand draw. We had to learn the very basics in a short period of time. However, the more I use these programs, practice hand rendering and receive advice from others, the more I learn and grow as a designer. The experienced professionals at LandDesign are continuously providing new shortcuts, tools and tricks on how to get the job done faster and more efficiently. I also had the opportunity to learn Land F/X, an AutoCAD plug-in program that allows you to create construction details and specific planting plans without the headache of altering and counting acres of vegetation. Where has this program been the past two years of grad school?!
As diagramming is heavily stressed by my professors, it is great to see it is used in the professional environment. Basic diagramming can be a very successful way to communicate concepts to a client or to show an understanding of existing versus proposed conditions. It has been especially useful over the past two months when working on larger scale master planning projects to help illustrate and understand pieces of landscape such as water systems, park and green space systems, spatial relationships and connections and land use. I also had the opportunity to work on a few illustrative renderings using a mix of Photoshop and Google Sketchup. I found that brushes really go a long way to create textures that make your image look much more realistic and appealing.
I am eager to take these new tools, tricks and techniques that I have learned throughout my internship and apply them to my own work as I finish my last year of grad school and continue pursuing a career in landscape architecture. I have found that by keeping up with technology and having the thirst to learn new innovative and creative ways to express your ideas, will not only save you from being overwhelmed and prevent you from falling behind in this competitive market, but it will also save you time and money in the long run.
Advice from an Intern: Get an Internship
By: Hannah Thomas, Landscape Design Intern As a student in the field of landscape architecture, I think that at times the profession can seem daunting and intimidating. Will I remember all of this information? Are my renderings up to par? Will I be working 80 hours a week? I’m here to squander those negative, naïve […]
By: Hannah Thomas, Landscape Design Intern
As a student in the field of landscape architecture, I think that at times the profession can seem daunting and intimidating. Will I remember all of this information? Are my renderings up to par? Will I be working 80 hours a week? I’m here to squander those negative, naïve questions running through your head with one simple piece of advice: Get an internship.
Trust me, you won’t regret it. Any professional experience will help bring your academic work into perspective, and give context and reason to why your professors are making you do the crazy things that you’re up all night doing. At any firm there is always an opportunity to learn from anyone and everyone. But at a diverse and innovative firm like LandDesign, not only will you learn a lot, you will also be given hands-on experience with real projects, become familiar with new design programs, and meet a lot of welcoming, inspiring design professionals. Looking at your future-self as a Landscape Architect shouldn’t be scary, it should be exciting and an opportunity for you to make a difference in the world by creating a place that matters.
To me, this is one of the most exciting aspects of being a landscape architect – our profession’s ability to make a positive change to our Earth’s landscape. We have the capability and skills to make the landscape a more habitable and enjoyable place to live, not only for humans, but for native plants, animal species, and natural resources. This realization has led to my professional goal to enhance the health of all living, ecological and natural assets through creative design. Hence, why I was drawn to LandDesign, a firm that prioritizes a community’s culture, natural context and ecological resources, despite varying project scales and types, to create a place that matters.
Nationally-Recognized Hospitality Designer Joins LandDesign
Keith Bongirno Named Florida Director of Planning & Landscape Architecture ORLANDO, Fla. (July 6, 2016) – Award-winning designer of resort, hospitality and destination projects worldwide Keith Bongirno, ASLA, CLARB, has joined LandDesign as director of planning and landscape architecture. Based in the firm’s Orlando office, Bongirno will play an integral role in LandDesign’s strategic vision […]
Keith Bongirno Named Florida Director of Planning & Landscape Architecture
ORLANDO, Fla. (July 6, 2016) – Award-winning designer of resort, hospitality and destination projects worldwide Keith Bongirno, ASLA, CLARB, has joined LandDesign as director of planning and landscape architecture. Based in the firm’s Orlando office, Bongirno will play an integral role in LandDesign’s strategic vision to create artistic and creative places by developing the firm’s emerging Destinations practice.
Bongirno is a leader in the hospitality design industry whose work has received numerous awards including several top honors from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). He has built a reputation for creating immersive guest experiences with a portfolio that includes large-scale themed resort properties, high-end destinations and environmentally-sensitive residential developments in the U.S., Caribbean, Asia and Middle East. Examples include:
- WaterColor Inn Beach Site, WaterColor, Fla.
- Casa Monica Hotel, St. Augustine, Fla.
- Celebration Hotel, Celebration, Fla.
- Inspiration Villas, Sand Destin, Fla.
