A Study of Landscape Architecture Design Methods

Christopher James Lidy Thesis submitted to the faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Landscape Architecture

Professor Benjamin C. Johnson, Committee Chair Professor Brian Katen Professor Caren Yglesias, Ph.D. March 22, 2006 Alexandria, Virginia Keywords: Landscape Architecture, Design Methods, Design Theory

Copyright, 2006, Chris Lidy

A Study of Landscape Architecture Design Methods
Christopher James Lidy

How do different methods employed by landscape architects impact the design outcome? This paper identifies and defines design methods in landscape architecture that may be classified as part of four internal and external connections and structures categories. Methods are further examined through two design exercises. In the first design exercise, the identified methods are individually applied to the same simple design which is used as a control. The only variable changed is the method used to design. The resulting designs are shown and analyzed. In the second design exercise, three different methods are applied to a complex design. Similar to the first design exercise, all variables are held constant except for the design methods. The resulting design outcomes are shown and analyzed. One conclusion from this work recommends landscape architecture designers use at least one method in each of four categories: 1) Modeling Systems, 2) Interrelationship and Dependencies, 3) Incorporation and Adadaption, and 4) Structure Problems in order to explore complex design issues more thoroughly.

Table of Contents
Title Page Abstract Table of Contents List of Multimedia Object List of Multimedia Object Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Literature Review Chapter 3 Methodology Chapter 4 Design Exercise Chapter 5 Conclusion Bibliography Vita page page page page page page page page page page page page i ii iii iv v 1 2 7 8 33 36 40


Lists of Multimedia Objects*
Figure 2-1 Design Loop Figure 4-1 Crowd Figure 4-2 Tidal Flow Figure 4-3 Environmental Heating Figure 4-4 Anthropometric Figure 4-5 Flower Figure 4-6 Design Figure 4-7 Support Structure Figure 4-8 Bridge Design Figure 4-9 Egg Shell Roof Figure 4-10 Brain Storming Figure 4-11 Stage Figure 4-12 No Access Figure 4-13 Unlimited Access Figure 4-14 Sketch Figure 4-15 Design Figure 4-16 Small Town Figure 4-17 Parisian Cafe Figure 4-18 Cafe, Washington, D.C. Figure 4-19 Steeple Figure 4-20 Pattern Language Figure 4-21 Andersonville Prison Figure 4-22 Round/Square Peg Figure 4-23 Optimization Figure 4-24 Disaggregation Figure 4-25 Site Plan Mowed Lawn Figure 4-26 Site Plan Prairie Figure 4-27 Rain Garden Figure 4-28 Beaver Dam Figure 4-29 Site Plan Figure 4-30 Section Figure 4-31 Site Plan Figure 4-32 Section Figure 4-33 Site Plan Figure 4-34 Section Figure 4-35 Site Plan Figure 4-36 Section page 3 page 8 page 8 page 8 page 9 page 9 page 9 page 10 page 10 page 10 page 11 page 11 page 12 page 12 page 12 page 12 page 13 page 13 page 13 page 14 page 14 page 15 page 15 page 16 page 16 page 17 page 17 page 18 page 18 page 19 page 19 page 19 page 19 page 20 page 20 page 20 page 20

*Note: Unless otherwise noted, all multimedia created by the author. iv

Lists of Multimedia Objects*
Figure 4-37 Site Plan Figure 4-38 Section Figure 4-39 Site Plan Figure 4-40 Section Figure 4-41 Site Plan Figure 4-42 Section Figure 4-43 Site Plan Figure 4-44 Section Figure 4-45 Site Plan Figure 4-46 Section Figure 4-47 Site Plan Figure 4-48 Section Figure 4-49 Site Plan Figure 4-50 Section Figure 4-51 Site Map Figure 4-52 Site Map Figure 4-53 Design 1 Beginning Figure 4-54 Design 1 Middle Figure 4-55 Design 1 End Figure 4-56 Summary and Analysis Figure 4-57 Design 2 Beginning Figure 4-58 Design 2 Middle Figure 4-59 Design 2 End Figure 4-60 Summary and Analysis Figure 4-61 Design 3 Beginning Figure 4-62 Design 3 Middle Figure 4-63 Design 3 End Figure 4-64 Design 3 Sections Figure 4-65 Summary and Analysis page 21 page 21 page 21 page 21 page 22 page 22 page 22 page 22 page 23 page 23 page 23 page 23 page 24 page 24 page 25 page 25 page 26 page 26 page 26 page 27 page 28 page 28 page 28 page 29 page 30 page 30 page 30 page 31 page 32

*Note: Unless otherwise noted, all multimedia created by the author.


