Applying “A Student’s Guide: Environmental Justice and Landscape Architecture” in West Oakland, CA

by Ellen Burke, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP

Figure 1. Click here to view at a larger scale. / image: Isha Sharma, Lika Pasurishvili, Vanessa Nunez / LA 404 / Fall 2020, courtesy of Ellen Burke


A Student’s Guide: Environmental Justice and Landscape Architecture” was developed by three MLA students and published by in 2017. “A Student’s Guide” was intended as a “starting-off place for students—a compendium of resources, conversations, case studies, and activities students can work through and apply to their studio projects” (p. 2). The guide outlines seven principles for equitable design, adapted from the seventeen Principles of Environmental Justice, a landmark document drafted during the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in October 1991.

In fall quarter 2020, an undergraduate landscape architecture design studio at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo undertook an environmental justice plan for West Oakland, CA as part of the third year Cultural Landscape Focus Studio. Several documents guided the formation of the studio structure, including “A Student’s Guide.” This article briefly summarizes the experience of applying the guide to a studio project.

To ground students in the ethnic, racial and economic diversity and complexity of the region and city, the studio began with a two-week cultural “place” analysis. The analysis documented the history of Indigenous peoples, and of Hispanic, Asian, Black, and Dust Bowl immigrants in Oakland, tracing histories of arrival and of land use/land relationships, including mapping relevant cultural landscapes and events for each focus group to connect history and present-day culture (Fig. 1).

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Reconnecting With Nature—Through Acorns

image: Alexandra Hay

While green schoolyards, outdoor learning spaces, and other places to get hands-on with nature are often discussed for children, adults may be just as likely to experience some nature deficit-related disconnection. When was the last time you considered the humble acorn, for example? A recent installation by social practice artist Shawn Shafner and associated events in Washington, DC, used this mundane feature of landscapes both urban and forested as a launching point for delving into a range of other issues, from the joy of taking the slow route to ways to support regenerative agricultural and local watersheds.

Last month, a multidisciplinary panel conversation at the Seva Teaching Kitchen, part of George Washington University’s Culinary Medicine Program, explored the cultural, culinary, and ecological value of oak trees and their seeds, focusing on acorns’ connections to health, agriculture, and ecology.

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Planting Design for Children’s Spaces – An Interview with site Horticulture Director Mark Jirik

by Wanting Zhang, Student ASLA, and Yiwei Huang, Ph.D., SITES AP, ASLA

Seneca Park, Chicago, IL / image: Scott Shigley for site design group, ltd.

Interviewee: Mark Jirik, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP, Certified Arborist
Interviewers: Wanting Zhang, Student ASLA, and Yiwei Huang, Ph.D., SITES AP, ASLA

We recently had a special opportunity to speak with Mark Jirik (M.J.), the Director of Horticulture at site design group, ltd. (site), who provided a lecture to our undergraduate class in Landscape Architecture at Purdue University. This article compiles key insights from his talk and additional reflections he shared with us afterwards. This interview article aims to bridge a gap between theory and practice, providing young designers with an invaluable perspective on designing children’s outdoor environments, especially with planting design, in the Midwest region.

What projects have site worked on previously related to children’s outdoor environments?

M.J.: site has worked on a wide range of park and playground designs for various age groups. A couple of completed projects that come to mind include Seneca Park (2021) located Near North Chicago and the Comer Children’s Hospital Play Garden (2018), also located in Chicago. Seneca Park hosts two playgrounds, one for children ages 2-5 and another for children ages 5-12. Both playgrounds reference the local dune landscape and nearby Chicago landmarks with a variety of both more traditional and creative play opportunities. Comer Children’s Hospital Play Garden, winner of the 2019 ILASLA Honor Award, provides a place of refuge and healing for hospital patients from and is designed to accommodate and be enjoyed by children of all physical abilities.

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A Day of Impact & Generosity

ASLA 2023 Professional General Design Honor Award. The Meadow at the Old Chicago Post Office. Chicago, Illinois. Hoerr Schaudt. / image: Brodie Kerst

This year, four incredible donors have each pledged $1,000 to the ASLA Fund, but we need your help to unlock their matches. Your support fuels the ASLA Fund’s mission of investing in global, social, and environmental change through landscape architecture. Every dollar makes a difference! Give today.

Your generous support will propel us towards our goal, enabling the expansion of vital programs such as:

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Bringing Landscape Architecture to New Places

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

ASLA 2011 Professional General Design Honor Award. Manassas Park Elementary School Landscape. Manassas Park, Virginia. Siteworks. / image: Siteworks

The term “landscape architecture” can be associated with many fields, like construction, design, horticulture, etc. Finding books about architecture and landscape architecture in college libraries that have programs in architecture, landscape architecture, or even engineering will be the most logical place to look. However, can you find books related to landscape architecture in college libraries related to medicine, journalism, law, business, pharmacy, human resources, or education? How can landscape architecture be in places where it was not before?

