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University of Tennessee CoAD = MLA Student | Cameron Rodman

All things Landscape.

  • DEBASING DESIGN

    Design can be stale.

    Some designs seem to be driven by a market interest while others have a deeper cultural ethos and are driven by passion, expression of values, or ideation.

    One of these is inspiring…the other…not so much. I’ll let you decide.

    I don’t think one is more right than the other, but I do think one is more right for me than the other.

    I am learning that I operate more from inspiration than logical conclusions and technical influence. The expression of cultural processes, beliefs and romantic gestures can be extracted into the everyday. These may not always be translated into a literal one for one iteration of materials and spaces. Most, however are watered down to a degree that they can be digested and understood by the majority…to a point where they can be experienced by the majority.

    So having the ability to take that inspiration and position it in the realm of reality and communal experience is key to making it successful. Feng Zhu of FZD School of Design talked about this one time in one of his Q&A youtube videos.

    I find it hard to operate, or rather start from a base of technical data and regulated dictated programs and ideas. This isn’t to say that I think one should abandon a provided program or client need. I just think that the point of creativity is to take those request, needs, and technical data sets and have the fluency and fluidity to make something beautiful and unique. I mean why hire someone else to do a job if you already know what you need?

    Creative thinking bridges this gap between the technical and the human…the physical and the spiritual. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to set up a manifesto or say this is the only way of doing things, but it feels right. Many firms choose to simply take the ‘brief’ and articulate it in creative ways…but sometimes this creativity just seems like a reorganized regurgitation of what the client has come to the table with. This may be why some of our cities and spaces are so generic and lacking in the ability to accomplish civitas and nourish our people. When I was learning counseling I often heard of the coming take over by the insurance agencies and their position that they would only back and pay for quantifiably based therapeutic services. This is a position which is creeping into all of our professions and I believe that many professions are responding to it the best they can. In landscape architecture, the industry change towards green based design that has performative backing is quickly becoming absorbed as a prereq. Science is becoming the rule. The spiritual and intuitive is out. Function is king and form is secondary. 

    So why the rant? Who knows? Maybe I just see passion when I go into some firms and not when I go into others. Some seem to punch the clock and do it for the man while others are excited about what they are doing and find it a release to go to work every day. Not everyone needs to have a thrill ride when they go to work…because honestly some of the parts of landscape architecture and design can be pretty repetitive and boring. But having an idea and chasing it to see how it turns out in the end is fantastic. Finding relevance outside of that idea and oneself and having the ability to position it in the greater context of society really drives that experience home.

    One example of finding a design which reached into the experiential and meaningful from today’s travels was the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial by Michael Vergason Landscape Architecture. The MVLA team’s ability to create and experience on the site which both honored and memorialized the efforts and those serving our country at a loss to their selves is great. Symbology, imagery, craft, the written word, and more all call attention to the sacrifice and greats an experience that transcends the physical structures and manifestations found on site. These types of spaces call to a deeper level of meaning and understanding that is not often found in the communities in which we live, work and play

    It seems that there are many places to start a design from and many reasons one would want to design a space. While I understand the need to develop cities and our social fabric/cities I am not so sure if capitalism is the best launching point.


  • Exploring the Intersection of Design, Landscape, & Psychotherapy - An empirical based approach.

    This past semester (Spring 2014) I and my studio-mates had the wonderful opportunity to work with Harmony Adoptions an organization which focuses on connecting families with children through adoption. They have an extremely high success rate of placement and are doing some wonderful programs and...


  • Villa Adriana an ancient artifact in Tivoli, Italy.

    VILLA ADRIANA - HADRIAN'S VILLAHistorical ContextClassical designs such as Hadrian’s villa enjoy a wealth of influence from preceding eras, current ideologies, philosophies, & religions. They also greatly influence future designs.Historically, classical design sought to emphasize symmetry...


  • Vote for the next Student Representative to ASLA's Board of Trustees.

    Cast your vote for the ASLA student representative! It’s that time of the year again. Monday morning, ASLA will open the voting polls for the student representative to the Board of Trustees. This position is the direct line between the students of ASLA and the Board of Trustees. I encourage...


  • Peter Walker: An influenced Modern style. Interview Pt. 2

    -The following is the 2nd portion of my Interview with Peter Walker.- Peter Walker’s Minimalist style In the 1950s and 1960s “two major schools existed at the time - Minimalism, an offshoot of conceptualism, and then Pop” (i.e. Andy Warhol). Walker was interested in Carl Andre...


  • Peter Walker Interview: Modern Design Part 1 of 2

    Peter Walker has been reinventing himself as a designer for the past 40 years. A current partner at PWP Landscape Architecture, Walker has become known for his Minimalist design flair, relationship to the Modern style, and numerous additional achievements. One thing which has remained consistent...


  • Monster Park - Bomarzo Italy

    The Sacred Woods (Sacro Bosco) in Bomarzo, Italy has held an air of enchantment about it since its rediscovery in 1942. In 1542 Count Pier Francesco Orsini (1513? – 1584), a military captain, inherited this land and began cultivating a garden of bizarre proportions, both in size and...


  • Gateway Communities: Norris, TN | UTK-MLA Studio Finals

    To say that this semester has been grueling would be an understatement. My classmates and I have been yearning for our winter break. Among the many courses that we took (Planting Design, Urban Social Geography, Advanced Grading and Drainage, Intro. to Sustainable Design Thinking, and more) studio...


  • Landscape architecture leads the way for multiuse development!

    For other articles on landscape architecture check out my website at www.cameronrodman.com Many dreams for innovation and development have started off with the simple act of breaking ground and a plan. Hedstrom Design, a Knoxville based landscape architecture firm, has had the opportunity to...


  • Foothills Parkway for the 2016 centennial!

    Conceived in the early 1900’s the Foothills Parkway set out to be a window looking into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At the time, America was experiencing an age of motorization which enabled people to travel greater distances and enjoy scenery that was previously unavailable to...


  • UTK's Phi Mu Sorority House gets a fresh start from Landscape Designer Brandon Orrick.

    With recent campus projects and campaigns comes the newest additions of student housing. All of the sorority houses in the university are completing their finishing touches on their housing as the year begins. Graduate landscape architecture student and Landscape Designer Brandon Orrick, had the...


  • The 9/11 memorial. Understanding Peter Walker's inspiration.

    Twelve years have passed since the tragic 9/11 attacks in New York City, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In just a few short years the 9/11 memorial in New York is planned to be completed. Many people have had the experience of walking the grounds and looking over the fountains in...


  • Gatlinburg Streetscaping and Underground Utilities Generate Economic Growth and Provide a Unifying Look.

    What started out as a thesis by an University of Georgia Landscape Architecture graduate student, was transformed into a 19 year long $24 million dollar community transformation. Curtis Stewart, a graduate from the University of Georgia and now Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee...


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About this Blog

I currently maintain a blog which features monthly firm interviews about their firm and specific projects in the Knoxville or near Knoxville area. Readers can also find information on photography, current trends in representation, or even social equality issues.

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