Product News by Forms + Surfaces, Victor Stanley, ANOVA, and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Product News by Forms + Surfaces, Victor Stanley, ANOVA, and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities


The Power of Collaboration

Members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) were recently surveyed on a number of topics, with questions created with member input gathered at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, on social media, by email, and through comments on The Field. Responses were varied and included many insightful comments and suggestions, which will be shared and discussed with everyone here over the next few months and also used to spark ideas for ASLA  Online Learning webinars and posts for The Field.

In the previous issue of LAND, we took a look at how landscape architects often work as part of a larger design team on projects, with engineers, architects, planners, developers, and other specialists as frequent collaborators. Our next question for PPN members asked them to expand on this topic, and comment on the importance of integrated design teams and a collaborative design process for projects.

Many of the responses focused on the idea that no individual, and no single profession, is an expert on everything. As one member put it, “Duh, the world is complex.” Others emphasized how integration and collaboration lead to the most efficient process and the strongest results. In short, it is an essential part of landscape architecture: “Integrated design IS landscape architecture! We've been doing this forever. We excel at this.”

Below, we highlight additional quotes from members on these key themes: 

Finding the Best Solutions to Complex Problems

  • “A holistic collaborative approach provides the best solutions, because a solution is approached from several different mindsets and working seamlessly together creates a project that is more likely to meet needs and succeed.”
  • “A creative idea can come from one person but it takes a team to resolve the complexities of integrating the idea with reality.”
  • “All disciplines can bring their expertise to the process, consider more variables, and develop more sustainable solutions.”
  • “No one professional is capable of understanding the nuances of turning out a fantastic project.”
  • “Everyone sees problems in a different way, and we need to come up with the best solutions together to save time and money down the line.”
  • “Having all disciplines at the table identifies issues early and allows for a more successful project that meets the needs of the client.”
  • “It limits costly mistakes that show up during or after construction. It also helps generate more innovative design solutions.”
  • “The best design is one that’s been vetted from many perspectives.”
  • “Thinking multi-dimensionally supports stronger ecologically-focused outcomes.” 

Diverse Knowledge and Skills

  • “Allied professionals offer skills our profession may not have and vice-versa. Design decisions should be made with the best information available.”
  • “Bringing together various design disciplines and subject-matter experts offers the opportunity for each designer to bring to the forefront their unique viewpoint to the project relative to their specific issues. It offers a holistic viewpoint of the project challenges and clearly identifies all the opportunities for design.”
  • “Diversity is a catalyst for new, beautiful, and creative design.”
  • “If we want others to recognize what we can bring to the table, we have to recognize what they bring as well.”
  • “In LA as in nature, diversity is the key to resiliency. In LA as in community, we are stronger together.” 

Balancing Generalists and Specialists

  • “All design professionals have areas of expertise, but balance is crucial.”
  • “LAs are generalists. We have to know what we don't know and seek the support we need to ensure success in our projects.”
  • “We are not experts in everything, and it is foolish to think we are better figuring out a problem on our own.”
  • “Designers that do everything well don't do anything well. We have a lot to give and a lot to learn with other designers within an integrated team.”
  • “From a small office perspective, to meet regulatory requirements you have to work with others with a knowledge base that is compatible with LA projects.”
  • “No one person or group has all of the answers. Through collaboration with a larger group of people who have varying interests or expertise, the project will be more well-rounded and probably more successful.”
  • “Regulations have become so complicated that it is difficult to be an expert at everything needed to develop a successful project.” 

Landscape Architects as the Project Lead, from the Start

  • “Better end result when everyone is involved from the start. LAs can bring a lot to the initial stages of a development. We often come in too late.”
  • “It means that the landscape doesn't end up ‘decorating’ after everyone else has finished their job, but that sensitive site planning can already give direction to the project from early on.”
  • “It’s the 21st century. Projects are not simple anymore. Plus, LAs are supposed to be the leaders of these teams (in theory, but less in practice). We need to step up our front-end education curriculum to assert ourselves as the best leaders of multidisciplinary teams.”   
  • “LAs are great team leaders and know how to best pull the professional input from others into a cohesive outcome.”
  • “No one profession brings all the expertise required for a successful design. The knowledge base of several professions provide multiple perspectives regarding the project goals, and I see the landscape architect being a strong candidate for being the professional who can draw all together in a collaborative effort.” 

Communication and Connections

  • “Everything is intertwined, and design should evolve with all professionals directly involved.”
  • “Fewer mistakes are made when the whole team communicates regularly.”
  • “Integrated design allows for a closed loop design process where an entire design team is working together back and forth. This allows each phase of a project to be re-visited and altered.”
  • “Holistic, collaborative design is the best democratic process and best suits everyone's needs as equally as possible if all are willing to listen.”
  • “Simple formula: collaboration + trust = beautiful design. Sustainable projects require the initiative and engagement of community members.”
  • “The project flows so much better when all the people are at the table from the beginning.”
  • “We work seamlessly together when we understand each other’s profession.”

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