- Redfish Village, Blue Mountain Beach, Fla.
- Hilton Grand Vacation Club, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Mount Melville Country Club and Resort, St. Andrews, Scotland
- Theme Park Resort, Marne la Vallee, France
- Hollywood Hotel, Hong Kong, China
“Keith has a passion for creating places that are engaging, entertaining and aesthetically outstanding,” said LandDesign CEO Rhett Crocker. “His 30-year career has focused on extraordinary designs that immerse people in the experience. This focus integrates well with our commitment to creating memorable and authentic places.”
Bongirno co-founded the Winter Park, Fla. architecture firm Meyer, Bongirno & Craig in 1996. Clients included Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens. In 2000, the firm became MSI following mergers with design firms in Columbus, Ohio and Pasadena, Calif. In 2011, he joined Stantec (NYSE: STN), a Canadian firm with eight Florida offices.
For nearly four decades, LandDesign has provided urban planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and branding to clients across the globe. With offices in Charlotte, NC; Washington DC; Dallas Tex.; Orlando, Fla. and San Francisco, Calif., the firm’s 140+ professional staff collaborate within an integrated platform of expertise, creativity and the latest communication technology. This approach allows LandDesign’s clients the advantage of the firm’s depth of services and expertise providing creative and sustainable project solutions for communities and destinations worldwide. The firm’s portfolio represents award-winning projects from urban design and large-scale community planning to intimate spaces – all with a core goal of creating meaningful places to live, work and play. www.landdesign.com.
Symphony Park: Charlotte’s Most Entertaining Retention Pond
June 23, 2016 Only in Charlotte does one look forward to spending Sunday evenings in June laying on a blanket next to a 1.87-acre retention pond. For 14 years, Symphony Park and its visually-striking 2,700 square foot covered stage, has been home to the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series. Luring an average of 4,000 […]
June 23, 2016
Only in Charlotte does one look forward to spending Sunday evenings in June laying on a blanket next to a 1.87-acre retention pond.
For 14 years, Symphony Park and its visually-striking 2,700 square foot covered stage, has been home to the Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops series. Luring an average of 4,000 people each weekend to picnic on the lawn, friends and family take in some of the best of the Charlotte cultural scene with a glass of pinot grigio.
We imagine that most of the folks staking out their 10×10 of green space hours before the concert begins aren’t concerned that the park was designed to capture and treat the runoff from the surrounding 60 acres of development, and has also improved downstream flooding for adjacent property owners. But they shouldn’t be. Symphony Park was meant to be a destination. A place for the Charlotte Symphony to extend its’ reach within the greater Charlotte community. An urban oasis between the mall and adjacent office developments and residential neighborhoods. A place to bring people together.
The multi-functional park hosts an array of events and festivals throughout the year including Summer Pops; Beer, Bourbon & BBQ; Movies under the Stars; Latin American Festival; Picnic at SouthPark; Sunset Jazz Festival; MS Walk; and the annual Holiday Tree Lighting.
This popular summer series, voted “Best Concert Series” and one of “50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do” in the city by the readers of Charlotte Magazine, is conducted by the spirited Albert-George Schram. This Sunday’s concert presents a particular theme we are rather fond of, where the featured music was written with places in mind. Hence the name, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. We hope to see you out there enjoying the symphonic sound.
Click here to purchase Summer Pops tickets.
Five Engineers Pass State Board PE Exam
May 31, 2016 Five months ago, a handful of our civil engineers decided to embark upon the dedicated task of studying for their Professional Engineering exam. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you it wasn’t a walk in Romare Bearden Park. They put in countless long days, scaled back on the #Beer30’s […]
May 31, 2016
Five months ago, a handful of our civil engineers decided to embark upon the dedicated task of studying for their Professional Engineering exam. If you ask any one of them, they’ll tell you it wasn’t a walk in Romare Bearden Park. They put in countless long days, scaled back on the #Beer30’s and hit the books hard. On April 15th, they sat for eight hours to take a test in which they wouldn’t hear the results for over a month. Well, we’re happy to announce that five of our engineers successfully passed their State Board of Examiners Professional Engineering Exam. Congratulations to Brian Crafford, Aaron Wagoner, Tyler Howell, Matt Grigsby and Eric Lemieux!
Brian Crafford has been with LandDesign for three years, and in the industry for seven. He graduated from UNC Charlotte with a Master of Science in Engineering and concentration in civil/water resources. Brian works as a Project Engineer on the design and production of residential and commercial construction documents. He has a strong desire to learn and grow professionally, while producing practical, cost effective design solutions for our clients. Fun Facts: Outside of being a go-getter at work, Brian enjoys cycling, swimming and participating in Triathlons.
