Learning in the Garden, Part 3

Ah, the glories of basil! / image: Memory Trees

Debbie Lee Bester, Executive Director, is a co-founder of Memory Trees, a 501(c)(3) social impact organization with a mission of “Giving Back Life…In Abundance.” Memory Trees is moving the social needle on food insecurity and inspiring healthier communities by focusing on: education, social change, food donations, female empowerment, sustainable food, entrepreneurship, public/private collaboration, urban farming, self-sufficiency, and microlending. We are very pleased to have Debbie share her thoughts about the Highridge garden project that Memory Trees developed and continues to facilitate.

–Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair

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

The Highridge Facility for at-risk youth is located on a Palm Beach County-owned property in West Palm Beach, FL. This residential facility accommodates approximately 72 youths, aged 9-16, in six individual dormitories (12 youths per house).

Please tell us more about your garden facility—what is the total size, and what types of amenities and spaces does it include, such as garden beds, prep area, or an outdoor classroom? How many children use the garden?

There are two garden facilities: a 3-bed, above-ground planter setup for the commercial kitchen, and one planter alongside each of the 6 dormitories, as described above.

The planters for the commercial kitchen are approximately 100 square feet in total size, and the planters built next to each dormitory are about 16 square feet each.

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Landscapes in Art, Part 2

ASLA 2013 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum / image: Megan Bean

In the previous post taking a look at Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ favorite portrayals of landscapes in art, we focused on paintings, photography, posters, and prints. This time, we’re taking a look at all the other forms of art mentioned, from music to movies.

A few members also mentioned more unusual art forms, such as advertising, including landscapes captured in Anthropologie photo shoots and elsewhere: “I like seeing designed spaces in a lot of current marketing/advertising—it’s becoming part of the embedded culture.”

Below, we run through some of the films, books, and other works of art where landscapes figure prominently.

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Mycorrhizae: Ecological Succession’s Copilot

Harvesting mycorrhizae off roots / image: James Sottilo

Ecological Succession: A Driving Force

Ecological succession (ES) remains one of the most significant determinants of Earth’s biotic life and diversity. Defined as the process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time, ES drives the environmental shifts of nature and conceives the biological architectures of past, present, and future landscapes.

ES can be broken into three recognized phases: primary succession, secondary succession, and climax community. Primary succession is the series of community changes that occur within an entirely new habitat that has been devoid of life—for example, after a major disturbance such as flood, fire, or volcanic release.

Secondary succession is the process by which an established community is replaced by the next set of biodiversity. Most biological communities remain in a continual state of secondary succession as communities experience minor disturbances, either natural or man-made, that inhibit or reset the successional process.

A climax community represents a stable end product of the successional sequence. Many recognize the Oak-Poplar Forest as a climax community but still acknowledge that any environment can be suddenly disorganized by random variables such as introduced, non-native species. It is said that ES will always remain as Earth is in an ever-changing state.

Today, many forget to recognize the successional phases that are undoubtedly turning all around us. Aesthetic, monetary, and time resources can, at times, skew an image, only accounting for the “now” variables. While this planning stage is necessary, a landscape may be on borrowed time without subsequent conception. Where will the landscape be in one year, one decade, one generation from now? How will it be enjoyed? Will it serve a greater purpose than its original scope? What changes have and will be exerted on this space? Questions such as these can help build upon the natural rhythms of succession while also bridging histories.

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Demographics Survey: Last Call for Responses

image: iStock © petervician

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) has been conducting a survey for the past several months about demographics. Please help and take the survey if you have not done so already. It is easy and quick.

Where we are:

  • We are at 3% (of ASLA membership) with 483 responses (as of June 13, 2017).
  • We have a ratio of 25% men and 75% women among the respondents.

Where we want to be:

  • We would like 5-10% of membership to complete the survey, which is 750 to 1,500 respondents.
  • We want a ratio matching our membership, which is closer to 62% men and 35% women (2.3% undisclosed). Men needed!

