Buckminster Fuller Challenge Semi Finalist!

I have great news to report regarding my involvement in a special project.   Every year the Buckminster Fuller Institute runs a unique design challenge.  Working with Ken Weikal and Growtown we entered the challenge with what we think are some great ideas.

The competition is best described by the Institute their own words:

Each year a distinguished jury awards a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

As part of the Growtown team we have been selected as semi-finalist from the 215 entries made last year.   Our proposal developed from a concern for the serious issues facing Detroit’s urban fabric.  As planners and Landscape Architects we have been putting together some ideas for Detroit to survive and move forward while dealing with continued population loss and lack of healthy food sources for the struggling residents.  While many ideas and efforts are underway for urban farming and reorganizing the city, Growtown uses design and planning principles to leverage grassroots community driven initiatives for strengthening neighborhoods as one way forward.  I will keep you posted as the final selection of the challenge winners draws near.

True Dollarized Value of an Integrated Design Process

lake-side-home-and-wallsI was recently reminded of the value of Landscape Architecture services to clients. And I mean dollarized value not just touchy feelly or intangilble aesthetic value. This is about good design saving clients money for either residential scale projects or large campus corporate development. My example occurs at the residential size, but applies to all projects.

The project I was called to assist was well underway. Upon arriving at the site of this million dollar custom lake front home, the challenges quickly became apparent. The architect and client had sited the home at the very edge of 60 feet of steep slope droppping to the lake edge. The views were amazing. However, the owner need a grading plan to detail out what was only conceptually thought through by the architect and civil engineer. His home was designed to have two terraces on the lake side of the home. One at the first floor elevation of the kitchen for entertaining and one at the lower walkout level with stone steps connecting the them parallel to the house.

My efforts were to make the grades work now that the house was under construction and almost complete. I discovered that simple boulder walls as envisioned by the owner would not work for the upper terrace. The end result was a series of interlocking block style retaining walls. Some were as high as 20 feet. Cost to the home owner was in excess of $60,000.00. Which was never in his budget!

My analysis discovered that if the home had been sited a mere 15 or 20 feet away from the top of the slope we could have saved the cost of expensive and unplanned retaining walls. Providing design services to the architect up front as part of a dedicated and integrated service approach would only cost the owner a fraction of his wall costs and make the architect’s product look better to the client’s satisfaction.

This is just a small example how integrated design service benefit clients as well as architects or other lead project consultants.

Place Making As Inspiration

In an effort to provide you new and interesting ideas and thoughts, please enjoy this short video.   This video is partly a test to post different forms of content in my blog.  As I expressed in the previous post I want to deliver different kinds of useful and inspiring messages and information to you.    I believe a new dialogue has emerged in the world of built design to spread ideas and my blog is one way to join the conversation.

This video is an award winning short created by Bruce Branit that I came across sometime ago.   I found this piece thought provoking for highlighting the emotional impact design and sense of place can have on our wellbeing.   I also found the video interesting for the future of the design process, reflective of the direction related software is moving at an incredible pace. None the less, please enjoy.

World Builder from BranitVFX on Vimeo.