Learning in the Garden, Part 1

image: Kasey Wooten

The learning garden is a designed outdoor space meant to help children engage with and learn about the natural world, as well as provide opportunities for physical, mental, and social growth. Spaces that serve this purpose can vary hugely in form, size, and design, as well as programming, funding, and intended users. We are excited to present a three-part series of learning garden case studies to better understand how these spaces come to be, how they function now, and what we can learn from them for future projects.

The first of these case studies is the school garden A.P. Giannini Middle School in San Francisco. We asked Kasey Wooten, the school’s Outdoor Science and Garden Consultant, some questions about the facility and her role in its daily operations. Kasey is an educator with a background in farming, and she brings these skills, along with a personal interest in sustainability and in how young people relate to the food they eat, to enrich the education and growth of her students.

-Brenna Castro, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair

Where is your garden located? Is it a public or private facility?

The garden is located in the Outer Sunset in San Francisco, just 10 blocks from Ocean Beach. It sits in the middle of the school, protected by buildings on three sides. A.P. Giannini (APG) is a public school and the schoolyard, including the garden, is open to the public on Sundays 9am-4pm through the Shared Schoolyard Project.

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Effective Communication in the Architecture & Design Industry

image: iStock

In today’s world, we are bombarded by media for communication. Technology has provided us a wide array of communication tools, from desk lines to cell phones, texting to instant messaging and email, and more. But how do we know when to use the appropriate form of communication? With so many choices, often we choose the most convenient method, when it is not always the best choice for the project, company, or ourselves.

  1. Think about your reason for communication. Is it a quick discussion with a peer to move forward with your work? A simple graphic question? Do you need confirmation on utility routing from a Civil consultant? Do you need approval from a manager before proceeding on to the next step in design?
  2. Know your audience. Do you have a software question for a Millennial? Or perhaps performance praise for a peer? Are you dealing with a Discipline Director? Inside the company, or external to the company? What are the personality traits of your audience? Do they prefer detailed information or are they quick and to the point? Does a little small talk help engage the listener?
  3. Know the situation. Is time a factor? Are you requesting information or dispensing it? Is there a need to document the conversation?

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Submit a Speed Session Idea for NRPA

New Orleans Riverfront: Reinventing the Crescent, New Orleans, Louisiana, Hargreaves Associates, 2008 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category / image: Hargreaves Associates and TEN Arquitectos, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

The 2017 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Annual Conference is coming to New Orleans this September, and NRPA is now accepting applications for Speed Sessions—a great way for new speakers to dip their toe in the water and share their ideas.

These 20-minute Speed Sessions are a great opportunity to speak in front of a group of your peers without having to commit to a lengthy presentation. Whether you are a first time or experienced speaker, NRPA invites enthusiastic professionals to share your stories and experiences at these sessions.

Speed Session proposals are due by March 24, 2017. Visit the NRPA website for more details and to submit your session ideas.

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Welcome to the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture

The inaugural LAM Lecture on March 9, 2017 featured Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, in conversation with Bradford McKee, Editor, LAM / image: Alexandra Hay

Last Thursday, Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) presented the first public event held in the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. The inaugural LAM Lecture, featuring Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, was just the start of a new phase for ASLA as a year of construction wraps up and we settle into our new space, designed by architecture firm Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden.

Below, we recap how the transformative renovation of ASLA headquarters in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood has progressed in recent months, giving ASLA a bright new home that embodies the mission, vision, and values of the Society and is also a showcase for sustainable design excellence.

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Where To Go To Feel Inspired

On the Soapstone Valley Trail to Rock Creek Park / image: Alexandra Hay

Landscape architects consider places in terms of their sustainability, aesthetics, design, ecological soundness, accessibility, and plant palettes, among many other facets and factors. But how often do you think about places as sources of inspiration? When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members where they go to feel inspired, responses ranged from the general to super-specific spots that spark their creativity.

For many, the key to finding inspiration is simply going outside. A walk in the woods was one of the most popular responses, and being near water—whether by a river or on the beach—was another frequent answer. Here are the key themes that members touched on:

Inspired by Nature

“A quiet place in nature, whether man-made or natural.”

“Any vantage point with a panoramic view of undisturbed land.”

“Bike ride in a rural roadway.”

“A walk outside in a park, forest, or prairie.”