Chapter 1 Introduction
This thesis centers on the key question: What effect do different design methods employed by landscape architects have on the design outcome? One component of the design process in landscape architecture is methodology, which should be a conscious choice of methods to achieve a desired result. However, many times the choice of methodology is not given much thought. The designer chooses a methodology that she or he is comfortable with or has used in the past with no little or no thought on how this choice meshes with the objective of the design. (Lynch, 270) While many variables shape landscape architecture design, only one variable is easily changeable at the moment of design: the choice of methods. Other components, such as experiences, perceptions or cognitive abilities, are not readily changeable at the moment one starts a design. (Winner, 28; Conner, 2429) Methods influence three elements in design. First, they establish the structure of and connections in a design. Second, they have a direct determination on the design result. Finally, they serve as reference points and road maps from the abstract world of design to the concrete world in which the design is placed. In order to examine the role methods play in landscape architecture design eighteen methods are identified, discussed, and categorized. Each method is applied to a simple design problem and the results are shown and discussed. From the information generated by application of each method to a simple design, three diverse methods are applied to a complex landscape design problem. The body of this paper consists of the analysis and implications of this analysis. Four points summarize the key reasons for studying methods of landscape architecture design. First, the mental processes of landscape architecture design merit continual study given the expanding field. As a result, the process of design and how methods fit into this process is not understood, causing confusion and frustration for students not able to understand where in the design process they might have gone off course. (Jones, xxvi) Second, the increase in computerization and information technologies can lead to a flawed confidence that any problem can be solved if one has enough information or data points. Under this assumption, if one can gather all available information, the answer will be readily apparent and will be the only way to solve the problem. (Polk, 46) This is not true. The nonlinear and inherently human nature of landscape architecture demands an incorporation of a heuristic approach to landscape architecture. (Rowe, 18) Third, knowing the eighteen methods and their effects on the design outcome allows a landscape architect to choose a method that is most compatible with the designer’s end vision or design strategy. So the methods influence on the design should match the design intent. (Jones, 75) Fourth, understanding the methods in the design process allows a landscape architect to evaluate the end result of his or her design and to quickly construct changes in the design by applying different methods.


Chapter 2 Literature Review
What methods are used in landscape architecture design and how do these methods affect its out-


A significant book address landscape architect design methods: Kevin Lynch and Gary Hack’s Site Planning 1,2,3, first published in 1984 currently in its revised and expanded third edition. A second influential publication is Peter G. Rowe’s “A Priori Knowledge and Heuristic Reasoning in Architectural Design published in.” The Journal of Enterprise Architecture, 36/1 (Fall, 1982). Lynch and Hack address methods of landscape architecture directly. They justify the study of methods the following way: “By common account, design is a mystery, a lightning flash. Men of genius receive these flashes, and they learn to receive them by following the example of other men of genius. After the revelation, there are details to develop and the work of carrying out the revealed solution. But these are separate problems, whether one thinks of them as grubby nuisances or as the overriding issues of practicality. Common account is correct: there is a mystery in design, as there is in all human thought. But the account is otherwise wrong. Design is not restricted to genius, nor is it a uniform or simple process, nor is it distinct from practicality or detail. Practicing designers are aware of its convolutions, but they also half believe in the lightning flash. They are trained to design in one set way, which they apply to every occasion. The one way is often clumsy and wasteful. But most of the new systematic techniques now used for problem solving do not seem very useful either, since site planning is so open-ended a process. If design is the imaginative creation of possible forms (of environment in this case), which are created to achieve certain purposes and are complete with the instructions for making them, then design is practiced by many people and in many different ways. Some ways are new, some quite old, and each is relevant to a particular situation. All of them include the generation and evaluation of new possibilities. Let us begin with a descriptive inventory of the known methods of generation and selecting form possibilities.” (Lynch, 270-271) Lynch and Hack identify the following twelve methods used in landscape architecture: 1) Learning Probes; 2) Subconscious Suggestion; 3) Brainstorming; 4) Evaluation Criteria; 5) Well Spaced Alternatives; 6) Focus on the Means; 7) Incremental Improvement; 8) Incremental Adaption; 9) Behavior Settings; 10) Structure of the Problem; 11) Optimizing the Essential Function; and 12) Disaggregation. Lynch and Hack do not talk about process or design theory. Rather, they concentrate on the identification and definitions of the methods. Rowe takes a very different tack and views methods as part of a generic design process. Rowe does not identifies methods per se, but identifies forms of reasoning which are analogous to Lynch and Hack’s methods. He states, 2

