Salton Sea EJ Campaign: A Community Driven Goal

Proposed bird watching overlook and platform community amenity / Image: Kounkuey Design Initiative

The ASLA Environmental Justice PPN provides a forum for ASLA members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. Throughout 2018, the Environmental Justice PPN has hosted virtual presentations with live Q&A, focused on issues most important to its members. All Environmental Justice PPN members are invited to participate in these monthly events, allowing members to expand their networks, and hear from design professionals who are playing an important role in addressing environmental justice. On November 8, Christian Rodriguez, Community Associate at Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), joined the conversation on KDI’s work in the Eastern Coachella Valley of southern California.

About
KDI is a non-profit design and community development organization with teams in Los Angeles, CA, and Nairobi, Kenya. KDI partners with under-resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealized potential in their neighborhoods and cities through advocacy, research, planning, and built works. KDI realizes this mission through advocacy, research, planning, and built works.

Context
The Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV), located 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles, CA, is a cluster of unincorporated communities just minutes away from Palm Springs and some of the most expensive zip codes in the country. The ECV is a historically under resourced region and its communities, composed of agricultural workers and a migrant population, face environmental injustices such as poor air quality, substandard housing, lack of clean water, and basic infrastructure. The residents of these communities live along the shoreline of the rapidly drying Salton Sea, California’s largest lake.

For over a century, the Salton Sea water levels were maintained through surrounding agricultural runoff. In 2003, the primary water source for the surrounding agricultural lands was affected by the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), created to reduce California’s over-dependence on Colorado River water while also making more water available for urban use in San Diego County. This diversion of water and reduction of agricultural runoff has caused the Salton Sea waterline to recede. In the coming decades, more of the contaminated lake bed will become exposed, spreading harmful dust and fine particles, and exacerbating the already poor air quality in the region. KDI, in partnership with a larger NGO network, is part of an Environmental Justice Campaign that seeks to inform the government efforts to mitigate these environmental and health impacts with the voices and needs of the immediate community.

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Parks, Play, and People: Equity and Community in Recreation

by Missy Benson, ASLA

The joint meeting of the Children’s Outdoor Environments and Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) in Philadelphia / image: EPNAC
The joint meeting of the Children’s Outdoor Environments and Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) in Philadelphia / image: EPNAC

The 2018 Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Meeting in Review

The ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO’s joint meeting of the Children’s Outdoor Environments and Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), which offered attendees 1.0 PDH, focused on the topic of “Parks, Play, and People: Equity and Community in Recreation” with short presentations by, from left right in the photo above: Joy Kuebler, ASLA, Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC; Andrew Spurlock, FASLA, Spurlock Landscape Architects; and Diane Jones Allen, ASLA, The University of Texas at Arlington and DesignJones, LLC. (For a recap of all PPN events that took place during the meeting, see the overall PPN Live in Review Field post.)

We measure success at our events when we have a great turnout of people interested in our topics—and indeed we had standing room only during our joint event in Philadelphia! Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN leadership was well represented among the 70+ attendees (and several attendees also signed up to join the PPN leadership team!). Here is a summary of the three presentations that took place.

Diane Jones Allen spoke about “The Challenge of Park Equity in Communities with Environmental Challenges,” including Sankofa Wetland Park in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Diane explained the technique “Mining the Indigenous” as described in Design as Democracy to bring together community knowledge typically overlooked and left unmined, to the detriment of projects. For example, local residents shared extensive knowledge of the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle from childhoods spent in these wetlands. Contributions from locals provided a better understanding of the fauna, including alligators, snakes, and insects, and flora, such as edible plants and the historical uses of existing vegetation. Diane described examples of bio-retention facilities designed to alleviate neighborhood flooding during heavy rainfall, with native vegetation and walking paths to promote educational and recreational opportunities for community residents and other users.

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The 2018 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge Results

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Golden Gate Park, Heroes’ Grove and Gold Star Mothers’ Memorial Boulder, HALS CA-49-B, San Francisco, California / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Results of the ninth annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War, were announced at the HALS Meeting in Philadelphia during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO on Saturday, October 20, 2018. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top three submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 17 impressive HALS short format historical reports and a few measured drawings and large format photographs to the HALS collection. This competition marks the 100th Anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, on November 11, 1918.

