Book & Media Reviews

Timeless Landscape Design
When I was a landscape architecture student, my coursework on residential landscape design wasn’t much to speak of — just one project in a single course. In those days, in fact, expressing any interest in residential spaces made you
Design from Italy to India
There was a time not long ago when most of my clients wanted swimming pool environments that were designed to suit a design theme of some sort that was separate and distinct from the house. It wasn’t unusual, for example, for clients here in Texas to ask for outdoor areas that replicated Rocky Mountain settings or tropical lagoons. Those projects still come along from time to time, but in the past few years, increasing numbers of my clients want
Watershaping and the Issue of Trust
I’ve spent some time in the past couple months looking for a good book about trust. I ran into some clunkers along the way, with many of them impressing me with how boring and preachy they could be. But I never had
Uplifting Ideas for Trying Times
When times are tough, I sometimes find it useful to think about the things in life that I’m able to control while giving less thought to those I can’t. The plain fact is, no matter how troubling the news is or how tough the economy makes our working lives, nothing
Humility and Grandeur
Whenever I work with clients who want to make an artistic statement with their watershape or landscape designs, I commonly start by asking, “What’s your inspiration?” That simple question cuts right to the heart of the matter:  It prompts them to discuss their memories, preferences, influences and tastes while also encouraging them to think in artistic and even emotional terms about what they want.  This gets them excited about the process – and gives me some much-needed
Two Tales of Two Architects
Earlier this year, I attended the Texas Pool & Spa Expo in Fort Worth — and, upon arrival, was treated to an unexpected earful. As soon as I reached the show floor, I walked over to greet my friends at the Genesis 3 booth. Before I could even get in a good round of "hellos," David Tisherman asked me if I'd ever been to the
Maximizing Positive Feelings
Whether we think of them this way or not, watershape and landscape designs have the ability to create emotional responses among our clients. In that sense, we're actually in the business of provoking those feelings. When we do things right, the conjurings are positive and are at their best when we successfully forge links to our clients' treasured experiences. If we miss the mark by not properly considering
Remembering Ferruccio Vitale
By Mike Farley As someone who has spent years digging into the history of landscape and watershape design, it comes as something of a surprise to me that, alongside the luminaries who dominate discussions of the origins of familiar design approaches, motifs and styles, stands at least one practitioner who is not
Shades of Paradise
One of the most common things I hear from my clients is that they’ve been inspired by experiences they’ve had at vacation resorts and want to recapture those good times in their own backyards.   I’ve heard this often enough that I keep an eye out for volumes on resort design as I wander through bookstores and hunt for material online.  It’s a narrow subject, of course, so I don’t run across too many relevant titles.  That’s why I was immediately pleased to find Paradise by Design by Bill Bensley (Periplus Edition, 2008).   My pleasure quickly turned to delight:  The book is certainly about designing resorts – but it
Capturing a Gift from the Skies
The numbers are eye-popping: Just about one percent of all the water on Planet Earth exists as fresh water suitable for human consumption. And depending on where you live in the United States, anywhere from a quarter to almost half of that precious resource