“Public lands, parks—great spaces open to the public.”

“I take a walk (unfortunately it’s often here in the ‘burbs but even the most boring landscapes provoke ideas and thoughts).”

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Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing Promises Freedom for LA Mountain Lions

Proposed design for a wildlife overpass in Agoura Hills, CA / image: Clark Stevens, Architect, and Raymond Garcia, illustrator for Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains

In the modest town of Agoura Hills, CA, plans are underway to construct the largest wildlife overpass in the world. Crossing over 10 lanes of the 101 Freeway, the Liberty Canyon overpass will be approximately 165 feet wide and 200 feet long. The project aims to connect severely isolated wildlife populations within the Santa Monica Mountains to those in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains. Without such a connection, there is a significant risk that the local mountain lion population will go extinct in the next 50 years.

The design will include tunnels to accommodate more reclusive wildlife, a corridor of riparian vegetation, and sound walls to dampen the noise and headlights of the freeway. According to Clark Stevens, the architect and habitat restorationist behind the design of the overpass, a wildlife crossing is more successful when you provide multiple ways for wildlife to utilize it. For example, deer are more likely to cross over the top of the bridge, while predators such as bobcats are more likely to cross through the tunnels. The riparian corridor will restore familiar scent-paths for animals, helping to draw them through the crossing. In order to accommodate mountain lion behavior, the crossing will be sloped on both sides to provide high vantage points with a wide view.

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SITES AP Exam Chapter Contest: Will Your Chapter Take the Lead?

Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA, Andropogon Associates Ltd., 2014 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon
Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA, Andropogon Associates Ltd., 2014 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon

The SITES® AP Chapter Contest is well on its way and the three chapters in the lead are:

Potomac
Pennsylvania/Delaware
Texas

California Southern, California San Diego, Florida, and Minnesota are all neck and neck right behind Texas and there’s still a chance to catch up and take the lead. All participants that register and take the exam by March 31 will also have 90 days to retake the exam, at no additional cost, if needed.

Contest Rules and Awards

Two chapters will be awarded: the chapter with the most people and the chapter with the greatest percentage of their membership that register and take the exam by March 31, 2017, will be awarded a half-day SITES workshop! Those members who have already taken the exam since the launch of the exam (including those who took it at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting) are also included in the contest.

Be sure to send a tally of your members who have already taken the exam or who are registered and plan to take it by March 31 to sites@asla.org.

Register for the exam here!

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The Children & Nature Network Conference

2016 C&NN Conference participants gather to learn about a park’s “pop-up adventure play” area. / image: Julie Johnson, ASLA
2016 C&NN Conference participants gather to learn about a park’s “pop-up adventure play” area. / image: Julie Johnson, ASLA

The Children & Nature Network Conference Brings Diverse Perspectives to Shared Goals

As architects of landscapes, we know that what we design impacts children’s lives and their well-being—how they may learn, play, and make sense of their world. And we’re not alone. The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) is an organization seeking to engage children with the natural world, and the C&NN International Conference brings together people of myriad professions, including landscape architects, to learn from each other.

While an exploration of the C&NN website offers valuable research and precedents for practice, along with relevant news articles, taking part in a C&NN International Conference makes those resources tangible. I have attended two prior C&NN Conferences and was inspired by informative and interactive sessions. I also appreciated the deliberate time set aside to meet people effecting change across scales and disciplines.

The 2016 C&NN International Conference in St. Paul, MN, featured a number of design-focused sessions, including a field trip to a “pop-up adventure play” area in a city park, and a presentation on “Green Schoolyards” with speakers presenting different models. Other sessions and plenary talks brought into focus such issues as health, diversity, and learning opportunities. To see highlights of last year’s conference, check out videos and session descriptions on C&NN’s website.

