Eric Kramer helped lead the landscape design of the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City, MO.

gb&d: What are the hottest topics in landscape architecture right now?

I think water is a key one. It connects so many of our projects, from the urban, such as Kansas City, to the rural. We’re working at a museum where the way that water moves across that site and back into native stream corridors is driving a huge portion of the design work and decision-making.

gb&d: What are today’s biggest challenges?

Regulations. They’re written in ways that are meant to be as general and overarching as possible, but the problems are always site- and condition-specific. Finding ways to mesh the needs of the project and the needs of the site with the language of the regulatory framework is very hard.

gb&d: How has the industry changed in the past decade?

One way is that the issues we’ve been talking about, such as water, have always been central to our work, but they haven’t been at the forefront. Now they are. So the topics may be the same, but the conversations themselves have changed.

A diagram of the Kauffman Center’s sloping site and underground parking garage.

gb&d: Is there a growing consciousness of the importance of landscapes?

I think so, and I think one piece of evidence to that effect is the fact that landscape architects as professionals are now actually leading some of the most significant large-scale urban projects. Those projects previously would have been led by an architect but now are being led by landscape architects.