Top 6 Cities for Open Spaces

Pulaski Square in Savannah, Georgia image: Chris M. Morris via Flickr

Pulaski Square in Savannah, Georgia
image: Chris M. Morris via Flickr

When PPN members were asked which cities have the best networks of open spaces, there were a handful of responses that came up again and again. A few outliers appeared once or twice—Ann Arbor, Austin, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Seattle among them—but six cities clearly dominated the results. These top cities cover different regions of the country, but they all have a healthy dose of green within their urban core, whether due to historic squares, centrally-located oases, a smattering of smaller green spaces throughout the city, or a mixture of new and old spaces that together create an interconnected network that keeps green spaces close, no matter where you are in the city.

Though many cities were mentioned as having the best network of open spaces, below we review those that were mentioned most often, along with some of the best spaces within these cities selected by our members.

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Continuing Education, Online & in Denver

Denver's City Park image: Clint Mickel via Flickr

Denver’s City Park
image: Clint Mickel via Flickr

This post is a heads-up for educational opportunities for members of the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN and for all ASLA members with an interest in this practice area. We would like to remind our members of an upcoming webinar and sessions that will be of interest at the Annual Meeting in Denver.

Upcoming ASLA Online Learning Presentation:

Risk Management at Nature Play and Learning Areas: A Risk Analysis Approach
Wednesday, September 17, 1:00 – 2:00pm (EDT)
Presenter: Allen Cooper, J.D., M.P.P, National Wildlife Federation

Risk management is a paramount issue in the design of nature play and learning areas. This presentation provides background on the dominant standards-based approach to risk management in children’s play areas, considers its application to nature play areas, then presents an alternative approach to risk management based on analysis of actual risk. The presenter is a coauthor of the recently released guide for the design of nature play and learning areas, Nature Play & Learning Places: Creating and Managing Places Where Children Engage with Nature.

Children’s Outdoor Environments at the Annual Meeting:

November, and the Annual Meeting in Denver, is just around the corner. There is a field session, numerous education sessions and several networking opportunities that will be of particular interest to members of the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN.

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Public Interest Design in Washington, DC

image: Alexandra Hay

image: Alexandra Hay

Sustainability, as defined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, entails “the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity. Companies aiming for sustainability need to perform not against a single, financial bottom line, but against [this] triple bottom line.” The idea of the triple bottom line is a key tenet of public interest design and its many allied movements, such as human-centered design, public sector design, community-based design, socially-responsible design, design for the common good, etc.—the list goes on.

With a plethora of terms and keywords to choose from, making sense of all the diverse options available within public interest design may seem daunting at first. From university-based programs to community design centers across the United States—the Association for Community Design has a complete map—opportunities to take part in public interest design abound.

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Call for PechaKucha-Style Presentations

image: Lisa Horne

image: Lisa Horne

The Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN is looking forward to the ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver this November. Join us for an exciting PPN meeting to jumpstart creativity and encourage new connections!

Perhaps you have heard of the “PechaKucha” phenomenon, a whole new way to share talks with 20 slides at 20 seconds each. This year our meeting will include a series of PechaKucha-style presentations on children’s outdoor environments and we are inviting you to take part.

Participants can look at broad issues like universal design, safety, emerging health issues for children, etc. or focus on a specific project. A presentation can be around process, innovations, trends—whatever you want to share. We will get to learn from and know each other better, and have some fun in the process.

Interested in presenting? Submit a title, short summary paragraph, and brief outline for the 20 slides (one to two words per slide) to Lisa Horne at by September 12, 2014.

For inspiration, see a PechaKucha guide on YouTube. Also, check out the amazing work done by the Campus Planning and Design PPN last year.

Thanks in advance,

Lisa Horne and Julie Johnson
Co-Chairs, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN

The full schedule of PPN meetings in Denver can be viewed on the Annual Meeting website, and don’t forget to purchase a ticket for the PPN Networking Reception.

Designing for Food Production

An overview of Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit image: Beth Hagenbuch

An overview of Lafayette Greens in downtown Detroit
image: Beth Hagenbuch

Farmers and landscape architects approach the landscape in fundamentally different ways, though they often share similar goals for the health of the environment and the communities where they work. Since discovering my green thumb as a college student, I’ve worked in both arenas, first as an intern on organic farms in California, later as a landscape designer and contractor specializing in edible gardens and, most recently, as an environmental planner focused on zoning regulations and other big picture concerns for urban agriculture. In the middle I had a seven-acre farm of my own, raising goats, chickens and pigs in a suburban neighborhood in Athens, Georgia.

Through these experiences I’ve found that while organic farmers and environmentally-minded designers both operate from a triple bottom line perspective, they operate under very different assumptions, yielding radically different outcomes in the landscape. The tremendous interest of today’s urban populations in food production has brought the perspectives of farmers and designers to common ground—literally—and if the urban agriculture movement is to be seen as successful twenty years from now, it is important that a greater degree of mutual understanding be reached.

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Top 5 Designed Spaces

Fallingwater in spring image: Via Tsuji via Flickr

Fallingwater in spring
image: Via Tsuji via Flickr

When PPN members were asked about their favorite designed spaces, the top 5 answers spanned very different time periods, styles, and settings, from a linear urban park set atop an elevated railway to an iconic house placed in nature like few other structures. Check out the top 5 below, and read what our members had to say about what makes these favorite locations so spectacular.

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Logistics of International Work–Part 2

Street scene, Ipoh, Malaysia image: Erik Mustonen

Street scene, Ipoh, Malaysia
image: Erik Mustonen

My two previous posts, Getting Started in International Work and Logistics of International Work—Part 1, dealt with preparing to work internationally. This post deals with the logistics of when you are in a foreign country and after you return. The previously stated caveat—that conditions vary greatly between countries, within countries, and over time– still applies, but this should at least give you a few things to think about.

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