2018 HALS Challenge: Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War
Sponsored by HALS-National Park Service

First Place: Golden Gate Park, Heroes’ Grove and Gold Star Mothers’ Memorial Boulder, HALS CA-49-B
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California
by Cate Bainton with large format photographs by Les Tabata and Cate Bainton

Second Place: American Academy in Rome, Thrasher-Ward Memorial, HALS US-10-A
Rome, Italy (Please check with the NPS HALS Office before documenting foreign sites to make sure they meet the criteria to be considered a Historic American Landscape.)
by James O’Day, ASLA

Third Place: Monument Terrace, HALS VA-79
Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia
by Laura Knott, ASLA, RLA, MSHP

Honorable Mention: Liberty Row, HALS OH-13
Passing through Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, and Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
by P. Jeffrey Knopp, ASLA

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Enhancing the Dialog Between Education and Practice

by John Anderson, ASLA

ASLA 2018 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Extending Our History, Embracing Our Future, Madison, WI. SmithGroup + Hoerr Schaudt. / Image: University of Wisconsin-Madison

The ASLA Education & Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN) exists to promote communication between education and practice. We have developed a philosophy statement:  Education and practice mutually need each other and should respect each other. They should reciprocate and participate between themselves and most importantly should communicate regularly. In many cases, these relationships are already in place and functioning. In others, there may be disconnects, real or perceived. The PPN seeks to engage both practitioners and educators on how we can promote and enhance the dialog.

We would like to ask members of the PPN, both academics and practitioners, to provide feedback through the Education & Practice PPN survey on ways in which you are providing some level of reciprocation and participation.

In this issue, we will focus on:

Reciprocation and Participation- The relationships between practice and education occur on many levels. One primary method involves proximity, the interaction between practitioners and academia on a state-by-state or program proximity basis. It may involve a relationship between individual faculty members and practitioners who share a common subject or research interest.

Certainly, the alumni factor comes into play. Many of us take pride in promoting our alma mater and seeing it succeed.

We would like to ask members of the PPN, both academics and practitioners, to provide dialog on ways in which you are providing some level of reciprocation and participation. Toward that end, we will provide a series of questions to fuel the dialog:

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Exploring Social & Sensory Barriers That Impede Play in Public Spaces

Chad Kennedy, ASLA, speaking at TEDx Modesto / image: TEDx

TED, a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading,” has popularized short, engaging talks from thought leaders since its founding in 1984 as a conference on Technology, Entertainment and Design. Since then, TED has expanded with the TEDx program to support local, independently organized events that bring communities together to share ideas and spark conversation.

TED speakers have included Walter Hood, ASLA, Kate Orff, ASLA, Janette Sadik-Kahn, Honorary ASLA, and Jeff Speck, Honorary ASLA. This past September, Chad Kennedy, ASLA, P.L.A., CPSI, LEED® AP BD+C, joined the TED speaker cohort at TEDxModesto, which combined TED Talks videos and live presentations by local thinkers and doers on the theme “What makes your life more colorful?”

Chad is Principal Landscape Architect at O’Dell Engineering, and he is also serving as Chair of ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) Council this year, after serving as co-chair and officer for the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN. Chad is an advocate for and designer of recreational spaces that are created specifically to enrich the lives of all those who visit them. (See “Processing Through Play,” from the June 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, for more on Chad’s focus on play spaces for children with sensory disorders.)

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Women in Landscape Architecture (WILA) Annual Meeting Recap

by Alison Kennedy, ASLA

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Meeting in Philadelphia / image: EPNAC

The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO was a landmark meeting for the Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN). Not only did our PPN host two well-attended events as part of the conference, we were also pleased to see women in our profession more equally represented amongst education session panels. 20 WILA PPN members spoke, moderated sessions, and led field sessions on a wide variety of topics over the course of the meeting.

The PPN’s Women in Leadership Roundtable took place on the PPN Live stage in the EXPO hall on Saturday morning. With more than 90 attendees in the standing-room-only audience, we can safely say that this is one of the best, if not the best, turnouts we have ever had at our PPN Live meeting. Roundtable participants Wendy Miller, FASLA, Vanessa Warren, ASLA, Haley Blakeman, ASLA, and Magdalena Aravena, ASLA, shared their paths to leadership positions  and lessons learned along the way.

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PPN Live in Philadelphia: The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Review

image: EPNAC

With the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO behind us, it’s time to recap the array of Professional Practice Network (PPN) events that took place throughout the meeting weekend in PPN Live.

PPN meetings, including three collaborative joint meetings that PPN pairs planned together, took place on Saturday and Sunday, October 20-21, drawing nearly 700 participants to PPN Live on the EXPO floor. PPN events were open to all attendees, giving them the chance to meet fellow PPN members and explore different practice areas.

During the PPN meetings—which ranged from panels to quickfire presentations to interviews, among other formats—new PPN leadership volunteers were also identified for many PPNs, along with members interested in submitting posts for The Field or presenting ASLA Online Learning webinars. If you would like to learn more about getting involved, check out the ways to engage and PPN leadership positions to consider.

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FHWA Updates to CSS/CSD Practice

by Christine Colley, ASLA, RLA

ASLA 2013 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Townscaping an Automobile-Oriented Fabric: Farmington, Arkansas. University of Arkansas Community Design Center / image: University of Arkansas Community Design Center

Context Sensitive Design (CSS) is having a moment. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has recently released three new publications on Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) and Context Sensitive Design (CSD). The documents are excellent resources for seasoned and novice transportation landscape architects:

Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) and Context Sensitive Designs (CSD) are not new. The concept was first introduced in the 1997 FHWA publication A Guide for Achieving Flexibility in Highway Design and further defined during the May 1998 workshop Thinking Beyond the Pavement: A National Workshop on Integrating Highway Development with Communities and the Environment. CSS is a decision-making tool that emphasizes multidisciplinary, collaborative approaches to the planning and design of transportation infrastructure. Ideally, when following a CSS decision-making process, the result is a transportation facility uniquely suited to its setting. CSS is achieved by maintaining and enhancing scenic, aesthetic, historical, community, and environmental resources while simultaneously improving or maintaining safety and mobility.

