Olsson Associates

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Heightening the ‘fan experience’ with landscape architecture

Monday, May 18, 2015

Darren Varner, Senior Landscape Architect with Ochsner Hare & Hare, a design studio of Olsson Associates

Rendering of the sportsfields at Belton Memorial Park in Belton, MissouriWhen designing a road or a building, it’s critical for engineers to follow industry standards. This adherence makes sure that the folks using the end product are kept safe, and that the thousands—even millions—of dollars spent will ensure that the structures will last a very long time. But beyond the project’s construction, designers should also ask who will be using the project and how their experience can be made even better. Someone intimately familiar with heightening this “spectator experience” is a landscape architect.

Olsson’s landscape architects bridge the divide between the engineering and architecture practices. They understand the language inherent in both fields. For clients, landscape architects can also translate clients’ ideas into the working terminology that allows professionals to make those ideas reality.

For example, with a sports stadium, it’s not just where to place the buildings, how big to make the parking lots, or where to place the roads. Fan experience is now the “name of the game,” so to speak. Firms must understand who the spectators are and what they will expect when they go to watch their favorite teams play. Things like wi-fi, televisions broadcasting the game in the restrooms, even playgrounds in the outfield for the kids are now standard in today’s modern stadium complexes. Some may be surprised to discover that landscape architects have a hand in all these features, helping engineers and architects to organize the elements and make them work in the design.

The same is true when designing for a new school or park. In accordance with the desires of the clients, landscape architects offer engineers ideas on how to best utilize the space and can help arrange items to maximize the land area the engineer is working with.

This arrangement—or “piecing together” of the elements—can also be very cost-effective. For instance, in placing elements, the landscape architect may discover a way to make a park area bigger just because of a better arrangement of the design. Because land is precious, landscape architects can use their skills to maximize every bit of the client’s site in a positive way.

There’s a reason we have two big ears and one mouth: Landscape architects excel in listening to what clients desire and can offer ideas for bringing those unique thoughts to engineers to plug in the details. Landscape architects can also suggest ideas clients hadn’t visualized—it’s a complete collaboration.

Landscape architects use their abilities to create concepts and plans that fit clients’ ideas. They also help make unique experiences for people who use or visit projects. For more information on how landscape architecture can benefit a project, please contact me at 816.842.8844 or dvarner@olssonassociates.com.

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