Aaron Wagoner, now a PE, has been with LandDesign for four years as a Design Engineer. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University shortly before going to work for a small architecture firm for a year. Aaron’s projects have ranged from the LYNX Blue Line Light Rail extension, to storm drainage improvement projects for the City of Charlotte to residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional projects as well. Fun fact: Aaron is a huge Carolina Panthers and Wolfpack fan while also enjoying outdoor activities such as camping and backpacking.
Tyler Howell, now a PE, has been with LandDesign for four years after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from UNC Charlotte. He provides engineering design services for residential and commercial land development projects, focusing on stormwater management, erosion control, and site planning. Tyler is a passionate designer, delivering the places where people live, work and play. Fun Facts: He would like to experience as much of the world as possible, and make an effort to give something back along the way. He also enjoys playing golf and reading.
Matt Grigsby has been with LandDesign for three years, after graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. From schematic design to full permitting, his focus lies in commercial site design, implementing skills with stormwater design, roadway design, wastewater collection, water distribution, erosion control, etc. Matt is very driven, with great interest in how his work affects other people. He finds joy in seeing a project through to completion. Fun fact: In his free time, he enjoys coaching youth baseball, camping and travelling to watch his Auburn Tigers. War Eagle!
Eric Lemieux has been with LandDesign for one year after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and minor in Green Engineering from Virginia Tech. His main area of focus is in site development, with a heavy skill interest in graphic design. He believes the most beneficial experiences are ones that expose you to something new, or through a mentorship within an organization. Fun fact: Eric enjoys spending a week at the beach, walking a round of golf, getting out for an early morning run, and most importantly, getting a group from the office out for trivia on Thursdays – #triviamatters.
Time to celebrate! #PEexamsmatter
LandDesign Gains New Associate
We are pleased to announce that Adam Martin has been promoted to an Associate of the firm in the Charlotte office! From growing up in the Coastal South and tinkering in his grandparent’s old barn, Adam realized his appreciation for the landscape at a young age. Later while working and traveling the world with […]
We are pleased to announce that Adam Martin has been promoted to an Associate of the firm in the Charlotte office!
From growing up in the Coastal South and tinkering in his grandparent’s old barn, Adam realized his appreciation for the landscape at a young age. Later while working and traveling the world with the US military he came to understand the importance of equitable place making in urban environments. As a former US Army Ranger with 4 combat tours, Adam believes service and duty can be shown through socially conscious design for our communities. Hailing from Mississippi State and UNC Charlotte’s Masters of Urban Design program, he has continued to push boundaries in the studio since he began working at LandDesign in 2012. From complex urban mixed-use projects such as OneDurham, to the RailTrail Framework Plan, he most enjoys crafting a great story about great places.
Adam is involved in the design and management on a range of projects from intimate courtyard amenity spaces, multifamily housing and commercial projects, to master planned communities and open spaces. His primary focus is on holistic land development solutions and coordinating urban infill projects with commuter infrastructure. He is most frequently involved in the visioning of urban infill projects; and campus projects for LandDesign’s Charlotte based academic clients. Nearly all of Adam’s projects involve creating physical and social connections to public amenities and transit infrastructure while integrating them with built and natural environment.
We can expect many inspiring moments from him in the coming years, as well as a solid mentoring of incoming staff in our culture and craft. Congrats, Adam!
Promotions to Wrap up a Successful 2015
We are excited to end the year with two more promotions that are indicative of the opportunities we have ahead of us in 2016. Chad Kovaleski has been made a Director in our new San Francisco office, and Beth Poovey is our new Director of Public Parks, Greenways and Streetscapes. As we grow and expand […]
We are excited to end the year with two more promotions that are indicative of the opportunities we have ahead of us in 2016. Chad Kovaleski has been made a Director in our new San Francisco office, and Beth Poovey is our new Director of Public Parks, Greenways and Streetscapes. As we grow and expand in new markets, we are committed to aligning talent and resources to ensure we can continue to deliver services consistent with the LandDesign brand. These promotions are a direct reflection of that commitment.
