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cultivating new growth: 2023 idea lab presentations


As a culture, inquisitiveness is at the heart of who we are and what motivates us. The TBG Idea Lab program pushes the profession of landscape architecture further, nurtures internal growth, and promotes thought leadership. This week, the 2023 Idea Lab cohort presented four big ideas to the entire firm.

This fellowship program allows selected participants to explore topics related to landscape architecture, planning, and TBG’s work. Over the spring and summer, teams researched and refined their pitches with the guidance of communication consultant Chelsey Rives with Volcano Heart. The 2023 cohort consisted of Adrianne Kartachak, Chris Jackson, Ivy Farhadi, Tabitha Tattenbach, and Yiru Zhang.

cave contemporary by Adrianne Kartachak and Chris Jackson

The Texas heat is undeniable. Adrianne and Chris challenged TBGers to lean into their idea of creating equitable access to cool through holistically cooling designs. In line with ASLA’s Climate Action Plan, they introduced a concept called “Cave Contemporary.” They delved into the historical and contemporary aspects of outdoor comfort in our region to elevate modern solutions. Their initial design concepts encompassed cool materials, orientation, shade, sensory elements, and psychological considerations.

designing for wildlife habitats by Ivy Farhadi

Over half of the bird population in the United States is declining. The main culprits are building collisions, light pollution, and climate change. Building on the work of organizations like the National Wildlife Federation, Ivy’s research explored ways to design better wildlife habitats and enhance wildlife corridors for migration in our communities and regions. Her idea introduced a toolkit tailored to promoting bird-friendly designs, specific to project types and species.

reimagining negative spaces by Tabitha Tattenbach

Planting beds (“positive spaces”) are often carefully designed with native and adapted species, while designers have a tendency to mindlessly fill the remaining “negative space” with sod. Tabitha focused on finding alternatives to our industry’s over-reliance on sod. She sought solutions for how to be more responsible and thoughtful designers, while providing design solutions with greater ecological, economic, maintenance, and water-related benefits.

utilizing digital media for environmental storytelling by Yiru Zhang

Yiru delved into environmental storytelling and how digital media experiences can enhance sustainability and biophilic connections as it relates to the general public’s understanding of the impact of landscape architecture. Using technology to redefine community interaction with our environment, she aimed to foster a more informed connection with nature and enrich the narratives woven into our landscapes. Integrating digital media could have a significant impact by making our work more tangible and addressing environmental concerns more effectively.