ISL’s landscape architects have taken to the page in the latest issue of Sitelines to talk about their craft. Sitelines is published by the British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects (BCSLA) six times a year and is distributed to registered landscape architects, landscape architects and interns in the private and public sector, as well as landscape suppliers, educators and other professional associations across Canada.
Andrew Robertson, BCSLA, CSLA, LEED® AP, from ISL Burnaby, and Lori Kieser, MLA, AALA, BCSLA, from ISL Edmonton, both contributed articles to the magazine. Andrew was also the guest editor, and one of Lori’s photographs — “Glacial Fragments at Jökulsárlón, Iceland” — was used as the cover image. The theme of this issue was Frontiers, and both authors bring their unique perspective to this subject matter: Andrew writes about transcending disciplinary boundaries to achieve a holistic design, while Lori writes about blurring the line between being a landscape architect and being an artist.
Andrew recently joined ISL as Landscape Architecture Manager in Burnaby, bringing with him over 12 years of experience in the industry. In his past positions, he has worked on Olympic venue designs in Whistler and Richmond, as well as urban design projects for the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is also a LEED® Accredited Professional with an interest in sustainable design and initiatives. He sat on the Board of Directors for the BCSLA in 2008–10, where he first became involved in the publication of Sitelines.
In his article, Andrew writes about the value in trying to achieve a holistic design vision for multidisciplinary projects, marrying the usually disparate domains of architects, engineers and landscape architects into a unified whole. If this endeavour is to be successfully, it must occur in the earliest stages of the project, allowing the whole team to recognize the long-term benefits of a holistic design. “The benefits of holistic design are not merely aesthetic, but also extend to project cost savings, constructability and performance. In an ever increasing competitive market, with clients demanding more for less and rising environmental construction standards, these are not small considerations.”
According to Andrew, landscape architects have the latitude to be the champions of holistic design, in part due to the already-multidisciplinary nature of their work. If an architect’s main concern is the building and an engineer’s duty is to the subsurface sitework, it is the landscape architect’s duty to interface with the other project disciplines and merge the building with its neighbouring context. By engaging a holistic design mantra from the beginning of a project, this work would be able to run throughout the whole building, integrating the new design with the existing (or projected) surroundings at every step of the project. There are, of course, logistical obstacles to achieving holistic design as well as tools to facilitate its onset, all of which Andrew enumerates in his article.
Lori Kieser works as a Landscape Architect in Edmonton. She attended UBC from 2006 to 2009, where she completed the Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program. She is also an accomplished artist, having recently spent an entire month in Iceland as part of an artist’s residency program. When her co-workers discovered that she had accepted the residency program, Lori was bombarded with questions about whether she was leaving her career as a landscape architect to become a full-time artist, which prompted her to write this article.
As a result of having to work at the intersection of multiple disciplines, Lori feels that many landscape architects are Renaissance men and women, able to “combine theory, technical expertise and spatial understanding to create places of previously unimagined poetry and utility.” The ability to marry disparate streams of knowledge and inspiration means that Lori, until asked, had never considered art and landscape architecture to be mutually exclusive undertakings: to her, they are two sides of the same coin.
In fact, she values the perspective that her two passions provide her: “Landscape architecture gives me spatial understanding and technical expertise; art allows my imagination to range far beyond apparent project constraints.” Often these project constraints rein in any impractical ideas, but true innovation is borne out of pushing the boundaries, which is something Lori isn’t afraid to do.
Our Landscape Architecture group in BC has recently been bolstered by the addition of strong team members, such as Andrew Robertson in Burnaby. As well, all of our team members benefit from access to additional expertise from our other offices in Western Canada, such as Lori Kieser in Edmonton. Working together, our exceptional staff collaborate across all disciplines on projects of all sizes and complexities to develop innovative, effective solutions that achieve the goals of our valued clients in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.