This year’s conference will be held April 18-21, 2017 in Vancouver, BC. The conference schedule, posted online, illustrates the thematic sessions and tours addressing such topics as play, learning, and health from a range of perspectives. Members of the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN will be taking part, as they present through the Conference’s poster sessions.

by Julie Johnson, ASLA, Officer and Past Co-Chair of the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN

Call for Papers & Posters

The Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada / image: Eric MacDonald
The Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada / image: Eric MacDonald

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation 39th Annual Meeting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

May 25-27, 2017

Conference theme: “Big Sky, Big Landscape, Big Ideas”

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2017 annual meeting theme of “Big Sky, Big Landscape, Big Ideas,” to be held in Calgary, Alberta. The Program Committee invites proposals for papers and summaries of works in progress that will promote lively and thoughtful discussions about cultural landscape conservation. In particular, submissions that deal with the subjects of tourism, agriculture, and natural resource extraction are encouraged, as these themes will be reinforced by our visits to the cultural landscapes of recreation and industry in Calgary, Canada’s third largest city; Drumheller Valley, a landscape of former coal mines and agriculture in Alberta’s badlands; and Banff, the scenic birthplace of Canada’s national park system. We also encourage proposals on the wide the range of topics present in the Alberta landscape, such as:

  • Aboriginal, First Nations and Native American perspectives, interpretations and understandings of the power of place and the larger landscape.
  • Explorations of the cultural concept of “The North,” including notions and concepts of Canadian identity.
  • Topics concerning the preservation, adaptation and reuse of vernacular architecture, structures and landscapes.
  • Issues associated with the reclamation, restoration and renewal of post-industrial sites and landscapes.
  • Topics relating to the establishment, experience, influence, impact, and management of national parks. (Such topics could include: issues of resource management, conflicts between preservation and development, ecological and habitat pressures associated with global climate change, etc.).

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A Historic Rehab in Old North St. Louis

Mural at Crown Square / image credit: Shawn Balon
Mural at Crown Square / image credit: Shawn Balon

This February, in St. Louis, MO, the New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) conference hosted exciting tours of model projects and neighborhoods throughout the greater St. Louis region and surrounding communities. I chose to attend the tour focusing on Challenges and Successes with Implementing a Comprehensive, Community-Driven Revitalization, including Historic Rehab in Old North St. Louis; focusing on a historical neighborhood in North St. Louis that was once vibrant in the early 1900’s, left as a ghost town by the 1980’s, and soon revitalized in the early 2000’s.

In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the Old North St. Louis Revitalization Initiative as one of five communities to receive a national award for Overall Excellence in Smart Growth Achievement. The award supports communities that use innovation to build stronger local economies. Old North St. Louis exemplified a comprehensive approach to community development and a strong community role in setting the agenda leading to a more robust mix of businesses and organizations since the revitalization. Continue reading

Developing Curriculum for Seasoned Professionals to Enter Academia

image: Shawn Balon
image: Shawn Balon

Gray Hair Matters: Developing a custom MLA Curriculum for seasoned professionals to enter academia

Design professionals with substantial practice experience have usually amassed a wealth of acquired knowledge and lessons learned over their career. Moreover, they have the gray hair to prove it. There could be a benefit to having those professionals impart that experience onto the next generation of designers as instructors in university landscape architecture programs.

For professionals with a Bachelor’s degree who may be interested in this pursuit, how does one prepare to make the transition from practice to teaching? Most positions for teaching landscape architecture begin with a minimum requirement of an MLA. However, what about having this qualification prepares one to be an effective teacher?

I asked myself this question when I decided to enroll in an MLA degree program at the University of Georgia (UGA), with the express desire of transitioning from practice into a teaching career. The question became the focus of my thesis as I worked toward proposing a custom MLA curriculum designed to prepare seasoned practitioners to enter academia and teach landscape architecture.
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Who Inspires You?

At the Hudson's Edge: Beacon's Long Dock a Resilient Riverfront Park, Beacon, NY, Reed Hilderbrand LLC, 2015 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, General Design Category image: James Ewing Photography
At the Hudson’s Edge: Beacon’s Long Dock a Resilient Riverfront Park, Beacon, NY, Reed Hilderbrand LLC, 2015 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, General Design Category
image: James Ewing Photography

Who inspires you? The brevity of the first question we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members in the 2015 PPN survey belies the breadth, depth, and diversity of the responses received, which ranged from specific individuals to larger groups, and from historical figures to contemporary practitioners.

The most popular answers were family members, artists, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Piet Oudolf. Inspiring landscape architects that appeared among the responses included: Andrea Cochran, FASLA; Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA; Douglas Reed, FASLA, and Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA; Dan Kiley; James Corner, ASLA; James Urban, FASLA; Julie Bargmann, ASLA; Kathryn Gustafson, FASLA; Laurie Olin, FASLA; Martha Schwartz, FASLA; Mia Lehrer, FASLA; Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA; Susannah Drake, FASLA; Signe Nielsen, FASLA; and Walter Hood.