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Creating Pollinator Habitat Along Roadsides

Winslow Way, Bainbridge Island, WA / image: Alexandra Hay

Below, you’ll find a re-post from Entomology Today of “Study Finds Bees Can Have Their Wildflowers and Almonds, Too” by Josh Lancette—a timely subject, with Pollinator Week later this month and an ASLA Online Learning webinar on the topic, Creating Pollinator Habitat Along Roadsides, coming up on June 14 hosted by the Transportation PPN.

The post discusses the use of wildflower planting strips adjacent to almond orchards in California. While at first blush it might appear that this practice has little to do with transportation, keep in mind that millions of miles of rural roadways are adjacent or proximate to agricultural fields. Furthermore, Section 130 of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 (STURAA) added a requirement that native wildflower seeds or seedlings or both be planted as part of any landscaping project undertaken on the federal-aid highway system. This requirement is mandatory and applies only to federal funded landscaping projects. One quarter to one percent of funds used for landscaping projects must be used to plant native wildflowers.

Other federal initiatives promoting the use of native wildflower plantings exist. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) defines a field border as a “strip of permanent vegetation established at the edge or around the perimeter of an agricultural field.” The practice is used, among other things, to provide pollinator habitat and to manage agricultural pest populations. Field borders assist with agricultural pest management by providing habitat to beneficial organisms or as a place for agricultural pests to congregate. When field borders are designed for pollinator habitat, they have been shown to facilitate pollination services to agricultural crops. A properly designed field border provides nectar and pollen sources for pollinators when the target crops are not in bloom. This practice is currently being used in Michigan, where “flowering plant strips” increase crop productivity through the support of beneficial insects and pollinators.

Landscape architects engaged in planting roadside vegetation must be thoughtful. Selecting plant material so the crops are not harmed (e.g. plum pox virus, which attacks stone crops) but are benefited should be an integral part of the planting program.

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University Landscape Architects Unite!

Crown Commons at Duke University, designed by Reed Hilderbrand / image: Mark Hough

Duke University (along with me, its resident landscape architect) recently served as host for the inaugural conference of the newly formed Association of University Landscape Architects. For several beautiful, albeit unseasonably warm, days toward the end of April, a group of 25 landscape architects representing 22 universities from across the country joined together to share ideas, experiences, and best practices unique to our niche segment of the profession.

Creating such a group is something I have been pondering for about a decade now. Several of us—landscape architects working on the client side in university planning/design offices—have been running into each other for many years at ASLA Annual Meetings and Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) conferences. We would often find ourselves lamenting the lack of content specific to what we do. We could find a campus tour here and there, and perhaps a couple of pertinent education sessions tucked into an otherwise crowded slate, but the time we would spend together discussing common issues proved most applicable and valuable to our specific work. The idea that we could form some version of an association was floated around at various times and was consistently met with near universal enthusiasm.

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Landscapes in Art, Part 1

Vincent van Gogh, Cypresses, 1889, oil on canvas / image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members for their favorite portrayal of a landscape in a work of art, we welcomed answers from any medium: paintings, movies, literature, and anything else our members might want to highlight. The answers received covered a diverse range of provenances and forms, and many were very enthusiastic. As one respondent succinctly put it: “So many! Love those that express the emotion of unique landscape experiences.”

Paintings and painters were the most popular type of response, with Monet and Van Gogh as the two clear favorites. However, many other artists and works were mentioned, and they are highlighted below. This post focuses on 2D art: paintings, photography, posters, and prints. Next time, we’ll review responses that covered everything from films to music to video games. (For even more information in this vein, check out Some Landscapeschronology of events, books, and artworks depicting landscape as a medium since 1800 BCE.)

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Out There: Landscape Architecture on Global Terrain

Lima, city in the desert: aerial view of informal settlements encroaching the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Lima, 2012 / image: © Evelyn Merino-Reyna, Lima

An exhibition devoted to landscape architecture in global development entitled Out There (in Germen, Draußen)” is being held at the Architekturmuseum der TU München through August 20, 2017. Having frequently showcased the social relevance of architecture in recent years, the museum’s focus now shifts to a discipline with the potential to have a far wider impact on the use of land. The exhibition aims to give the public a deeper understanding of the changing concepts and strategies of landscape architecture in the present, and at the same time, to clarify its growing importance for the future. Landscape architecture today is dedicated to the spatial systems that will shape the society of tomorrow.

