Great Place Wednesday: Inner Harbor; Baltimore, MD

America’s been extraordinarily adept at completely ignoring its waterfronts. Most cities in America with a waterfront have turned that waterfront into an entirely industrial wasteland, with little public use, and even less quality spaces.  New York City has only recently discovered its waterfront, and has invested millions in developing more public space along the Hudson[…]

Federal Heights Residence; Salt Lake City, UT

With a Japanese style garden beginning to show its age, the client enlisted VODA  to design a clean, updated zen garden for their Federal Heights home.  Focusing on concepts of simplicity, asymmetry, and clean lines, the new garden design re-imagines the use of a small space.  VODA used local and adaptive materials such as dark[…]

Great Place Wednesday: Mirabell Gardens; Salzburg, Austria

Experiencing the great places of Europe inevitably involves strolling vast, open gardens. Today they may seem like quiet, pleasant places, but these gardens always have histories  behind them. Often they are symbols of power, oppression, and war-time plunder.  The Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Austria were built as a symbol of the power for their owner,[…]

Zen Garden Design: Shunmyo Masuno

I attended a lecture last night given by Shunmyo Masuno, hosted by the University of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning. Shunmyo Masuno is one of the world’s preeminent Japanese garden designers, and is also an eighteenth generation Zen Buddhist priest.  As a designer, his spiritual code guides all his works. His overriding philosophy is[…]

Great Place Wednesday: Old Town San Diego, CA

This summer I spent a week in the San Diego area, my first visit there in many years. We spent an afternoon exploring San Diego’s Old Town, which is truly a great place: San Diego’s Old Town is unique in that it was basically abandoned for a more strategic site for the city, a few[…]

Sustainability Means Local Food

Many people easily associate sustainability with energy efficiency, recycling, biking, public transportation, solar power, hybrid vehicles, and even shopping at local businesses, but few readily associate sustainability with food.  How and what we eat as a community has a major impact on long-term sustainability.  “Eating locally” is more than just a pleasant aphorism for the[…]

Great Place Wednesday: The Sacred Way; Beijing, China

Located  few miles outside of urban Beijing are the Ming Dynasty tombs.  Leading to the tombs is The Sacred Way, a form of the “spirit way,” a style of design as common in royal Chinese tombs as pyramids were to the Egyptian pharaohs.   The Sacred Way begins with the Red Gate, a large entry building[…]

In Progress: Frog Bench Farms

Despite the weather turning wet and cold, things are still progressing on an exciting project here in Salt Lake City that VODA’s been working on for more than a year.   Located in the foothills of Salt Lake, this project is spearheaded by a couple of visionaries working to develop a new residence and urban farm.[…]

Great Place Wednesday: Champ de Mars; Paris, FR

The Champ de Mars is one of Paris’s largest open spaces, and gives a perfect example of French garden style.  Originally part of the military’s marching and drilling grounds, the park space has hosted the Worlds Fair four times, in 1867, 1878, 1889, and 1900.  It was in 1889 that the park’s most famous feature[…]

Westminster Residence; Salt Lake City, UT

VODA worked with the client to create a landscape master plan for long-term implementation.  With the owner working on a home addition and garage remodel, the team worked together to craft a plan that would include all the design elements needed in order to maximize the small home lot.  These included a large new patio[…]

In Progress: Avenues Residence

Its always exciting to see progress made in Designing Great Places. I dropped by a residential landscape project that VODA recently completed design on, where construction is progressing.  While the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake is known for its great architecture, its also known for tiny home lots.  We had to maximize every square inch[…]

City Comforts: Build to the Sidewalk

David Sucher’s definitive book on urban design, City Comforts, documents the fine details of “creating an urban village.”  Each mini-chapter documents a single concept of urban design that makes urban life possible, and even enjoyable.  No one experiences the city on the scale that many planners think: large blocks of “zones” intended to prevent “incompatible[…]

A Day at Ninth & Ninth Street Festival

VODA spent a beautiful, sunny Saturday at a booth at the annual Ninth & Ninth Street Festival in Salt Lake City last weekend. Less than five minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, the “Ninth and Ninth” neighborhood is known for being a hub of local businesses, restaurants, and is one of the most “walkable” neighborhoods[…]

U Street Residence; Salt Lake City, UT

With a small and poorly organized backyard in Salt Lake City’s Avenue’s neighborhood, the client needed to rethink how the space was to be used. VODA worked closely with the client to design spaces that would be of the most use to them, including two outdoor patio spaces, large seating steps connecting the upper and[…]