LAR 1144: Intro to Landscape Architecture . Jason Hranek Fall 2008. Dulles Airport. TO: LAR 1144 Class Fall 2007 Module 1 Virginia Tech Blacksburg VA 24061. Place an image of yourself here. Dear Class,
LAR 1144 Class
Blacksburg VA 24061
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My hometown of Ashburn, VA is a large interconnected system of highways, major roadways and housing developments. All elements work together towards one goal: House those working in Washington D.C. and get them to work.
Houses, pavement and concrete dominate greenery. Trees and grass are kept like animals in a zoo, carefully contained and trimmed for the amusement of residents of the area.
The area is the embodiment of Progress, Modernism and Expansion. Every open field, forest or empty lot has some sort of construction in it or plans for future construction. Most of it is slotted for houses or support infrastructure for houses.
Dollars signs and potential property value seem to be the currency of the area. Developers are always looking for a way to turn an open field into tidy profits with new homes or shopping centers. Even the residents join in by building the largest house they can on the land they buy.
The most interesting thing about the area is that most of it wasn’t there ten years ago. Everything is new and for the most part clean.
The most useful lenses Meining gives us to describe my hometown would be: Landscape as Wealth, Landscape as a System, Landscape as ideology and Landscape as Artifact.
Landscape as wealth is probably the most pertinent as the whole area is built around property value, which drives further development. Landscape as ideology would be next as the area is the poster child for Progress and Expansion (Loudoun County is the 4th fastest growing county in the Nation). Landscape as a system would be next as the area is one big system to support the growing population of the area. Landscape as Artifact is also fairly pertinent as all green space and nature is being shoved aside to make room for more houses or highways.
Meining’s article didn’t really help me see landscape in a new way so much as it helped me describe the way I saw it already. I now have a label for the way I look at the world.
Mr. Frederick Olmsted
Central Park c. 1858
New York NY 12345
Dear Mr. Olmsted,
As requested, I have completed my survey of the Greensward plan in the distant future. I have come across some rather interesting results.
The park has undergone a few significant changes from our original plans. Horses are no longer the primary means of transportation in New York City and thusly there are no longer many riding trails in the park. There are still a few horse-drawn carriages, but they are mainly used as a tourist attraction or for couples to court one another.
There are three major roads running through the park to connect the city on either side. These are not the roads we are accustomed to, but paved contrivances with a hard black surface called asphalt. This is the same substance that the walking trails, which cover most of the park in a spider web-like network, are composed of. These roads and pathways are usually choked with horseless carriages called automobiles and people enjoying the park. Some thought should be put towards leaving the area around these pathways open and readily expandable.
The upper reservoir has been replaced by a great lawn. The culture is more inclined towards open green spaces than large bodies of water. The meadows and flat green spaces are the most often used part of the park. New Yorkers and tourist alike travel to the park to enjoy the natural green beauty and wide open spaces.
The people have embraced a very naturalistic culture. They prefer a more natural path winding around the trees and over stone bridges that appear as though Nature herself had constructed them. We should inform Mr. Vaux that his bridges are still quite popular with many artists rendering them and photographing them, however he should build some that do not appear to have been touched by the hand of man. We should also request that he create some pathways through forested areas for nature walks.
The world has also become a more dangerous place and an additional feeling of security is necessary to the usefulness of the park, especially at night. We should plan for lighting along all pathways, such that there is no hint of darkness. Electric light proves to be the most useful, so running power along each pathway and at all entrances to the park would help give the park a sense of peace at night.
(START) Identify Need Analyze Alternatives
Feasibility Study Collect Data
Proposal Site Selection
Final Proposal Site Analysis
Develop Detailed Specifications
LAR 1144 Class
Blacksburg VA 24061
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I recently had opportunity to use my design process to better the apartment community for which I work. As a large pet friendly community, they were critically lacking an amenity that dogs love: a dog park.
Having two dogs myself and coming from Northern Virginia, where dog parks are ubiquitous, I became aware of a need and an opportunity to add value to the community. I immediately set to work on my design process.
The first step was done: Identifying a Need. So was step 2: Analyzing Alternatives. No other amenity means quite as much to dogs and their owners as a place for them to play off leash with other dogs.