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Effective Conservation in a Changing World

A view from Crissy Field in the Presidio / image: Alexandra Hay

2018 US/ICOMOS Symposium
November 13-14, 2018
The Presidio, San Francisco, California

Join thought leaders from the U.S. and around the globe in advancing the connections between cultural and natural heritage for more sustainable conservation. This symposium, Forward Together: A Culture-Nature Journey Towards More Effective Conservation in a Changing World, builds on the recognition that integration of cultural and natural heritage conservation and stewardship across professional boundaries and disciplines is essential to improving conservation outcomes.

The symposium kicks off a week of conference activities in San Francisco, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

ASLA members participating in the US/ICOMOS Symposium and PastForward include:

Welcome from symposium partners
Michael Boland, ASLA
, Chief of Park Development and Visitor Engagement, Presidio Trust

Re-envisioning the Cultural Landscape Report: Straddling the Nature/Culture Divide at Pecos National Historical Park
Theme: Taking a landscape approach to integrating nature and culture
Robert Melnick, FASLA
, Senior Cultural Resource Specialist, MIG, Inc.

Protecting Mendocino Woodlands: Lessons from a Landscape of Natural and Cultural Significance
Theme: Linking resilience, sustainable heritage and community livelihoods
Laurie Matthews, ASLA, Director of Preservation Planning + Design, MIG, Inc. (presented by Robert Melnick, FASLA)

Identifying Tangible and Intangible Cultural Relationships in a Rapidly Changing Region of Turkey
Theme: Stewardship of biocultural landscapes in the 21st century: the role of traditional knowledge and practices
Terry Clements, FASLA, Professor and Program Chair, Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture Program

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Annual Meeting Education Session Highlights, Part 2

Spruce Harbor Park at night, Penns Landing, Philadelphia / image: Jon Lovette / Alamy Stock Photo

The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO begins tomorrow, October 19! In addition to the events planned for PPN Live, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team reviews the annual meeting education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 130 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 24 professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the meeting website and mobile app by title, speaker, topic area, and PDH type (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, AIA, AICP, CMAA, FL, GBCI CE, GBCI SITES, ISA, NY, etc.).

Below, we run through the second half of these education highlights (see the sessions picked by ASLA’s 10 other PPNs in our previous post):

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Climate Positive Design at the Global Climate Action Summit

by Pamela Conrad, ASLA

Are creating climate positive cities possible? San Francisco is discussing the possibility. / Image: CMG Landscape Architecture

On September 12, 2018, San Francisco hosted international leaders of various countries, states, regions, cities, and businesses, celebrities and environmental justice pioneers invited by California Governor Jerry Brown for three days at the Global Climate Action Summit. This group shared Climate Action initiatives to support the Paris Agreement goals and made bold new pledges for a future low carbon economy – specifically to prevent a 1.5 degree Celsius increase and to ensure a climate turning point of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations by 2020.

As part of the Summit, CMG Landscape Architecture hosted an event titled “Climate Positive City Design” – a multidisciplinary panel discussion and salon bringing together over one hundred people to discuss how thinkers, academics, innovators, and designers can work together to strive beyond neutrality, and bring about positive change to our climate. The group of nationally recognized leaders in environmental design and policy included Ryan Allard – Senior Fellow at Project Drawdown, Claire Maxfield – Director at Atelier Ten, Lisa Fisher – Sustainability City Team Lead, San Francisco Planning Department, and myself with panel moderation by Chris Guillard, ASLA – Partner at CMG.

The community comes together at the “Climate Positive City Design” Salon. / Image: CMG Landscape Architecture

The conversation ranged from how designers can implement solutions from Project Drawdown to how we can collaborate with City agencies to make policy adjustments towards a lower carbon urban environment – but unanimously across the panel and around the room, the message was clear – we all need and want to take action.

The climate is changing. Temperatures are rising along with sea level, and the IPCC recently produced an updated report on the urgency of the situation. It is clear that we have a critical role to play in adapting to the effects of climate warming along coastlines, but is there anything we can do as a profession to mitigate the causes of climate change?

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Annual Meeting Education Session Highlights, Part 1

Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square / image: Jon Lovette / Alamy Stock Photo

The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO begins this Friday in Philadelphia! In addition to the events planned for PPN Live, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team also reviews the annual meeting education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 130 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 24 professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the meeting website and mobile app by title, speaker, topic area, and PDH type (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, AIA, AICP, CMAA, FL, GBCI CE, GBCI SITES, ISA, NY, etc.).