Let me share my personal experience. I had the joy of writing two books: K-12 Landscape Architecture Education (2021) and K-12 Architecture Education (2022). These books are interdisciplinary STEAM curriculum guides that put architecture and landscape architecture at the center of curricula. Beyond presenting landscape architecture as a design profession, it presents our profession as:

  1. a problem-solving method,
  2. an ideal theme for interdisciplinary curriculum design, and
  3. an educational term defining “landscape architecture education” as a field of study that looks at the applications, behaviors, and cognitive gains that students can develop through the landscape architecture design process.

With these books, now part of the Teachers College Library, Columbia University, educators will be able to see landscape architecture as an ideal medium for curriculum design and instruction. Currently, there is a big trend in the pedagogical field in the areas of design education, STEAM education, and environmental education; now, K-12 educators and ASLA members will have a comprehensive interdisciplinary curriculum to develop these educational programs.

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ASLA 2023 Conference Education Sessions On-Demand

Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden / image: Lane Pelovsky, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

During the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture, 5,000 participants joined together to garner new insights and discover tools that will help you scale up your practice, with education sessions that covered everything from decarbonizing your site construction to artificial intelligence to learning how to navigate government agencies like the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

50 recorded conference education sessions are now available on-demand through ASLA Online Learning for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH).

You can purchase individual sessions or bundle and save—ASLA members can take advantage of a 25% discount when purchasing four or more conference recordings!

Browse Recordings >

Log in using your ASLA username and password for member discounts.

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2023 HALS Challenge Results: Working Landscapes

by Scott Keyes

2023 HALS Challenge First Place Winner: Mailboat Harbor, Tangier Island, HALS VA-88 / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The National Park Service and ASLA are pleased to congratulate the winners of the 14th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge competition. This year’s winners were officially announced at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture on Sunday, October 29, 2023.

Administered by the National Park Service, in collaboration with the ASLA and Library of Congress, the HALS Challenge competition encourages landscape architects, students, and other interested parties to document historic landscapes in their communities. To enter the competition, participants must complete a historical report that highlights the history, significance, and character-defining features of the surveyed landscape. This report can be supplemented with measured drawings or large-format photographs. All competition entries are archived in the HALS collection at the Library of Congress where they contribute to the nation’s largest repository of documentation on American architecture, engineering, and landscapes.

This year’s competition focused on working landscapes. Participants were challenged to survey working or productive landscapes with entries ranging from agricultural and industrial sites to public infrastructure and transportation networks. The competition resulted in the donation of 13 impressive surveys to the HALS collection. A jury composed of National Park Service historians and landscape architects reviewed the entries and selected the following winners:

First Place: Tangier Island Watermen Working Landscape, HALS VA-88
Tangier, Accomack County, Virginia
By Lincoln L. Lewis and William A. Packwood, University of Virginia
Tangier is an island community in the Chesapeake Bay. The local blue crab fishery is the town’s main economic driver. HALS documentation of this landscape focused not only on the distinctive history and features of Tangier, but also on the waterman culture that has developed over centuries in this unique environment. This historic landscape, however, is at risk of disappearing due to a range of challenges brought about by cultural and environmental change. In addition to the extensively researched historical report, the survey included a full set of measured drawings.

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PPN Zoom Book Club: Naturally Inclusive

by Lisa Howard, MLA, RLA

image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) is pleased to share a summary of the PPN’s third Zoom Book Club. Hosted on October 3, 2023, 15 attendees welcomed Ruth Wilson, PhD, educator and author of Naturally Inclusive: Engaging Children of All Abilities Outdoors, published in 2022 by Gryphon House. Dr. Ruth Wilson has several published works focusing on early childhood environmental education. She is an educational consultant who has worked with Sesame Street in designing nature education programs and has been an educator for over 30 years including work at Bowling Green State University. She currently works as the curator for the Children & Nature Network’s Research Library.

The book provides landscape architects with a basis of knowledge and understanding of children’s needs and the many benefits a natural environment provides for children’s whole development, including children with physical, sensory, and/or cognitive challenges such as autism or ADHD. Flagship programs from around the country provide program spotlights throughout the book providing detailed successful examples in relation to each chapter’s focus.