Many members also responded with a broader category, rather than a specific individual:

“Artists of all media”

“Ancient Chinese garden designers”

“Aspirational thinkers”

“People with great vision and free spirit”

“People who put their talents to work to solve problems while putting their ego on the shelf”

“Nature writers”

“Field biologists / conservationists”

“Environmental activists”

“Professionals in public interest design”

“Musicians and chefs”

“I get glints of inspirations from almost everyone at different times.”

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Parklets 5.0 at New Partners for Smart Growth

Experience the Gateway to Trails and Forests!, sponsored by Nature Explore, U.S. Forest Service, Arbor Day Foundation, and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation image: Shawn Balon
Experience the Gateway to Trails and Forests!, sponsored by Nature Explore, U.S. Forest Service, Arbor Day Foundation, and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation
image: Shawn Balon

This February, in St. Louis, MO, the New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) conference hosted a unique set of spaces that have become a tradition of the conference. Parklets 5.0 was the fifth annual initiative to bring the urban green space movement indoors.

Parklets are parking space-sized areas used for recreational, community gathering, or beautification purposes that assist in bringing awareness to the quantity of community space that is devoted to parking rather than vibrant urban green space. These small urban parks are created by replacing a parking spot with a variety of elements (planters, trees, benches, children’s play areas, artwork, bicycle parking, and more!). Parklets evolved from an annual event where citizens, artists, and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces. Following the success of the first 2005 intervention, PARK(ing) Day has grown into a global movement. Be on the lookout later this year for information on Celebrating PARK(ing) Day with ASLA!

Led by ASLA and the Local Government Commission (LGC), the Parklets project at NPSG, once again, included interactive spaces showcasing how a parklet can transform an under-utilized parking space (or two) into exciting opportunities for creating more vibrant spaces in communities. This year, six parklet installations covered the area outside conference session rooms. The parklets were sponsored by local organizations and design firms involved in designing and advocating for urban green space and active play throughout the country.

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This Year’s Technology Forecast

The tech cloud image: Matthew Wilkins
The tech cloud
image: Matthew Wilkins

It’s a new year, which is typically the time we speculate about various things, including what’s on the horizon of the ever-changing technology front. As we continue to see advances in the way that new technologies are evolving and aiding in the design of healthier, safer, and more prosperous landscapes, one thing that’s certain is that there’s likely to be a downpour of new technology that will continue to aid the field this coming year. As we at the Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) seek to forecast some of the trends and stats as witnessed from our various weather stations, stay tuned!

Introduction

It is necessary for the modern landscape architect to familiarize themselves with useful applications and knowledge on the latest technology (tech) in the digital atmosphere. As tech rapidly evolves, so does our need to adjust our techniques and ability to utilize these new tools to stay relevant among our AE counterparts—this has become the new adaptation cycle for the modern-day practitioner.

There’s much discussion in the tech world revolving around the latest gadgets and technology, including the cosmic explosion of the IoT (internet of things), the increasing availability of open source data, the ever-present use of drones and other sensors, super computing and remote cloud virtualization, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, information modeling, and many other technologies that influence our industry. It almost requires a full time tech meteorologist to report the forecast for our profession. Fortunately, we’ve done just that.

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Net Zero Rights of Way?!

Lincoln Street MAX Station, with photovoltaic cells on shelter roofs image: ©2015 Bruce Forster Photography / Trimet
Lincoln Street MAX Station, with photovoltaic cells on shelter roofs
image: ©2015 Bruce Forster Photography / Trimet

Landscape Architects Can Break New Policy Ground with Our Legislators

Roxanne Blackwell, ASLA’s Director of Federal Government Affairs, presented a dynamite national legislative update to the ASLA Transportation Professional Practice Network (PPN) at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. She reinforced that the input the profession provides to legislators is relevant, robust, broad, and has tremendous policy impact.

One of the most exciting parts of Roxanne’s report was what legislators asked of us: can we, as landscape architects, shape a federal policy for net zero roadways?

Many of us are familiar with the concept of net zero, especially in relation to buildings. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) continues to collaboratively advance net zero building, campus and neighborhood policy, standards, and resources and has defined a net zero energy building as follows: An energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy. Put another way, this means a building that produces as much energy as it uses on an annual basis from renewable sources. Further details are available in a September 16, 2015 article available on the DOE website.

