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Merit Award - ANALYSIS AND PLANNING

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Michigan Department of Transportation Aesthetic Project Opportunities Inventory and Scenic Heritage Route Designation Inventory
Michigan

SmithGroup JJR; Washtenaw Engineering Company; Woolpert Design, LLP

Cheryl Zuellig, ASLA
Senior Landscape Architect, SmithGroup JJR
110 Miller Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Tel. 734-669-2715;
Fax 734-662-7520
czuellig@aa.smithgoup.com


Project Purpose

Develop comprehensive statewide inventories of potential aesthetic opportunities and potential Scenic Heritage Routes along approximately 10,000 miles of state trunklines.

Role of the Landscape Architect

The inventories were to be completed by State Registered Landscape Architects. The client, whose staff included two Landscape Architects, maintained an active role in the development of the methodology used to perform the survey. Due to the scale of the project, the State was divided into three survey regions and each region was assigned a Landscape Architectural consultant team from three different firms. A Landscape Architect from each firm provided project management assistance to the client and led their respective multidisciplinary team. The consultant teams simultaneously performed the fieldwork, data entry and analysis, and report preparation. Collaboration of all teams was key to achieving quality and consistency.

Special Factors

The project is unique for many reasons. First, the scale of the inventories is noteworthy. The preparation of two comprehensive inventories of this magnitude by Landscape Architects from three different firms sets a precedent of professional commitment to the client and product quality. Second, the level of technology used, not only to complete the inventories, but also to allow the client and its statewide staff complete interface ability, is a true test of the breadth of knowledge and expertise unique to the field of Landscape Architecture. Third, the requirement that only State Registered Landscape Architects could complete the inventories created limitations on project staffing, but it provided an opportunity for senior level Landscape Architects to influence future roadway design and maintenance policy. Lastly, the task of identifying aesthetic project opportunities and potential heritage routes that reflected the client's priorities was an unusual problem because visual assessment is a highly subjective endeavor. The ability of three consultant teams to arrive at consistent results required particular cooperation, expertise, and practicality. The problem was resolved through additional field testing of the survey forms and descriptive criteria prior to data collection.

Significance

This project meets the judging criteria for the category of Analysis and Planning in its quality of presentation and practicality. A high quality product was produced through consultant collaboration aimed at providing consistency. The end product, two inventories, will be used statewide by regional and local practitioners to implement current aesthetic project programs and aid in budgeting for future projects, as well as provide a single source of potential Scenic Heritage Routes for review. The inventory results were presented in a manner that is both useful and accessible to the client and the public, which demonstrates its functionality.

The relationship to setting and context was considered as projects and routes were selected that reflect regional and local characteristics. Environmental responsibility is evidenced in the stewardship required to identify opportunities to protect, preserve and enhance the natural, visual and aesthetic resources along state trunklines. Effective use of landscape architectural techniques was an underlying project requirement. The methodology used to prepare the survey forms used in the inventories is a commendation to the broad field of Landscape Architecture and the individual expertise of its practitioners. Inventory criteria and survey forms were developed that are based on established landscape architectural standards and principles. This comprehensive source can be used to consider corridor approaches to aesthetic highway improvements rather than only the practice of site improvement.

The completion and implementation of the inventories has directly benefited the client and the public. The Client now has a new scale of resources for planning that will not only assist them in implementing the aesthetic improvement projects, but also aid in improving the driving experience on state highways for travelers and visitors to the State. In addition, the inventories will assist in encouraging communication and partnerships between the client, local communities, and the public to increase long-term benefits of the inventories and to increase public awareness of the aesthetic environment.

 

 


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