K-­12 Educational Programs in Landscape Architecture

by Arnaldo Cardona, ASLA

images: Arnaldo Cardona

K­-12 Educational Programs in Landscape Architecture: How to Create Clients and Professionals of the Future

As an ASLA member, you have no doubt heard the phrase “K‐12 educational programs.” Why does this phrase keep resurfacing as an issue in landscape architecture? In this article, I will bring to light why this topic is important and worthy of further development.

First, let’s ask ourselves the following:

  • Do people understand what a landscape architect does?
  • Are there many positions in government for the recent graduate that recognize and differentiate the role of landscape architect?
  • What is the most effective way to promote our profession? Spending unlimited money in advertisement and public relations? Or is there a more effective and economical way to promote our profession?
  • Are we creating clients of the future? Are we creating landscape professionals of the future?
  • Are college programs in landscape architecture overwhelmed with applicants, or are some in jeopardy?
  • What are we doing as a profession to broaden our marketability and diversify our profession in non‐traditional roles?
  • How can we work together with other fields or professions to achieve common goals?

How can we expect government agencies to offer more positions in landscape architecture? How can we expect homeowners to hire landscape architects in these times of “do it yourself” TV shows? What can we do to be more effective in the outreach and understanding of the profession?

The answer is education.

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Should We Place Any Value in the 100-Year Storm?

by Michael Igo, Affil. ASLA, PE, D.WRE, LEED AP, CID

Impacts of floodwaters
ASLA 2020 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Lumberton Community Floodprint: Strategies for Repurposing Vulnerable Landscapes After Disaster, Lumberton, North Carolina. NC State University Coastal Dynamics Design Lab. / image: Lee Stevens

In the age of awareness of climate change, we often hear the terms “100-year storm,” “500-year tides,” or “25-year drought” thrown around. Intuitively, we tend to think that a 100-year storm occurs once every 100 years. However, this is only partly true, as there are key phrases missing from this notion: a 100-year storm will occur once every 100 years on average and based on past data.

The use of an X-Year event derives from what is known in mathematics as the exceedance probability, or the likelihood of an event being greater than a predefined parameter in a given timeframe. Statistics of past data (storms, tides, earthquakes, etc.) are used to create charts based on size and the probability of occurring.

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Last Call for reVISION ASLA 2020

reVISION ASLA 2020
The reVISION ASLA 2020 opening keynote featured Walter Hood, ASLA, ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen, Majora Carter, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Hon. ASLA.

Registration for reVISION ASLA 2020 closes Wednesday, November 18, at 3:00 pm EST.

Even if you can’t attend live, all education sessions will be available on-demand. Register by November 18 and you’ll have access to reVISION ASLA 2020 content from November 23, 2020 through January 31, 2021.

The reVISION ASLA 2020 program includes education sessions in five tracks, allowing registrants to earn up to 25 Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH) by watching sessions live or on-demand.

Individuals can earn PDH by passing an exam after each session, and then download course certificates from the event platform.

For a taste of the experience, a number of reVISION ASLA events are available to watch (for free!) right now. Check them out, and then register by November 18 for full access to the education session recordings and to earn up to 25 PDH!

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20 Years of Partnership: The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program

A RTCA project group surveys the landscape. / image: courtesy of the National Park Service

For over 20 years, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the National Park Service (NPS) have joined forces to help communities across the nation plan, design, and manage their natural, cultural, and recreation resources through the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program.

Volunteers from ASLA chapters across the country provide pro-bono assistance to communities the National Park Service supports. The partnership between NPS and ASLA provides communities with access to expert planners and designers that can turn their ideas into actions, supporting healthy communities and extending the missions of the National Park Service and ASLA to all Americans.

Learn More about the RTCA Program at reVISION ASLA 2020

Next week during reVISION ASLA 2020, attendees will have an opportunity to meet chapter leaders and agency members and consider how we might collaborate over the next 20 years:

The Next 20: ASLA’s Community Assistance Partnership with the National Park Service: Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (NPS-RTCA)
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
5:00 – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Register now to join us for this conversation, along with a host of other education and virtual networking sessions!

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A New Approach to Parks and Recreation System Planning to Create More Livable and Sustainable Communities

by David Barth, PhD, ASLA, AICP, CPRP

Book cover
David Barth is the author of the new book Parks and Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities.

Over the past three decades, landscape architects and park planners have made great strides in addressing community-wide issues through park design. Parks have been designed to create jobs, store and treat stormwater run-off, provide socially-inclusive gathering spaces, combat climate change, increase property values, attract new businesses, promote health and fitness, stabilize neighborhoods, and generate other community-wide benefits.

