Mithun (landscape architects)
Mithun landscape architects want to help clients take advantage of global trends, including climate change, said Deb Guenther, principal.
Water costs to rise
“In the future, the cost of water and the demand for water is going to become very competitive,” Guenther said. “We want to help our clients get ahead of that curve.”
Water costs should rise because of global warming and population growth, Guenther said. So Mithun is integrating elements designed to lessen water usage in its projects. That includes using stored rainwater for irrigation and toilets, and designing landscapes that need less water.
The carbon factor
Mithun is also exploring designing landscapes to hold more carbon, said Guenther. The ways it is considering doing this are by: increasing the vegetation in a project; using more green roofs; designing with more trees along streets and medians, when appropriate; and ensuring that less native soil is disturbed in projects. That’s because carbon is released when that soil is disturbed, said Guenther.
“We’re trying to figure out which (approaches) make the biggest impact,” she said.
The firm is making sidewalks and other areas of streetscapes more livable and able to serve multiple purposes, Guenther said. Among its approaches are designing wider sidewalks for sidewalk cafes and siting tree canopies to make streets more walkable. The firm also is incorporating stormwater planters and pervious paving to filter pollutants and slow fast-moving water that otherwise would cause erosion as it progresses to Puget Sound.
On another front, Guenther said the company is seeing more collaboration between disciplines to solve problems.
Landscape architects, interior designers, clients, ecologists, architects, water resource specialists and energy specialists should be working together, she said. This collaboration is becoming an element of university curriculum for architecture and other design professions, and more public agencies are relying on it, she said.