Forbes Magazine is running an article on, so far as I know, the only landscape architect to have joined the billionaire club. Describing him as The Godfather of Digital Maps, Forbes reports that ‘Dangermond was raised in Redlands, Calif., a town of roughly 25,000 at the time, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. His father was a gardener who had emigrated from Holland, and his mother was a maid. They started a plant nursery, partly to earn enough to send their five kids to college. Dangermond met his future wife, Laura, in high school, and the two went together to Cal Poly, where Dangermond studied environmental science and landscape architecture. After they married, Dangermond went to the University of Minnesota to study urban design and in 1968 to Harvard, in part for the opportunity to work in a lab that combined computer graphics and spatial analysis and whose members had developed some of the first mapping software. “I had some notion of applying computer mapping to my profession,” he says, “but frankly I was just very excited by the technology and curious how it could be made useful.”’ After studying with Ian McHarg and Carl Steinitz, Jack Dangermond founded ESRI and developed ArcGIS. More recently, he has worked with Steinitz on the design method and technology they call GeoDesign. I guess it will succeed but regret that it has not ‘made friends’ with landscape urbanism.
GIS is the only significant software category developed by landscape archictects and is the software tool most likely to help with the twin tasks of giving the public the service it needs and fending of professional competition from architects, planners and urban designers.