Most of these efforts, however, have been implemented on an individual site basis rather than a system-wide basis. The majority of parks and recreation system plans address traditional parks and recreation improvements, rather than community-wide issues. And the typical parks and recreation system master planning (PRSMP) process hasn’t changed significantly over the past century and a half since architect Horace Cleveland presented his Suggestions for a System of Parks and Parkways for the City of Minneapolis in 1883!

In my new book, Parks and Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities, I propose a new approach to system planning that not only addresses traditional parks and recreation challenges, but is also robust and comprehensive enough to address broader community-wide issues. Key tenets of this approach include:

  • planning parks and recreation facilities as elements of a larger, interconnected public realm;
  • considering alternative dimensions of parks and recreation systems, such as social equity and climate change, from the onset of the planning process; and
  • planning every site in the system as high-performance public space (HPPS).

This broader perspective encourages parks and recreation agencies to transcend their silos—and leverage their resources—to plan and collaborate with other public and private agencies to meet as many of the community’s needs as possible.

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PPN Event Preview: reVISION ASLA 2020’s Virtual Networking Sessions

Landscape architect Ashley Schwemmer-Mannix
Ashley Schwemmer-Mannix, ASLA, Landscape Architect, West 8 urban design & landscape architecture, is a field session guide for Miami Beach Civic District Master Plan: Landscape Strategies for Better Living.

When a landscape architect faces a change in conditions for their project, they have to revise the plans—just as ASLA had to do with the conference when faced with the COVID-19 crisis. reVISION ASLA 2020 is a reimagined, virtual experience for an evolving profession where you will get the opportunity to learn, connect, and celebrate landscape architecture—all from the safety of your own home. Let’s make 2020 a year to remember for all the right reasons: join us at reVISION ASLA 2020, from November 16-18, and make your mark on the future of our profession.

The education program includes an opening keynote and 24 education sessions in five tracks for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH). Education sessions will be available to all registrants after the event for on-demand access through January 31, 2021.

In addition to sessions for PDH, there are also bite-sized learning opportunities to explore, offering a change of pace and time to take part in discussions. These include virtual field sessions, game changers, Inside the LA Studio, and virtual networking sessions.

Below, we take a look at what each ASLA Professional Practice Network (PPN) with a virtual networking session (or multiple sessions!) has planned for later this month. These 30-minute video chat rooms will be limited in capacity to create a virtual space where everyone can participate in the discussion. Explore the topics below, and register now to join the conversation!

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Native Plant Material Survey Results

by David Hopman, ASLA, PLA

The Native Plant Garden at The New York Botanical Garden
2020 ASLA Professional Honor Award in General Design, The Native Plant Garden at The New York Botanical Garden. OEHME, VAN SWEDEN | OvS / image: Ivo Vermeulen

There is an ongoing debate in the landscape architecture profession between plants as structural and amenity elements, primarily for human enjoyment and services, and plants that perform these vital human functions while also supporting the complex ecological relationships in a local biome. Sara Tangren and Edward Toth of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB) have contributed very valuable research-based information to this debate in their new report Native Plant Materials Use and Commercial Availability in the Eastern United States.

The report is the result of a survey of native plant material users from across the entire Eastern United States, with 760 respondents, and includes written comments. The respondents are drawn from NGOs, government, and commercial entities involved in ecological restoration projects and native plant production.

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reVISION ASLA 2020 Education Overview: 25 PDH Available, and Much More

reVISION ASLA collage

Taking place November 16-18, reVISION ASLA 2020 is a virtual program that will embody the intersection of ASLA’s mission with some of the most urgent issues facing our society. Over three days, panelists and participants will address issues of equity as they manifest in our profession and institutions today, tools and methods for innovative design and successful implementation, transformative mitigation and adaptive resilience strategies for climate change, and much more.

The reVISION ASLA 2020 education program includes 24 education sessions in five tracks:

Design

  • The “Not So Inconvenient” Truth of Carbon and Landscape Architecture
  • Fill for Habitat? Design Processes for an Adapting Regulatory Environment
  • Contractors in Conversation – Strategies for Better Projects from Design Through Construction
  • Do You Really Know Your Soil? Avoiding Critical Soil Design Mistakes
  • The Exquisite Detail: How Big Ideas Get Expressed in Tangible Craft
  • Your Vision to Implementation – What a Contractor Needs to Know
  • Metro Atlanta’s Hidden River: 100 Miles of Access, Equity, and Ecology Along the Chattahoochee
  • Reconnecting Landscapes: Resilient Planting Design in Ecologically Deficient Zones

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Prepare for the L.A.R.E. with ASLA’s Virtual Workshops

Preparing for the Landscape Architect Registration Exam

Are you planning to take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (L.A.R.E.) this December or in 2021, but don’t feel fully prepared? If you need some extra help, ASLA has you covered! This November, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) will host virtual L.A.R.E. Prep Workshops for Section 1 and Section 2 of the L.A.R.E.