“Design is often guided by heuristic reasoning involving solution images, analogies, or restricted sets of form-giving rules that partially and provisionally define the “end” or solution state of a problem, i.e. what it should be like.” (Rowe, 18) Though Rowe is an architect and constructs his arguments from an architect’s viewpoint, he approaches the subject of design methods in a generic manner adaptable to any design effort and not confined simply to architectural or landscape design. Rowe’s methods are readily adaptable to landscape architecture. The adaptability of Rowe’s methods to other design disciplines is described by his opening statement. “A distinction can be made in the world of problems between those that are well defined and those that are ill defined. In solving the former kind the “ends” are known and one has to find the “means”. In the latter kind, that includes most architectural design problems, both the “ends” and the “means” are unknown at first and one has to define the problem. Architectural design problems can also be referred to as being “wicked problems” in that they have no definitive formulation, no explicit “stopping rule,” always more than one plausible explanation, a problem formulation that corresponds to a solution and vice versa, and that their solutions cannot be strictly correct or false. Tackling a problem of this type requires some initial insight, the exercise of some provisional set of rules, inference, or plausible strategy, in other words, the use of heuristic reasoning.” (Rowe, 18) Rowe places his methods in the context of a design process, which is helpful for illustrating where and how methods are involved as one designs. “During the course of designing one mode of heuristic reasoning may be found to be unproductive and give way to other kinds; co-mingling may even occur. As a result design appears to be essentially an emergent phenomenon where new information about a problem is generated, evaluated together with a priori knowledge, and solution strategies amended accordingly.” (Rowe, 18) Rowe defines a design process loop where input is subjected to some type of process, which in turn generates output. The output is then reviewed and feedback is generated. The output then become the new input and the cycle continues. Rowe’s model is rather crude compared to Col. John Boyd’s loop model OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) (Polk, 6)

Figure 2-1 Design Loop

(Polk, 13)


Polk defines the following key terms. • • Observe: To gather information and evidence; to discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of. In this stage the designer observes him or herself, the site and its surrounding, and the design’s objective. Orient: To construct a mental model that allows the designer to understand the reality of the present situation and the desired state. In this stage, the designer is able to understand the present state and visualize in what direction or directions--either narrowly or broadly defined-- the design should move. It must be noted that Boyd stresses the importance of creating a new reality during this stage of the design loop. The designer must avoid using the familiar paradigms that do not reflect the current reality. Before the designer brings together linked elements of the observation, he or she must destruct the existing whole, break it into it elements, and then create a new perspective of reality by constructing from the specific to the general. The intent is best captured by Polk: “(Destruction of a domain or breaking the whole into its respective constituent elements) before he” (in this case the designer) “can collect linking elements to recreate a new and improved observation creation of a new perceptions of reality through specific to general induction, synthesis, and integration of common qualities or attributes found in the chaotic world.” (Polk, 19) In this case, the chaotic world is the design. So one destroys the observed or starting reality so that the influences perceived or real of the starting reality are reduced. Decide: To make choices of how to reach the desired state. This involves the selection of methodologies and course of action. Act: To implement the decision. (Polk, 16-21)

• •

Returning to Rowe. Rowe classifies his methods into five branches of heuristic reasoning. “Five classes of heuristics can be identified largely according to the kind of subject matter involved. They are: 1) the use of anthropometric analogies, 2) the use of literal analogies, 3) the use of environmental relations, 4) the use of typologies, and 5) the use of formal “languages”. These classes were based on protocol analysis of architectural designers at work, mixed with some speculation. Each class is by no means exclusive of the characteristics of others, nor totally inclusive of the range of possible heuristics. Rather, the classification is one of practical convenience for grouping and discussing observations.” (Rowe, 18) Combining the work of Lynch and Hack and Rowe generates seventeen methods. However, it must be pointed out that Rowe recognizes that the dividing line between classifications are not absolute and instead are used for convenience. Rowe’s five methods have characteristics crossing classification categories. While Lynch and Hack do not recognize this issue, their methods are also prone to blurred classification lines. An example is Brain Storming and Subconscious Suggestion. Brain Storming is a way of welling up Subconscious Suggestions that are then further defined with the help of others in a Brain Storming session. Here Brain Storming crosses classification into the Subconscious Suggestion method. One interesting note is that while the methods overlap, there is no over lap between Lynch’s and Rowe’s methods. This raises the question of whether all possible methods have been identified. 4

