Still from the 20-minute documentary, “The New Landscape Declaration“, a critical, provocative, and inspirational examination of the role of landscape architecture and the design of public space.

What defines “good design”? It’s a question that eventually led me to two sources, including AHBE’s own website. There, I reviewed the following firm statement:

“The pursuit of the greater good drives AHBE Landscape Architects. We begin each project as an exploration about how the site is ecologically connected to the larger network of natural lands, open spaces and other landscapes.
Seeing landscapes through the lens of infrastructure, we take a holistic approach to solving design problems. Our commitment to sustainable design guides us to ask questions, explore new ideas and think innovatively. Out of this process, beauty and performance emerge from the landscape.

AHBE is an award-winning professional service corporation. Collectively, we have extensive experience in the technical development of design aesthetics and constructability that are hallmarks of our work.”

The language above suggests a list of values and goals important to our practice and profession:

  • a healthy environment
  • a beautiful environment
  • contribute to “the greater good”
  • connect with site’s context (ecological, networks, etc.)
  • facilitate polyfunctional networks (this is my assumption of what it means to view landscape “through the lens of infrastructure”)
  • incorporate sustainable design methodologies and systems
  • explore new ideas
  • innovation
  • performance

To further understand how our firm’s mission statement relates to our profession’s vision for itself in the first half of the 21st Century, I looked to the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 2016 Declaration of Concern issued on June 10-11 2016. The Landscape Declaration manifesto is a synthesis of the values, discussions, and ideas expressed by a diverse group of the world’s leading thought leaders in the field of landscape architecture, one representing a vision for the evolution of the profession for the next half-century. It asserts the essential role of landscape architecture in solving issues such as climate change, species extinction, rapid urbanization, and inequity. The recommendations are relevant to all designers, underscoring the need to diversify, innovate, and create a bold culture of inclusive leadership, advocacy, and activism.

The Landscape Declaration’s aspirational vision for the profession can serve as a basis for fleshing-out our own design values and goals. There is significant alignment of the vision expressed in our firm statement and the Landscape Declaration, leading me to believe our values are sound and relevant for the 21st Century. The intent of our values requires further clarification if we want to determine how a design measures up to our stated values and goals. What do we mean when we say we value, or aim to create, healthy and beautiful environments, or contribute to the greater good, or think innovatively etc.?

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