This same Net Zero approach appears to be highly adaptable to public rights-of-way, and we as a profession can help make the case.

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Creativity & Inspired Design

The Metro-Forest Project, Prawet, Bangkok, Thailand, Landscape Architects of Bangkok (LAB), 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Rungkit Charoenwat
The Metro-Forest Project, Prawet, Bangkok, Thailand, Landscape Architects of Bangkok (LAB), 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Rungkit Charoenwat

Each year, members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are surveyed on a different theme. In 2013, the focus was favorite spaces, with questions on iconic spaces, cities with the best networks of open spaces, and projects that changed the profession, among others. The 2014 survey focused on the variety career paths in landscape architecture. Members shared essential skills for success, the greatest challenges landscape architects face, what makes their work rewarding, and their advice for emerging professionals.

The results of those surveys have been highlighted here on The Field—now, we are moving on to the 2015 survey, when PPN members were asked to tell us about creativity and what makes for inspired designs in landscape architecture, a profession that blends art and science and requires both technical knowledge and artistry to create beautiful places.

We received responses from a diverse range of individuals in terms of sector, region of work, and level of experience:

  • Every PPN is represented, and Sustainable Design and Development—the largest PPN—had the most respondents.
  • The East, South, and Midwest are all equally represented, but the West had the most respondents.
  • 10% of respondents practice internationally.
  • 73% work in private practice.
  • 43% have 20+ years of experience, and 24% have 5 years or less.
  • 59% work in firms, agencies, or organizations of 25 or fewer employees.

Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND, and we are sharing that information again here on The Field. For updates on the results of the latest PPN survey, see LAND‘s PPN News section.

Below are a few highlights from the 2015 results, which will be explored in greater depth in upcoming posts.

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ASLA at the International Builders’ Show

ASLA's exhibit booth image: Shawn Balon
ASLA’s exhibit booth
image: Shawn Balon

This January, as part of Design & Construction Week® (DCW) in Orlando, FL, NAHB’s International Builders’ Show® (IBS) hosted their annual event that brought together more than 60,000 builders, general contractors, remodelers, designers, flooring professionals, as well as product specifiers from 100 countries. Throughout the three-day event, attendees discovered an expansive universe of products and innovative concepts designed to enhance their businesses, design thinking, and living environments.

For the thirteenth year, ASLA was on hand to exhibit and advocate creating a stronger presence for landscape architecture professionals. Along with our exhibit booth, we had the opportunity to work with local ASLA chapter members in Florida for ASLA’s “Ask a Landscape Architect,” which has been a tradition at the show for many years.

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Campus Constants, Digital Flux

In campus planning, technology offers new ways to gather and interpret data. The Page discovery tool is an online survey tool developed by our office that allows students, faculty, and staff to share their favorite places to eat, study, and play as well as their preferred routes through campus. It also helps to flag areas that aren’t working for the campus and should be addressed in future planning. image: Katharyn Hurd, Andrew Sullivan
In campus planning, technology offers new ways to gather and interpret data. The Page discovery tool is an online survey tool developed by our office that allows students, faculty, and staff to share their favorite places to eat, study, and play as well as their preferred routes through campus. It also helps to flag areas that aren’t working for the campus and should be addressed in future planning.
image: Katharyn Hurd, Andrew Sullivan

Technology has without a doubt transformed many of the methods and practices planners and designers use when approaching any project. This is particularly true on college campuses, as the field of education embraces technology to better serve and engage with students. However, there are some negative impacts from immersion in technology. The campus landscape provides an increasingly essential antidote to today’s tech-overload with its ability to facilitate social connection and provide restoration.

Technology in Campus Planning and Design

In addition to functioning as repositories for history and tradition, campuses are typically places that value innovation and creativity. Thus, technology is often embraced and incorporated into campuses more quickly than many environments. Experimentation, learning, and engagement drive the integration of technology into the built environment to test how it might best serve the campus community.

We are also increasingly seeing studies that indicate that excessive technology device use can have detrimental physical and mental health effects such as fatigue, stress, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, and others. See the Illinois News Bureau, Academic Earth, Time, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Harvard Health Publications, and Psychology Today for a few examples. Studies have also suggested that spending time engaging with the natural environment provides an array of benefits that may counteract the negative impacts of technology use, including improved physical fitness, vision, concentration, critical thinking, creativity, academic performance, mood, immunity, and social behavior.