Many authors discuss design process, methodology, and methods but blur their distinctions. This thesis makes the following distinctions. The design process is considered the generic thought process of a designer as she or he designs. Methodology is the application of methods to solve a design, while methods are the structured systematic approaches to problem solving. Methodology is not design process nor is design process a method. One of the reasons there is so much confusion about design process, methodology and methods is that many designers use one method, which to them become the design process. Methodology is involved in the action phase of the design process. At this point, the designer generally understands the current situation and has a general or specific end result in mind. Based on this desired end result, the designer then makes a conscious choice of a method or combination of methods which becomes the designer’s methodology. With a methodology, a designer has a roadmap for moving from the general starting area to the desired end. This is a design strategy. Having a design strategy allows others to have a common framework to discuss, collaborate, and understand the working design. During a critique, how many students could answer the question “What is your design strategy?” Another area of concern is that only two authors have researched and written about architecture design methods. While the work of Lynch and Rowe has represented essential first steps, more researchers might result in a more diverse, and possibly more complete, body of work on the study of design methods in landscape architecture design. Compounding this concern is the fact that both authors completed their work around the same period of time--the early 1980s. Given the dramatic increases in technology in the landscape architectural field since the early 1980s, this time-centric research may be dated. Evidence of this conclusion may be found by looking at the essays’ Simon Swaffield included in his Reader: Theory of Landscape Architecture. (2002) After Lynch and Hack’s essay excerpt, the next most recent and single scholar is Bernard Lassus, hardly a main stream theoretical voice. These essay talk more of process then methods. I expanded my research to include other design disciplines, such as arts, science, engineering, and computer sciences. However, all but one of the methods used in these field could in fit into one of the seventeen methods identified by Lynch and Rowe. (Jones, 192-199) The one method not identified by Lynch and Rowe is complex system modeling. It involves the study, management and construction of a complex system, which is defined as: “A system comprised of a (usually large) number of (usually strongly) interacting entities, processes, or agents, the understanding of which requires the development, or the use of, new scientific tools, nonlinear models, out-of equilibrium descriptions and computer simulations.” (Richards, 221) “Almost all interesting processes in nature are highly cross linked. In many systems, however, we can distinguish a set of fundamental building blocks, which interact nonlinearly to form compound structures or functions with an identity that requires more explanatory devices than those used to explain the building blocks. This process of emergence of the need for new, complementary, modes of description is known as hierarchical self-organization, and systems that observe this characteristic are defined as complex (2). Examples of these systems are gene networks that direct developmental processes, immune networks that preserve the identity of organisms, social insect colonies, neural networks in the brain that produce intelligence and consciousness, ecological networks, social networks comprised of transportation, utilities, and telecommunication systems, as well as economies.” (Rocha, 1)


Landscape architects study, manage, control, construct and interact with complex systems. Very rarely do landscape architects deal with systems that are not complex by nature. Therefore landscape architects need a method to deal with complex systems. That method is complex system modeling or system modeling. System modeling can be defined as “concerned with basic and applied research on simulations and analysis of complex systems, as well as development of applications to understand and control such systems.” (Rocha, 1) In summation, there are eighteen types of methods used by landscape architects during a design process: 1) System Modeling; 2) Environmental Relation; 3) Anthropometric Analogies; 4) Literal Analogies; 7) Learning Probes; 8) Subconscious Suggestion; 9) Brainstorming; 10) Evaluation Criteria; 11) Well Spaced Alternatives; 12) Focus on the Means; 13) Incremental Improvement; 14) Incremental Adaption; 15) Behavior Settings; 16) Structure of the Problem; 17) Optimizing the Essential Function; and 18) Disaggregation.


Chapter 3 Methodology
The methodology used in this study is as follows. First, methods applicable to landscape architecture are identified through a literature review. Each identified method then is defined and a visual representation of the method is developed. The design exercises involve two parts. The first deals with the investigation of how different methods effects the outcome of a simple control design. The design is simplistic to facilitate keeping all variables constant except for the method used. Each method is applied to the design problem, and the results are analyzed. The second design exercise examines whether a single method can be used in a complex design fairly typical of a real world design problem and whether different methods will result in a different design outcomes. Three different methods are selected for their diversity and minimal overlap in characteristics. The resulting designs are analyzed and discussed. Established comparative strengths and weaknesses of each method. Reviewing these strengths and weaknesses might suggest another approach or design strategy based on identified design goals.


Chapter 4 Design Exercise
Of the four components of the process involved in the design loop, only methodologies are readily changeable. Scholars have identified the following eighteen distinct design methods. 1. System Modeling System modeling solves a design by looking at a system, understanding its function and stimuli, placing the system in the design context and substituting design elements for function and stimuli. In the following example, the movement of the crowd is similar to the movement of the tide. For example, when designing a plaza, the crowd could be thought of as water moving with a tide and managed by the same means as one controls water movement.

Figure 4-1 Crowd

2. Environmental Relations Environmental relations incorporates the proper relation between man and the environment and includes considerations of how materials interact with the environment. The following diagram shows the intent to use environmental heating to control the structure’s internal temperature. In the landscape architecture design context, landscape architects incorporate native plants into their designs to repair or minimize the environmental impact of a project.

Figure 4-2 Tidal Flow

Figure 4-3 Environmental Heating


3. Anthropometric Analogies Anthropometric analogies focus on the human body and its relationship to the design goal. The following diagrams center on the baseline relationship of the human body to the design. The program elements are solved, and these solutions are then used to develop the design to completion. When designing a plaza, it is very important to incorporate how humans relate to the site. For example, is the bench too big and uncomfortable? Can one see over the wall if standing next to it, 10 feet away or 50 feet away?