Though from as far afield as Spain, China, Rwanda, and South America, all ten projects featured in the exhibition share a primary focus on exploration. They do not claim any finality in the complex and unpredictable situations relating to the rapid urbanization of very diverse cultural geographies. This focus illustrates how there can be no panaceas or universally-applicable best practices. In all case studies, process and stakeholders determine the content, and not the other way around.

For example, the case study in Medellín, Colombia examines natural hazards such as landslides, which are intensified by climate change and predominately affect the lowest income groups in the city’s informal settlements. The collaborative landscape strategies offer those affected an improvement in their overall living situation, through a landslide warning system, slope stabilization, added amenities, and phasing.

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Social Places | Private Spaces

Triangle Plaza by Design Workshop is a privately constructed and maintained plaza in a vacated street right of way in Downtown Denver. The space serves as critical pedestrian connection and much-needed open space. The ‘Swing Forest’ shown here is a dynamic urban folly situated within the plaza. / image: Jamie Fogle

Privately owned public plazas and pocket parks play a valuable role in the open space fabric of our rapidly densifying urban cores. They provide social eddy spaces in the relentless street walls of our densest cities while complementing the larger parks and open space systems that struggle to weave their way into urban areas as pressure from development often keeps cities from acquiring and building new facilities. These spaces should be celebrated, but they should also be scrutinized to understand how they perform in the larger social and environmental context. One city where this dialogue is becoming more critical is Denver, Colorado.

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Learning in the Garden, Part 2

A clever adaptive reuse of pallets / image: Memory Trees

Debbie Lee Bester, Executive Director, is a co-founder of Memory Trees, a 501(c)(3) social impact organization with a mission of “Giving Back Life… In Abundance.”  Memory Trees is moving the social needle on food insecurity and inspiring healthier communities by focusing on: education, social change, food donations, female empowerment, sustainable food, entrepreneurship, public / private collaboration, urban farming, self-sufficiency, and microlending. We are very pleased to have Debbie share her thoughts about the De George Boys & Girls Club garden project that Memory Trees developed and continues to facilitate.

–Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair

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

The De George Boys & Girls Club is located on a property owned by the City of West Palm Beach, FL.

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The Healing Garden at Piedmont Regional Medical Center

The Labyrinth / image: Marguerite Koepke

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Joel Siebentritt, Director of the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support, part of Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, GA

The need for cancer support and patient services was first envisioned by a very special group of nurses, caregivers, and cancer survivors in the mid- to late 1990s. They used their understanding of not only medicine but also complementary therapies to begin planning a physical facility to serve these needs. At first, the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support was conceived mainly as a building but soon the planning grew into a more holistic idea of not only a structure but a building surrounded by nature and naturalistic gardens. Since its inception, the Center has grown from an idea and an unused piece of property on the edge of the hospital campus into a vital center of support for patients, caregivers, and family member. The healing garden is an important and integral part of the Center’s mission and is designed to serve the hospital, its caregivers, patients and their families, as well as the broader Athens community.

Joel Siebentritt, the Center’s director, is a passionate supporter of the garden and driving force behind getting the garden built, funded, and perhaps most importantly, programmed for important uses and functions. He loves nature and every day can see from his office window people who are using, enjoying, and benefiting from their interactions there. The following is an interview with Joel that delves more deeply into his connections to the garden and the garden’s history and purpose.

The following interview with Joel Siebentritt, Director of the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support, was conducted by Marguerite Koepke, RLA, ASLA, professor emeritus, College of Environment + Design, University of Georgia.

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Women in Landscape Architecture Leaders

Clockwise from top left: The ASLA Annual Meeting’s Women in Landscape Architecture Walk in Chicago (2015), New Orleans (2016), and Denver (2014) / image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

Meet the ASLA Women in Landscape Architecture PPN Leadership Team!

