Top 5 Takeaways from ASLA 2018
The biggest get-together in the landscape architecture community is the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. This year’s event was no exception and we were treated to a weekend of wonderful weather, insightful conversation, and world-class sightseeing in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia!
Philly was the perfect setting for the conference this year and represents a reflection of our industry. The city is famous for its reverence of the past but is surely looking to meet the challenges of the future head-on. Landscape architects are uniquely suited to meet the emerging needs of a world-class city. Their ability to acknowledge a place’s history with respect while applying holistic design principles, cutting-edge ecologic best-practices, and modern urbanism allows them to take on (and lead) projects of any scope.
Of course, at Keysoft Solutions we are most interested in the technological challenges and solutions that landscape architects face. US Support Lead, Nate Qualls, attended the meeting with the charge of gathering feedback from the attendees regarding what works, what doesn’t work, and what are their future aspirations regarding technology. He also co-hosted the Digital Technology Professional Practice Committee live meeting. Here are a few of his takeaways from the weekend:
Collaboration is key and don’t lose your scope! Landscape architects continue to position themselves as generalists, which puts them in position to be the prime consultant on many projects. This requires close collaboration and partnerships with civil engineers, architects, and other consultants. The challenge is when the project is not led by a landscape architect, when the municipality has no requirement for a licensed landscape architect, or when software bias and unclear limits of scope threaten to limit the landscape architect’s involvement.
BIM aspirations are still not realized for most firms. As a software company, we are often confronted with difficult tech challenges presented by our customers and prospective customers. But, for most firms, digital technology is not the reason they got into landscape architecture. The journey towards BIM compliance is a back-burner item, which could mean landscape architects will continue to be subservient to the digital formats mandated by architects.
Confusion of what BIM is and isn’t still exists. There was only one discussion with BIM in its title at the conference. This discussion was a great case study of how one sole-practitioner found success using Revit for small, urban projects such as roof gardens and podium sites. But, there wasn’t much discussion about BIM principles, only the use case for Revit. The takeaway for a person new to BIM practices is that Revit is BIM and BIM is Revit. There seems to be a glossing over of the fundamental, software-agnostic principles that any firm can apply (and many do without knowing it!)
Who is leading who in digital technology? Academia or professional practice? Interestingly, many of the attendees of the Digital Technology PPN meeting were from the academic realm. Does this indicate that universities are trying to get back in front of technology or are the students sensing a need to do some independent study on what is available? Also, does this indicate that firms who have found innovative tech solutions are protective of their process? There were no clear answers here, but it remains evident that a higher level of collaboration (both between schools – private practice and between private practices) will help landscape architects remain competitive and better work with complex design teams.
Making new connections and reconnecting with old friends and colleagues is worth the price of admission! Meeting ALSA members who share the same interests and concerns is one of the biggest benefits of going to an annual meeting. Casual conversations between events and at the EXPO led to new voices of opinion that Keysoft will leverage as we continue to build software solutions for landscape architects.
If you have any technological hurdle that you would like to discuss, please reach out to us anytime.