2016 National Grant Competition for Emerging
Professionals in Landscape Architecture


Brad Weitekamp Brad Weitekamp
[dtls] Landscape Architecture | St. Louis, MO
University of Florida



What made you become interested in Landscape Architecture?
The idea of making a positive impact on the environment through design fascinated me. One of the great things about being a landscape architect is we get to make a difference every day, with every single project we touch.

What one thing inspires you and your designs?
'One thing' is limiting, and landscape architects aren't big fans of having limits, but I'd say my kids. Being able to look at them and say I designed something they can enjoy today, and perhaps their kids someday, would be one of the greatest accomplishments I could imagine.

What do you think is the biggest challenge Landscape Architects face today?
A global water shortage and water quality in general is reshaping how our profession must address each project. It's a problem that isn't going away and it affects every scale of design. With that being said, it's also one of the greatest opportunities for landscape architects to take a leadership role in addressing the issue.

What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?
The realization that no design is ever perfect. Take each project as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes to make the next design better.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I had a previous career in marketing and advertising, so I’d like to take that experience and put it to use in a leadership role mentoring the next generation of landscape architects. Combining my business and design professional experiences, I love the atmosphere of a small design studio, with all of its moving parts. I could certainly see myself using those experiences to lead a group of designers.


Brad Weitekamp
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What change would you make to your region if money were no object?

A traveling virtual reality experience to effectively communicate the effects of sea-level rise on a localized level.

Sea-level rise is one of the greatest challenges our planet will face over the next several centuries. The design community plays an extremely important role in educating and engaging the general public about the effects of sea-level rise through innovative techniques. Through my past research, I have found one of the greatest challenges regarding sea-level rise is to connect the effects to a localized level of understanding for citizens. Most people understand the planet is in danger, but what really matters to them is how their immediate surroundings will change over time.

The concept of traveling the country localizing sea-level rise changes through a 360-degree virtual reality travel trailer aims to revolutionize and expand the ability of the design community to effectively communicate the effects of sea-level rise on a local level. The overall goal is to submerse the user into a photorealistic simulation of how their immediate surroundings will change over time: 10 years, 20 years, 100 years, etc. The user will enter a branded travel trailer parked in an environment known to be at-risk due to sea level rise. The interior of the trailer will be a 360 degree photorealistic simulation of the landscape immediately outside of the trailer. After being submersed into a 2 minute simulation of the visual changes related to the surrounding environment, the post-visualization viewing portal will open to show them the current landscape, cementing the images of what great change lies ahead for the surrounding landscape its varied ecosystems.

This concept is designed to be a two-phase project, culminating with the user experience described. The initial stage will be a week-long workshop with local photographers, landscape architects, graphic artists, and other allied professions. The purpose of the workshop is to identify a local spot for the user to take place, and produce accurate images of the localized effects of sea-level rise in the identified location. The simulation should be based upon scientific data, and not to sensationalize the effects. Creating a dynamic design team is paramount to the success. These will ideally be individuals with a vast local knowledge. With intense collaboration of the design team, a complete simulation package for the 2 minute display to be shown will be created and tested for use 7 days from the travel trailer arriving in its chosen destination.

Ideally the simulation project team would arrive on a Thursday afternoon, culminating with a 3-day sea-level rise symposium beginning the 2nd Friday after arrival in the community. The simulation project can either be treated as a standalone project, or used in conjunction with community engagement activities related to sea-level rise resiliency planning. The tools within the design community should be versatile enough to create localized events surrounding the arrival of the "Rising Tide Traveling Sea-Level Rise Simulator". This would be a completely transferrable process, where the only items changing are the simulation images and trailer location.