Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ruby Grant

I can only expect the Ruby Grant debate to heat up. I have already voiced my thoughts about the site. My opinion about the site has changed a little bit, but the discussion that is raging is quite interesting. I forget how far apart people are on issues and how opinionated people are. It is interesting to see how political a subject gets. Wow! People!

This is why the city turns over the process to a landscape architect. They are hired to sift through the wants and needs of the overwhelming majority and interpret the design. By hiring a third, un-affiliated party the city parks department is not responsible for the design.

Reading through the above linked discussion is why our professor did not turn our plans out to the public to be critiqued. The public is harsh and unforgiving. I don't think we, as young students, could have withstood the beating the city and landscape architects are going to endure. Just read a little bit about how the OSU Master Plan project is going by Benham. The public forum is cruel and it is absolutely impossible to walk away from a project without inflaming one or more groups.

I wish the best for the LA's hired. They have their work cut out for them. I hope they have the vision of Olmsted and are able to meet and exceed the expectations of the majority.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Just an odd note: Two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks landed on my lawn today. Their native range is Mexico and Southern Texas. Either they are a ways from home, or they have escaped captivity.


Saturday, June 16, 2007


I'm really not a salesman for Sketchup, but I think this is a great technique. I do not have the greatest ability to sketch. However, I can do a CAD base, extrude it in Sketchup, and put a one pixel line style on it and have a pretty nice sketch. Actually, all I have to do is spin it around and zoom in on details I want and print. I print to a pdf file because the jpeg when exporting is poor quality. So is the animation. I've just tabbed my views and I'm going to show the client the project using an open sketchup file, rather than a fly-through animation. Definitely not as good as the AutoDesk product when it comes to animation.


Not nearly as exciting in photos as in person. I don' t think my camera actually got above the ground to get a good overall view. You 'll have to visit in person for that.



It is just now that I'm about to head back out to Washington that I'm writing of coming home from Washington. I have been so very busy. The busier I get the faster time goes. If I don't cool down and write a little bit before going to bed, it will be 3am before I'm able to close my eyes.

It has been a successful day. I have made progress on the pile of work before me. I was able to close four projects. Burn CD's, and dump the files on my two hard drives. That is a wonderful feeling. With each project I get more comfortable in my work and I'm confident this last project I've finished is really good. I am getting faster at putting together my presentation material, which gives me more design time. Sketchup is the best program for my residential projects.

Back to Washington, Dad was driving me to the airport, which is about a 3 hour drive from the central part of the state to SeaTac. At Issaqua he asks if I want to pull into Marenakos. I love rock, and I was excited to see first hand this famous little business. I was not disappointed. Men in overalls were lined up three wide on forklifts waiting for orders from salesmen. Numerous well dressed customers, probably designers and architects, with notebooks and cameras were perusing the rows of slate and rock and stone. Dad and I, droolers, headed off into the fray.

I was taking pictures of building details on Marenakos had on display, noting prices and ogling favorite rocks. Dad and I were calculating out loud the cost of shipping, adding that to material cost and labor and translating that into the cost required to charge the client per square foot. Yikes. It is not the material that is the expensive part. Rock is heavy.

I love our native rock, but there is some beautiful rock coming out of Montana and Arizona. Some of these exotic rock would make excellent accents to the native rock we typically use in landscapes. I determined to design in some of these special rocks as accents, stone caps and benches.

I love to walk through the rock yard. It has been a while since I have been here in Oklahoma City, but I'm going to have to go back and compare. Brick out numbers rock here. I didn't see any brick at Marenakos. Just rock, and lots of it.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Biting off more than I can chew- (typical!)

I am not especially fond of detail work. I am definitely a big picture sort of person. I love working with concepts and site planning, space association. I love layering seasons, space, circulation and plant palettes. I find planting plans and construction documents tedious. It requires the same level of commitment in order to stay true to the overall concept, but my brain tends to get overwhelmed. I think it is my lack of experience with it that is my problem. Because, the more I have worked at it this summer, the easier it has become. I am getting better at it.