Below, we run through the first half of these education highlights (stay tuned for sessions picked by ASLA’s 10 other PPNs this Thursday):

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PPN Live: Professional Development on the EXPO Floor

Earn PDH right on the EXPO floor at four Professional Practice Network (PPN) sessions for PDH, taking place in PPN Live, and eight PPN EXPO Tours on Saturday and Sunday, October 20-21, 2018, during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO. / images: EPNAC

The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Philadelphia this month offers many opportunities to learn and network during the largest gathering of landscape architects in the world. In addition to education sessions, field sessions, and workshops, ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) offer two more ways to earn professional development hours (PDH), right on the EXPO floor:

PPN Meetings for PDH

International Practice PPN Meeting
Rethinking Landscape Interventions During Urban Renewal of Chinese Cities
Saturday, October 20, 9:15 – 10:15 am
1.0 PDH LA CES / HSW

Unleashed urban sprawl propelled by rapid economic development has caused many issues in China during the past 40 years. With growing public awareness and global vision on the environmental quality, social justice, and cultural heritage in China, as well as the ever strict control on land uses across the country, many cities are refocusing on the developed areas and promoting urban renewal efforts. Case studies will be used to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the recent urban renewal efforts in China through the lens of governance, urban planning, and landscape design.

Speakers:

  • Dou Zhang, PLA, ASLA, Sasaki Associates;
  • Ming-Jen Hsueh, ASLA, Sasaki Associates;
  • Yufan Zhu, Tsinghua University

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PPN Live in Philadelphia: Professional Practice Network Meetings Preview

There will be many opportunities to learn, network, and celebrate during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Philadelphia later this month. In addition to the 130+ education sessions, field sessions, workshops, and special events, be sure to add PPN Live to your annual meeting plans.

Through PPN Live, you can network with colleagues from all 20 ASLA Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) throughout the annual meeting weekend, right on the EXPO floor. PPN membership is not required to attend that PPN’s meeting or the PPN EXPO tours—all are welcome! Already a member of one PPN, but curious about another? Or not sure which PPN to choose (all ASLA members receive one PPN membership for free)? You are welcome to attend as many PPN events as you like!

The schedule of PPN meetings is below, followed by descriptions of what’s planned for each:

Saturday, October 20

9:15 – 10:00 am

9:15 – 10:15 am

10:00 – 10:45 am

12:45 – 1:30 pm

12:45 – 1:45 pm

1:30 – 2:15 pm

Sunday October 21

9:15 – 10:00 am

9:15 – 10:15 am

10:00 – 10:45 am

12:45 – 1:30 pm

12:45 – 1:45 pm

1:30 – 2:15 pm

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Dissecting the Quantum Shifts of Nature to Make Our Industry Approaches Better

by James Sottilo

Nature / Image: James Sottilo

Here’s looking at you, Sustainability.

Today more than ever sustainability is used in our line of work; designing and managing green spaces that reflect the value of the word. It only makes sense that nature remain, as she always has, sustainable.

Over the past several years our team has worked on projects across the United States. These national experiences have exposed us to a variety of natural soils and fauna such as the gumbo clays and wildflower meadows of Southeast Texas, the high silt soils along the Mississippi River, the clay loams of the West Coast and the forests of the Northeast.

Nature by herself always seems to have the answers to the questions we are asking when designing and building new landscapes. It is our job to dissect the ecological behaviors of the landscape, explain them and apply them in our work.

There are times when we believe we have unlocked certain secrets of the Earth and developed efforts unparalleled, but eventually science and/or technology deem these efforts linear or one dimensional when compared to her.

Our efforts are stretching beyond the industrial landscape plane and asking the critical questions to scientists and academics that are not part of the main stream landscape franchise. Foresters for example have a different perspective on certain ecologies, scientists in the management of human microbiology have in-depth knowledge on bacteria and how they grow and respond. Agronomists, who manage thousands of acres of farm land, may look at soil completely different then you and I – yet all of these individuals have insight into the same problems our industry faces such as soil compaction, pH, lack of nutrients, etc.

Soils are the foundation of the landscape and plants are the engineers of the ecosystem. One cannot survive without the other. Questions that we are often faced with include, where does the plant end and the soil begin? Is it realistic to have a specification on soil and second specification on planting? Should both be combined into one specification as a system?

As of now we are still figuring out the answers to those questions but perhaps as we adapt changing paradigms, our soils and plants will shift into performance specifications and eliminate the constant finger pointing when a problem arises with the health of the landscape.

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The Practice of Building Equity Through Design Thinking

Residents of the Lucero del Norte colonia work with [bc] to address stormwater issues. / Image: buildingcommunityWORKSHOP
The ASLA Environmental Justice PPN provides a forum for ASLA members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. Throughout 2018, the Environmental Justice PPN has hosted virtual presentations with live Q&A, focused on issues most important to its members. All Environmental Justice PPN members are invited to participate in these monthly events, allowing members to expand their networks, and hear from design professionals who are playing an important role in addressing environmental justice. On August 16, Elaine Morales, Design Manager at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP [bc] joined the conversation on public interest design and equity. 

