By Timothy Brown Principal at Traverse Landscape Architects
As a landscape architect, my experience has often been that we are brought in late on a project to “shrub it up”. The most unfortunate part about this is that owners and developers are being deprived of the chance to have a much richer and more significant project.
Below I offer eleven reasons why landscape design should be considered and landscape architects should be included throughout the project development process.
1. The landscape is the warp and weft which can weave a disparate collection of buildings into a cohesive city, community or campus.
2. Whether they are biking, walking or driving, people most often experience a place from ground level, and landscape provides the interest and impetus which inspires people to return in order to spend time in a place.
3. Vibrant native plantings, flexible plaza spaces, legible and convenient pathways and wayfinding provide a framework within which critical placemaking events can happen, contributing to the overall success of a place
4. Landscape architects are often the keepers of a holistic vision and balance on a project, reconciling the sometimes conflicting design aspirations of architects, engineers, owners and developers.
5. Landscape touches every component of a development project and is a major factor inspiring people to live in a place or return as a visitor.
6. As this article from Time Magazine asserts, access to high-quality green spaces and nature makes people happier, improves physical and mental health and improves our overall sense of well-being. (Also See: WHO)
7. Well-designed landscapes, especially in neighborhoods and on campuses, contribute to an overall sense of well-being by providing places for people to meet up for a walk, for collaboration or to just chat. People places are successful places.
8. Well-designed landscapes provide a myriad of ecosystem services, not the least of which include groundwater recharge, habitat creation, and mitigation of urban heat island impacts.
9. Using vernacular materials in innovative ways, referencing natural landscapes with native plantings and providing places for people to gather, recreate and relax are just a few ways that well-designed landscapes contribute to a culturally impactful and potent sense of place.
10. Landscape architects are trained to look closely at all the existing conditions of a site. The inclusion of landscape architects from the beginning of the process can avoid costly mistakes down the road and ensure the preservation of historically important vegetation and site artifacts.
11. Well-designed landscapes bring people closer to the places where they live work and play, giving them a place to dwell, promoting stewardship and inspiring advocacy.
These are just a few of the many reasons landscape architects should be an integral member of the development team starting from project conception.