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) leadership team meets monthly, focusing on the experience and contributions of women in the profession, creating resources for women in the profession, providing mentorship opportunities, encouraging discussion of work/life balance concerns within our profession, and establishing a virtual home for members. We consider ways for our membership to become more active advocates for landscape architecture and women practitioners, including writing post for The Field, coordinating the Women in Landscape Architecture Walk at the ASLA Annual Meeting, and currently conducting a survey to get a more in-depth understanding of the demographics of caretaking and leave issues for landscape architects.

In addition to a chair or co-chairs, many PPNs also have larger leadership teams that include past chairs and PPN officers focusing on various PPN activities. In this post, we’d like to introduce our co-chairs and officers through their answers to the following questions:

  • Why are you active in ASLA?
  • Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN?
  • What is your favorite landscape?

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FHWA’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Agenda

ASLA 2010 Professional Analysis & Planning Honor Award. Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) Master Plan / image: Interface Studio LLC

In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published the Strategic Agenda for Pedestrians and Bicycle Transportation. The report updates DOT’s 1994 National Bicycling and Walking Study and informs FHWA’s focus for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure for the next three to five years. The Strategic Agenda reinforces FHWA’s commitment to innovate on pedestrian and bicycle transportation issues by encouraging multimodal transportation options that are practical, safe, and efficient.

The Strategic Agenda was developed by US DOT practitioners and experts, with assistance from a Technical Working Group (TWG), pedestrian and bicycle practitioners, and the public. Intensive public involvement and research were used to develop the Agenda’s “core areas of focus, key consideration issues, opportunities and potential actions.” The Strategic Agenda identifies two main pedestrian and bicycle goals being pursued by FHWA:

  • To achieve an 80% reduction in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and serious injuries in 15 years and zero pedestrian and bicycle fatalities and serious injuries in the next 20 to 30 years.
  • To increase the percentage of short trips represented by bicycling and walking to 30% by the year 2025. Short trips are defined as trips of 5 miles or less for bicyclists and 1 mile or less for pedestrians.

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A (Natural) Melody in Midtown

Grand Army Plaza, New York City / image: James Sottilo

I have known James for over six years. We met at an ASLA Annual Meeting when I heard him speak. Subsequently, I invited him to speak at all four of the Organic Landcare Symposiums that Atlanta BeltLine put on. His breadth of knowledge is inspiring and every time I hear him, I learn something new. I hope you will find this post enlightening and that it might even encourage you to explore more about creating environments for healthy soil microbiology.

-Kevin Burke, ASLA, Sustainable Design and Development PPN Officer

Located in Midtown at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, Grand Army Plaza stands as a gateway to New York City’s Central Park. Its grand gesture design and historical significance have made it a notable place since its original construction in 1916.

In September 2015, the Central Park Conservancy completed a major restoration of the northern section of the plaza, including the General Sherman statue. Site work included reconstruction of paving, stonework, benches, and lighting, all designed to be in keeping with the original historic design. Electric, drainage, and irrigation infrastructure were fully replaced. The trees at the plaza perimeter, previously lost in an October 2011 snowstorm, were replaced with a double row of London Plane trees, to be consistent with the original design. The placement of CU-Structural Soil™ was incorporated beneath all pavements to provide adequate soil volume for mature tree root systems.

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A Brief Survey of Campus Tree Inventories

Allees of elms and oaks lining Killian Court, the location of MIT’s annual commencement, will be designated a “Special Resource” area for a tree care program. / image: Laura Tenny

Does your campus have a comprehensive tree inventory, or has your firm been involved in inventory and management of campus tree canopy? This mini-series on The Field will highlight campus tree inventories among our Campus Planning & Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) group. This first post describes tree inventory at MIT; next in the series will be Cornell University. Please contribute! Contact PPN Co-Chairs Laura Tenny, ASLA, or David Cutter, ASLA, to tell your story.

MIT

MIT’s campus stretches approximately 1.5 miles along the banks of the Charles River basin in Cambridge, MA. Nearly 170 acres in size, and more than 65% impervious, the urban campus is home to about 2,300 trees. MIT’s trees are subject to typical urban stresses: street trees surrounded by pavement, trees framing high-use lawns that host special events (with associated tents, tables, chairs, and logistical support), and soils compacted from heavy foot traffic and pathway desire lines and spill-over.