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP ([bc]) is a Texas based nonprofit community design center seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making. We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our cities where resources are most scarce. To do so, [bc] recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.

Our diverse team employs public interest design methodologies to address these issues with an equity lens. Our practice leverages the diverse skill set of our team—encompassing architects, planners, urban designers, geographers, and policy specialists—to steward initiatives that engage communities, create platforms to discuss challenges, set priorities, and envision the future, whilst elevating underheard voices to celebrate and concretize community identity and building capacity for residents to drive decision-making in the sphere of design and planning. We organize our work around six core methods: analyzing, mapping, activating, informing, storytelling, and making.

A diagram illustrating this collaborative approach. / Image: buildingcommunityWORKSHOP

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Design Week – Connecting Education and Practice

By Kurt Culbertson, FASLA, and Lake Douglas, FASLA

Design Workshop Partner, Mike Albert, reviews student presentations during Design Week at Oklahoma State University. / Image: Design Workshop
From the practitioner’s perspective

In 1998, I had the opportunity to participate in Design Week at my alma mater, Louisiana State University. Design Week, an LSU invention, was conceived as a one-week vertical studio engaging first year students through graduate students in a team project under the leadership of a practicing professional.  As conceived, the professional would assign the student a site and problem for which they had prepared a design. The students then have the opportunity to compare their efforts to that of the practitioner.

While I loved the concept of Design Week, it struck me that a lot of time was being spent by the students on a theoretical exercise.  Couldn’t all of this energy be put to a useful outcome for the public good as well as a learning exercise? I found a sixty-acre site on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River which was a gravel storage facility for barges that had traveled south to Louisiana right across the street from the state capitol complex in Baton Rouge. The property owner graciously agreed to let the student utilize their property as the subject of the study and the students set to work preparing a master plan for mixed use development of the site.  As a result of the student’s work, the property was developed much as the students envisioned.

To simulate the practice environment, a jury was assembled of the city/parish planning director, a state senator, and the property owner. Even the university chancellor dropped by the observe the progress of the work. The teams were judged on three categories: the quality of their design, the quality of their team work, and the quality of their presentation. Awards were given in of these categories and for best overall effort.

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PPN Interview: Ilisa Goldman, ASLA

Child Development Associates, Hilltop Child Development Center Habitat gARTen: On November 15 and 16, 2014, approximately 150 volunteers worked together to build the Habitat gARTen, combining art and nature into a dynamic laboratory for hands on, project based learning. / image: Alex Calegari

Recently, the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN)’s Online Learning Coordinator, Principal Ilisa Goldman, PLA, MLA, ASLA, Founder of Rooted in Place, recorded a podcast: I Made It in San Diego: A Place Maker Builds a Business. It is well worth listening to! For now, we invite you to read an interview with Ilisa, whose work with children and those who are marginalized in the San Diego community is truly making a difference.

How has your passion influenced your practice?

I have held the core values of stewardship, social equity, and environmentalism since my teen years. If you had asked me twenty years ago what I would be doing now, I think my answer would have been very similar to the work I do today: fostering community and connecting people to the natural world.

I was introduced to landscape architecture during my senior year at Rollins College. Majoring in environmental studies, I learned environmental issues from cultural, economic, and science based perspectives. During graduate school at North Carolina State University, I sought out classes, mentors, and projects that allowed me to focus my passions. From studying permaculture to the design of children’s environments, I saw the importance of taking an integrated approach to design. Beginning practice in 2002, I looked for meaningful and interesting work. I am grateful to have worked for Spurlock Landscape Architects (formerly Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects). During this time, I was encouraged to bring my knowledge to the table, explore my ideas, and grow as designer, all while learning the realities of landscape architecture and running a practice.

Between 2009 and 2012, while raising my two young daughters, I began volunteering at San Diego Children and Nature, teaching at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design, and training in the Pomegranate Method for Creative Collaboration. These experiences showed me how small scale, community-oriented projects were critical in improving the quality of educational and community spaces.

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Collaboration with Indigenous Communities to Inform Design for Significant Landscapes

by Brenda Williams, ASLA

Randy Teboe, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) of the Ponca Tribe of Iowa, on site at Xe’ (Blood Run National Historic Landmark, for which Quinn Evans Architects' cultural landscape master plan won a 2018 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Analysis and Planning) with Dale Henning, archeologist, and project landscape architects Stephanie Austin, ASLA, and Brenda Williams, ASLA. / image: Dan Williams, ASLA
Randy Teboe, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) of the Ponca Tribe of Iowa, on site at Xe’ (Blood Run National Historic Landmark, for which Quinn Evans Architects’ cultural landscape master plan won a 2018 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Analysis and Planning) with Dale Henning, archeologist, and project landscape architects Stephanie Austin, ASLA, and Brenda Williams, ASLA. / image: Dan Williams, ASLA

Over the last few years, my team has had the opportunity to focus on several landscapes that are deeply significant to Indigenous communities. This work has involved integrating knowledge of Indigenous communities in planning and design projects. Through efforts to incorporate the perspectives of Indigenous groups, we are learning to step outside mainstream cultural views to enhance placemaking.

