WLA Feature – An interview by Damian Holmes with David Tobar

With the world in recession it might not be the best time to open an office however, many think that this is the best time due to lower cost of office space, hiring staff and the Stimulus package in the USA. Damian Holmes of World Landscape Architect (WLA) had an interview via email with David Tobar of Outside Partnership who has recently opened an office in Detroit.

David Tobar of Outside Partnership

David Tobar of Outside Partnership

David Tobar, a LEED AP accredited landscape architect with 20 years professional experience who obtained his BLA from Michigan State University and then went on to California State Polytechnic University in Pomona to complete his MLA.

His professional experience lies with project design management and implementation of complex and challenging redevelopment.  David has worked with public and private clients on large demanding projects that involve special development agreements with disconcerting government agencies on environmentally challenged sites. David also enjoys working to find solutions for development constraints and maintaining critical schedules.

His clients ranged from public municipal agencies, non-profit housing developers and casino resort developers.

WLA: Opening an office is a big step why now in the current economic climate?
DAVID:
Opening an office now is based on desire and necessity. I’ve always thought I could run a business differently and better. People spend so much time of their lives at work, so it extremely important to find a work – life balance, prioritizing happiness at work and being creative and innovative to make a profit.

Necessity is involved since my former company of 12 years, who I help establish and grow, was downsizing and my ideas and goals didn’t have a place there anymore. I needed to feed the family and no one is hiring landscape architects in Detroit (yet). I choose not to wait.

I’m finding with the current economic climate is providing opportunity for small, efficient start ups to prove themselves and get their foot in the door. My first project was awarded based on being small, local and having an attitude of teamwork and willingness. I’m finding that one time rivals are also willing to work together and share the pie.

WLA: How long have you been open?
DAVID:
Officially I filed paperwork opening Outside Partnership on February 15, 2008 in anticipation of pending separation from my former employer. I didn’t actively pursue work until I was laid off on March 18, 2009.

WLA: Why Detroit, what are the positives and negatives?
DAVID:
Detroit is home. Besides my family and roots, my experience, connection and portfolio is here. Detroiters are tough and stubborn. We’re not done and we won’t stop fighting.

The city is shrinking fast, losing a population from 2 million to 900k now with projections anticipating 500k. The population can’t support the 40-some square miles of vacant land and infrastructure left abandoned. As a landscape architect with a spirit for renewal and redevelopment there couldn’t be a better place to work our craft. Nature is renewing without us already. There has been increased sightings of pheasants, fox, snakes and other wildlife on vacant neighborhoods, not seen within the city limits for generations. With nature leading the way, landscape architects have a great role model to follow with renewal. Inevitable city contraction and “right-sizing” will bring opportunity for good land planners and designers.

WLA: What is the best opportunity/strength for landscape architecture in Detroit and the USA?
DAVID:
As I mentioned previously about city contraction, it will really be about renewal and helping nature do its work. This whole “green” movement is landscape architecture 101 and comes second nature to us. We know this not because of some building certification but because how we were taught and why we entered into this profession to begin with. My late professor and mentor, John Lyle, would be proud to see the teachings of his generation are finally taking root with the mainstream. Let’s see if his students will see it through.

WLA: How do you see your office evolving?
DAVID:
I’d like to stay small and efficient (5-10) focusing on doing whatever it takes right now to survive. Immediately this may involve using our design and graphic skills and applying them to other fields. For example, Michigan has targeted burgeoning moving industry. With some training, can we apply our computer and graphic skills on post-film production work? Whatever it takes.

Our practice has a chance to evolve and and become experts with natural regeneration at a scale not seen before.

WLA: How do you think the federal economic stimulus will effect landscape architecture?
DAVID:
I was real hopeful given it was mostly directed towards infrastructure programs but I don’t think or haven’t seen it “trickle down” to the small start up firms. I think the big multi-disciplinary A/E will position themselves to swallow up most of the work.

Thanks to David Tobar of Outside Partnership for taking the time for our interview.

Marianne Boesky’s Hidden Terrace, Inches From the High Line – New York Magazine

Wendy Goodman in New York Magazine writes

Marianne Boesky’s terrace is inches from the most popular public space in New York. Landscape designer Paula Hayes made it private.


Image Source: New York Magazine Photo: Nikolas Koenig)

Read the full article at the SOURCE: New York Magazine – Great Room – Marianne Boesky’s Hidden Terrace, Inches From the High Line

In the News Weekend – 25-26 July

NDSU not worried about South Dakota architecture competition – INFORUM – Fargo

Va. architects see future in eco-friendly design – Times Dispatch

Mesa working on broader ‘Bicycle Master Plan’- East Valley Tribue

Finalists Selected for Downtown Master Plan – KWCH

KC parks get their day in the sun – kansascity.com

Japanese beetles less of a problem this summer, many think – State Register (IL, USA)

Nothing is sacred when it comes to progress – Shanghai Daily

EVENT:
Summer Sustainability Series on Urban Gardening in New York City with Sarah Seigal,
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
Toyota Sustainable Summer Series
Toyota Children’s Learning Garden 603 East 11th Street, New York, NY
July 30, 2009 from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
SOURCE: Green Building Elements

Answers About New York’s Flora – NY Times

Dr. Gerry Moore, director of science for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden answered questions from New York Times readers about the Flora of New York in a three part series.

Read

Part 1: About New York’s Flora

Part 2: About New York’s Flora

Part 3: About New York’s Flora

SOURCE: New York Times


In the News – 24th July

Chicago 2016 Olympics: City awards main contracts for Michael Reese Hospital demolition – Chicago Tribune

Poor urban planning to blame for water dispute – Miami Herald

From car dealership to crime lab at Humber College – Daily Commercial News

New Curator Appointed For Christchurch Botanic Gardens – Scoop.co.nz

First look: Glen Howells Architects Swindon Triangle – Architect’s Journal

Make every town an eco-town – BDonline (UK)

1 ... 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 ... 451