This year, GMPT had a blast hosting a booth in the Exhibit Hall at the Minnesota…
Below is a contribution from GMPT business member Widseth and authored by Director of Landscape Architecture Jillian Reiner. For more information, please visit www.widseth.com.
The connections among residents, business owners, and municipal leaders in the Greater Minnesota region are critical to well-functioning communities. The stronger these ties, the more communities will thrive. Landscape architecture can play a key role in developing and enhancing these connections. Thoughtful planning and design—even in our state’s smallest towns—can create livable, sustainable, and visually appealing environments that are the heart of a vibrant, thriving community. Below are some ways landscape architecture can positively influence your community. These can be applied on a small- or large-scale project but will always make a significant impact:
- Community Identity: We can help communities define and strengthen their unique identities by designing public spaces, parks, and streetscapes that reflect the town’s history, culture, and values. These distinctive features can attract tourists and instill a sense of pride in residents.
- Community Engagement: An empathetic approach to design involves the community in the process, ensuring the resulting landscapes reflect the needs and desires of the residents. This participatory approach can help build a sense of ownership and pride in the town’s public spaces.
- Aesthetic Improvement: Rural landscapes often have a unique natural beauty. Landscape architects can enhance and preserve this beauty while also integrating new developments and infrastructure into the surroundings, ensuring that they harmonize with that community’s character.
- Improved Infrastructure: We can design infrastructure solutions that are efficient, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing. We work closely with engineers to include planning for roads, bridges, utilities, and stormwater management systems that meet the unique needs of your community.
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks: Encouraging alternative modes of transportation like walking and cycling is often easier in Greater Minnesota. We promote and design pedestrian-friendly streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes, making it safer and more convenient for residents to move around without relying solely on cars.
- Environmental Sustainability: Selecting native plants, promoting biodiversity, and using energy-efficient lighting and materials in their designs are ways to incorporate sustainable design principles into projects that will significantly impact our future.
- Economic Development: A well-designed town center or public space can attract businesses and visitors, leading to economic development. Landscape architects can collaborate with urban planners and local authorities to create environments that support commerce and tourism.
- Accessibility: Ensuring that public spaces are accessible to people of all ages and abilities is just as important in rural communities as it is in urban settings. We can help to design inclusive parks, streetscapes, and public spaces for all to enjoy.
- Health and Well-being: Access to green spaces and recreational areas in rural communities can improve residents’ physical and mental health. Working with the community, we create parks, trails, and greenways that encourage physical activity and provide spaces for relaxation and reflection.
- Habitat Creation: Humans and wildlife can cohabitate with careful planning. We strive to design landscapes that support local wildlife by creating habitats and corridors for native species. This approach helps conserve biodiversity in and outside of our metro area.
- Sense of Place: Through our designs, we work hard to create a strong sense of place on all projects, making them unique and attractive destinations for residents and visitors alike.
Landscape architecture is a versatile discipline that can greatly enhance the livability, sustainability, and attractiveness of Greater Minnesota communities. By carefully planning and designing the physical environment, landscape architects can contribute to the well-being and identity of these communities, making them more vibrant and resilient places to live and visit.
Jillian Reiner (PLA, ASLA) is the Director of Landscape Architecture at Widseth. Jillian’s professional experience and diverse educational background inform her unique perspectives, detailed approach, and infectious enthusiasm for the design process. For any questions about landscape architecture or the work of Widseth, please contact Widseth here.