Several projects have been greatly enriched through collaborating with individuals and communities whose knowledge of the landscapes span ecological, cultural, and spiritual significance. The resulting planning and design solutions are embedded with aspects that support meaningful cultural connections while also providing opportunities for improved education of the general public about American Indian cultures today and in the past.

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Missing Middle Housing

ASLA 2015 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Sweetwater Spectrum Residential Community for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sonoma, CA. Roche+Roche Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA
ASLA 2015 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Sweetwater Spectrum Residential Community for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sonoma, CA. Roche+Roche Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA

The wide gap between the diversity of American households and the housing stock available is widely acknowledged and well-documented. Given demographic trends—more households of single individuals, fewer households with children, a growing 65+ population—this disconnect will only become more dramatic if different housing types are not made more readily available.

To that end, there is a growing interest in strategies and policies that remove barriers to and incentivizes building what has come to be known as “missing middle” housing. These are house-like, multi-unit buildings planned within walking distance of retail and amenities. This kind of housing, scaled between single-family homes and apartment buildings, can provide attainable, walkable, and neighborhood-based housing options.

On September 6, 2018, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted a lecture on missing middle housing presented by Daniel Parolek, AIA, of Opticos Design, co-author of Form Based Codes: A Guide for Planners, Urban Designers, Municipalities, and Developers
and a founding board member of the Form-Based Codes Institute (FBCI). This program was part of a series complementing the museum’s exhibition Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, extended through January 6, 2019. A publication documenting the exhibition, created in partnership with AARP, is planned for release this fall.

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The Expanding Role of Landscape Architects in Urban Waterfront Design

by Tom Rogers, ASLA

Lowland Park on Detroit’s urban riverfront, is part of the second phase of Milliken State Park, Michigan’s first state park in an urban setting. / Image: SmithGroup

Urban waterfronts throughout the world are transforming from industrial centers and transportation hubs to mixed-use destinations. As population growth shifts to urban centers, greater pressure to redevelop underutilized land at the water’s edge is requiring cities to address complex challenges. The most holistic solutions require a thoughtful approach at an urban scale that melds many disciplines. These waterfront projects involve a variety of stakeholders with diverse needs, and require complex, time consuming processes and significant investments in capital resources.

Landscape architects can and should play an expanded role in these significant opportunities to shape the future of cities. To do so, L.A.s must adapt and develop skillsets beyond their traditional focus to lead integrated, resilient design solutions.

My firm, SmithGroup, hosted a roundtable discussion with clients and colleagues from Rust Belt communities throughout the Great Lakes to discuss the challenges and opportunities for their urban waterfronts. Attendees included representatives from municipal planning departments, regional watershed districts, redevelopment authorities, regulatory agencies, private developers, nonprofits, and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

While each of the participants represented a unique vantage point, they painted a striking similar picture of the issues; shifts in markets and policy have resulted in economically challenged neighborhoods next to underutilized, often contaminated industrial property near the core of their cities. Many of these properties are located on or near water. The problems involve a tangled web of owners, users, regulators and policies that cannot be addressed solely though site-specific solutions but must be approached at a larger scale to be effective.

Performance, partnerships and equity emerged as key themes and design drivers during our discussion, pointing to the more integrated and resilient solutions required to return our urban waterfronts to the right balance of public use, environmental integrity, and prosperity.

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2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO: Learn and Earn up to 24 PDH

ASLA 2018 Professional General Design Honor Award. Longwood Gardens Main Fountain Garden, Kennett Square, PA. West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture / image: © Noah Devereaux courtesy West 8

The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO offers many opportunities to learn and network during the largest gathering of landscape architects in the world. This Friday, September 14, is the Advanced Rate deadline—take advantage of discounted rates for registration, housing, workshops, special events, JobLink LIVE, and more!

The meeting offers more than 130 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 24 professional development hours (PDH). Learning opportunities taking place throughout the meeting include:

While access to the education sessions, general sessions, and EXPO education offerings are included in your meeting registration, field sessions and workshops are ticketed events. Purchase today: prices increase with the Advanced deadline.

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From Slums to Sky Gardens – Singapore’s Public Housing Success

by Erik S. Mustonen, ASLA, CSLA, RLA (CA + MN), CLARB, LEED AP-ND

image: Erik Mustonen

The Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects organized nine technical tours as part of the very well-run 2018 World Congress of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). Tour 1, “Remaking Heartlands in Singapore,” was prepared with the assistance of the Housing and Development Board and featured sky gardens, green roofs/walls, and sustainable stormwater management for high-rise public housing in Singapore.

