No Longer Misunderstood Landscape Architects Enjoy Renaissance
...millions of gallons of water injected to force the water out - what do they do with that water when it comes out? There’s great potential to pollute our water.”
Connecticut, on the other hand, has seen a slump in projects following the economic downturn, despite the stimulus injections.
“The problem is, when [the federal government] see shovel-ready, it means it’s already designed so we’re not getting too much work from that, so it’s very, very slow,” says Conn. ASLA’s Cameron. “Everyone is hanging on, basically.”
There is some work in the state in institutional design, large-scale commercial design, and some industrial, but the profession is waiting for the economic recovery.
New Jersey, on the other hand, is getting its fair share of large projects, and, according to NJ ASLA’s Twisler, the stimulus money in the pipeline will help spur the landscape components of infrastructure projects such as light rail. Meanwhile, scheduled for completion next year is the 200-acre Port Imperial project, a planned community stretching along two miles of New Jersey’s Hudson River waterfront from Weehawken to West New York. Started in the mid-1990s by theRoseland Property Co. of Short Hills, N.J., the $2 billion project has it all: a new ferry terminal expected to accommodate 12 million passengers annually, 1.3 million sq ft of office space, 6,000 luxury residential units, a hotel, shops, promenades, parks, even a couple fountains. Melillo + Bauer served as the landscape architects, designing paving, plantings and lighting (and the fountains), as well as two types of green roofs throughout: the first, on 4 in of engineered soil, to reduce the heat island effect; the second, on up to 24 in of soil, serve as additional open space for the residents – in addition to a small park, public plazas, and a waterfront walkway. Roseland also brought in New York’s Mathews Nielsen to design a public 16-acre park in Weehawken, with tennis courts, playing fields and a running track, for $8.5 million. A one-time Brownfield site, the area was capped and planted with native species.
The Future Landscape architects remain optimistic despite the loss of work in the recent downturn, primarily because they see their role in the future of urban development as secure and ever-growing. While many firms have had to cut staff, as elsewhere in the industry, the outlook is reserved but bright.
“The revenue we’ll get from the private sector is significantly less than we’ve had in two-three years - but that’s offset by infrastructure projects that got stimulus money,” says Nielsen. “In the beginning of the year I thought I’d be out of business by the middle of the year.”
Some are more optimistic.
“Small, nimble firms offering diverse, innovative services will thrive in a tough economy,” says Lustberg.
And some are even bolder.
“Landscape architecture is heading to greater prominence, frankly, because sustainability is cheaper,” says Cooke. “Because of our sensitivity to costs, because we know plants and history and preservation and planning, because we’re everywhere and we’re raising our profile ... there’s nowhere to go but up.”