PPN leader Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, prepared and moderated this event leading the group through a series of thoughtful questions that were key to the themes of the book and ending by reading a passage illustrating how creative inclusive design can empower and engage children of differing abilities including a wheelchair accessible tree house.

Can you describe the concept of kinship and its importance as a keystone to nature play and inclusive design?

Ruth shared, for children with differing abilities this is especially important to feel like they belong. Kinship suggests a relationship. With kinship one can feel more belonging. In terms of humans, we are all kin, but kinship is much broader than physical connectedness. It has a lot to do with the emotions of who and what we feel connected with. Pets are an example, kinship with a pet is a part of the family demonstrating the emotional element of kinship.

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ASLA 2023 Conference in Review: Professional Practice Network Highlights from Minneapolis

For those who attended the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis last week, the Professional Practice Network (PPN) events were a wonderful way to see the PPNs in action and get a sense of what these practice area-focused groups are all about.

Throughout the conference weekend, 15 PPNs organized 17 events, taking place in the EXPO or in meeting rooms and featuring formats from presentations to lightning talks to breakout groups for conversation. These events were opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. (And if this sounds like something you’d be interested in taking part in, not just at the conference but throughout the year, then consider joining your PPN’s leadership team!) It was fantastic to see everyone in Minneapolis—thank you to all who attended, and another big thank you to the PPN leaders who made these events happen.

If you missed the conference this year, we hope the photos below provide a glimpse of the PPNs’ goings-on. For those interested in watching recordings of education sessions that took place in Minneapolis, 50+ sessions will be made available on-demand via ASLA Online Learning in the coming weeks.

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Seeking the Next Class of ASLA Fellows

Council of Fellows Investiture Dinner at the 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville / image: ASLA

This past Sunday in Minneapolis, ASLA inducted 48 members into the Council of Fellows at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture’s Investiture Dinner.

Fellowship is among the highest honors ASLA bestows on members and recognizes the contributions of these individuals to their profession and society at large based on their works, leadership and management, knowledge, and service.

To be eligible for nomination, an individual must:

  • Be a current ASLA Full Member or International Member in good standing.
  • Have achieved at least 10 continuous years of FULL membership at the time of nomination.
  • Have demonstrated exceptional contributions over an extended period of time.
  • Have made a significant positive impact on the public and the profession.

Nominations may be made by the executive committee of a chapter, the executive committee of ASLA, or the executive committee of the Council of Fellows in one of four categories:

Contact your local chapter if you meet the criteria and are interested. The deadline for nominations to the Council of Fellows is January 15, 2024.

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Join WxLA-MN for the 2023 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk

Nicollet Mall is a stop on the WILA Walk (and also on the sold-out field session FRI-FS-11: Revitalizing Modernist Public Space through Public-Private Partnerships in Downtown Minneapolis). / image: © John Muggenborg

Women in Landscape Architecture Walk
Monday, October 30, 2023 | 6:30 – 8:30 a.m. CT
Starting point: Minneapolis Host Chapter Booth, Minneapolis Convention Center

The Minnesota chapter of Womxn in Landscape Architecture (WxLA-MN) is excited to continue the tradition of leading conference attendees on the annual Women in Landscape Architecture Walk through downtown Minneapolis at this year’s ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture.

The local WxLA-MN organization was founded in 2011, with the mission to provide increased transparency, leadership, and representation for womxn (women, women-identifying, and non-binary people) in the profession by providing mentorship and scholarship opportunities. The organization has grown its presence in the Twin Cities landscape architecture community—WxLA-MN has provided over 20 scholarships, hosts regular happy hours, and plans various networking and educational events.

This year’s Women in Landscape Architecture Walk is an ambitious 3.75 mile round trip to the Mississippi River and back. You’re guaranteed to meet or exceed your daily step goals while passing through a broad range of city planning and landscape architecture projects designed by womxn practitioners in our great state and region!

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ASLA 2023 Preview: Professional Practice Network Events in Minneapolis

Throughout the year, ASLA Professional Practice Network (PPN) leaders and members share their experiences and expertise as authors here on The Field blog and as presenters for ASLA Online Learning webinars. For one very special weekend each fall, PPNs also organize in-person gatherings at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. If you are heading to Minneapolis later this week (!), PPN meetings are an ideal way to see the PPNs in action and get a sense of what these practice area-focused groups for ASLA members are all about.

Make the most of your PPN experience at the conference by exploring what’s planned and get ready to make new connections in Minneapolis:

Saturday, October 28

10:00 – 10:45 a.m.

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.

Sunday, October 29

10:15 – 11:00 a.m.

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

12:45 – 1:30 p.m.

