Feature Article - May 2016
Find a printable version here

Changing the Landscape

Natural Materials, Adventure Courses Top Design Trends

By Deborah L. Vence


Design Challenges

Sometimes landscape design can incur some challenges that need to be addressed.

"We are often challenged with high client expectations and ideas that must meet a tight project budget. Balancing the client and public's expectations with what a community or recreation provider can afford can be challenging, especially in light of recent grant funding cuts within our state," Howard said.

Naylor added that one challenge can be that parks have a 15-year window from when the original design matures.

"Many times, parks [need] some sort of refreshing in that 15- or 20-year timeframe," he said, adding that social norms in parks can change, too. For example, "A group that identifies with certain public spaces … changes the complexion of the park."

Other challenges involve coming up with new and creative ideas that meet applicable codes and regulations.

"Custom playground and park design still needs to be grounded in safety and meet the applicable AS™ and CPSC safety guidelines, while providing a unique recreational experience," Howard said.

One of the key ways he works with challenges, such as high client expectations, is to understand the client's expectations at the beginning of a project and constantly make sure that the client's vision is at the forefront of the project at all times.

"Creating a collaborative environment with the client is always the goal so that they understand that their expectations are always what we focus on throughout the entire process," Howard said.

"It is critical to develop a clear and concise project program that identifies the program elements and have the client and stakeholders review and approve the program before starting the design process," he added. "Updating this project program throughout the schematic design process is key, so that the project team understands any program changes during the design process."