Workshop instructors, comprised of ASLA L.A.R.E. Prep Committee members, will review the content and format of the exams, share study strategies and test-taking tips, and engage in Q&A with the participants. Instructors include seasoned professionals that have long been engaged in L.A.R.E. prep support, as well as recent L.A.R.E. test takers.

Section 1 Live Virtual Workshop: Project and Construction Management
Friday, November 13, 12:00 p.m. ET (90-minute session)
Cost: $34.99

Section 2 Live Virtual Workshop: Inventory and Analysis
Friday, November 13, 2:00 p.m. ET (90-minute session)
Cost: $34.99

Register now for one or both workshops!

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Making Mud Pies

by Missy Benson, ASLA, and Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA

Mud pie
Mud pie / image: Missy Benson

Expanding sensory opportunities in outdoor spaces for children is always important, but even more so during a pandemic like we are experiencing now. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us the United States lived as an indoor society with little connection with nature, especially in our low-income, under-served neighborhoods. Research tells us rich outdoor sensory experiences provide both stress release and can help build positive memories that last a lifetime—both are much needed now!

Stories of Therapeutic and Sensory Rich Outdoor Spaces

Living with Dementia
When my mother lived in a retirement community, I was lucky to work with Jack Carman, FASLA, of Spiezle Architectural Group, Inc. and Design for Generations, LLC, to provide a new sensory courtyard design for their residents and staff. When I interviewed staff to understand their needs of the space, I heard much more than the standard wish list of benches, shade, water feature, raised garden beds, and such. The staff, deeply dedicated to patients with dementia, also expressed how some of their patients lived only in the past—but with happy memories of being outdoors. Yet, others they observed lived in a painful past fraught with sad memories.

In talking with the nursing staff, I learned that most of them felt sure that the memories their patients have of being outdoors remain helpful throughout their lives, especially during times of stress. This same memory bank may serve all of us well. While there is little evidence to support whether, for individuals with dementia, limited past access to nature is associated with diminished happiness in older adulthood (now, this is a great idea for research!), there is ample evidence that for older adults, being in sensory rich gardens—touching, smelling, viewing, listening to, moving about, and tasting the plants—can evoke positive memories, improve health and well-being, and is restorative. A brief snapshot of references that supports these benefits follows at the end of this post. Please do feel free to share other pertinent articles with all of us in the comments section below.

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White Paper: In Defense of Licensure in Virginia

McIntire Botanical Garden
From the white paper’s cover. 2019 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Analysis and Planning. McIntire Botanical Garden: Masterplan for Resiliency and Healing. Mikyoung Kim Design. / image: Mikyoung Kim Design

Last month, in response to the Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation’s study of the regulatory status of landscape architects, the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA Virginia) released a white paper on the Justification of Continued Licensure of Landscape Architects in Virginia.

Advocacy is a critical component of ASLA Virginia. The chapter’s Government Affairs Committee is dedicated to monitoring issues related to the practice of landscape architecture in the Commonwealth of Virginia and to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of the public and environment.

Virginia’s Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation (BPOR) is conducting a study to determine if landscape architects should continue to be licensed. The study will be completed in December 2020, after a call for public comments closed on September 30.

ASLA Virginia and ASLA Potomac mobilized Virginia and Potomac chapter members and all landscape architects in the region to submit comments and to contact their clients, allied professionals, and others who value the work of licensed landscape architects to encourage them to submit their comments and declare their support for continued licensure of landscape architects.

The white paper prepared by ASLA Virginia with support provided by the Potomac Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA Potomac), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), supported the ASLA Virginia’s overall advocacy efforts.

With more than 200 pages of meticulously gathered documentation, the white paper is a valuable resource for landscape architecture licensure defense in every state.

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International Projects Post-COVID: One Expat’s Perspective

by Edward Flaherty, ASLA

image: Edward Flaherty

I can’t deny the romantic attraction of the places where I have worked and lived:

Tangier, where on the Strait of Gibraltar, Europe meets Africa. Tangier lesson learned: waterfront tourist district. I learned the hard way how important free access to multidisciplinary project information is.

Istanbul, where on the Bosphorus Strait, Europe meets Asia. Turkey lesson learned: 200km motorway connecting Europe and Asia. I learned how to scale ‘making a difference’ when working with senior engineers whose career had been on horseback.

Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea in a port called Yanbu, where for centuries people have made their way to Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia lesson learned: new town in the desert on the Red Sea coast. I learned the hard way how small the landscape infrastructure is compared to the energy, port, primary industries, transportation, jobs, and telecom are to a city being built from zero.