Figure 4-4 Anthropometric 4. Literal Analogies Literal analogies use an existing form or construct to generate the solution for the design. The following example shows how one form influences the design. In the landscape architecture design context, if one is designing a path to a reptile exhibit, the path could be modeled after a snake moving along the ground.

Figure 4-5 Flower

Figure 4-6 Design


5. Learning Probes Learning probes start without a comprehensive understanding of all issues relating to the design. The design generates information used to explore the issues and understand the interplay of elements. The example starts with what known in its most basic form—what type of structure is needed to support the bridge. The information is used to “play” with the various elements of the structure and evaluate the results and effects within the design.

Figure 4-7 Support Structure

Figure 4-8 Bridge Design

6. Subconscious Suggestion Subconscious suggestion brings forth the processing power of the subconscious to solve a design. Many find this method hit or miss and unreliable. In the following example, the roof structure takes the form of an egg shell, strong yet thin.

Figure 4-9 Egg Shell Roof 10

7. Brain storming Brain storming relies on a group or collective effort to generate solutions for the design. The following diagrams the brain storming process.

Figure 4-10 Brain Storming 8. Evaluation criteria Evaluation criteria sets the criteria and subordinates all other design elements to this criteria. In this example, the criteria is for the last row to hear a pin drop on stage. Landscape architects commonly use a criteria for site run and design to that goal.

Figure 4-11 Stage 11

9. Well Spaced Alternatives Well spaced alternatives bracket a design solution by the use of extreme alternatives. In one of the following photos, access is restricted by car, and in the alternative, access is unlimited by car. Neither alternative is the design solution, but they bracket the solution. The solution is found somewhere between these two alternatives.

Figure 4-12 No Access

Figure 4-13 Unlimited Access

10. Means-focus Means-focus plays with forms or means to generate a solution, rather than focusing on the problem or object of the design. Here the designer uses free-moving sketches to develop a roof design.

Figure 4-14 Sketch

Figure 4-15 Design 12

11. Incremental improvement Incremental improvement enhances a design gradually. Many times this is done by the use of case studies. A case study tries to understand the system being studied and apply it to a new situation, making small improvements. In the following sketch, the designer tries to understand the feel of a small town and convey this to a new development, at the same time improving parts that will not diminish the feeling of a small town.

Figure 4-16 Small Town 12. Incremental adaption Incremental adaption applies a successful design to a similar situation. The following sketch shows how a Parisian cafe is copied in Washington, D.C.

Figure 4-17 Parisian Cafe

Figure 4-18 Cafe, Washington, D.C. 13

13. Typologies Typologies are past solutions whose principles are considered constant and invariable within cultural contexts. As the following example illustrates, in the western culture, steeples are generally associated with houses of worship. This is what the design intends to communicate by the use of a type form.

Figure 4-19 Steeple

14. Pattern languages Pattern languages are the rules representing the order and correct function of the relationship between man and his environment. The following images show the underlining pattern and relationship of three different towns. These relationships or patterns can be applied to different designs by increasing or decreasing the scale. For example, designing an amusement park, one or a combination of these layouts might be useful.

Figure 4-20 Pattern Language 14

15. Behavioral Setting Behavioral setting design identifies behavior patterns that are independent and stable. For example, a prison has areas designed to address certain behaviors, such as containment, food preparation, hygiene, etc. In landscape architecture design, common behaviors would include parking, gathering areas, or filtration for run off.

Figure 4-21 Andersonville Prison 16. Structure-of-the-Problem The structure-of-the-problem method focuses on the key problem. Once a solution is developed for this problem, the design falls into place. In the following example, the round pegs represent standard design problems. The square peg is the unique or key problem that must be addressed before the design is complete. In the landscape architecture context, standard design problems include issues such as what material to use in constructing a walkway and what type of plants to use in the design. Meanwhile, the key problem could be how to maximize and preserve a great view.

Figure 4-22 Round/Square Peg 15

17. Optimization Essential Function Optimization identifies the key functions of the design and works through each function, solving each as if it were the most important function. The information gathered is used to better understand how each function will fit into the design. In the following example, each function is separated into program elements. The program elements are then solved, and these solutions are used to develop the design to completion.

Figure 4-23 Optimization 18. Disaggregation Disaggregation divides a problem into subsets, solves for each subset and then combines the solutions of each subset to form a solution. In the following example, each piece of the game must be separately solved before the game is complete. In the landscape architecture context, each piece represents a design problem, such as topography and site run off. Each problem must be solved separately and then combined to complete the design.

Figure 4-24 Disaggregation 16

Design Methods Applied to Simple Designs The following is the work generated by applying each method to the problem of run off from a parking lot. The design problem is kept simple and all variables except method type are kept constant. The work is organized by: the name of the method type; a brief description of how the method is applied; and the resulting design. The limitation of the design problem resulted in some method types not being applicable to the design. Where this happens, another design example is used. Many authors discuss design process, methodology, and methods but blur their distinctions. This thesis makes the following distinctions. First, the design process is considered the generic thought process of a designer as she or he designs. Second, methodology is the application of methods to solve a design, while methods are the structured systematic approaches to problem solving.