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ASLA 2023 Conference Education Session Highlights

Fall foliage in Minneapolis / image: Lane Pelovsky courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

The 2023 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture is just a week away! In addition to organizing the PPN events, ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership teams also review the conference education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 120 sessions offering professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the conference website and mobile app by track, speaker, and PDH type offered (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, FL, NY, AICP, GBCI, ISA, and more).

If you can’t make it to Minneapolis this year, a number of education sessions will be recorded and shared as Online Learning webinars so you can still learn about the latest in landscape architecture and earn PDH on-demand.

Below, we run through education highlights by PPN practice area:

See below for the education sessions related to each PPN practice area, or click the PPN name above to jump to that section.

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Urban Design for Landscape Architects: Mixed-Use

by Taner R. Özdil, Ph.D., ASLA

The Merc, a mixed-use tower in Downtown Dallas, TX / image: Taner R. Özdil

Urban design is an interdisciplinary field of study and area of practice concerned with the architectural form, the relationship between the buildings and urban landscapes, and the pedestrian realm created within. The field encompasses landscape architecture, architecture, city planning, development, real estate, as well as many others. It is consumed by the creation, design, and management of the built environment in an urban context. Beyond its creative, spatial, and aesthetic roots (Sitte 1965 [1889]), urban design is an evidence-based activity requiring scientific and practical knowledge responding to the evolving nature of human settlements. It is concerned with social, economic, and environmental as well and aesthetic knowledge, ideals, and principles inherent to various project typologies (Ozdil 2008 & 2016, Krieger & Saunders 2009, Carmona 2016, Lang 2017).

Mixed-use developments and centers are considered by a few as one of the “hottest” urban design project typologies that emerged within the past few decades in Sunbelt cities, if not in North America. Their roots can primarily be attributed to the traditional cores of cities, towns, villages, or neighborhoods across the world, and Main Streets and Commercial Business Districts, and perhaps to pedestrian malls (starting with Kalamazoo, Michigan) in the United States. Although they are relatively new and favored project typologies and urban design phenomena that introduce density, diversity, and/or urban living conditions to sprawling metropolitan regions, they have also been under scrutiny for their trendy and market-driven development strategies (Rowley 1996, Hine, 2006, Tesso 2013).

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Climate Action Plan and Water – Aligning Practice with Vision

by Bryce Carnehl, Affiliate ASLA

Podium plating with supplemental rainfall irrigation system to support plants in porous engineered soils. / image: Hunter Industries, Inc.

Climate Action Plan and Collaborators

In 2022 the American Society of Landscape Architects published their Climate Action Plan (CAP), which sets a bold vision to be a zero emissions profession by the year 2040. Increasing the percentage of green space, selecting low carbon materials, enhancing biodiversity, and many more ideas are offered within the plan. Developed by a team of leading landscape architects, this plan, and accompanying field guide, provides a framework for landscape architects to achieve this goal.

As one can imagine, it takes a team of collaborators and partners to build such a plan and execute such a vision. Leading the drive to this vision is the ASLA Climate Action Committee and subcommittees. This committee is charged with building road maps, actions, guides, and identifying collaborators to help fulfill the goals of the CAP. One such collaborator group is the Corporate Member Committee and its roster of manufacturers and vendors that support landscape architects and the landscape industry markets. With approximately 75% of landscape architecture project emissions coming from materials, collaboration between these groups is crucial to realize a zero emissions profession. As these committees focus up the value chain in the economies of landscape architecture, there is an excellent opportunity for the ASLA Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) to incorporate the intended goals of the CAP in the day-to-day practice of landscape architecture–especially the Water Conservation PPN.

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Using Trauma-Informed Design to Address Intergenerational Trauma Caused by Systemic Oppression in Segregated Communities

by Charlotte Rose, Student ASLA

Graphics from a UC Denver studio project that applied trauma-informed design and universal design principles to Mestizo-Curtis Park in Five Points, Denver, a neighborhood historically characterized by redlining that continues to experience the ongoing impact of housing discrimination. / image: Charlotte Rose

Segregated communities in various parts of the world have long been subjected to systemic oppression, resulting in enduring cycles of trauma that span generations. Systemic oppression can manifest in the form of racial discrimination, economic disparities, lack of access to quality education, healthcare, and other basic resources, and the perpetuation of social stereotypes. These communities often face a multitude of challenges, including high levels of stress, violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues due to the cumulative effects of historical and contemporary injustices.

Intergenerational trauma refers to the transmission of trauma and its effects across multiple generations within a community. It is a complex phenomenon that has deep-seated roots in historical injustices such as slavery, colonization, and institutional racism. This ongoing trauma hinders the well-being and development of individuals and communities, perpetuating a cycle that is difficult to break.

