A Landscape Approach
At PROOF we use a landscape approach to environmental problems. This allows us to consider cultural values and natural features and processes on equal footing, to understand the history of a place and its relationship to the future, and to resolve public problems that have multiple and competing agendas and needs. Landscapes are durable, dynamic, living places that exist at very small and very large scales and constantly change. Whether the project is focused on public space, ecological restoration, coastal resilience, or climate adaptation, our landscape-based approach enables us to resolve difficult design issues by working with cultural values and natural processes.
There are no innocent landscapes.
For each project we develop concepts that help characterize and distill what is unique and special about the place and how it relates to the goals of the project. Often these concepts are drawn from observations made through visiting the site, meeting people, doing historical research, and analyzing environmental data. As they become building blocks of the project design, concepts are always based in and appropriate to what already exists and what is happening in a landscape.
The flexibility of this conceptual work enables us to develop new, specific approaches for each project and situation. This is especially effective for problems that have proven difficult to resolve using conventional engineering and landscape architectural solutions. This approach has proven useful in situations where funding may be limited, where constituents are not unified in their aims, or where design goals are unusual or complex. We like to work in these sticky situations.
When married with a landscape approach, our conceptual work allows us to work with and develop passive and adaptive strategies that employ the processes of nature such as plant growth or sediment transport to achieve project goals. A good example of this is the Cobble Bell in Port Bay, NY, which couples longshore sediment transport and the ongoing dredge practices through the concept of entropy to nourish a barrier bar at no additional cost. In that project, a drone-based monitoring protocol was developed to help minimize up front costs and material inputs, and allow for low-cost adaptive management decisions in the coming years. By working with the human and natural processes already on site and emphasizing monitoring and adaptive management, the project lowers costs, minimizing environmental disruption, and builds a better beach.
We tune our methods to each project, in concert with the evolving conceptual approach. Through a combination of field work, physical experimentation, digital modeling, landscape analysis, precedent study, drawing, and archival research, we create a methodology that is time-efficient and tuned to the needs of each project.
We ensure that the unique methods developed for each project work seamlessly with conventional workflows to deliver results in coordination with larger project teams, and excel at making the work products into visual exhibits and illustrations that are helpful to discuss project ideas with non-technical audiences as well as regulatory representatives, local interest groups, and the builders and scientists who work in the landscapes in an ongoing fashion.