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Perpetual Adaptation

by Chris Hardy, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP ND

reVISION ASLA 2020

This has been an unprecedented year in so many ways for our lives and profession. During this fall’s reVISION ASLA, our team is sharing how our respective practices have been impacted this year, strategies and decisions we have made to navigate these times, and plans for moving into 2021. We are also sharing surveys and trends on the impacts for graduating professionals in both this recession and 2008.

The original title of this presentation was to be “Knock on Wood: Learning from the Great Recession,” where Rene Bihan, FASLA, of SWA, Molly Bourne, ASLA, of MNLA, and Chris Hardy of Sasaki, were going to share how our firms navigated 2008-2011, and preparations we were making for a future recession.

Since then, we have shifted our title to “Perpetual Adaptation: The Design Business in 2020 and Lessons from the Great Recession.” We have added Michael Grove, ASLA, the Chair of Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Ecology at Sasaki, to our panel, and refocused on a critical analysis of the differences between these recessions, what ideas are successful, and how this recession is structurally unique across practice sectors.

In preparation for this session, we are asking firm leaders to share their thoughts as well, on our survey here.

We are also reaching out to recent graduates and young professionals, including both those who were impacted by the Great Recession from 2008-2010, and the classes of 2020 and 2021, to gather their experiences and advice through this survey.

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Ancient History Revisited, Part 3

by Alec Hawley, ASLA

Existing opening space in San Francisco / image: San Francisco General Plan, Recreation and Open Space Element, Map 1, page 3

Revisiting the lost plans of Frederick Law Olmsted and the history of San Francisco’s most iconic park to imagine what might be

For the first two installments in this series, please see Ancient History Revisited and Ancient History Revisited, Part 2, published on The Field last month. For more about the series, check out the October 1 edition of the San Francisco radio show Roll Over Easy for an interview with author Alec Hawley and also Luke Spray of the San Francisco Parks Alliance in the show’s second half. Alec discusses his strange findings about San Francisco’s initial parks system bid by Olmsted and how they imply amazing things for the city right now.

“The conclusion to which these considerations lead, is obviously that whenever a pleasure ground is formed in San Francisco, it should have a character which the citizens will be sure to regard with just pride and satisfaction. It should be a pleasure ground second to none in the world—a promenade which shall, if possible become so agreeable to its citizens, that when they go elsewhere they will remember it gratefully, and not be obliged to consider it a poor substitute for what is offered them by the wiser policy of other cities.”

– Frederick Law Olmsted. Preliminary report in regard to a plan of public pleasure grounds for the City of San Francisco. Olmsted, Vaux & Co. 1866

So, what can we as contemporary San Franciscans do? What can our elected officials push for that will make for a more equitable and green city for all that takes into account how they managed to do the ‘impossible’ but also missed systematic opportunities in open space planning from San Francisco’s beginning as a city?

Looking at a map of San Francisco, it is easy to see the historical inequity and poor planning. While the ‘impossible’ Golden Gate Park did unfurl over a series of decades, the process that Olmsted outlined—asking for a series of small parks connected by avenues free from the dust and noise of the city—was completely missed.

And, I believe this is where there is still hope. There is no straightforward way that a park on the scale (1,017 acres, 20% larger than Central Park) and shape of Golden Gate Park can be made today. There just isn’t the undeveloped space to accommodate its dimensions (barring very serious disasters); but there are lots of avenues, and these are quickly becoming the places of respite from the dust and noise of the city that hold great potential.

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Equity in the Built Environment

Opening day of the Mardi Gras Indian Cultural Campus. / image: courtesy of Ujijji Davis Williams, ASLA

On October 14, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) with the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN) will inaugurate the National Building Museum’s Equity in the Built Environment series. These conversations will focus on how buildings, landscapes, interiors, and streets can be the cause of—and, more important, the cure for—social and racial disparities.

Equity in the Built Environment: Mardi Gras Indian Cultural Campus
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)
The recording is now available online.

Learn how the Mardi Gras Indian Cultural Campus is helping to reverse the negative impacts of economic disinvestment, political neglect, and natural disasters that have eroded community pride and participation in New Orleans’ Central City, a once-thriving hub of African American civic and commercial life. Austin Allen, Ph.D., ASLA, associate professor of practice in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas Arlington; Chief Tyrone Casby, now retired, former Principal of Landry High School in New Orleans, Louisiana; and Matt A. Williams, ASLA, urban planner, City of Detroit, will discuss their roles in establishing this culturally significant site. The program is moderated by Ujijji Davis Williams, ASLA, a landscape architect, urban planner, and associate with SmithGroup.

