Natural Water Features

Tanner Springs Natural Water Feature   image: Boora Architects

Tanner Springs Natural Water Feature
image: Boora Architects

As the notion of “sustainable sites” becomes increasingly important, the Natural Water Feature can provide the rejuvenating and life-affirming elements of water, while maximizing a site’s sustainability factor. Borrowing design techniques from natural and constructed wetlands and the increasingly popular “natural swimming pool,” the Natural Water Feature offers a green alternative to the traditional, chlorinated, and resource consuming display.

So what exactly is a Natural Water Feature? While the definition is still being debated, there are three main aspects upon which everyone agrees:

First, the display will use a non-chemical water treatment system. The Natural Water Feature relies on a living ecosystem in lieu of adding chlorine and acid. Chemical pollution becomes a non-issue—nature does the work.

Second, the Natural Water Feature should use minimal mechanical gear and electricity. This means eliminating or downsizing the mechanical filter and its pump, the effect pump, and other equipment—which translates into using less energy.

Third, the display should use recaptured water where possible, and in general, minimize the use of potable water. Some localities demand this for any water feature.

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Collaborative Landscape Planning: Redington Pass

The view of Rincon Mountains and Redington Road looking southeast across Redington Pass  Image: Rachel Glass

The view of Rincon Mountains and Redington Road looking southeast across Redington Pass
image: Rachel Glass

U.S. Forest Service Sustainable Recreation Planning through Community Engagement

The mountains surrounding Tucson, Arizona hold a bounty of scenic desert recreation opportunities, from waterfalls to archaeological sites and geological rock formations. A fifteen minute drive through northeast Tucson leads to Redington Pass, connecting the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountain ranges in the Coronado National Forest – managed by the US Forest Service (USFS). Redington Road, a 14-mile strip of unpaved road maintained by Pima County, winds across the Pass connecting the Tucson and San Pedro valleys. The scenic and challenging desert backcountry of Redington Pass attracts a diverse range of users, including recreationalists, ranchers, and researchers.

When I started my research, the Forest Service was finalizing revisions to their comprehensive Forest Plan to meet the needs of public land access for the 21st century. Presently, only one ecological management area exists for the entire district. The Plan revision proposes a collaborative area management plan specific for Redington Pass, in coordination with the Friends of Redington Pass (FRP), a non-profit organization representing social and environmental interests on the Pass. This partnership is illustrative of modern network development forged across sectors to tackle complex shared issues.

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Child’s Play

image: Sandra Wong

image: Sandra Wong

Designing Play Spaces that Support Healthy Cognitive Development in Children

How do you remember the playgrounds of your childhood? Do you rediscover your five-year-old self hiding under a slide, experimenting with mixtures of sand and water until your attention is captured by the sounds from a nearby game of tag? Play spaces have a strong identity that pull on our nostalgic heartstrings. Play is more than a means for children to pass the time and expend their energy. It is a realm of fantastical and cryptic adventures that cradle and nurture the child, molding them into individuals who can think, grow, and connect with others to the best of their abilities.

Play spaces can and should be designed to support emerging behaviors and developing skills in children, from infancy to adolescence. If we design landscapes in a way that is relevant to how children interact with their environments as they grow up, we can transform valuable open spaces into places that are impactful for children.

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Projects That Changed the Profession

Keller Fountain Park in Portland, OR image: Sam Grover

Keller Fountain Park in Portland, OR
image: Sam Grover

Last year, we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members to name projects that changed the profession of landscape architecture. Responses ranged from nineteenth century urban parks that helped to define the field when the term ‘landscape architect’ had only just been coined, to twentieth century modernist landscapes that look radically different from much of what came before them. These transformative projects had outsize impacts on landscape architecture, and stand as landmark works that mark the apex of a certain style or set of design principles, or the start of something new.

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WILA Interview Series: Facing Challenges

image: iStock © Thomas_EyeDesign

image: iStock © Thomas_EyeDesign

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN)’s focus for 2015 is an interview series developed around being women landscape architects, life/work balance, and mentors. The WILA PPN leadership team developed 17 interview questions, and then found willing landscape architects to participate in the interview process.

The following is an in-depth look at responses to our second group of questions, focused on the topic of challenges and how to overcome them. Several recurring themes appeared throughout the answers to the questions: What challenges have you faced during your career which you attribute as specifically related to being a woman? How have you dealt with those challenges?

The majority of the women who participated in our interviews have experienced interpersonal challenges dealing with men in the office and in the field (with contractors). These difficulties were not only a matter of having to prove credibility and earn respect, but having to do so in a culturally acceptable way.

Quotes from our interviewees:

  • “The biggest career challenges I’ve faced related to being a woman stem from opinions formed by specific cultural or generational contexts. Some people have different ideas about what women can or can’t do or what’s appropriate behavior or language.”
  • “I wasn’t graceful in how I dealt with many of those scenarios, but I dealt with them…by being vocal…speaking to those I thought could make a change and by trying to call it when I could.”
  • “I have had people assume that my male partners were my ‘bosses.’ I have also had some (male) contractors not taking me seriously, talking down to me, or disregarding me.”

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Pop Up Nature Play in San Diego

image: Rooted in Place

image: Rooted in Place

This past April the San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative (SDCaN) hosted its fourth annual Pop Up Nature Play event at the San Diego Earth Fair in Balboa Park. Over one hundred children and their families from across San Diego spent the afternoon creating what can only be described as a mini village of magical structures with nature’s loose parts.

During this one-day event, children of all ages are invited to engage in unstructured outdoor play with the collection of natural materials including bamboo poles, sticks, tree cookies, pine cones, shells, and palm fronds. From teepees to fairy houses, children work together to bring their ideas to life.

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Grow Your Network in Chicago

2014 PPN Networking Reception in Denver, CO image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

2014 PPN Networking Reception in Denver, CO
image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

Friday, June 19 is the early bird deadline for the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, to be held November 6-9 in Chicago at McCormick Place. ASLA’s annual meeting is the largest gathering of landscape architecture professionals, students, and providers in the world—so don’t miss it!

In addition to the 130 education sessions, field sessions, workshops, and general sessions that will be presented during the meeting, make sure you add the PPN Networking Reception and a few PPN meetings to your Annual Meeting plans.

The PPN Networking Reception, taking place on Friday, November 6 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers (ASLA Headquarters Hotel) from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, is a great way to start the Annual Meeting weekend. This is your chance to reconnect and build some new connections with members from all 20 of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks. You’ll have the chance to meet and chat with colleagues from your own area practice, and others, over hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

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