System Modeling: The design is based on the functions of natural hydrologic system. The processing capacity of some part of the natural system must be increased to accommodate the change in run off from the parking lot. Plantings on the site are changed from mowed lawn to tall grass prairie. The prairie planting offsets the increased run off of the parking lot by increasing holding capacity, absorption, and filtration of run off.

Figure 4-25 Site Plan Mowed Lawn

Figure 4-26 Site Plan Prairie


Environmental Relation Rain garden design transitions the man-made area into the large environment and minimizes the ecological damage.

Figure 4-27 Rain Garden

Anthropometric Analogies The method is difficult to use as a sole method to solve this design problem. The method can be used to solve smaller problems within the site, such as how big should a manhold should be or how a person would walk from their car to the building to generate the shape and path of the sidewalks. Literal Analogies The design uses a beaver dam to control the hydrology of the site. Beavers are encouraged to settle on the site and dam the small stream. The water is held in a pond on site

Figure 4-28 Beaver Dam 18

Learning Probes As one plays with the design form, a solution becomes apparent. In this case, raising the parking lot and allowing vegetation to grow under the structure solves the run off problem.

Figure 4-29 Site Plan

Figure 4-30 Section

Subconscious Suggestion The structure of the roof is taken from a partial picture of a suspension bridge.

Figure 4-31 Site Plan

Figure 4-32 Section

Brain Storming The brain storming method requires more than one person. Since the author is the only person involved in the design, the method cannot be used. If one were to use this method, one would assemble a group that included end users of both the parking lot and the stream in which the run off flows into, the designers and the developers. Then one could have a diverse brain storming session with each group bringing a different element to the session and building on each others’ ideas. 19

Evaluation Criteria The criteria is set as a maximum amount over time of water leaving the site. The design is constructed to gather the run off from the parking lot, to use the water to raise a control gate, to retain the water and to slowly release it, meeting the stated criteria.

Figure 4-33 Site Plan

Figure 4-34 Section

Well Spaced Alternatives One design raises the parking lot. The other design sinks the parking lot. The solution is between the two.

Figure 4-36 Section Figure 4-35 Site Plan


Focus on the Means The form of the roof is generated by the exploration of form through the use of free-style sketches.

Figure 4-37 Site Plan

Figure 4-38 Section

Incremental Improvement Here a standard design used for controlling run off is improved by changing the design of a sidewalk to capture, retain, and filter run off.

Figure 4-40 Section

Figure 4-39 Site Plan


Incremental Adaption A rain garden is adapted to a parking lot design.

Figure 4-42 Section

Figure 4-41 Site Plan Typologies Typologies are not directly applicable to this design problem. Maybe in a few years, the inclusion of a rain garden will identify the building project as being enviromentally friendly or green. Pattern Languages The pattern language may not be applicable to the run off from this site, but it is applicable to the way the cars enter and leave the site. Americans drive on the right side of the road, and as a result, this should be incorporated into the parking lot design. Behavior Setting Slowing run off, filtering, retaining, and dispersing water are identified as behavioral settings and are incorporated into the design.

Figure 4-43 Site Plan

Figure 4-44 Section 22

Structure of the Problem The key problem is rain running off the parking lot. A green roof is constructed over the parking lot that mimics the pre-development hydrology.

Figure 4-45 Site Plan

Figure 4-46 Section

Optimizing the Essential Function The optimal parking lot in this case is to have preamble pavement with a filtration system under the parking lot.

Figure 4-48 Section

Figure 4-47 Site Plan


Disaggregation: The design is broken into two problems: holding the rain where it falls; and infiltrating the rain water. The design solves the problems by using heavy vegetation to hold rain where it falls and sand-filled holes to capture and infiltrate rain water.

Figure 4-49 Site Plan

Figure 4-50 Section


Three Methods Applied to a Complex Design Simple designs do not fully test the methods in a landscape architecture application. The methods when applied to a standard landscape design problem. Three diverse methods are selected and applied to a common landscape architecture design of normal complexity. The design problem selected is the development of the Florida Rock location in Washington, DC. The area around the site is undergoing massive redevelopment. The city is building a baseball stadium next to the site on the west, and all the remaining land in the area is held by developers with plans to build. Currently the site is occupied by a concrete plant and has about 900 feet of river front on the tidal portion of the Anacostia River. The river is polluted and environmentally degraded. The proposed use of the site is as follows: Program elements: Site is 5.8 acres near the new baseball stadium in Southwest Washington, DC. • • • • • • • 1.1 million square foot project 3 buildings 600,000 square foot office 36,000 square foot retail 160 residential units 235 room hotel Two underground levels of parking with 1,087 spaces

The goals of the design are to: 1) integrate the public and private space of the plaza; and 2) incorporate the new stadium and surrounding proposed development, while making the area attractive and desirable when baseball is not played.