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Cultural Diversity through the Latin American Landscape

ASLA 2019 Professional General Design Honor Award. Sundance Square Plaza, Fort Worth, Texas. Michael Vergason Landscape Architects. / image: Sundance Square

ASLA’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month continues today with the second event in a free, four-part webinar series led by Latin American landscape architects:

The Spectacular Nature of the Ancient Mexico
Thursday, October 1, 2020, 3:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Recording now available

The series continues with On Social Urbanism and Reframing Spatial Design in Latin America on October 8 and Climate Change, Landscape, Cultural and Natural Heritage on October 15.

For more information on these webinars and our presenters and moderators—Ricardo Austrich, ASLA, María Bellalta, ASLA, Lina Escobar, Dr. Saúl Alcántara Onofre, and Ricardo Riveros—please visit ASLA’s Hispanic Heritage Month webpage.

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Fire Suppression and Site Planning

by Nate Lowry, ASLA

Forest fire in California
Forest fire, Klamath National Forest, CA / image: photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

As 2020 rages on, so does a record forest fire season. In the Western United States alone, over 6.6 million acres have been burned, 7,500+ structures have been destroyed, and close to 40 people have lost their lives just this year. There is mounting pressure to address what is now a yearly occurrence and landscape architects can play a key and leading role through site design.

This issue hit home for us, with some of our own employees evacuated in what were not just wilderness fires but suburban blazes as well. The problem only seems to be getting worse, with a clear need for alternative solutions to protect properties, investments, and lives moving forward.

The first way to limit exposure and susceptibility to forest fires is initial site selection and location. Americans love their freedom and often their privacy, which has led to community development right up to the fringes of nature. Local and state agencies play a huge role in where houses are sited and what codes are required to address fire danger. Do isolated or rural community developments in the West need to stop altogether, or can certain techniques and approaches be used to more safely develop these communities?

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Climate Positive Design: Pathfinder 2.0

by Pamela Conrad, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, and Paulina Tran, Affiliate ASLA

image: CMG Landscape Architecture

Climate change is front and center as the world is experiencing unprecedented natural disasters, wreaking devastating, visible impacts on our society and the planet.

CMG Landscape Architecture Principal Pamela Conrad and her team of landscape architects, environmental designers, data scientists, and tech gurus continues to advance Climate Positive Design—a movement to improve the carbon impact of the built environment through collective action. Since its launch in the fall of 2019, Climate Positive Design provides accessible tools, guidance, and resources to have a positive impact on climate change.

Pathfinder 2.0

Available on ClimatePositiveDesign.com, the Pathfinder is a free web-based app that provides project-specific guidance on reducing carbon footprints while increasing carbon sequestration. Users receive instant carbon feedback and a Climate Positive Scorecard with detailed statistics that can be plugged directly into Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and design suggestions to improve carbon impacts.

Pathfinder 2.0 was released August 2020 with new features and improvements since the initial launch on September 30, 2019 that include:

  • Metric units
  • Addition of custom material, plant, and operational inputs
  • Comparison of design alternatives
  • Analysis of existing conditions
  • Understanding site impacts
  • Grading impacts
  • Existing tree impacts (cutting down trees, mulching, converting into timber and site furnishings or biochar)
  • Soil amendment or import

To learn more about Climate Positive Design’s Pathfinder 2.0, register now to join us on September 30.

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Outstanding Service: Going Above and Beyond

image: EPNAC

A vibrant community of volunteers are the heart of ASLA’s culture of collaboration: the Society is “devoted to the encouragement of volunteerism and benefiting from the expertise and creativity of members who give their time and energies to advance the Society and the profession.” The ASLA Outstanding Service Award program recognizes ASLA member volunteers who are making notable contributions to or on behalf of the Society at the national level.

In memory of the late Mary Hanson, Hon. ASLA, and her 20 years of service to the Society and profession as ASLA’s corporate secretary, each year we present Outstanding Service Awards to volunteers whose dedication goes above and beyond the call of duty. The Society could not function without the selfless work of volunteers in every chapter and at the national level.

ASLA trustees, committee and PPN chairs and members, ASLA representatives, and other volunteers involved in the work of the Society at the national level are eligible for the award.

Recipients have included:

  • 2019: David Cutter, ASLA, and April Westcott, ASLA
  • 2018: Lisa Horne, ASLA, and Thomas Nieman, FASLA

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Safe, Secure, and Resilient: Overseas Buildings Operations

ASLA 2019 Professional Award of Excellence in Research. Site Commissioning: Proving Triple-Bottom-Line Landscape Performance at a National Scale. Andropogon. / image: Andropogon

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) will host a virtual meeting of the Industry Advisory Group next week, and the general public is welcome to attend (registration required):

OBO’s Annual Industry Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Register now

OBO’s Industry Advisory Group is comprised of professionals from architecture, real estate, urban design, landscape architecture, historic preservation, interior design, graphic design, construction, engineering, and facilities management. 2019-2021 members include James Burnett, FASLA, Susannah Drake, Judith Nitsch, Hon. ASLA, Carol Ross Barney, Hon. ASLA, and Marion Weiss, Affil. ASLA.