Historical Background

The Republic of Singapore is a multi-ethnic Chinese, Malay, and Indian (mainly Tamil) island city-state connected by two causeways to the southern end of the Malay Peninsula, a 5-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2017 it had a population of 5.61 million (and rising) on 709 square kilometers (274 square miles) for a density of 7,796 per km². By way of comparison, Chicago has a population of 2.7 million (and falling) on 589 square kilometers (227 square miles) for a density of 4,613 per km². (Population density figures may vary depending on whether the water area is included.)

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Call for Research Literature on Plants in Green Infrastructure

by David Hopman, ASLA, PLA

Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) bioswale 2, designed by David Hopman; winter character in January 2018 / image: David Hopman, ASLA, PLA
Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) bioswale 2, designed by David Hopman; winter character in January 2018 / image: David Hopman, ASLA, PLA

On August 12, 2018, I attended a meeting of a new committee created by the Environmental Water Research Institute (EWRI) of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The task force, comprised of approximately 40 stormwater professionals, is titled: ASLA/EWRI Committee on Plants and Soils Performance in Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI). The committee will produce recommendations over the next few years that will be distributed in a booklet and online. This work will be specifically focused on providing better research-based guidelines for soil performance and plant performance as an overlapping, interrelated system rather than as individualized elements. The committee’s goal is to provide guidance on short-term, medium-, and long-term practices to ensure that systems maximize performance.

Additionally, other sub areas such as biodiversity, maintenance, and soil microbial functions will be considered. The landscape architects on the taskforce will take the lead in addressing aesthetics and other social parameters that can support or impede acceptance of Green Infrastructure as an important component of place making.

The first phase of the task force’s efforts is to create an annotated bibliography as an indicator of where research is headed and to reveal significant gaps that should be addressed. The literature review phase is being organized by Harris Trobman, Project Specialist in Green Infrastructure at the Center for Sustainable Development and Resilience, The University of District of Columbia. The committee needs good research-based literature, especially as it relates to the performance of plants in green infrastructure. If you have a favorite book or article that you would like to share, please send it to me by December 1, 2018, and I will format it for inclusion in the bibliography. Currently, the bibliography is reflective of the vast preponderance of research that has traditionally come from engineers and scientists. Please free to contact me with questions and/or comments as well. If you would like to format the citation yourself, I can send an example.

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Methods of Plant Selection

by Katie Seidenwurm, ASLA

A plant combination: Pride of Madeira (Echium cadicans) and Orchid Rockrose (Cistus x purpureus) / Image: Katie Seidenwurm

As a landscape architect who focusses on residential design, one of my biggest challenges is guiding clients through the plant selection process. Each client comes to the project with different levels of knowledge and interest. I have had clients who are totally involved with the plants and have given me a list of specific plants that they want in their yard with placement ideas. On the other side, I have had clients proclaim that they know nothing about plants and just want something that “looks good and is low-maintenance … and by the way, I love the color purple.” Over the years, I have tried various methods with various degrees of success. Here, I describe some methods I have tried, and list the pros and cons of each. I would be very interested in feedback on this as I am always looking for new ideas.

Take client to a nursery to pick out plants.

Pros:

  • Client gets to see plant for themselves.
  • We can see what plants are available at the nursery and in what quantity and condition.
  • Client feels good about plant selection, because he/she has seen the plants for themselves.

Cons:

  • The plant is immature and in a pot. It’s hard to picture what it will look like installed and in a few years. I find myself motioning a lot to say, “Imagine this plant to be this high.”
  • Contractor may not be purchasing plants from that particular nusery.
  • If it’s winter, the plant selection is thin and the quality of the plants is often poor.
  • The nursery doesn’t have the plants that you were thinking of using in the design.

I have tried this method a few times. One time, I took a client to the nursery and they didn’t have what we were looking for. The nursery was large and one where you drive around to different areas for the various plants. The client got frustrated because we couldn’t’ find the plants that I had in mind, it was getting hot, and she was getting tired. I almost lost the client that day. I suppose, if I had called ahead and had the nursery pull the plants ahead of time, then we could have gone to one place and seen the plants.

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10-Minute Walk Learning Series: Equity in Parks and Recreation

image: Pam Linn

10-Minute Walk Learning Series: Equity in Parks and Recreation Live Q&A
August 30, 2018 at 1:00 PM (EST)

On Thursday, August 30, the National Recreation & Park Association is hosting a live virtual Q&A session as part of the 10-Minute Walk Learning Series. During the Q&A, you will have a chance to ask your peers about their success on topics related to the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, a nationwide movement to ensure there’s a great park within a 10-minute walk of every person, in every neighborhood, in every city across America. The discussion focus is equity, including prioritization models, design, community activation, and more.

