Let me start by saying that I am a self-described “old man at heart.” I can honestly say I don’t have accounts on Instagram, Snapchat, nor Twitter, and even Facebook gives me notifications that I haven’t been on in a while. When it comes to social interaction I almost always prefer face-to-face as opposed to talking on the phone or texts. I even think my grandparents got a smart phone before I did.
Despite being “stuck in the 90’s,” I still appreciate and often advocate advancements in technology. I am amazed at how much my generation has adapted to computers, the internet, social media, and smart phones as simply a part of daily life. Even more so, we’ve push the boundaries on what technology can do in a variety of fields and industries. Therefore I look at all of the wonderful things that we can do with technology these days and ask myself, “how can landscape architecture utilize all of these new resources?” In a field that brings together so many diverse knowledge bases and expertise, why are we not using more of it to our advantage?
Now before you get upset and think that I am advocating putting down the microns and prismacolors, I am not. There is no substitute for the skill of sketching ideas on a cocktail napkin that express both an idea and a feeling to a client. I firmly believe that landscape architecture is the perfect marriage between design and art, practicality and innovation. I simply look at the growing trends in society and how the public responds to information and data being expressed and realize that our industry needs to do a better job at keeping up. In a field that is so adaptive and approaches every situation with a holistic perspective, we should be better at adapting to the growing trends in technology. Already we are sufficient in AutoCAD, Adobe products, GIS, 3D modeling, among many others but I will argue that we are not going to ever be the best in these programs so why fight it?
We should, as an industry, offer services that reflect the wide diversity of fields that we encompass. Be loud and proud of the Jack-of-all-trades approach, and offer clients the one-stop-shop that many appreciate. We need to embrace the variety of technology available – all of the apps, social media outlets, crowd-sharing sites, cinematography services, and computer products out there. Let’s get some drones flying for better site analysis and perspective renderings, or offer apps that better engage the public through their smart phones. People expect more than 2D aerial images and paper surveys these days. If individuals are rediscovering public spaces in their cities just to catch some Pokémon, think about what we can do as an industry to further connect, excite, and motivate our communities. Let’s reexamine what it means to engage the public and let landscape architects be the ones that redefine and reconnect society to the great outdoors.