Site Engineering for Landscape Architects
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Site Engineering for Landscape Architects

Steven Strom, Kurt Nathan, Jake Woland

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eBook - ePub

Site Engineering for Landscape Architects

Steven Strom, Kurt Nathan, Jake Woland

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About This Book

The Leading Guide To Site Design And Engineering— Revised And Updated

Site Engineering for Landscape Architects is the top choice for site engineering, planning, and construction courses as well as for practitioners in the field, with easy-to-understand coverage of the principles and techniques of basic site engineering for grading, drainage, earthwork, and road alignment. The Sixth Edition has been revised to address the latest developments in landscape architecture while retaining an accessible approach to complex concepts.

The book offers an introduction to landform and the language of its design, and explores the site engineering concepts essential to practicing landscape architecture today—from interpreting landform and contour lines, to designing horizontal and vertical road alignments, to construction sequencing, to designing and sizing storm water management systems. Integrating design with construction and implementation processes, the authors enable readers to gain a progressive understanding of the material.

This edition contains completely revised information on storm water management and green infrastructure, as well as many new and updated case studies. It also includes updated coverage of storm water management systems design, runoff calculations, and natural resource conservation. Graphics throughout the book have been revised to bring a consistent, clean approach to the illustrations.

Perfect for use as a study guide for the most difficult section of the Landscape Architect Registration Exam (LARE) or as a handy professional reference, Site Engineering for Landscape Architects, Sixth Edition gives readers a strong foundation in site development that is environmentally sensitive and intellectually stimulating.

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Chapter 1
Site Engineering IS Design


Simply put, grading is design.
With regard to the relationship between grading and design, three points must be emphasized: First, grading and site design are two highly related and dependent processes. To achieve an appropriate as well as successful final product, both must be integrated in a holistic manner at the outset of the project. Second, before manipulating contours on a grading plan, it is important to have a clear understanding of the form of the desired final product. Without this knowledge, the manipulation of contours is aimless and futile. To reinforce this point, any appropriate three-dimensional form can be expressed by contours on a grading plan. However, without a preconception of what that form should be, it can never be attained. Finally, a change in grade must be purposeful, whether for functional or aesthetic reasons, and not arbitrary. The intent to change a grade 2 in. is no less important than the intent to change a grade 20 ft.


It is important to realize that grading is one of the primary design tools available to the landscape architect. Every site design project requires some change in grade. How these grade changes are integrated into the overall design concept will influence the success of the project functionally, visually, and experientially. The necessity for grade changes creates opportunities for site engineering to play a role in the aesthetic, perceptual, spatial, and environmental considerations of a design.


The visual form of grading may be broadly categorized into four types. The selection of a particular type is appropriate within a given landscape or design context, but it is possible to combine types within the same project. The four categories are geomorphic, architectonic, sculptural, and naturalistic (Figure 1.1).
Figure 1.1. (a) Geomorphic: A stream restoration is carved in a floodplain to appear as if created by natural processes
(Photo: The Watershed Company). (b) Architectonic: Terraces define the central lawn of the Leventritt Garden at the Arnold Arboretum. (c) Sculptural: The playful mounds of vegetation interact with the curvilinear benches, providing seating in the Jacob Javits Federal Courthouse Plaza
(Photo: Michael Cluer). (d) Naturalistic: In Prospect Park, the land was manipulated to create a meadow within a valley-like space.


The proposed grading blends ecologically and visually with the character of the existing natural landscape. It reflects the geologic forces and natural patterns that shape the landscape by repeating similar landforms and physiographic structure. The intent of this category is to minimize the amount of regrading necessary in order to preserve the existing landscape character, though in some cases it is used to restore character and ecological function that have been lost.
A discussion of the range of environmental factors this aesthetic type is employed to integrate with can be found later in this chapter.


The proposed grading creates uniform slopes and forms, which usually are crisply defined geometric shapes. The lines along which planes intersect are clearly articulated rather than softened by rounded edges. This type of grading is appropriate where the overall impact is human-dominated or where a strong contrast is desired between built and natural landscapes.
Leventritt Garden at the Arnold Arboretum.1
This language can be used to reinforce the geometry of an associated building or provide a legible organization system, as in the Leventritt Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, at the Arnold Arboretum (Figure 1.2). The design for the garden draws on the long, rich tradition of terracing the landscape to create usable and dramatic spaces, whether for agriculture, habitation, or gardens. The area selected for the garden was a nearly triangular open space with an east-facing slope that rose more steeply along its western edge. The designers reworked this form to create a more constant grade change.
Figure 1.2. Plan of the Leventritt Garden at the Arnold Arboretum. (a) Central lawn panel. (b) Terraces. (c) Garden pavilion. (d) Great wall. (Plan: Reed Hilderbrand)
The constant slope establis...

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