Chad joined LandDesign in 2012, and has been focused on urban design and waterfront projects all around the world. He is a second-generation Landscape Architect (his parents were both Landscape Designers), who is passionate about integrating the bold use of plant materials, hardscape and paving into his designs. Chad was born in Wisconsin and graduated from Iowa State, where he was a 4-year letter winner on the Men’s golf team. As someone who loves to travel and take in new experiences (and food), Chad has been pivotal in growing our West Coast office. “Chad has an incredible portfolio that he has built over the past decade, both with LandDesign and his previous firms, and we are excited to continue to support his growth here in San Francisco,” said Rhett Crocker.
Beth has over 16 years of experience in greenway, trail, streetscape and park design. As a known expert in this field, she played an integral role as Project Manager for the popular Little Sugar Creek Greenway, and she currently is leading the Cross Charlotte Trail Vision Plan. Combining her sociology and landscape architecture degrees, her focus and passion has evolved into planning and design of urban open space that authentically integrates community assets with environmental stewardship opportunities. “The world is starting to notice what great work LandDesign is doing on greenways, bikeways and trails,” said Rhett Crocker, “And we all look forward to seeing how Beth can elevate our brand to the next level.” When Beth isn’t soaking up her time with her children relearning how to do a cartwheel, she enjoys gardening and traveling to experience new places and cultures.
In addition to this group of promotions, we had three other rounds of recognitions this past year that can be referenced here, here and here. We are grateful for the diligent work of all our employees as we wrap up a successful 2015. It is exciting to have the opportunity to make these acknowledgements, and position ourselves for an incredible year ahead. Cheers!
Take Back the Streets [and Other Public Spaces]
Imagine a world where cities were designed for the pedestrian; where both 8-year-old children and 80 year old grandparents could walk or bike safely; where every child has the luxury of a park or play area within a quarter mile of their house; where adults over the age of 65 felt inclusive in their community. […]
Imagine a world where cities were designed for the pedestrian; where both 8-year-old children and 80 year old grandparents could walk or bike safely; where every child has the luxury of a park or play area within a quarter mile of their house; where adults over the age of 65 felt inclusive in their community. This dream is possible and it’s the notion behind Gil Penalosa’s, internationally renowned urban expert and founder of 8 80 Cities, speech at the Knight Foundation Leadership Breakfast. Gil spoke to a room full of politicians and planners, designers and developers about the imperative sense of urgency behind initiatives and implementation strategies relating to urban public space to plan for a better quality of life and tomorrow’s progress.
Two hundred years ago, human life expectancy was 39-years-old. Technology, medicine and other factors have contributed to extending the life expectancy well beyond that figure. Half the people, in the world’s history, over the age of 65 are alive today. Our world has seen an exponential human growth rate: 200 million people were alive in 1900; 3.5 billion in 2015; and 7.0 billion are estimated for 2050. Yes, we will double our world’s population in a 35 year time period. This isn’t science fiction, folks. This is pure growth projection.
You may be asking, well how does this affect Charlotte, NC? Charlotte ranked highest in population change in the last 20 years and is estimated to grow by 70% in the next 30 years. The numbers are astounding. Mecklenburg County had 90,685 residents over the age of 65 in 2012 and that number is expected to be 204,653 residents by 2030—a 126% growth! Our cities must be designed for people of all ages, not just for the healthy, athletic 30-year-olds.
So, what can be done to improve the quality of life for everyone? If you answered expand the highway network and add more cars on the road, well I’m sorry to say but you answered wrong. You see, 27% of all trips are less than a mile. That’s a great reason to walk or bike to your destination, by incorporating alternative, healthy modes of transportation into your daily life. The unfortunate and alarming news is that 1 in 3 people in the United States are obese; 60% of people over age 65 are obese; and 28% of Mecklenburg County falls in that category. Now let’s focus on how design and planning decisions can make change happen to alleviate this epidemic.
Step 01. Walking is inherently human. Birds fly, fish swim and humans walk. It should be safe for all people to walk in a city. I mean every trip begins and ends with walking, right?
Step 02. The biggest tax cut we can give to city residents is the luxury of creating a place where families are not required to have a second car.
Step 03. Streets encompass 15-20% of cities and 70-90% of public space. The way we design our streets is critical to changing the urban landscape and quality of life for our community. People should be the first priority, not cars.
Step 04. Slow down the speed limit. Pedestrian and bike crashes are at an all-time high in the last 13 years. If someone were to be hit by a car traveling 20 mph, the death rate is 5%; 40% at 30 mph; and 80% at 40 mph. The numbers speak for themselves.
Step 05. Safety first. A minimum grid of protected bike lanes is a must. Also, giving the pedestrian and cyclist a 5-second headway allows a head start when crossing a road and helps deter confusion with drivers.
