An In-depth Dive into Landscape Design
Accomplished educator, author, and registered landscape architect Steven L. Cantor, ASLA has contributed here on Greenroofs.com since 2013 as the Landscape Editor. His critical and experienced eye has produced the excellent 14-part series from 2013-2015 “A Comparison of the Three Phases of the High Line, New York City: A Landscape Architect and Photographer’s Perspective” as well as other features (see: Copenhagen Green Tour 2015).
I’m very pleased to review his latest book, an in-depth dive into the workings of landscape design.
Published in January by Oxford University Press (OUP), Steven L. Cantor’s Professional and Practical Considerations for Landscape Design is simply an overall asset for those of us in the landscape architecture and design field, yet it is not simple at all. As its title promises, the author delves into all aspects of the practice of landscape architecture:
“The professional practice of landscape architecture consists of the methods, approaches, and documents that landscape architects use and prepare in order to apply for and find work; to hire staff with appropriate salary, training, and benefits; to sustain a project while it progresses through the design and construction stages; to carry out such projects at a profit; and to archive projects when they are finished.” ~ Steven L. Cantor
Steven’s fourth book of landscape architecture, the 491-page Landscape Design uniquely serves as a comprehensive resource and practical handbook for university teaching professionals as well as advanced students of landscape architecture. His publication eloquently addresses myriad facets of design and business accompanied by approximately 130 detailed illustrations (25 in color), provided by professional colleagues Vicky Chan and Richard Alomar along with original photos from others, including many of his own.
Design and Thought Provoking
In Landscape Design‘s Preface, Steven points out that while there may be frequent opportunities to try again to get things right in many professions, nature may not always be that forgiving if a landscape design goes awry. Thus, he presents the reason for his book as a question:
“How do you document the process and give yourself and your firm the best chance to get things right?” ~ Steven L. Cantor
As always, Steven’s current work is thoughtful, detailed, and design provoking – perhaps one of its most important features. In addition to providing specific guidelines and methods, he encourages the reader to always explore and assess each landscape design situation individually and consider various alternatives to create a positive outcome from different aspects.
At the end of each section and chapter, problem statements and other exercises are offered as well as a very practical series of Dos and Don’ts. I found these topics with varying degrees of difficulty particularly useful.
The book’s different formats and styles engage the reader, and just some of Landscape Design‘s additional features include:
Affordable Formats Include ETextbook
Encompassing four years of work, OUP printed Professional and Practical Considerations for Landscape Design in a 6.25″ x 9.25″ format in order to offer an affordable price for students and young professionals. The hardcover is available on Amazon for $60.64 and the paperback for $45.95 (which is currently less expensive than from their own press). And this great offering is available as an extremely affordable eTextbook for only $33.99 which may be a great way to go for students, in particular for teaching professionals to incorporate it into their curriculum.
Discussions of Professional and Practical Considerations
Each chapter contains important and specific information pertinent to the subject including project management and office administration; contracts; marketing and human resources; different types of drawings; building codes, specifications and cost estimates; diverse areas of practice; construction materials, details and site inspections; sustainability and ethics, and finally, resources.
As a potential course book, there are sections having some good, practical applications for classes or studios in site planning, single family residential design, planting design, public works, environmental assessment, international design, roof gardens and greenroofs, and construction detailing.
Here’s what noted landscape architect and architect Susannah Drake says about Landscape Design on its back cover:
(On another note, you can see Susannah‘s excellent Designing the Gowanus Canal Sponge Park video, available to watch at the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2019 with free registration.)
Steven told me that his main purpose for writing Landscape Design is to generate discussion which, in my opinion, it is uniquely presented to do so.
Overall, Landscape Design is perfect as a study guide for the landscape architecture registration exam, and especially for those planning to establish their own firms for good, common sense practices.
I highly recommend the instructional Professional and Practical Considerations for Landscape Design for students, emerging professionals, and those of us already working within the field as the fully comprehensive go-to resource and convenient guidebook for successful practice. I will definitely keep this superb handbook close.
Steven L. Cantor, RLA, ASLA, has worked in private practice for firms in New York City and Atlanta. He taught at the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design in Athens, the University of Colorado in Boulder, the New York Botanical Garden, and Anhalt University in Bernburg, Germany. He has written about landscape architecture for over thirty years in books, journals, magazines, and websites.
Vicky Chan, architect, founded Avoid Obvious Architects in 2012, a firm focused on combining art with green technology. His projects have been exhibited in 37 cities and have won 38 design awards. Starting in 2020, Chan is President of the American Institute of Architects Hong Kong Chapter.
Richard Alomar, RLA, is the Associate Director of the Office of Urban Extension and Engagement and an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
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