The Value of Landscape Architecture

By Shannon Gapp, Landscape Designer

When thinking of landscape architecture, these words probably come to mind: landscape design, environmentally compatible, sustainable, a great graphic. These are accurate descriptions; however, the value in bringing a landscape architect into a planning, design and/or construction project can be much more profound. This article provides examples of these additional benefits, such as urban design and community engagement to gain project support.

Turning a Vision into a Reality

One of the most rewarding aspects of landscape architecture is the ability to turn an initial idea, concept, or dream into a built reality. Landscape architects work to enhance the quality of life in the communities in which we work, live, and play through applying artistic and scientific principles to the built and natural environment. Not only do these unique spaces add beauty to the environment, but they are strategically designed with people in mind to serve useful, aesthetic, safe, and enjoyable purposes. It is the community’s vision that serves as a guide, and landscape architects are well-placed to develop design concepts, sketches, renderings, and buildable plans to not only show what the vision could look like, but make the community’s dream a meaningful and functional built reality.

Providing Creative Solutions to Complex Problems

In facing the growing urgency of environmental issues, landscape architects apply creative and technical skills to enhance life-sustaining processes and manage fragile ecosystems. Landscape architects develop context-sensitive solutions that are not only feasible and functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, landscape architects are well-versed in the application of sustainable design approaches and best management practices, and are able to provide measurable, evidence-based results relating to stormwater management, species diversification, and landscape performance.

Developing a Unique Sense of Place

Landscape architects are experts in the art of place-making, and are committed to creating meaningful, memorable places. Through collaboration and innovation, landscape architects create environments that can serve as a destination. Whether it be a community park, an urban plaza, a historic monument, or a transportation corridor, we do our best to make each and every project unique to that specific community. This can be achieved through community branding, wayfinding signage, gateway monumentation, historic preservation, incorporating community artwork, and more. Developing a unique sense of place in turn creates a strong sense of ownership, which motivates residents to actively maintain and take pride in their community.

Offering a Fresh, Engaging Experience

Community engagement is a critical piece to all municipal projects, and commitment to inclusive and meaningful public participation is vital to ultimate project success. The process is focused on collaboration and communication, involving unique and interactive public engagement strategies. This can include methods such as audience polling, visual preference studies, online surveys, special event booths, comment cards, dot voting activities, small group meetings, illustrations, and project boards. Incorporating multiple strategies not only allows underrepresented populations to become engaged throughout the process, but also helps develop community buy-in and a sense of ownership in the project.

Communicating through Graphics and Illustrations

When analyzing large amounts of data at various scales it can be difficult to convey key findings and concepts through mere text, charts, or technical plans. Simple graphics and illustrations are much more effective at quickly communicating findings. Landscape architects are able to develop several types of graphics and maps that are easy to read, engage the community, and are publicly accessible.

Managing Projects from Concept to Completion and Beyond

From initial concept sketches to the built product, landscape architects remain involved throughout all project phases. This includes the creation of construction documents, construction administration, project implementation, and more. Once the project has been built, landscape architects go above and beyond and continue to ensure the project is meeting, if not exceeding expectations.

In conclusion, adding landscape architecture to your project can foster creativity, enhance community support, promote sustainable design, and allow your community’s vision to become a stunning built reality.

Published in Minnesota Cities Magazine. Click here to read more. 

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