Firm Visits & CAD Woes

This past week was certainly a whirlwind of technical skill building and travels. I had the opportunity to travel to Indiana and Ohio so that I could visit four design firms. Studio also kicked into high gear as we continue to refine our master plan design, section drawings and site callout designs. I did however miss my pro-practices class and the opportunity to hear from Bradley Cantrell and the work that he is directing. This was a big loss as he is conducting some progressive research on the large scale dynamics of infrastructure and ecologies; such as one might find in the Mississippi alluvial valley and around the dikes on the river. http://blog.ted.com/ted-fellow-bradley-contrell-on-computational-landscape-architecture/

A diagram of landscape monitoring and synthesis. Image: Joshua Brooks, Devon Boutte, Martin Moser, Kim Nguyen

During my travels to IN & OH I visited MKSK – Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf – Ratio Architects – and in OH I visited NBBJ. Each of these firms are doing some great work and changing the way in which landscape architecture influences communities, health, and economic vitality. The breadth of projects which these firms participate in is staggering. Community development, planning, riverfront design, private development, and more. I found that I was more excited the projects that sought to rethink and invent new concepts and forms than those that were add-ons to other projects and secondary in nature. These projects seemed to offer more flexibility in creative thinking and engaged a wider range of constituents throughout the project.

Riverscape -Columbus, OH - MKSK

Studio has been challenging this week as we are working through schematic design for our 52 acre site and very quickly moving into detailed site design. I find drawing by hand a more productive and creative way of thinking and am learning to do this more efficiently in CAD. As many designers have learned from experience, trying to do the basics while learning the basics of a design program is frustrating. Simple issues of how to use a program can kill workflow and efficiency as well as the creative process. I have enjoyed becoming more efficient this week though and learning from my peers, educators, and on-line forums as I strive to more fully understand CAD and Rhino.

52 Acre Studio site in Knoxville, TN - Old General Shale Plant

Design is fantastic. It is such a creative process that is completely circular and not linear. This can also be confusing to navigate as ideas come up at various points in the design phases and change parts of a design (for the better). I have begun thinking about materials more heavily, how edges are joining, what the user experience is like, how ecologies will perform and develop, and how the spaces will change over time in use and quality. I hope to bang out a site study model with my classmates as well so that we can have a physical representation of our site and gain a greater grasp of people on our site. We are quickly approaching the grading and drainage portion of our studio. This is one of my favorite parts of a design as I really get to see how a site works out in reality. Until next week!

Detailed Portion of Site - Early Iteration