Figure 4-51 Site Map Figure 4-52 Site Map 25

Method 1 Disaggregation

Figure 4-53 Design 1 Beginning Site Organization

Figure 4-54 Design 1 Middle Constructed Layers

Figure 4-55 Design 1 End. Final Form. The design develops into an amalgamation of parts.


Figure 4-56 Summary and Analysis 27

Method 2 Focus on the Means

Figure 4-57 Design 2 Beginning Morphology

Figure 4-58 Design 2 Middle Site Development

Figure 4-59 Design 2 End. The design has external connections, but the internal connections and internal and external structure needs to be developed. 28

Figure 4-60 Summary and Analysis 29

Method 3 Learning Probes

Figure 4-61 Design 3 Beginning Start with basics

Figure 4-62 Design 3 Middle Play with connection between elements

Figure 4-63 Design 3 End. The design connects internally. Completing the design requires more external connections and internal and external structure.


Figure 4-64 Design 3 Sections


Figure 4-65 Summary and Analysis 32

Chapter 5 Conclusion
Reviewing the effects of methods on the simple and complex designs, the following questions are generated. Within the design loop, only the choice of methods are outside the personal reality of the designer. What is the relevance of this? Some methods identified are closely related. Can they be categorized by function? Using different methods changes the outcome of the simple design and they are fairly complete. The complex designs are not complete. The use of one method distorts the design and makes it not relevant. Therefore, a combination of methods must be used. An examination of the methods allows one to place the eighteen methods into categories. These categories are defined by the methods effects on the outcome of the design. These eighteen methods can be classified into four categories: 1) Modeling systems—These methods develop external connections to the design. The design must transition from the design to the world outside of the design. The design does not exist by itself and these methods help place the design in context of the larger world. 1. System Modeling 2. Environmental Relation 3. Anthropometric Analogies 4. Literal Analogies 2) Interrelationships and dependencies—These methods develop internal connections which must be developed in order to avoid running the risk that a design ends up as just a sum of its parts. 5. Learning Probes 6. Subconscious Suggestion 7. Brain Storming 8. Design by Evaluation Criteria 9. Well Spaced Alternatives 10. Focus on the Means 3) Incorporation and adaption —These methods deal with external existing structures which can be thought of as a framework or skeleton on which designers build connections. These external structures must be incorporated into the design. 11. Incremental Improvement 12. Incremental Adaptation 13. Typologies 14. Pattern Languages 15. Design by Behavior Setting 33

4) Structure problems—These methods develop internal structures. A design must prioritize and weight its design elements and programs in order to create a framework on which to build. 16. Structure of the Problem 17. Optimizing the Essential Function 18. Disaggregation Using all four of these categories in any design is important for two basic reasons. First, if all four categories are addressed during a design process, the design will have a greater chance of reaching a critical mass of necessary connections and redundancies to ensure a substainable design able to adapt to the ever-changing world. If all four categories are not used in a design, the design may fail because it will lack one or more of the following: • External connections: If a design is not connected to the surrounding area, it runs the risk of become irrelevant. The external connections, such as connecting to infrastructure and community, must be addressed. • Internal connections: Elements within a design must have some connections. Otherwise the design is a amalgamation of parts with no synergy. • External structure: External structure incorporates existing conventions into the design. For example, American cars drive on the right side of the road. If this well understood convention is changed, it causes problems for those in the design and those entering the design. • Internal structure: Internal structure establishes an order and weight of the design elements within the design. If the most important element is a lake, then every other element in the design is subordinate to the lake. The second reason it is important to use all four categories of methods is because it helps designers navigate a vast, almost infinite solution space to find a solution. The methods are akin to the “tetra space” coordinate system in which four axis are needed to reference or fix a point in space. (Hasslberger, 1) Referencing a solution in terms of known elements or coordinates anchors the abstract world of the designer to the concrete world. By referencing internal and external connections and structure, the design is more easily understood and relevant to the people using the design. Methodologies/methods are important for many reasons. • • 1) Methods give structure to the path way between the current situation and the desired state by establishing a priority and weighting the design elements and programs or a design strategy. 2) In addition to establishing structure, methods determine how design elements connect. Different methods address different types and ways of constructing connections in a design. If a broad range of methods are incorporated into the process, more connections are generated. The results should create redundancies, interconnections and interdependencies within the design system, which moves the end result closer to the goal of adaptive or sustainable design. 3) In landscape architecture design, the process must incorporate all four categories of methods. While using all four does not guarantee the design will be adaptive and sustainable, it will greatly increase the chances of this happening. When the design incorporates methods from all four categories, it will have internal and external structure and connect internally and externally. 4) Methods also shape the output of a design. Applying different methods to the same design project will result in different designs with different connections and structures. 34

5) Methods are the way to establish a connection between the personal elements of the design process—experiences, cognitive abilities and perceptions—and the “real” world. A designer always runs the risk of getting lost in his or her own constructed reality. Methods connect a designer’s cognitive abilities, experiences, and perceptions with the real world in which the design must exist.

