Will Drones Lead to a Boom in Landscape Architecture?

Will Drones Lead to a Boom in Landscape Architecture?

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Ian Siegel is a futurist. As founder and CEO for ZipRecruiter, the job-seeking site, he spends a lot of time thinking about what happens next in work. From his 11th-floor office in downtown Santa Monica, Siegel says, he can see seven different parking garages, each one capable of hosting north of 1,000 cars—none of which will be necessary in the future he foresees. “There’s an amazing amount of real estate that’s about to go underutilized,” Siegel says, “unless they find a way to repurpose it.”

Siegel is backing one of the sunnier future transportation timelines: In his mind, the coming rise of autonomous vehicles (AVs), coupled with the takeoff of drone delivery, will leave our roads empty and our parking lots derelict. Quadcopters bearing take-out and on-demand goods will buzz the skies. Meanwhile, the ground below will quake with a different kind of activity: landscape architecture.

In Siegel’s near-distant future, 90 percent or more of the privately owned and organically operated cars currently on the roads will no longer be necessary, and society will reap a windfall of real estate that it has never before had the luxury to reconsider. Landscape architects—the design professionals responsible for planting grassed swales that convey stormwater runoff, siting benches that line pedestrian thoroughfares, and meeting the demand for shade with tree canopies—will be the front line in re-thinking the built environment.

“It is with relatively high confidence that I predict you’re going to see a boom in landscape architecture,” Siegel says. “You will see innovation and invention that has never been possible, because suddenly, everyone’s going to have all this excess space.”

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