I have in front of me 4 residential designs of various scale and level of detail required. I find myself over working and over producing the details. Site analysis is important but how much does the resident need to know? What does the customer want to see? What do they need? I found my self talking to a customer during a site visit and realized about halfway through the sentence that they probably didn't have a clue what I was talking about and really didn't care. They wanted a beautiful working solution. I want a beautiful working solution that is meaningful. I insist on raising the bar.

I just finished one clients work today, only to find the sketchup and photoshop rendered materials print horribly. I knew that, I had just not adjusted for it. I had forgot. I will reprint tomorrow. I have added a PowerPoint presentation of my sketchup models for one client and I'm considering adding it to the others. They present so much better when back lit by the monitor. Hard copies are so flat and lacking of life--dead.

It is a jumble tonight, as you can see by my misfiring dendrites in the previous writing. Hopefully I will be able to bring the beast of over-achieving under control tomorrow and make some serious inroads into the pile of work before me.


Sunday, June 10, 2007


I love Sketchup. It is so easy to use. Even better is its links to Google Earth. I am able to build my model, open up Google Earth, import my specific site, orient my model and get exact sun and shadow for my site. It is very quick and useful. I purchased sketchup yesterday and in about four hours I was able to build this model. I down loaded the bonus material and components from sketchup.

The plant material is very weak. However, for hardscapes and conceptual design I think the program is great. I think a client can get a sense of the size of the space and how they might experience it.

I think Sketchup is a must-know tool for the LA or ARCH student. Its link to Google Earth are very useful. I was able to import my plan CAD file and build using it as a template. So it is very quick and easy. I find it much easier to negotiate than AutoCAD's 3d modelling program.


A Clearing in the Distance

A Clearing In The Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19<span class=th Century" border="0" height="240" width="240"> has a used copy for only $2.92

A Clearing In The Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century (Paperback)

by Witold Rybczynski

If you have not read this book and you are interested in becoming or even interested in Landscape Architecture, it is a must. I just finished it. I had put off reading it, because of F.L.Olmsted overload. However, it is an inspiration. F.L. Olmsted is one of those over achieving people that have a need to change the world and leave their mark. He obviously left his mark. What I found so inspirational about this book was the similarities in my own life to his. (Not to compare my accomplishments to Olmsted.) It is his late start in life and his interest in numerous subjects. Really I think it is what makes an accomplished LA. The wider your base of knowledge the more apt and capable to solve complex problems. LA's really deal with social problems. If it wasn't so, then engineers would suffice for the complex problems they solve. It is an art of human touch on the environment. It is the manipulation of the environment at the pleasure of the client. (water coming into the house from bad drainage is un-pleasureable. So I would consider grading to be at the pleasure of the client.) If pleasure was not required, then simple, engineered formulas could be easily cataloged and called upon to solve problems. Experience the freeway system of Oklahoma, and you have experienced an environment manipulated by engineers. They are efficient, but aesthetically dead. Our 40 minute a day commute is as stimulating as a structural load formula, and that is a topic for a completely different entry. kudos to Rybczynsky. It is a magnificent, enlightening and inspiring account of Mr. Olmsted's life.


Starbucks in Chelan Washington

For some reason I did not get my pictures home of the Chelan Starbucks that I helped landscape. That was really my first summer job when I arrived at home. I'll have to add pictures later when I find them.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Summer Work

I am not a very dedicated blogger. I get very busy doing other things. I have been in Washington working with Dad's landscape crews the last two weeks. I have been working on a dry-stack rock wall and pouring curbing for a lawn.

I looked at this pile of rocks and I was certain that it was an impossibility that a rock wall could come of it. Much less a half-way straight and flat fronted wall. I was very pleased with the results. Especially for the first time. The largest rocks in the wall required two of us to lift them. I am sure that we cheated, but the bottom half to three/quarters of the wall is dry stack and the top half has mortar. The client wanted the grandkids to be able to run across the top of the wall with out the rocks falling off. Dad and I also felt that it was important to seal the top rocks with mortar to help reduce degradation by freezing and thawing.

Over all, I am quite proud of it.