Trauma-informed design, a concept rooted in trauma-informed care principles, recognizes the need to create environments that are sensitive to the experiences of trauma survivors. While commonly applied in healthcare and social services, the application of trauma-informed design principles in the built environment and community planning is an emerging field. This approach emphasizes safety, empowerment, and the prevention of re-traumatization in physical spaces and social interactions.

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Reusing Pass-Through Fountain Water with Irrigation

by Michael Igo, Affiliate ASLA, PE, LEED AP

Kanawha County Public Library, Charleston, WV; Landscape Architect: Andropogon Associates; Water Feature Designer: Aqueous / image: Aqueous Consultants, LLC

Everyone loves fountains. They provide a three-dimensional sensory experience in any urban landscape. However, they are complex architectural elements that generally require a multidisciplinary effort to bring into reality. To achieve the visual and aural benefits they provide to a site, water quantity and quality must be managed for both interactive and non-interactive water features.

We often find that there is reluctance amongst site owners and operators to maintain architectural fountains. Dealing with chemicals, biofilm scrubbing, strainer cleaning, pump control programming, and winterization requires either commitment by on-site staff to be trained and dedicated to these water features or hiring an outside third-party to manage them remotely and provide frequent site visits. Similar to swimming pools, there needs to be a frank conversation with the owner to let them know what they are inheriting for a system. Where allowed by law, often owners will opt for a “pass-through” or “once-through” fountain where municipal domestic water, already chlorinated, passes through the fountain and drains away to a sanitary or storm sewer—saving on the cost of pumping and sanitation of recycling water.

The problem is that pass-through urban architectural fountains and splash decks waste substantial amounts of drinking water. We still see pass-through urban architectural fountains in use in older Northeast cities where no one considered the amount of water waste 50 – 100 years ago.

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Observations from the Society for Campus and University Planning (SCUP) Awards Jury

by James Moore, ASLA

MIT Outfinite Corridor / image: courtesy of Hao Liang for Reed Hilderbrand

Over three days in late July, attendees gathered to discuss a wide array of issues at the Society for Campus and University Planning (SCUP) Conference in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. There were many great sessions including keynotes focusing on leading institutional change and addressing threats to inclusivity. This year, I had the opportunity to serve on the SCUP Excellence Awards jury along with Jason Forney, Thomas Fortier, and Marilia Rodrigues. Together, we reviewed over 130 awards across categories including Planning, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Marilia and I presented the awards at the conference and spoke about seven trends jurors observed across the entries. These were:

  1. Integrated planning process
  2. Holistic approach to student spaces
  3. Impactful campus landscapes
  4. Community access and engagement
  5. Career and technology-focused spaces
  6. Sustainability and integrated design
  7. Renewal and adaptive reuse

Though our presentation was balanced across the disciplines, in this article I will highlight jury observations specifically regarding contributions that landscape projects made in these categories.

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Re-Calibration of the Retail Environment: The Expanded Role of Landscape Architects and Implications on Urban Design

by Daniel Straub, ASLA, Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP, and Lauren Patterson, PLA, ASLA

Looking north up Broadway from Union Square, NYC / image: Lauren Patterson

This is the third article in the Urban Design Professional Practice Network (UD PPN)’s series on the evolution of the suburban retail environment. As described in the first article, the retail environment is undergoing significant changes that have resulted in a “paradigm shift” from traditional suburban shopping centers to an age of electronic marketing that supports smaller scale, but amenity-rich, village centers and streetscape environments. The article also discussed how suburban retail has gone through various cycles of development—from traditional main street retail to suburban malls, to the abandonment of retail centers, and to redeveloped village centers. The constant churn of the American economy and ever-changing technology has transformed user preferences, which has had a massive impact.

The second article in the series highlighted several projects that are in very different stages of redevelopment. The projects help to explain how different suburban retail centers have been evolving over the past decade to address the changes in electronic retail preferences.

In addition to the past decades of change associated with patterns of development, we have also witnessed changes to society caused by the recent pandemic that encouraged outdoor activity, walkability, and access to natural resources and quality open spaces. All the noted changes have highlighted the need for quality designed places and the need for “third spaces” for public gatherings. Along with the recent lifestyle preferences, they have fast-tracked the paradigm shift in the retail environment that has caused a significant and reverberating change in all sectors of the metropolitan urban pattern.

This article attempts to build upon the foundation of those previous installments to discuss some lessons learned and some basic principles for successful place-making and urban design going forward in a changing world.