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Where Design Meets Play

Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play image: US Play Coalition
Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play
image: US Play Coalition

A couple of years ago I attended this conference as a speaker to discuss the developmental needs of children in play environments. I went into the conference as an instructor but quickly became the pupil. All of the attendees were professionals dedicated to play and children’s outdoor environments, who have, and are, doing great things. This three-day conference is a great experience for anyone involved with design and management of outdoor play environments.
– Chad Kennedy, ASLA, Officer and Past Co-Chair of the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN

The US Play Coalition invites you to attend the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, April 2-5 at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

The annual Conference on the Value of Play brings together leading play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the country.

The three-day event includes keynote and featured speakers, play institutes, PLAYtalks, research symposium, educational sessions, roundtables, grant opportunities, networking, and opportunities for play. LA CES credits also available!

We have already announced some incredible headliners for 2017 Conference on the Value of Play. Innovative Play Space Designer Matthew Urbanski, ASLA, will be a keynote speaker, sharing his lessons learned from designing play spaces. James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!, and Kimberly S. Clay, Founder & Executive Director, Play Like A Girl!®, are among our PLAYtalk presenters (our version of TED talks). There are more speaker announcements to come…not to mention the dozens of educational session and research symposium presenters!

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Campus Planning & Design: Annual Meeting Highlights

Arcs in Disorder by Bernar Venet on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans image: Laura Tenny
Arcs in Disorder by Bernar Venet on the campus of Tulane University in New Orleans
image: Laura Tenny

The 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans feels like ages ago—and the Call for Presentations for 2017 is already well underway—but for those of us who have been hit with winter snow storms (pretty much every state except Florida), reminiscing about the warm southern hospitality of the Big Easy may be welcome.

This year, the Campus Planning & Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) partnered with the Education & Practice PPN for a joint meeting featuring several PechaKucha-style presentations and discussion on the topic of How has technology changed the nature of the university campus? In addition to some thought-provoking presentations, I found this PPN Live session on the EXPO floor’s City Park Stage to be an improvement over the settings of previous years. We will be posting several of these presentations on our PPN webpage, and will share more detailed presentation summaries here on The Field in the coming months.

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Highlighting the Work of Women-Led Firms

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, Seattle, WA, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, 2014 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, General Design Category image: Sean Airhart
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, Seattle, WA, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, 2014 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, General Design Category
image: Sean Airhart

Call for Landscape Architecture Firm Award Nominations

The call for nominations is open for the 2017 ASLA Honors. These prestigious awards recognize individuals and organizations for their lifetime achievements and notable contributions to the profession of landscape architecture.

One of the ASLA Honors is the Landscape Architecture Firm Award, the highest honor that the American Society of Landscape Architects may bestow on a landscape architecture firm. ASLA would like to increase the number of nominations received for firms with female founders and principals.

Nominations may be made by an ASLA professional member or an ASLA chapter. Many nominations are submitted by the firm’s principal. Please consider having your firm nominated. The deadline for all nominations is Friday, January 20, 2017.

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Making Streets Safer for Pedestrians

South Grand Boulevard "Great Streets Initiative," St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category image: Design Workshop, Inc.
South Grand Boulevard “Great Streets Initiative,” St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category
image: Design Workshop, Inc.

Dangerous by Design 2016 was released today by advocacy group Smart Growth America in collaboration with AARP, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associated.

The new report identifies the most dangerous places in the nation to be a pedestrian, and how state and local policies that address transportation planning and design can help address this critical issue. The 2016 edition includes new Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) numbers for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and an expanded examination of metro areas from 51 to 104 regions around the country.

In addition to the report, which is available to download, Smart Growth America has also released two interactive maps that explore pedestrian fatality data in greater detail, using data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

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Children’s Outdoor Environments: Annual Meeting Highlights

The 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans image: Lisa Horne
The 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans
image: Lisa Horne

It was another great year for the Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) at the ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans with a special guest speaker as the keynote of the PPN meeting.