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Scenes from the People’s Climate March

The People's Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2017 / image: Alexandra Hay
The People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2017 / image: Alexandra Hay

This weekend, the People’s Climate March took place in Washington, D.C., with more than 350 satellite events across the country. Despite being the hottest April 29 on record, thousands attended (more than 200,000 people marched, according to organizers’ estimates), including a number of ASLA Chapter Presidents, Trustees, past Presidents, members, and ASLA staff.

Below, we share some photographs from the march—more can be found on ASLA‘s and Landscape Architecture Magazine‘s social media pages—and we look forward to keeping up the momentum on this urgent and vitally important issue.

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Favorite Places Unfamiliar to Others, Part 2

Storm King / image: Kevin O’Mara via Flickr

For those looking ahead to spring and summer travel, Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ responses to the question what is your favorite place that may not be familiar to others? might give you a few new spots to explore this year. In the previous post recapping the results of the 2015 PPN survey, we reviewed the most popular responses and international locations mentioned. This time, we’re focusing on places across the United States, from parks and gardens to wilderness areas and mountain passes. Take a look and see if you’ve been to any of these lesser-known spots, and which ones you’ll need to add to your list of places to go.

Northeast

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site – Cornish, New Hampshire

The courtyard at the Boston Public Library – Boston, Massachusetts

Halcyon Lake in Mount Auburn Cemetery – Cambridge, Massachusetts

“The Robert Treat Paine Estate, an amazing shingle style home in Waltham with landscape designed by Olmsted.” – Waltham, Massachusetts

Lake Waban – Wellesley, Massachusetts

Truro and Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Storm King Art Center – New Windsor, New York

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#iAdvocate: Be an Advocate for Transportation

ASLA 2011 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Portland Mall Revitalization, ZGF Architects LLP / image: ZGF Architects LLP

The future of federal transportation and transit funding has many of us concerned as we hear how legislative priorities are taking shape in the Capitol. With this uncertainty, the need for landscape architects to advocate for less-costly, green infrastructure solutions and stable transportation funding that serves community needs is greater than ever before. In this post, and in tandem with Advocacy Day this week, we’re focusing on ASLA’s advocacy efforts and encouraging our members to bring their voices to the transportation priorities conversation.

ASLA’s 2017 Advocacy Agenda is taking shape. On March 9, ASLA released their top U.S. infrastructure recommendations: Landscape Architects Leading Community Infrastructure Design and Development. The report makes recommendations for supporting active transportation programs, expanding and increasing funding for the TIGER program, and investing in transit and transit-oriented development.

On March 17, ASLA released their statement on President Trump’s proposed budget and called out the dramatic cuts to many of the federal programs and resources that strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and economic development. ASLA will continue to work with legislators as the budget process unfolds and will carry forward a strong advocacy agenda.

How can you as a member advocate for transportation funding and sound infrastructure solutions? If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the ASLA iAdvocate Network so that you can support the Society’s efforts to impact public policy at national, state and local levels. Once you sign up, email alerts are delivered to your inbox on issues important to landscape architecture that are being debated by lawmakers. With a few clicks, you can send a message to your Senators and Representative and make your voice a part of ASLA’s advocacy efforts.

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Pop Up Park Buffalo: Changing the Idea of Play

image: Pop Up Park Buffalo

Changing the Idea of Play Through Personal Empowerment that is Fun & Risky

Pop Up Park Buffalo is a grassroots organization committed to providing community-based “free-play” opportunities for kids in Buffalo and Western New York. In recent decades, opportunities for free-play have been greatly reduced due to parental fears, overscheduling of children, and a general feeling that children should not be on their own. Yet, evidence suggests that free-play is the very best life-lesson tool, and is vital to the growth and development of children into healthy and productive adults.

