By Eric Herman
It’s a wonderful coincidence and a rare opportunity: From October 30 through November 3, the American Society of Landscape Architects will hold its 2003 meeting and exposition in New Orleans, followed the next day – in the very same city and in the very same convention center – by the International Spa & Pool Exposition, which will run from November 4 to November 7.
Although neither organization had anything to do with the other’s plans for their big annual events this year, this confluence of expositions and conferences in the Big Easy presents a unique opportunity for people on all sides of the watershaping trades. It may be little more than a random quirk of the event-scheduling process, but I for one think it’d be great for people from both crowds to partake of this rare and remarkably convenient opportunity to rub elbows with each other and check out gatherings that seem miles apart despite serving many of the same people and business interests.
Ever since this publication’s inception five years ago, we’ve pushed the idea that people in the landscape design/architecture professions and people from design/construction end of the pool and spa industry share many common interests so far as the practices, techniques and technologies of shaping water are concerned. And it bears repeating: Many pool designers and builders have been looking for years to expand their reach beyond the water’s edge as a means of enhancing the value of their work; conversely, a great many landscape architects, designers and contractors have been turning to watershapes of all sorts to add interest, fun and beauty to their work. Two missions, same inclusive goal.
Although the cultures and attitudes of the two industries are quite different, the interests they share seem self-evident. Still, as often as that idea has been trumpeted in these pages and elsewhere in recent years, it never ceases to amaze me how the existence of common ground so often comes as a surprise to people on both sides of the watershaping scene.
To be sure, it’s been gratifying to watch two self-identified, well-defined industries break down some barriers and begin, at times with difficulty, to communicate with each other. Now, with the industries’ two biggest shows happening in the same place at very nearly the same time, I’d suggest it’s the perfect opportunity for those of you who are so inclined to see what goes on in the magazine’s other hemisphere all for yourself.
I’ve been to both shows many times, and I’d willing to bet a round of Hurricanes that lots of folks from the swimming pool and spa industry would be fascinated by the array of water- and landscape-related products on display at the ASLA show – a ton of stuff you simply won’t see at any of the swimming pool shows. At the same time, and despite the fact that the pool/spa expo has largely become a show for retailers, it would seem an equally splendid opportunity for landscape professionals to be surprised at the breadth of watershaping products awaiting them at the pool/spa expo.
Personally, I place a high value on cross-communication and think it’s always a good idea for professionals to seek out new and unusual venues in which they can find new ideas and information. For that reason, I’ve done all I can through the years to persuade professionals on both sides of the divide to attend both shows, if only to let them see how the other half lives and compare what’s available.
The fact that, this year only, both shows are in the same city at about the same time lends my advice an economy of motion that should enable a larger-than-usual number of you to give both conventions a look. If this doesn’t work out – if, for some reason, you can’t bear the thought of spending any extra time in the Crescent City – I can only urge you to seek out other opportunities to cross over the line and see what drives our creative processes at the magazine and what we think are the instruments that should be driving yours.
Enough said. This is a golden opportunity – one very much worthy of your consideration.