Design With Style

This style can sometimes be synonymous with “”Blue Collar Design”. This is a design result when we are given a fixed, non-flexible site plan and told “no changes” and to “design accordingly”. Other times this style is applicable are when the operational and functional needs of engineering dictate the landscape design. “Engineered” soils for rain gardens and bio-retention basins come to mind, for example.

5. “Directional Design”

It is this style that has me bummed out lately. It is something being experienced more frequently in the project design environment. The project design is generated without having been included in design team meetings and collective decision-making. Project design direction may be doled out by the project manager via email, phone, meeting minutes, or an “oh-by-the-way” comment when passing each other in the break room. This style does little justice to fully capturing project opportunities or potential.

All these design style scenarios are realized in the design profession’s world of tightening fee budgets, decision validity, and effort accountability. Landscape architects need to be as flexible in evaluating, designing, applying, convincing, and performing our services at a moment’s notice than ever before.

In so being flexible, you may find that project managers are more pressed to resolve other project issues. They may be reluctant for some reason to give the plant-hugging, people-space seeking, explainer-with-sketches, talker-with-hands landscape architect valuable time in front of those that might just be inquisitive enough, and willing to ask, “Hey, Timbo, what is your design style going to be for this project?”

“Oh, my! You caught me off guard. If I could have just a minute…”

So what’s your style? Do you have (a) style?

This should be a wonderful get-yourself-out-of-doors spring weekend to give it some thought. Let me know. And by all means, don’t be caught fumbling for pocket change and squeezing your forehead.

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

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