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Extending Education through Travel, Local and Otherwise

by Lisa Casey, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP BD+C

Sketch of street art in Deep Ellum, Dallas
Street art in Deep Ellum, Dallas / image: Lisa Casey

During a student visit to the landscape architecture firm OvS in Washington, D.C., one summer day many years ago, the strongest impression came from hundreds upon hundreds of slides from images of van Sweden’s travels in Europe all perfectly organized in a room. Travel is often touted as an educational tool in the profession of landscape architecture, but exactly how to benefit from it is often left unexplained. In a series of essays on The Art of Travel the philosopher Alain de Botton takes a critical eye to these aspects of travel. One essay in particular on “Possessing Beauty” reveals a connection between touring and creative work.

De Botton observes that after experiencing a moment of beauty, inspiration, or truth, it is a naturally human impulse to want to keep it and to give it a sense of respect within our life. One option is to take a photograph with our phone, but such a casual tool often fails to capture the essence of what we found so uniquely inspiring in that moment. Another option is to purchase a postcard, tchotchke, or T-shirt. De Botton draws on the perspective of the nineteenth century British artist and poet John Ruskin, who exhorted the British people to take in beauty through sketches and ‘word-painting’ instead. Through identifying the sources of attraction to a beautiful space, we can own it within ourselves.

With touching vulnerability de Botton shares with us about his quirky adventure in sketching a hotel window and composing a word painting of an office park. He does not share the results except to assure us that they are both quite bad, but that is not the point. Ruskin preferred the thoughtful seeing behind a poorly executed sketch more than the reverse. De Botton presents himself as the average human with a desire to appreciate the beauty around him and demonstrate that we can all do the same.

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Ancient History Revisited, Part 2

by Alec Hawley, ASLA

Map of the City and County of San Francisco drawn for the San Francisco News Letter and the Pacific Mining Journal by James Butler, 1864. Park overlap – Olmsted proposal: 120 properties; Olmsted’s successor William Hammond Hall’s proposal: 14 properties. / image: David Rumsey Map Collection

Revisiting the lost plans of Frederick Law Olmsted and the history of San Francisco’s most iconic park to imagine what might be

For the first installment in this series, please see Ancient History Revisited, published on The Field last week.

While the supervisors and mayor of San Francisco were focused on directing development of San Francisco outwards to the Pacific Ocean, where land could be acquired relatively easily for their purposes, Frederick Law Olmsted’s report, to the contrary, wished to develop a park in what is now known as Lower Haight / Hayes Valley and City Hall, with a broad parkway connecting the Bay to the interior, along what is now Van Ness Ave.

Olmsted’s chief argument was a practical one, depicting the extreme challenges that San Francisco would face with the possibility of a Central Park-sized pleasure ground and Sylvan aesthetic.

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Volunteers Needed for MasterSpec Review Committee

Precise drawing with ruler
image: Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Apply now to represent ASLA in the review of the MasterSpec landscape architecture library.

ASLA is seeking four to six members to join the MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee, a working group within the ASLA Professional Practice Committee.

The MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee (MLARC) members will represent ASLA in the review of the Landscape Architecture Library and volunteer their time in support of MasterSpec. We are seeking licensed practitioners experienced with MasterSpec to volunteer for a two-year term on the MLARC.

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Ancient History Revisited

by Alec Hawley, ASLA

Images: Willard Worden, courtesy OpenSFHistory.org wnp15.366 (left); Alec Hawley (right)

Revisiting the lost plans of Frederick Law Olmsted and the history of San Francisco’s most iconic park to imagine what might be

“No city in the world needs such recreation grounds more than San Francisco. A great Park, or—what is more practical—a series of small parks, connected by varied and ornamental avenues, where people can drive, ride, and walk, free from the dust and noise, is the great want of this city.”

– Frederick Law Olmsted. Preliminary report in regard to a plan of public pleasure grounds for the City of San Francisco. Olmsted, Vaux & Co. 1866

Why revisit plans and thoughts that are more than a century and a half old in the midst of a crisis that deserves immediate attention, and safe access for all to public space? What purpose do we find to look back and analyze the origins of the City by the Bay and imagine this debate now that San Francisco is a globalized metropolis of nearly one million? What could be learned by revisiting an era when more than half the city was tidal marsh and sand dunes with a minuscule fort, a mission, and small port of trade? Could we, in this bleak hour, find the advice there to guide our path for shaping space in the contemporary urban life of the San Francisco that we seek?

