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Will Drones Lead to a Boom in Landscape Architecture?

And could a golden era for urban design lead to the automation of landscape architects?
Houston's Buffalo Bayou Promenade, designed by SWA Group.
Houston's Buffalo Bayou Promenade, designed by SWA Group.Tom Fox/American Society of Landscape Architects

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.