Can You Spare The Change?

Engineers define “low maintenance” in a sense, and do so with a concentrated purpose and good intentions, I might add. Think about it: Once built, an engineered facility rarely changes. A drainpipe does not grow, a curb never needs fertilizing, a bridge column requires no pruning, and pavement typically does not need mowing. How low-maintenance is that?

But with their work, change happens with how, why, and when their designs are used. Engineers, too, must adapt and anticipate the maintenance changes, just like us.

Whether knowingly or not, design is ever changing. Even after the project is off our boards, the design remains a dynamic force–growing, thriving, and demanding an ever-changing level of maintenance.

We trust that our experience and training will anticipate the changes in store for the project. Hopefully, we take those into account when being creative. Adaptive design and its evolution should be a well-used, fat marker in our sketchpad repertoire.

Much like Mark’s rebranding message communicated, we should routinely ask ourselves what will our design look like tomorrow, then in 20 years, and then all those times in between?

If we have any design foresight, our low-maintenance project needs today will successfully transition to a whole different set of low-maintenance needs in 2032 and beyond.

So just when I thought my engineer friends could be ribbed with yet another stereotype, they end up being on the side with the low-maintenance advocates. As a designer, I’m going to embrace that as great news!

So the next challenge will be to professionally encourage creative latitude amongst us through a collaborative, unbiased design process–and yes, I am an optimist by nature.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving and that the holiday weekend found you maintaining your safety in travel and family celebration.

Tim May is a professional landscape architect and LEED AP for TNP in Fort Worth, Texas. He can be reached via email at or by twitter at @TMay82


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  2. Life’s About Change
  3. Where Did We Go Wrong?
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  5. Where Did We Go Wrong?

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