We are all collectively seeking room to breathe right now. It is not a mystery why streets, gardens, and parks have become so vital and primary in the consciousness of 2020. Schools, businesses, airports, and factories have been shuttered, opened, and some closed again for months, as we try to manage a global pandemic that is destroying our communities. The only remaining space to escape outside of our homes are our shared streets and public parks. Where better to go than to explore our city’s origins, when our daily lives are in upheaval, to see if even a shred of insight lingers to help ease our current condition, which may well become a new era in landscape and urban planning.

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Students & Educators: Step Up to the Campus RainWorks Challenge

Florida International University’s entry, Coastal Eco-Waters: Adapting for a Resilient Campus, won first place in the master plan category of the 2019 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: Florida International University Design Board

Registration for the ninth annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Campus RainWorks Challenge is open now through October 1, 2020.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is open to institutions of higher education across the United States and its territories. With the support of a faculty advisor, teams that compete are asked to design an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater pollution and also provides additional benefits to the campus community and environment.

To learn more about the competition and hear from faculty and students that have previously participated, please register for this week’s free webcast:

Thursday, September 3, 2020
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Register Now

Speakers:

  • Bo Yang, PhD, ASLA, PLA, AICP, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona.
  • Matthew Lutheran, MLA, ISA Certified Arborist and Restoration Program Manager for the Tucson Audubon Society. Matthew graduated from the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture in 2019 with a Masters in Landscape Architecture and was a member of the (Re)Searching for a Spot team, a demonstration project winner in the 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge.

ASLA is a proud supporter of the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge, and ASLA members participate as jurors during the review process. If you are interested in volunteering as a juror, please contact propractice@asla.org.

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Give Back: Become a Mentor

image: iStock

On a Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) survey, we asked members to share one essential lesson learned from a mentor (see LAND for a recap of the responses), and many of the answers reflected heartfelt gratitude for a helpful or transformative insight shared. Many professionals cite the importance of mentorship at different points in their careers. As students and emerging professionals navigate the impacts on the profession during the COVID-19 crisis, mentorship can play an even larger role, as a source of guidance and reassurance during these uncertain times.

The 2020 ASLA Mentorship Program launched in conjunction with the announcement of free ASLA membership for students this spring. The goal the program is to foster relationships between students and seasoned professionals that allows both parties to increase their understanding of the many facets of landscape architecture.

While many students have eagerly signed up, we are looking for more mentors to step up. What do you need to be a mentor? Just a minimum of five years of experience, and a willingness to be engaged. If you’ve benefited from the guidance of a mentor, now is the time to give back to the landscape architecture community by taking on that role. Prospective mentors are invited to sign up by August 31 so new student members can get paired with a mentor.

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An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA: The Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden
Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden. A spacious curved trellis serves as a welcoming transition from the elementary school to the garden. The adjacent activity space, an oval “lawn” of resilient paving, features a variety of fixed and movable seating choices. / image: Robin Hill (c)

An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA, Founding Partner of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC

The Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) is honored to share the second part of my interview with David Kamp, FASLA, whose influential work is held in the highest esteem in the design, planning, and environmental psychology community. (Please see the first installment, covering what shaped David’s design philosophy, here.)

Representative Projects

Your portfolio of projects is amazing. Could you share your thoughts about several that provided you the foundation to design the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden?

I realize that much of what I have shared with you deals with health. Building health through a stronger connection with nature, which strengthens connections to ourselves, our communities, and the larger world, is the foundation to all our projects. That includes our work with children—whether it is designing a universal access trail system for an environmental education center, dealing with the trauma of neo-natal intensive care for parents and well siblings, a public garden that engages everyone regardless of age or condition, or an international campus that welcomes children from a dozen different cultures. All of these perspectives deal with celebrating the wonder and delight of nature and using that resonating “connectiveness” to open up new worlds for kids to explore. Receiving the commission for the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden, we had a rich and nuanced perspective to draw upon for the collaboration.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career, Part 3

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

K Street Mall, Sacramento
K Street Mall, Sacramento, CA. K Street was converted to an unsuccessful pedestrian mall in the 1960s. When light rail was introduced to Sacramento in the mid-1970s, K Street was transformed into a thriving pedestrian/transit mall. CHNMB, with Byron as Principal-in-Charge, was the lead design consultant to Caltrans. / image: CHNMB photo courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career, and the second installment for Byron’s time at CHNMB and Amphion.