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Discover the Twin Cities, and Beyond, at ASLA 2023

Coen+Partners’ Heart of the City project in Rochester, MN—recipient of the 2023 ASLA Professional Award of Excellence for Urban Design—is part of the field session Art, Community, Healing: Innovative Public Spaces for a Destination Medical Center. / image: Jasper Lazor Photography

Next month, thousands of landscape architects and allied professionals will converge on Minneapolis for the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, ready to learn from their peers, forge new connections, and explore the city—and one way to do all three simultaneously is through the conference’s field sessions. Six are already sold out, but there’s still a few openings on the 12 other field sessions. Get your tickets now to secure your spot!

Field sessions run on Friday, October 27, and Monday, October 30, with a variety of departure times and session lengths. Can’t commit to a full-day excursion? Not to worry—we’ve added more half-day field sessions if your availability is limited.

Looking to deep dive on a certain practice area, while being out and about in the Minneapolis area? Some field sessions are ideally situated to appeal to members of ASLA’s various Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). Campus Planning & Design PPN members should consider The Modernist Campus of St. John’s University and Monastery and Layering Mobility, Resilience, Community, and Cultural Resources at the University of Minnesota. Healthcare & Therapeutic Design PPN members, Art, Community, Healing: Innovative Public Spaces for a Destination Medical Center would be a great pick for you.

See the full field session lineup on the conference website, and consider grabbing a ticket to explore:

Twinning: A Photography Flex with Two Sites, Two Firms, And Two Photographers
Friday, October 27, 2023
8:30am – 5:00pm CT

Designers and photography enthusiasts work with professionals to enhance their landscape architecture photography. We will tour Historic Fort Snelling and Peavey Plaza, ending with a photo critique. Optional dawn shoot before the session begins. Photo assignments assist attendees in achieving professional photographic results. Images will be displayed at the EXPO.

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Parking(ing) Day Highlights from Washington, DC

Park(ing) Day scenes from September 15, 2023, in Washington, DC / image: Alexandra Hay

Park(ing) Day is an annual, “global experiment in remixing, reclaiming and reprogramming vehicular space for social exchange, recreation and artistic expression.” The focus of this year’s event is pollinators, so ASLA decided to buzz around town to see the parklets popping up around DC.

Our first stop was the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science (HU-MS2), where National ASLA partnered with the school and Jeff Holzer, ASLA, from the Potomac Chapter, to host a week of activities, including a mini course on landscape architecture, a walking tour of the Howard University campus, designed by African American landscape architect David Williston, and a design charrette. Students sketched their ideas for a pollinator-themed parklet and then constructed a parklet on campus on September 15. The parklet included flowers, a gaming station, lemonade, and a sound station set to 500 Hz, a frequency that attracts pollinators.

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Richmond on the James: Stories of Landscape Transformation, in Review

by Rebecca Flemer, Affiliate ASLA

Virginia War Memorial / image: R. Flemer

Richmond on the James: Stories of Landscape Transformation
Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation Annual Meeting
Richmond, Virginia  |  May 24-27, 2023

This year’s Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) conference explored the rich history of a place which is home to one of the organization’s founders, Hugh Miller, Hon. ASLA. Along with Hugh, Tim Keller, Barbara Wyatt, FASLA, and Genevieve Keller, Hon. ASLA, organized the conference. From the homeland of the Powhattan and other tribes, to capital of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War, to its industrial past, themes for presentations and tours during the conference strove to gain a deeper knowledge of Richmond’s history as seen through its changing landscape.

The conference kicked off Wednesday evening with a welcome reception hosted by Preservation Virginia at their headquarters, the Cole Digges House. Thursday’s presentations started with an overview of the conference and a conversion with Hugh Miller. Two sessions followed with themes of Equity and Social Justice in Urban and Rural Landscapes and Racialized and Culturally Distinct Contexts of the Historic Landscape. These discussions featured professional and academic projects including scholarship papers supported by the Alliance.

On Friday, Bill Martin, director of the Valentine Museum, led an all-day bus tour of Richmond neighborhoods and landscapes. We began at Shockoe Bottom—between the 1830s and the Civil War, the largest American slave-trading hub outside of New Orleans. Largely erased during urban renewal, the site is overshadowed by Route 95. It has recently been recognized as a threatened site important to the story of enslavement in Richmond.

