Doing More. Taking Less.
Enriching spaces through multi-functional design
When Ian McHarg published Design with Nature in 1969, he set in motion a concept for space planning that has steadily evolved into a guiding principle of modern development. The idea of doing more while taking less was novel 50 years ago, but today is essential. EDSA founder Edward Stone, Jr. went a bit further imparting his viewpoint that environmental and social functionality was not an either-or consideration, but a standard to uphold.
In the decades that have followed, landscape architects and land planners have worked to enrich spaces with multiple benefits and uses while also preserving as much of the existing ecology as possible. Commercial, residential, hospitality and entertainment offerings demand the value that only integrative design can deliver. If a space is to provide jobs to a community, is it not worth more to everyone if it also reduces the impact on local resources like water? If a school is to teach our children about the world, aren’t gardens growing living plants and food a powerful introduction about the way nature works? Designing spaces for multi-purposes and multiple functions not only supports return on investment, it enhances the relationship between people and a place.
With a universal outlook on how spaces evolve, multi-functional design not only incorporates the beneficial performance of ecosystems, it provides for innovative solutions that improve functionality and appeal with a composition that adds to what one can experiences in a place. To that end, EDSA designers are passionate in their beliefs – advocating for adaptability, flexibility and accessibility in the essential relationship between a site, its purpose and user.
It is important to realize, however, that multi-functional environments are not the same as mixed-use development. For a space to realize its full potential, it should align with natural systems and welcome diverse activities that can take place independently or side by side. A downtown plaza, for example, might host a farmer’s market on weekends as well as a children’s theatre program with an outdoor stage. It could serve as concert stage for an intimate ensembles or as outdoor café seating for food trucks or restaurants. It may even be used for a public meeting while also acting as a bike-share hub. Fundamental changes or modifications to the space are not needed for each distinct activity, as the site itself has been designed to deliver integral amenities that are useful to everyone. Adequate shade, evening lighting, appropriately paved spaces and hardscape, seating and access to services enhance and support the diversification of activities and expand the use of a space beyond a single function.
In designing for multi-function, outdoor green spaces become much more than parks. Communities are revitalized by diverse populations coming together, sharing experiences and ideas – providing opportunities for collaboration and partnership that may drive further innovation in public and private sectors. People are once again connected to the land in meaningful ways that invites social, economic and environmental growth. The results are inspiring and are becoming more common around the world – a progressive step along a path we should all take.
New Sites/New Projects
With an extreme variation in land typologies, geologies and cultures, we continue to have the good fortune of working on amazing projects. From Miami to Mexico, to the Middle East and beyond, we have left an indelible mark on the global mindset of how people live, work, learn, play and interact with their environments… and we are committed to continue shaping that view for current and future generations.
Inside the Design Studio
When brilliant minds with big ambitions work towards a common goal, amazing thing happen. Morning huddles, team workshops and opportunities to let loose provide for a collaborative work environment. Check out our latest Inside the Design Studio video.
Earth Day was a reminder that we must work together to protect endangered species and promote harmony within nature to achieve a just balance between the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.
Here’s a few quick things you can do right now to make a difference:
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. This will reduce your carbon footprint by 450 pounds a year.
- Carpool, ride a bike, use public transportation or drive an electric/hybrid car. Your carbon footprint will be reduced by one pound for every mile you do not drive.
- Keep your tires properly inflated and get better gas mileage. For every gallon on gas saved, your carbon footprint is reduced by 20 pounds.
- Teleconference instead of traveling. If you fly five times per year, those trips are likely to account for 75% of your personal carbon footprint.
Creating For Cause
Part of embracing our greater purpose is partnering with community leaders and charities to ensure social justice, environmental change and economic opportunity. EDSA is currently working with the Pace Center for Girls to create intentional, safe and welcoming outdoor spaces and with Riverwalk Trust on a 9/11 Memorial tribute that showcases a path rail artifact from the World Trade Center wreckage.