Speakers:

  • Joy Kuebler, ASLA, PLA – Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, PC
  • Pam Linn, FASLA, PLA – Milwaukee Public Schools Department of Recreation and Community Services
  • Som Subedi – City of Portland Parks and Recreation
  • Allison Colman – National Recreation and Park Association

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Tech for Professional Practice

image: Unsplash

ASLA has released two surveys in collaboration with the Professional Practice Committee and Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN):

The Software Utilization Survey aims to gather and share information about what technology and applications landscape architects currently using to operate effectively and efficiently.

The Project Management Technology Use Survey explores the products and services that improves work efficiency and project management skills of our members.

All ASLA members are welcome to take both surveys by Friday, September 7. Each survey should take only 5-7 minutes to complete and your participation is greatly appreciated.

Click here to complete the Software Utilization Survey!

Click here to complete the Project Management Technology Use Survey!

Our Summer Visit to the Thurston Nature Center

Bringing along markers, pencils, crayons, and paper to document their time, Lola and Lucy spend a blissful afternoon at the Thurston Nature Center. / image: Ben Atchison

Can you think of a better way to enjoy a balmy mid-summer afternoon? My dear friend and colleague Ben Atchison recently brought his granddaughters Lola (age 10) and Lucy (age 8) Valentin to the Thurston Nature Center in Ann Arbor, MI. Lush and inviting, the Nature Center is a favorite destination for Papa and the girls. Lola and Lucy are delighted to share their photo journal with you.
– Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network Co-Communications Director

For those familiar with Ann Arbor, Michigan, the nearly 24-acre Thurston Nature Center is next door to both the Thurston Elementary and Clague Middle Schools. Lola, who is in fifth grade and Lucy, who is in third grade, attend Thurston Elementary School, which makes the Nature Center even that much more special to them.

In 1968, the Nature Center was designated a Conservation Education Reserve by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The space is jointly owned by the Ann Arbor Public Schools and Orchard Hills Athletic Club. Fifty years “young,” the Nature Center is used by the Ann Arbor Schools Environmental Education Program and the greater Ann Arbor community. It is maintained and enhanced by the teachers and students and their families at Thurston Elementary and Clague Middle Schools, with help from devoted neighborhood volunteers. This gracious outdoor oasis is enjoyed by young and old alike.

The space hosts five ecosystems; trails; an 8.4-acre pond and a vernal pond that fish, turtles, and muskrats call home; native plants that attract butterflies and birds; and raccoons and skunks. The Center also contains a hickory-oak woodlot, a rain garden, and vine trellis. In 2015 and 2016, students from the elementary school and community volunteers worked to install a native prairie. Many of the improvement projects that occur at the Center help to support the elementary school’s Green STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) program while simultaneously improving the biodiversity of the area. The Thurston Nature Center is a popular destination for Ann Arbor school field trips and outdoor experiential education. Be sure to add The Thurston Nature Center to your agenda should your travels take you to Ann Arbor!

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The 2018 IFLA World Congress in Singapore

by Erik S. Mustonen, ASLA, CSLA, RLA (CA + MN), CLARB, LEED AP-ND

image: Erik Mustonen

The Republic of Singapore, an island city-state one degree north of the equator, has 5.6 million residents on 700 square kilometers (270 square miles.) Since independence in 1965, land reclamation has increased its size by 23%. With dense development on its small area, only 5% of its historical forests remain, but the creation of nature parks has become a national priority. It is a multi-ethnic community with four official languages—English (most common), Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Most of its people are bilingual. About 74% of the residents are of Chinese descent. It ranks very high in many economic measures and is known to be safe, corruption free, and extremely well organized (some say too organized). While working in nearby Malaysia in the 1980s and 1990s, I often visited Singapore, and I was impressed by how much it has developed since then.

The 2018 International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress and Trade Exhibition was held from July 18-19, at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. It was organized by IFLA together with the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects and the (Singapore) National Parks Board. The organizers also offered nine technical tours on July 20.

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Creating an Everyone-Wins Playground Partnership

by Lawrence Raffel, PLA, ASLA

The Mark Twain Elementary School Playground in Wheeling, Illinois / image: Lawrence Raffel

Some say two heads are better than one. The Wheeling Park District discovered this concept applies to public agencies, too.

It makes sense. When agencies establish partnerships, the communities they serve benefit from the collective mission and expertise of each agency. Oftentimes an overarching mission of one agency may support a neglected, yet critical, component of another agency.

Such was the case when the Wheeling Park District partnered with Community Consolidated School District 21 (CCSD21) to design and develop a new playground at Mark Twain Elementary School, and, at the same time, create a neighborhood park within an underserved community. This creative project, a partnership between the Park District and the School District, fosters the goals of both agencies, and, most importantly, the Wheeling community.

In 2010, the Wheeling Park District conducted a Community Attitude and Interest Survey (CAIS) to determine the parks and recreation needs of the Wheeling community. The results of that survey showed an overwhelming need and desire for improved and developed neighborhood parks. In fact, development of neighborhood parks was one of the most selected responses under the category of “Actions Most Willing to Fund with Tax Dollars.” This data has been a driving component of the Wheeling Park District Strategic Plan.

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