Professor Lolly Tai as meeting keynote image: Lisa Horne
Professor Lolly Tai as meeting keynote
image: Lisa Horne

Annual PPN Meeting

The meeting started with a short summary of the year for the PPN, including ten blog posts on The Field and four Online Learning webinars providing content on engaging youth in place making and integrating sensory processing disorders with outdoor play environments. The PPN LinkedIn group has continued to grow over the past year and now includes more than 800 members. Chad Kennedy, PLA, ASLA, CPSI, LEED AP BD+C, transitioned from current to past co-chair with the announcement that Brenna Castro, PLA, ASLA, CPSI, is the incoming co-chair and will guide the leadership team with current co-chair Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, Affiliate ASLA, OTR/L, SCEM, CAPS, FAOTA.

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Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Leah Diehl

The Greenhouse at Wilmot Gardens, which houses the Therapeutic Horticulture Program image: Leah Diehl
The Greenhouse at Wilmot Gardens, which houses the Therapeutic Horticulture Program
image: Leah Diehl

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Elizabeth “Leah” Diehl, RLA, HTM

Our second in the series of interviews takes us to the College of Medicine Healing Gardens and Teaching Laboratory at the University of Florida Medical School. Leah Diehl is a landscape architect and registered horticultural therapist who is responsible for building an amazing series of programs at Wilmot Gardens at the University of Florida.

Wilmot Gardens, on the University of Florida campus, is located in the heart of the Southeast’s largest academic health center. The gardens are dedicated to advancing patient care, research, and service through its vibrant and growing therapeutic horticulture program. The Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Wilmot Gardens resides at the core of the garden’s mission to improve lives through gardening.

As a side note, the gardens are open to the public year-round and boast an unrivaled collection of camellias in North Central Florida. Wilmot Gardens is named for Royal James Wilmot, who was a horticulturist with the Agricultural Experiment Station at UF in the 1940s. He founded the American Camellia Society in Gainesville.

Throughout these interviews, we are reaching out to landscape architects who have been instrumental in leading the design and development of Healthcare and Therapeutic Gardens. We would like people to know more about the leaders in the field of Healthcare and Therapeutic Garden design in order to illustrate the greater relevance of this field.

The following interview with Leah was conducted by Jack Carman, FASLA, past chair and current officer of the Healthcare & Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN). Leah was reached by phone between therapeutic horticulture sessions.

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Challenges in the Field of Landscape Architecture

Future Hopley: Hutano, Mvura, Miti, 2013 Student ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Leonardo Robleto Costante, Assoc. ASLA, Graduate, University of Pennsylvania
Future Hopley: Hutano, Mvura, Miti, 2013 Student ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Leonardo Robleto Costante, Assoc. ASLA, Graduate, University of Pennsylvania

When Professional Practice Network (PPN) members were asked about the greatest challenges landscape architects face, the most frequent response was described by one member as “the same challenge we have always faced”—defining and communicating what landscape architecture is, both to the public and to other design professionals, to ensure that the value of landscape architects’ work is understood and recognized. Other recurring topics included the economy, finding work, dealing with limited project budgets, competition, climate change, and water scarcity.

Though such challenges can seem insurmountable at times, there is still a great deal of optimism to be found. For some, “There has never been a better time to be a landscape architect.” And as one respondent put it:

“Today we have great opportunities to redefine public spaces, as the value of parks and innovative open space design are in the news and have the eyes of the public. We need to use this momentum and set the standard for excellent open space design; these are exciting times for landscape architects!”

Outlined below are the major themes that appeared among the challenges landscape architects face—food for thought as 2016 comes to a close and we look ahead to what may unfold in the new year.

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Landscape Architecture, in One Word

Citygarden, St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
Citygarden, St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members what one word they would use to describe landscape architecture or a landscape architect, the breadth of the answers given demonstrates the difficulty of defining a profession that is so expansive and varied. Many members couldn’t stick to the one-word limit, offering longer descriptions:

“Landscape architecture is everything but the building: parks, plazas, courtyards, water features, all of the planting plans and stormwater grading for site restoration plans associated with new bridges and roadways. A landscape architect is part environmental scientist, part engineer, and part designer/artist.”

“A landscape architect is the liaison between the public, engineers, architects, and planners.”