Being a teacher, an environmental activist, landscape architects, and a planner, we, as founders of Pop Up Buffalo, were specifically interested in creating an experience that fostered the next generation of inventors, philosophers, and designers. As parents, we were also interested in the personal empowerment of risky play and how we could create a free-play experience that parents and communities could be equally empowered in providing. In 2012, we came together to “change the state of play for just one day” and after a very successful event our concept of “Community Based Free-Play” was created. Our one-day experiment was so successful we were urged to continue, and in 2013 we went on to host five more Pop Up Park events in Buffalo and by 2015 we were under the umbrella of The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo & WNY, Inc., a non-profit incubator organization.

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Environmental Justice PPN Student Representatives at LABash

Environmental Justice PPN Student Representative Kari Spiegelhalter speaks with a landscape architecture student at LABash / image: Kari Spiegelhalter and Patricia Noto

ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) has taken on board two student representatives to help them reach out to students of landscape architecture about design for environmental justice. The PPN seeks to provide a forum to help landscape architects pursue the goal of designing spaces that promote the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens regardless of race, income, or other marginal status.

After establishing the PPN in 2015, founding co-chairs Kathleen King, Associate ASLA, and Julie Stevens, ASLA, wanted to educate current students of landscape architecture about environmental justice so they enter the profession with an understanding of how their designs increase or diminish environmental justices. They hope to empower future generations of landscape architects with the understanding to design safe, accessible, and healthy places for all. To do so, they established an Environmental Justice PPN Student Representative position to reach out to students of landscape architecture.

According to PPN Co-Chair Kathleen King, “There has been a great deal of interest in the student community for the EJ PPN and Julie and I wanted to find a way to connect with students. Students today will be in practice tomorrow—we think it’s important that they are engaged with these issues and understand the potential impact landscape architects can have on creating equitable communities. Kari and Patricia have demonstrated a passion for this topic and we’re thrilled that they will be spreading the word about the new PPN.”

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Call for Proposals: Student and Emerging Professional Spotlight

Calling All Student and Associate ASLA Members

ASLA is excited to announce the Online Learning Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series, giving YOU the opportunity to work with a Professional Practice Network (PPN) mentor in creating a presentation for ASLA’s Online Learning series. Do you have eye-opening research to share with the profession, or an inclination to do a little design exploration over the summer? Here’s your chance!

The Call for Proposals is now open and will close on Thursday, May 25.

To submit a proposal:

  1. Review the SPOTLIGHT mini-series Call for Proposals form.
  2. Review the PPNs listed below that will be serving as hosts and mentors. Which PPN does your topic or research best fit?
    Campus Planning & Design

    Children’s Outdoor Environments
    Ecology & Restoration
    Sustainable Design & Development
    Transportation
    Water Conservation
    Women in Landscape Architecture
  3. Once you have your description, outline, and objectives finalized, complete the Call for Proposals form by May 25.
  4. Selected participants will be notified in June. At this time, you will be introduced to your PPN mentor.
  5. Collaborate with your mentor! Presentations will take place in August.

We look forward to seeing your research, technical analysis, large-scale ideas, or whatever else you may bring to the table to share with your fellow landscape architects!

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Favorite Places Unfamiliar to Others, Part 1

Hamilton Cove Preserve, Lubec, Maine / image: VW Beetle via Flickr

Spring temperatures and sunshine have arrived (or are coming soon, depending on where you are), and many can’t wait to enjoy the outdoors again or head out on a spring break trip. Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ responses to the question what is your favorite place that may not be familiar to others? might give you a few new places to explore.

Given that we were looking for less well-known places, there were very few answers that appeared more than once. Here are the handful of locations that appeared twice:

Charleston, South Carolina and Charleston’s Waterfront Park
JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina
The Bold Coast, Maine
North Germany, on the Baltic Sea (Schleswig-Holstein) – “Everyone goes to South Germany but the North is very beautiful.”

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Share Your SITES Highlights

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

ASLA needs your help! Do you have helpful hints or good examples to highlight sections and/or specific topics within the SITES® Rating System? You do?…Great! We’ve created a form for you to share up to three examples that the Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (SDD PPN) and ASLA can highlight on the SDD PPN webpage and the ASLA SITES webpage.

