In LandDesign’s podcast Pragmatic Visions, Episode 24: Measuring the Impact of a Landscape, LandDesign’s Allison Peckett and Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Program Manager Megan Barnes discuss the importance of landscape performance for practitioners and the Case Study Investigation (CSI) program as a way to test landscape performance evaluation methods and build relationships with universities.
For the 2020 CSI program, LandDesign partnered with CSI Faculty Fellow Cynthia B. Smith and student Research Assistant MacKenzie Earl of George Mason University to evaluate performance benefits for the Potomac Science Center, a LandDesign project in Woodbridge, Virginia. The Potomac Science Center is located on shores of the Occoquan River, and site design provides universal access to the river for the freshwater research facility’s researchers and students while expressing the site’s “water story” through green infrastructure. Performance benefits evaluated by the CSI team include water conservation, carbon sequestration, habitat creation, social and educational value, and economic value.
LandDesign has long been interested in landscape performance. Associate and Senior Designer at LandDesign Allison Peckett reflects in the podcast, “A group of us at the Alexandria office have been working together over the past several years on this firm-wide initiative evaluating how data can be leveraged to better communicate the value of our projects to clients.” Allison explains, “We were interested in what makes a LandDesign project successful – is it the popularity, is it revenue generated, is it environmental benefits, or a combination of these elements that prove success?”
LandDesign chose to participate in CSI to “test the waters” of performance evaluation to inform deeper dives in the future while also building partnerships. Allison notes that a lot of data collection and research by firms is now being done through partnerships with universities, so a key benefit to participating in CSI was continuing and deepening their existing relationships with faculty at the Potomac Science Center.
The discussion in this episode of Pragmatic Visions illustrates the importance LAF’s work in fostering partnerships and building firms’ capacity to evaluate landscape performance, and it also puts a spotlight on the hard behind-the-scenes work that leaders at firms like LandDesign are doing to integrate these processes in their practice. As Allison says, “It’s not enough to say that these projects matter – we must accurately measure the value of performance of the built work that we’re doing.”