A Day in the Life of Michal Laszczuk, MLA Student
Michal Laszczuk is a second year Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA) student. As an MLA student, much of Michal’s time is devoted to working on design and construction projects, ranging from new playgrounds to water management facilities. Typically, students work on these projects over the course of several months. To showcase this, Michal has summarized the process in a timeline showing the “Life of a Project”. View by clicking the arrows below.
Taking Site Photos
Creating a design for a new landscape architecture project begins by visiting the project site. For this project, I am redesigning the area surrounding War Memorial Hall for alumni and convocation celebrations. I take photos from many angles at the project site to ensure I have a good understanding of the soft and hard landscapes that I am working with.
Initial Concept Sketch
After visiting the project site, I head to the studio rooms in the Landscape Architecture building and draw up an initial concept sketch. A concept sketch allows me to explore central design themes and fundamental principles concerning the goals of the project, also known as programming. For this project, I want the design to be practical, but to also artistically represent the theme of people coming together at alumni and convocation ceremonies. The multiple paths in my sketch represent the various backgrounds of students at the University of Guelph, which all come together in a final celebration at War Memorial Hall.
In landscape architecture, the first sketch rarely ends up as the final implemented design. I spend a lot of time coming up with new ideas and absorbing advice from colleagues and advisors. This design was focused on using the University of Guelph colour scheme, however after sharing it with my peers and my professor I was advised to make the colour scheme more subtle in later versions. Taking this advice, I draw up multiple alternative designs, which I compare and contrast to ensure that the best possible design is chosen in the end.
As I continue to develop the final design, I use a digital software program called Rhino to develop a 3D model of the site topography. This ensures that my adjustments to the current design fit well with the existing conditions and it allows me to design an effective plan for stormwater management on site. The Rhino model also allows me to choose a view for the rendering image that I will design later to match the photo I took when visiting the site.
I spend a bit more time at my computer coming up with a rendered drawing of the site. I take the view from the Rhino model and begin placing different image and texture layers within Photoshop on top of the initial 3D model. One of the challenges in using Photoshop is to change the season of the rendering by placing and colouring foliage in the background. Furthermore, to align images such as the image of War Memorial Hall, they must be placed at very particular angles to fit the view. Images of people are placed in as PNG files from architectural rendering websites.
As all of my sketches, models and renderings come together in one design, I create the final plan in Photoshop. The bird's-eye view shown here illustrates the final plan for the War Memorial Hall project. For this project, the final plan has fewer paths than the original sketch, and a more subdued colour palette. However, the final plan still incorporates the central theme originally chosen for this project, which represents the coming together of people at War Memorial Hall.
As the last step in the project, I print the final rendered drawing and other information on a project poster, which is called a “panel” in the landscape architecture industry. For this project, I present the panels to my professor and the University of Guelph Alumni Committee. Normally, the panels are presented at a meeting with clients so they can see the design intent, but in this case they were presented in what is called a “crit.” This is where professors, professionals, clients, and guests can all give their final opinions regarding the design before the groundwork begins.
Outside of the studio, I like to spend my free time on evenings and weekends out on the trails! There are lots of places to go mountain biking in and around Guelph. It's a different way of exploring the city and surrounding area, and a great way to keep active.