Career in Teaching

In ’79, when I was working on the K Street Mall, still as CHNMB, I had given a presentation up in Sacramento and met Rob Thayer. Probably two or three weeks later, Dave Johnson in our office said they were looking for someone to teach grading and drainage at UC Davis. We were slow at the time and he thought I could probably do that. I had never taught before; I thought, I wouldn’t know what to do! Dave said, “You teach all the time in the office. You know what you’re talking about, students would love it.” I literally had never thought about teaching. I definitely knew how to grade and drain, and a lot of people don’t when they get into an office. I contacted Rob (who founded the landscape architecture program at Davis) and he said, “You’ll be perfect. We’ll give you a great TA who’s already taken the course, and a workbook you can use.” I got Rich Untermann’s book, The Principles of Grading and Drainage. There were an awful lot of generalizations in it; it gets people started, but doesn’t take it very far, so I began to modify and make up my own exercises. One of the hardest things to do is to create exercises or problems. I would do one and think this is going to get exactly what I want; then I’m in the middle of doing it and a student would ask about an element I hadn’t planned on introducing yet.

I taught the course that first time, and Rob asked if I wanted to do it again. He said I got great reviews, and I enjoyed it. I was teaching one half-day, two days a week. The first time I taught I didn’t even get paid; I gave the money back to the office because I didn’t take the time off. In ’81 the department asked me if I wanted to teach two courses. Skip Mezger, ASLA, and I taught together; it was a hands-on thing. We spent an hour talking about theory of construction and then we’d work for a couple hours doing projects on campus, or sometimes we’d just go hammer some nails. It was like taking city people to the country—it was good introductory stuff. When I started teaching halftime I cut my salary from the office. That also started me in the retirement system, which at first I didn’t think too much about. That went on for a couple years, then Skip went on to something else, or collectively we decided to change the course a little bit. It was still half days, but I was now teaching two quarters. Then I had a third course. Grading and drainage, detailing and materials, then construction documents. At one point I introduced a professional practice course as a separate course, but they couldn’t find a way to fit it in, so I worked that into construction documents, which seemed to be the place that it fit the best.

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An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Sensory Arts Garden
Within a lush and safe setting, the Sensory Arts Garden fosters curiosity and meaningful interactions and is welcoming to all regardless of ability. / image: Robin Hill (c)

An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA, Founding Partner of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC

I am delighted to share the first of a two-part interview I had with landscape architect David Kamp, FASLA. Having followed his innovative and influential work with great interest for many years, I was fortunate to have worked with David and his team at Dirtworks to design the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden, located in Jupiter, Florida. It remains one of my favorite and most meaningful projects, one that truly meets the needs of children and adults with autism. We will talk about the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden in the second part of the interview, to be published here on The Field next week. For now, please enjoy learning about what shaped David’s design philosophy.

Personal History

Please tell us about your firm, when it was founded, and what your vision was.

Early in my career, as one of the designers for Australia’s Parliament House, I saw how design could express a sense of identity both personal and national—and do it at vastly different scales. Working for landscape architect Peter Rolland, FASLA, and a design team headed by Mitchell Giurgola Thorp Architects, the design for Parliament House drew upon an important historic concept whereby the city used its natural topography as a major organizing device. The design made little distinction between architecture and landscape. It is a triumph of the planner’s art, merging built form with landform in a way that is at once natural and monumental, seeking a balance with the existing landscape and morphology of the city.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career, Part 2

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

Freeway Park, Seattle
Freeway Park, Seattle. / image: CHNMB photo courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career.

Transition Years

The whole time that Lawrence Halprin and Associates (LH&A) existed the office was located at 1620 Montgomery Street, in the waterfront area below Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. In the early 1970s, Larry started an alternative office called Roundhouse, which was located at the train turnaround, just down from Montgomery Street. Roundhouse became what Larry was really interested in, although he was still involved in projects on a request basis. He had written The RSVP Cycles, and was getting more involved in esoteric theories and practices of group dynamics. During this time we began to refine the workshops that we were becoming known for—learning ways to work with groups and help them be more creative, and break down the mindset one came in with. We cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them on the wall; we sketched. We did the “two minute drill” which involved listing five things that are most important to you in one minute—things that first come to mind. Larry did training workshops for those of us who were going to be leading workshops. Larry didn’t lead all the workshops; he led some of the early ones, then several of us took over.

This went on for a couple years, during which time we got the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Larry got that project through Roundhouse and Larry hired LH&A to do it and manage it, but he was the one in charge. I was assigned as the project manager. I had to negotiate the contract and go to Washington a couple times to meet with senators. This was always a strange project to me because FDR very explicitly said, “I do not want a memorial, give me a rock out in front of the library with my name on it.” Until certain members of his family died, that was the situation, but Congress went ahead and appropriated money for it. That project took twenty-five years—it wasn’t built until the late ’90s and it started in ’72.

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