Step 06. Design for all in mind. Adults over the age of 65 are the largest portion of the demographic sector that use parks. Less than 20% of parks have a walking loop, which is the single most important feature in a park. Benches are second, then programming. Alongside children, the 65+ group is a great resource to tap into; we must provide places that cater to intergenerational mixing, creating a city for all people.
To conclude, Gil stated, “We are too focused on the urgency of today, but we must be looking at the issues for tomorrow.” We must plan accordingly and create vibrant and healthy cities. Gil mentioned there are 5 elements of change:
- Sense of urgency
- Political will
- Citizen engagement
These changes contribute to decisions that are not technical or economical, they are political. Gil stressed this is not a Democratic or Republican issue — we must work together to create a city for the people, not for the issues. “Citizens are paying every two weeks for our government to get something done, not to create excuses.” If we care about each other, we care about our city.
By: Amanda Zullo
A Tale of Two Lectures: From Carolina to California
“We’re both enabled and burdened by that which has come before us.”—Stefanos Polyzoides Two lectures occurred in the same week in Charlotte. Both were conducted from bi-coastal lecturers, and both were a forum on public space, housing, and the comprehensive need to understand historical context and precedent, and proper infill development. Tuesday’s Eye […]
“We’re both enabled and burdened by that which has come before us.”—Stefanos Polyzoides
Two lectures occurred in the same week in Charlotte. Both were conducted from bi-coastal lecturers, and both were a forum on public space, housing, and the comprehensive need to understand historical context and precedent, and proper infill development.
Tuesday’s Eye on Development—Civic by Design forum’s topic rested heavily on how infill development is changing historic neighborhoods in the Queen City. Sure, swanky rooftops, structured parking and contemporary facades are en vogue; residents are flocking to these residential blocks like their building is the latest trend, until the novelty wears off when the next new development is built. However, Tom Low, a local architect and urban planner who organizes the free discussion series, advocates that what’s not being properly addressed is maintaining the quality of the public realm. Which would you prefer—a building that provides a blank parking deck on street level or ground floor restaurants and retail? The answer, although inherently obvious, does not always make its way to the drawing table. This is a hot topic in our local development context as redevelopment is reshaping and redefining the character of our beloved neighborhoods. With the City’s zoning ordinance being severely outdated (last time it was updated was back in 2000), City Council is preparing to embark on a rewrite. Stronger design standards and higher barriers to entry are two ways in which development could help create a more viable neighborhood, with paying particular attention to the public realm.
Thursday’s Housing and the Architecture of the Missing Middle lecture advocated to make room for the middle, by providing helpful reminders on maintaining balance in design. Stefanos Polyzoides, renowned architect and urbanist of Moule and Polyzoides, stressed that there is “a constant conflict between that which is historic and new….One must balance between development and preservation.” By understanding history, Stefanos advocates to aim high and not repeat the mistakes from the last fifty years of development. He discussed how “Crayola zoning is a great thing for five year olds” and how the “FAR mechanism is the work of the devil.” FAR, or floor area ratio, is calculated as Gross Building Area/Lot Area and is determined by the amount of land in a development. This proportion of FAR to land is the fundamental issue which has spawned the development we see today. Moule suggests instead of letting FAR dictate design, designers should focus on typology and density. Tower buildings and single-family are two ends of the residential development spectrum. We should focus our efforts on the middle types of housing, as it is middle density that makes a great city. Stefanos offered a plethora of precedents, all stemming from his work in California. The main themes and takeaways of his middle model work:
- Density can be achieved without destroying the neighborhood. Mix up the housing typologies; don’t make your design homogenous.
- Make housing look like part of the urban fabric by fitting your building into the neighborhood character.
- Be unconventional and unique, differentiate your building from those in your context. Make it diverse.
- Ensure that the building signature changes, having no run of 100 feet or more be the same.
- If you make a place right, people will find it and will want to live here.
- Take density and tame it.
- Unique, unconventional building types ultimately add value within the housing market and can be very financially lucrative. The chance is worth the end payoff.
Stefanos’ closing comments to the group reiterated the importance of historical precedent, urban fabric and learning when to say “no” to a development project. “Flex your muscles and eat your pride depending on the job as an architect,” he stated. With the correlation between Tom’s and Stefanos’ lectures, it’s evident that these development stresses are not only felt in our local context, but on a national and even global scale.
By: Amanda Zullo
A Neighborhood Living Room – What’s All the Buzz About?