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Performance-Based Plant Selection: Developing a Bioretention Plant Selection Tool

by Jeremy Person, PLA, ASLA, with co-authors Ann English, PLA, ASLA, Ted Shriro, Andy Szatko, John Watson, and Jim Cooper, ASLA

Lanark Way bioretention, Montgomery County, Maryland Department of Environmental Protection retrofit. Aromatic aster blooming. / image: reproduced with permission from Montgomery County, MD Department of Environmental Protection

In January of 2020, The Field published an article on Performance-Based Plant Selection for Bioretention that sought an approach for planting design that prioritizes the functional attributes that plants provide in bioretention stormwater treatment facilities. In 2021, the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange (the Exchange) awarded a Collaborative Grant to a multi-disciplinary team from Chicago, Maryland, Omaha, and Oregon to explore these questions further and complete a first phase towards building a Bioretention Plant Selection Tool (BPST). The effort was focused specifically on functions plants provide in bioretention and the vegetative attributes to optimize overall bioretention performance. Biohabitats, a multidisciplinary consulting firm specializing in ecological restoration, conservation planning, and regenerative design, was hired to survey stormwater professionals, complete a review of research on plant functions in bioretention installations, and develop an outline of how stormwater practitioners could evolve planting design to improve facility performance.

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Events & Opportunities Roundup

Cindy Crosby leads a group through the Schulenberg Prairie at The Morton Arboretum, the location for one of NDAL’s in-person fall events on ecology-based landscape practice. / image: The Morton Arboretum, courtesy of New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL)

There is a good chance that summer temperatures are still very much in effect where you are, but with the passage of Labor Day, many are ready to ramp up for fall by seeking distractions from your end-of-summertime sadness. Looking to fill a few despondent blank spots in your calendar, while listening to a few mid-career perspectives or getting ready for the revamped Landscape Architecture Registration Exam? ASLA has a full slate of virtual events taking place in September and October, nearly all free for ASLA members—check them all out right here.

For even more, see ASLA’s RFQs, Opportunities, and Events page for everything from calls for papers to competitions. Below, we highlight a few upcoming events and calls with deadlines coming up soon. And, one other deadline that is nearly upon us: advance rate registration for the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture ends September 12!

Anyone who would like to share an opportunity may submit information online.

Schoolyard Forest Design Lecture Series
September 7-December 7, 2023
This series, hosted by Green Schoolyards America, will provide technical, design-focused guidance for creating and stewarding high-quality green schoolyards and schoolyard forests. Sessions will feature presentations by subject-area experts including Green Schoolyards America staff, along with time for audience Q&A.

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Vote for Your Favorite Game-Changing Idea

At the start of August, ASLA put out a call for ideas that will change how the field approaches climate action, asking for submissions focusing on an ASLA Climate Action Plan goal. The Climate Action Plan seeks to transform the practice of landscape architecture by 2040 through actions taken by ASLA and its members focused on climate mitigation and adaptation, ecological restoration, biodiversity, equity, and economic development.

Now, it’s time to check out the one-minute video submissions and like your favorite game-changing idea to help decide who will present at this year’s ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis! Voting runs for two days only: August 29 – August 30, 2023.

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90 Years of Landscape Architecture: Celebrating TxDOT’s History

by Sandra Chipley, RLA, ASLA

Bluebonnets in Ellis County near Ennis, Texas / image: Michael Amador, TxDOT Photo Library Archives

The Texas Department of Transportation’s landscape architects have been designing safety, comfort, and aesthetics into our Texas roadways for 90 years. In celebration of this monumental 2023 anniversary, TxDOT has produced a short video chronicling their contributions and accomplishments. In 1933, Chief Engineer Gibb Gilchrist hired the Texas Highway Department’s first landscape architect, ‘Jac’ Gubbels, who immediately championed the benefits of roadside beautification to the public, contractors, and highway engineers. Gubbels’ 1938 book, American Highways & Roadsides, promoted his design philosophies on highway alignment road profiles, erosion control, and driver safely. Today, TxDOT’s transportation landscape architects are answering the questions of how best to integrate roads into the environmental context; they are designing with native plantings to reduce heat islands to lessen impacts of a warmer environment as well as designing for improved air and water quality. Share in TxDOT’s celebration by viewing the video!

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What Stories Remain Untold?

The Soil You See…, by Wendy Red Star, in Constitution Gardens on the National Mall / image: Alexandra Hay

For the next month—through September 18, 2023—there is an outdoor art exhibition to explore across National Mall, from the plaza in front of the Lincoln Memorial to Constitution Gardens and sites near the Washington Monument. The Trust for the National Mall, National Park Service, and the National Capital Planning Commission, with curator Monument Lab, selected six artists for Beyond Granite: Pulling Together. The goal: to “create a more inclusive, equitable, and representative commemorative landscape on the National Mall.”

