SWA Group Wins Master Plan Assignment for Mexico’s University of Monterrey Including Site-Design for Tadao Ando Building

SWA Group has won a design competition to provide master planning and landscape architecture improving sustainability for the 247-acre (100-hectare) campus of the University of Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico. The assignment includes a phase-one implementation of site design for the Art and Design School Building under construction by noted architect Tadao Ando, the 1995 winner of the Pritzker Prize.

SWA’s assignment for the University of Monterrey (UDEM), Mexico’s premier institution of higher education, will help transform the campus from a vehicular orientation to one that encourages pedestrian, bicycle and transit use. The master plan will also incorporate greater sustainability by use of indigenous plant materials, natural water-retention and filtration, low maintenance landscaping as well as site-design strategies to enhance the learning and collaboration among students and faculty.

Tadao Ando’s structure, called the Gate of Creation, is a $34.5 million project encompassing 94,000 square feet (8,719 square meters), with spaces for design, research, teaching and exhibition, as well as 22 laboratories and workshops. According to the university, the building will help it establish Mexico and Latin America as a leader in the education of art, architecture and design.

“The landscape architecture and site design effort for UDEM is both a challenge and an honor that we are thrilled to be undertaking,” said Rene Bihan, SWA’s San Francisco-based managing principal overseeing the design team. “We will be working with the architect and the university to provide a proper landscape backdrop to what is considered one of the most significant architectural buildings in all of Latin America, while also helping the university move its campus to a higher level of sustainability.”

SOURCE: Businesswire

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

Design competition for eco-towns mothballed – Building Design

Will Hurst, David Rogers  of Building Design report

It will happen, says government; Cabe to beef up review panel in meantime

A competition promised by the government to help find the best designs for its flagship eco-towns initiative has been mothballed.

read the full article at Building Design – Design competition for eco-towns mothballed

14 firms shortlisted for city makeover – Times of India

Ashley D’Mello of Times of India reprots

MUMBAI: The dream to re-mould the city and its surroundings into a cleaner, greener and a hi-tech metropolis is firming up with the state shortlisting 14 international firms out of 39 that had expressed interest in the project.

Among the consultants shortlisted are Jurong Consultants, Singapore, Lea International, Canada, Urbis, Dubai, Calthrope Associates USA, Groupe SCE,France, Gensler,USA, ILFS and Perkins Eastman, US, Arup Consultants with Domnique Perrault (France), Atonk International/Edsa, US, Buro Happold, London, Maxwan Arehelt, Rotterdam, GFB, Germany, and Consulting Engineering Services, India.

SOURCE: Times of India – 14 firms shortlisted for city makeover

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