Knight Foundation. 8 80 Cities. Varian Shrum. NHLR, or Neighborhood Living Room. If you haven’t been on social media lately or watched the news, these buzz words have generated a lot of attention in the Charlotte community. Varian Shrum won a $5000 grant from the Knight Foundation to create her vision—an outdoor living room in […]
Knight Foundation. 8 80 Cities. Varian Shrum. NHLR, or Neighborhood Living Room. If you haven’t been on social media lately or watched the news, these buzz words have generated a lot of attention in the Charlotte community. Varian Shrum won a $5000 grant from the Knight Foundation to create her vision—an outdoor living room in South End. “I’ve lived in South End for two years and I’ve noticed there’s not much public space,” Shrum said. “We have lots of new development, thousands of new residents, but nowhere to just gather and connect. I wanted to create a place for people to come together where you don’t have to pay to sit outside.”
The NHLR was stationed in the Dilworth Artisan Station, adjacent to the LYNX Blue Line. The LYNX Blue Line’s spine spurred design projects culminating in one of LandDesign’s very own Rail Trail project. As Richard Petersheim states in relation to the NHLR, “It’s nice to see the momentum building from our Rail Trail efforts.” The Rail Trail has received a $412,000 grant from ArtPlace America, along with an additional $20,000 grant from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation, gifted towards public art installations along the 3.3-mile trial. In a game of find and seek, patrons were able to witness one of these art installations during the NHLR weekend—delicate discrete dresses, made of leaves, were hidden and hanging in the trees accompanied by little plastic toys and homey space installations, staged at the base of trees and shrubs. The art installation was meant to evoke a fairy like presence in nature, centered on the delight of discovery.
Several LandDesigners felt passionate about offering their services to help Varian’s dream come to life. Kate Pearce began the conversation advocating that it would be beneficial to have some LandDesigners help out with this amazing community initiative. Amanda Zullo, aka “Albert Design-stein” served as designer and renderer extraordinaire on Varian Shrum’s Strike Team—a core group of individuals who met weekly over a three month period to construct, create, plan and project manage the NHLR. Monica Mitevski, mastermind of all things graphic, and Lori Race, designer and contact for LandDesign’s landscape pop up projects, were consulted for their services.
NHLR’s pop-up space was open to the public from October 15th to October 18th. Gil Penalosa, founder of 8 80 Cities and renowned urban speaker/expert, spoke at the Knights Foundation Leadership Breakfast earlier in the week and kicked off the NHLR grand opening ceremony with a speech geared to excite and educate the public on the impact of these efforts. The entire weekend was planned with various programs to cater to the community: pop-up coffee shops, food vendors, beer samples and boutique shopping by local restaurants and entrepreneurs; live music that all ages could appreciate; a special Dilworth Artisan Station art crawl, which only occurs four times a year to the public; outdoor morning yoga to connect with oneself and with one’s community; storytelling and pumpkin painting for children; and even a concluding Sunday afternoon Panthers tailgate.
The NHLR programmed space provided the opportunity for all ages to come together and interact in a comfortable setting. The moveable furniture was key to the dynamic ebb and flow of the personalized space. “It’s interesting to note how the public space was really enlivened and engaged when there were program events occurring simultaneously. It makes you think about how the success of a space relies heavily on adjacent uses, providing another opportunity to attract people,” stated Lauren Cline, a fellow LandDesigner who attended the NHLR all four days.
Varian’s biggest takeaway is “the importance of letting people own the vision with you. People will participate in a movement like this if they feel invested. People will feel welcome to linger in a space if they see themselves reflected there. The main reason NHLR was a success was that the people it intended to serve were involved from the beginning.”
“I love how the NHLR has brought people, children and pets together; this connection is very important to a community,” said one patron. Another remarked, “Varian’s vision is a take on what Europe has been doing all along; by creating a piazza for the people, communities can come together. I look forward to the next installment, but hope this generates enough momentum to create a more permanent place.” Varian has the long-term in mind, too. “I hope the positive experience my neighbors had in this temporary public space will inspire them to advocate for permanent ones,” she said. “Giving input to the Planning Department’s re-write of the Zoning Ordinance would be a great way to guarantee these kinds of places are included in future development.” She intends to use the rest of the grant to create another pop up location in Charlotte sometime next year, after she and the Strike Team get some rest. Stay tuned by following the Charlotte Living Room at:@CLTLivingRoom, CLTLivingRoom.com, and #CLTLivingRoom.
By: Amanda Zullo