The installations offer a striking contrast to the Mall’s permanent memorials. While articles on Beyond Granite abound (The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, have covered it), it’s worth a visit if you’re in Washington, DC, to experience it for yourself. Written descriptions and photographs never quite capture the Mall, with its mix of tourists and locals enjoying the space and enlivening the monumental expanse, and cannot fully convey the installations’ sound and interactive components. On the sunny Saturday when I visited, the Mall was abuzz, as usual, with tour groups big and small, joggers, rugby players, dog walkers, picnickers… My impression was that many more people stumbled upon the exhibition than specifically sought it out. When you ascend the steps of the National Gallery of Art, or any of the Mall’s other grand structures, you know what you’re in for. But when you have an unexpected encounter with something new in an otherwise familiar landscape or setting, it can be a very different experience of art—one that surprises you into engaging with a perspective you might not have otherwise.

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Preserving Urban Tree Canopies

by Veronica Westendorff, RLA, ASLA

Climate-adaptive parking in Rotterdam, the Netherlands / image: courtesy of Gina Kranendonk via LinkedIn

Preserving Urban Tree Canopies: A Cost-Effective Approach to Mitigating Urban Heat and Climate Change

It’s hot. End of July, early August, humid, southern hot. Not surprising really, but this year we are experiencing smog and air quality issues from more forest fires, heat waves are rolling across the globe, burn units are filling with second degree burn cases from touching the pavement. We build, we cut down, and then we are surprised…

I’ve been following biophilic design on LinkedIn, seeing the comparison of temperatures between solid pavement and permeable pavement with just turf—and a 12° difference in temperature from that single difference in the pavement material. I’ve been researching and writing about urban heat island, how we can use trees to mitigate the heat, and which policies have the greatest success in the opinion of city planners, in order to recommend policies and programs to reduce urban heat island.

Even without the support of research, we know through a lifetime of experiences that we prefer to sit, walk, run, drive, park, and keep our vehicles in the shade of trees. The denser the better, right? And denser shade comes from larger, healthier trees. Older trees. Trees that have space, have been cared for, have been selected to survive in the place that they were planted. Right plant in the right place and all that. I think it’s not difficult to convince people of the importance of saving trees when it’s the beginning of August and our homes are running the air-conditioning non-stop, but development is a complicated thing. After all, we live and work and exist in spaces that were once treed or greened, and we value our lifestyles, our economic growth. I don’t have an answer for that dilemma. I am, however, seeking solutions to these problems, and tree canopy cover is a solution to some of the challenges of increasing temperatures.

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How Do Federal Water Policies Impact Your Work?

ASLA 2022 Honor Award in General Design. West Pond: Living Shoreline. Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Dirtworks Landscape Architecture P.C. / image: Alex Zablocki

Sustainable management of our nation’s water resources is essential to climate mitigation and resilience, biodiversity conservation, and environmental justice. ASLA is working to ensure reliable and robust policies and funding for landscape architects to continue working on water projects, in part by gathering input from landscape architects who plan and design water projects or are water management subject matter experts.

Before Congress wrapped up its legislative business prior to its August recess, both the House of Representatives and Senate acted on water policies key to the work of landscape architects, with both chambers taking action on Interior, Environment, And Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations bills (H.R. 4821 and S. 2605):

Within this legislation, Congress outlined funding levels for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)—one of the largest federal funding sources for landscape architects to plan and design federal water infrastructure projects nationwide. Projects focus on stormwater management, damaged shorelines, and natural landscape protection at parks, campuses, streetscapes, trails, plazas, residences, and more.

The new congressional majority in the House drastically cut the CWSRF and allocated a meager $535 million, while the Senate allocated nearly $1.64 billion for the program. ASLA supports the Senate’s recommended funding for the program and is working to urge its passage.

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How Do Nursery Growers Decide What to Grow?

by Jane Beggs-Joles, Corporate ASLA

Mid-summer production at Prides Corner Farms, Lebanon, CT. / image: Jane Beggs-Joles

It’s August 2023, and growers are deciding on their inventory for 2025.

You read that right: two years out. That’s the best-case scenario, and that’s for flowering shrubs. Sure, perennials will have a quicker turn-around, but trees take even longer. And that two-year forecast? It’s for a three-gallon container. If you like five- or seven-gallon specimens, the timeline gets even longer.

Here are the details:

Right now, growers are looking at what sold this spring and anticipating what will sell through the rest of the year. This tells them both what plants are popular and how much space they have for new crops. They do some math, make some educated guesses about demand, and then order their starter plants (liners) for delivery in spring 2024. Most of those flowering shrubs will need at least a year to grow to a finished size, and that’s how we get all the way to 2025. For slower-growing plants and larger specimens, it will take even longer. If they can’t get the liners until summer or fall, add another few months to the schedule.

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