From the responses that did stick to one word, here are the top answers, in order of popularity:

  1. Creative
  2. Design
  3. Diverse
  4. Stewardship
  5. Multifaceted
  6. Versatile
  7. Adaptable
  8. Integrative
  9. Holistic
  10. Synthesizer
  11. Visionary
  12. Generalist

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Keeping Up with Design Trends

What’s Out There® Guidebooks, 2016 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, Communications Category image: Charles Birnbaum; Barrett Doherty; Mark Oviatt, Oviatt Media
TCLF’s What’s Out There® Guidebooks, 2016 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, Communications Category
image: Charles Birnbaum; Barrett Doherty; Mark Oviatt, Oviatt Media

In response to the question What one characteristic or skill is most essential for success in landscape architecture? many of ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members said that staying up to date, being a life-long learner, and keeping an open mind to new design ideas and technologies are critically important. So, how do our members keep up with current design trends and ideas?

When asked what websites, publications, and other sources were the most important, the top answer was Landscape Architecture Magazine, followed by the ASLA website and other ASLA resources, including The Dirt, LAND, and local ASLA chapters.

Other popular sources of information include travel and site visits—“I’m not so interested in current trends as I am in successful places”—attending conferences, and talking to other landscape architects. And, as one member put it, it is also important to take “time out of each day to walk outside and see what is going on and how people use environment around them.”

Listed below are a few other sources of design news that appeared among the responses.

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Required Reading for Landscape Architects

Activating Land Stewardship and Participation in Detroit: A Field Guide to Working With Lots, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Communications Category image: Andrew Potter
Activating Land Stewardship and Participation in Detroit: A Field Guide to Working With Lots, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Communications Category
image: Andrew Potter

With the holidays and end-of-year break nearly upon us, you may be looking for a few new books, whether to give as gifts or to read yourself. In addition to the Best Books of 2016 highlighted on The Dirt, we also asked ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) for books that should be required reading for all landscape architects. Though many of these are classics you may have already read, we hope you find a few titles to add to your must-read (or must re-read) list.

The top 5 books selected by PPN members were:

  1. Design with Nature, by Ian McHarg
  2. A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
  3. Landscape Architecture, by John Simonds
  4. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
  5. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, by Michael Dirr, Hon. ASLA

A few authors were mentioned for multiple works, including Kevin Lynch for three different books (The Image of the City, Site Planning, and What Time is This Place?) and Julie Moir Messervy for two (The Inward Garden and Contemplative Gardens). Other popular choices, each selected by four or more respondents, were:

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander

The Image of the City, by Kevin Lynch

The Landscape of Man, by Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe and Susan Jellicoe

Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas Tallamy and Rick Darke

Design on the Land, by Norman Newton

Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards, by Leonard Hopper, FASLA

Site Engineering for Landscape Architects, by Steven Strom, Kurt Nathan, and Jake Woland

Time-Saver Standards for Landscape Architecture, by Charles Harris, FASLA, and Nicholas Dines, FASLA

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

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If You Could Change Your Career Path

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Terry Moore, 2008
The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Terry Moore, 2008

As a corollary to the previous question covered from a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?—PPN members were also asked: If you could change one thing about your job or career path, what would it be?

On a heartening note, around 10 percent of respondents said they would change nothing:

“50 years have flown by and my career path, which has evolved in several paths over the period, is still fun.”

“I’ve done the types of projects that I’ve wanted to, I founded a successful firm. We do great work for good clients.”

“The eight years I spent in the private sector helped me succeed in the public sector where I am today.”

“I actually did just change the ‘one thing.’ I just started my own studio.”

Almost anyone can relate to many of the other answers given, including requests to “add more time” and “I wish I didn’t have to worry about making money.” However, many responses were specific to landscape architecture, and a few recurring ideas are highlighted below.

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The 2017 HALS Challenge

Roeding Park (HALS CA-59). Grove of fan palms on east side of park. image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-59
Roeding Park (HALS CA-59). Grove of fan palms on east side of park.
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-59

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes, but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

For the 8th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document a historic city or town park. In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its centennial with the Find Your Park movement to spread the word about the amazing national parks and the inspirational stories they tell about our diverse cultural heritage. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks! It’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever.

Perhaps the city or town park you choose to document may:

  • be so popular that it is threatened by overuse;
  • be challenged with incompatible additions or updates;
  • suffer from neglect and deferred maintenance;
  • be unnoticed with its significance unappreciated; and/or
  • be documented to encourage its preservation.

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