Click on the link below to view an example, fill out the form, and find out how to get involved:

SITES Highlights Survey

Please complete the form by Friday, April 14. For questions, please email sites@asla.org.

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Landscape Architecture’s Best Unknown Firms

The Restoration of Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, CA, National Park Service, 2007 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: National Park Service

In a previous post, we reviewed the landscape architects and firms that Professional Practice Network (PPN) members admire most, and the list was clearly dominated by familiar names—the key figures of the field since the nineteenth century, from Frederick Law Olmsted to the most celebrated firms working today. The next question we asked members sought to highlight names that may be less familiar: the greatest unknown landscape architect or firm.

Several PPN members gave very self-assured answers along the lines of: “Me, LOL!” Others highlighted a few of the many smaller, local firms that do excellent work but often “don’t have time or money for award submittals so they don’t get recognition on that level.” Some members identified general categories of practice that often go under-recognized, such as “the nameless public realm landscape architect” and the educators and mentors who shape and encourage up-and-coming landscape architects: “The greatest unknown (or unheralded) landscape architect is the one who reaches out and has a positive impact upon educating the next generation.”

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Who Do You Admire?

Peninsula Residence, Hillsborough, CA, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Residential Design Category / image: Marion Brenner

When we asked ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members whose work (an individual landscape architect or a firm) they most admire in a 2015 survey, one response basically sums up the results: “too many to list.” Another member emphasized how their answer is constantly changing: “Today…Andrea Cochran…tomorrow MVVA…depends what I’m working on and how I feel!” Clearly, there are many landscape architects out there doing exceptional work, and highlighted below are both some familiar names and hopefully a few new ones to check out when you need a new source of inspiration.

Here are the most admired landscape architects, designers, and firms, each coming up four times or more:

  1. Laurie Olin, FASLA – OLIN
  2. Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA – Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
  3. Douglas Reed, FASLA, and Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA – Reed Hilderbrand
  4. Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA – Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
  5. Piet Oudolf
  6. Frederick Law Olmsted
  7. Dan Kiley
  8. Nelson Byrd Woltz
  9. Oehme, Van Sweden
  10. Peter Walker, FASLA – PWP Landscape Architecture
  11. James Corner, ASLA – James Corner Field Operations
  12. Thomas Church

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Victory on the Mississippi and the Role of Landscape Architects

The Mississippi River along New Madrid, MO

Before obtaining my Master of Landscape Architecture last spring at the University of Maryland, I worked for the National Wildlife Federation as coordinator of the Water Protection Network, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs from around the country working to modernize US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water resources policies. The USACE has been leading the federal government’s approach to water resource management for navigable rivers since the late 1920s.

Familiarity with a whole host of water resource professionals, environmental activists, and scientists who play an active role in helping to shape the federal government’s role in water resources management enables me to share details about the controversial New Madrid Levee Project.

A resolution from the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) provides an overview of the St. John’s Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project (New Madrid Levee project for short), a proposed quarter-mile levee in southeast Missouri. This resolution was the result of a deal CEQ brokered between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and USACE, who disagreed on whether mitigation the USACE proposed was adequate to replace the wetland and floodplain functions the New Madrid Levee would eliminate.

One might conclude that this case study is a poster child for how to (or how not to) manage our big river systems in the US. With the resolution, CEQ stopped the pending USACE project in its tracks while it was under final stage review to construct the New Madrid Levee. The New Madrid Levee would have severed the Mississippi River from the last place in all of Missouri where the river can flow into the floodplain to create backwater habitat that is vital for flood attenuation and fish and wildlife habitat. Approximately 50,000 acres of wetlands (comparable in size to Washington, DC) with valuable water conservation and critical fish and wildlife functions would be eliminated should the proposed levee ever be built.

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Learning in the Garden, Part 1

image: Kasey Wooten

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

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

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

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

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

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Effective Communication in the Architecture & Design Industry

image: iStock

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

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

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Submit a Speed Session Idea for NRPA

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

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

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

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

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Welcome to the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture

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

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

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

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