Finally, methods connect outsiders to the designer’s abstract personal reality and to the design. For others to understand a design, they must be able to see or sense connections, and connect the design to their perception of reality or the “real” world. If all four methods are used, a design is more likely to be referenced and fixed in the concrete world. The variables in landscape architecture design are methods. The conscious choice of methods changes the results of a design, as demonstrated by the application of the eighteen methods to a simple design. Each method affects the design differently in terms of building connections and structure. If a single method is exclusively used in a design that has the complexity normally found in a landscape architect design, the design will most likely fail. A single method does not address all the structures and connections needed to generate a relevant design. A landscape architect should be familiar with all eighteen methods. Each method or combination of methods increases the number of design alternatives for any given design problem, allowing a landscape architect to select from a large design solution set. The categorization of the methods allows a designer to check the design in terms of internal and external connections and structures. If the design lacks one or more of these categories, the design may not be complete and may need to be reworked to address the lacking categories. Certainly no cookbook or formula exists for design because too many variables exist within the design process. Limiting the process to a cookbook or formulaic approach restricts the solution set and fails to allow for a better solution based on different combinations and types of methods. However, the four categories of methods are not limiting. Instead, the use of all four categories of methods in a design is essential to achieve the ultimate goal of landscape architecture: the creation of a design that is adaptive, sustainable, and relevant or a complex system. Together, the four categories—system modeling, interrelationships/dependencies, incorporation/adaption and structure problems—ensure that the necessary connections and redundancies exist to create a design that adapts to the ever-changing world. Moving between these four categories during a design and reinforcing one or more that was not present ensures a more comprehensive design result. Changing methods may help a designer remove mental blocks, break out of design ruts in which designs look similar and improve design results. By changing the methods employed, a designer may construct different connections and structures resulting in changed designs. Another complication in my research was due to the fact that I was limited to researching English-only studies and research. Possible other methods may have been explored and published in languages other than English. Unfortunately I was unable to identify or analyze these potential sources. Future research questions generated from this work include more research into the design process model and the cognitive side of design. What cognitive abilities are used in landscape architecture design? Can cognitive ability be improved or taught, and if so, how should it be done? Should studio include a formal lecture component where methods are taught and cognitive abilities improved?


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CHRISTOPHER JAMES LIDY EDUCATION Master of Landscape Architecture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 2007 • Certificate of Landscape Design, George Washington University, Washington, DC 2005 • B.S. General Management, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 1989 • EXPERIENCE Owner, Natural Designs 2002 to present Own and manage a residential and small commercial landscape design and installation company emphasizing the use of native plants. Responsibilities include: meeting with the clients and prospects; determining client needs; identifying and developing budgets; developing design from site survey and construction of base map to client presentations; estimating costs; soliciting bids and RFPs from nursery, carpentry, masonry, irrigation and lighting contractors; negotiating terms, conditions and prices with contractors; and overseeing contractors in field. Outside Sales Representative, Washingtonpost.com 2001 to 2002 Marketed advertising for online jobs board. Products sold included banners, virtual career fairs and resume database searches. Business Development Associate, Staples 2000 to 2001 Developed new business, generated and qualified prospects, assessed prospects’ needs and developed strategic procurement programs designed to meet the specific objectives of the client. Senior Account Executive, Waste Management 1995 to 2000 Developed a territory by generating new business, growing and maintaining customer base, retaining accounts, renewing contracts and cross selling. Identified, targeted and constructed strategies to close large commercial accounts with multiple locations and service demands. Accounts included utilities, hospital groups, property management companies, manufacturing plants and regional distribution facilities. Achievements 1999: closed the top two accounts in the division and promoted to senior account executive; 1998: generated new account growth of 19 percent; 1997: achieved new account growth rate of 22 percent and awarded regional sales award; 1997-1996: closed 4 of the top 10 regional accounts; 1996: generated new account growth of 19 percent; 1995: promoted from sales representative to account executive nine months after joining company Professional Coatings Representative, Operations Manager, Sherwin-Williams 1990 to 1994 Developed new sales territory by prospecting and generating new accounts. Grew territory from $0 to $250,000 in a year. Managed inside commercial sales, technical, administrative and logistical support to customers and sales representatives, accounts receivable and payable, and day-to-day management of the commercial center. Infantry Officer’s Basic Course (Ft. Benning, GA) 1989 to 1990 Infantry and leadership training; led groups of 2 to 40 lieutenants in simulated combat exercises.


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