The new generation of simulation software more accurately mirrors
the real world.
By James L. Sipes, ASLA
Recently I spoke with a landscape architect who was developing visual simulations
for a proposed power plant. One of the big issues was the amount of smoke and other emissions the plant would give off and how it
would affect the visual quality of the surrounding area. It wasn’t enough to create simulations with realistic-looking smoke; in the
model, the smoke needed to behave like smoke. For example, the amount of emissions would vary according to temperature and
humidity, and the dispersion pattern would depend on wind strength, wind direction, and surrounding landforms.
This level of reality in simulations is becoming the norm. "It’s no longer enough to simply show an image and expect everyone to believe it,” says Terry DeWan, asla, principal with tjd & Associates.
"‘Legally defensible’ seems to have become the new gold standard in simulations." To meet that standard, however, a simulation must
have a strong foundation in science, have a higher degree of truth than ever before, and accurately model environmental processes and
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