So it was on to step 3: the Feasibility Study. I approached the manager of the community around Budget time and asked her opinion on adding a dog park, which she approved of.
Step 4, Collecting and Preparing Data was next. I visited other dog parks and got a general idea of size and features that make them popular.
With that information I moved on to step 5: Proposal. I brought all the data to my manager and her boss, my regional manager. They liked the idea and budgeted for the expense.
That done it was on to Site Selection, Step 6. Since we wanted to keep costs down, I decided to replace the old playground and expand the fenced in area.
Next came step 7: Site analysis. I measured the height of the current fencing and determined in which direction we should expand it.
For step 8: Develop Detailed Specifications, I referred back to my data I collected in step 4. Based on my previous studies I determined the proper height to be 48” and a good area to be 30 yards long x 10 yards wide.
Finally, step 9: Implementation took place. We built the dog park and it continues to be a popular amenity among current residents and a good leasing tool with prospective residents.
I would describe my design process as a linear one more like LaGro’s. I went about designing my dog park following a more scientific process without much iteration. I believe I could use this process on other projects with slight modification.
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Over the past few months it has come to our attention that the Town of Blacksburg is critically lacking a vital tool of Democracy…Open, free to use public space. The Equitable Greenspace Movement, of which I am a representative, would like to take action to correct this oversight by the town council. However, we will need the support and voice of our Neighbors.
Blacksburg needs an open, accessible green space with walking trails and fields for public gatherings. We should not have to shut down College Avenue to have an open air, outdoor concert. We should not have to drive on Route 460 to enjoy a wooded trail. We should not have to wander onto the Virginia Tech Campus and be looked upon as outsiders to enjoy an open field.
While Pandapas Pond and the Huckleberry Trail are free to use and open to the public, they are inadequate to serve the needs of a growing Blacksburg population. Pandapas Pond would be perfect, were it accessible by public transportation or by foot. The Huckleberry Trail may be accessible and wooded in areas, it is more useful for those without a car to access the New River Valley Mall.
Therefore, with your help, we would like to develop a public park right here in Blacksburg. Such a park would be wooded with walking trails and biking trails, should have a dog park for our four-legged brethren and be right on the Blacksburg Transit bus line. A large open-air stage for concerts and community gatherings should be provided with ample lawn space for a large crowd.
This is where our neighbors in Blacksburg would come in. We need help raising money for and proposing such a park to the town council. The more voices we add, the more likely we are to be heard. We will begin to petition the town council members and raise funds for the new park immediately.
Please attend our rally in the parking lot of town hall on Monday December 15th, 2008 at 4:30pm to raise awareness and begin the petitioning process. With your help, Blacksburg could set the standard for others to follow.
This course was interesting for me as a Residential Property Management major because it helped me think artistically not just spatially about landscape. This is useful for my career for many reasons, not the least of which being that curb appeal affects the value of the properties on which I will be working.
This course taught me that landscape is art and that Landscape Architects are artists, not merely gardeners with an extra skill. It takes a lot of work and planning to pull off a good, usable and aesthetically pleasing landscape design. I have learned that more goes into rather than just ‘put this planter here and this bench next to it’.
As a Residential Property Management major I’ve learned a lot about making a property seem like a home to a prospective resident, but nothing really about how the elements outside of the apartment play into that. One of the basic formulas of my major is that curb appeal = value added to the property. This course takes it a step further and shows you how to actually make the curb appeal appealing.
Aside from how it pertained to my career, the history and the readings were quite valuable. From studies on how the layout of seating affects its use to the first major Landscape Architecture project: Central Park, the reading contained ideas that seemed obvious after you heard them, but I had never thought of. It never occurred to me that in a public space, the number of benches, how wide they are and their location to each other makes all the difference in whether or not it will be popular.
The most interesting fact I learned was about the impact of having chairs that could be moved. It turns out that locking up chairs at night or permanently affixing them to the ground makes a space much less attractive to people.
Although my favorite module was about the history of Central Park. I never thought so much planning went into it and how much uproar there was over its placement. Between moving small farmers and low income homes off the site to draining a swamp to make a park, it was an interesting story and one that continues today.
Virginia Tech Student
Virginia Tech Campus
Blacksburg, Va 24060
Veteran Landscape Architecture Student