Sustainability vs. Resiliency: Designing for a Trajectory of Change

by Keith Bowers, FASLA

Image: Biohabitats

Words matter! And being mindful of the words and terms we use professionally can only help demonstrate landscape architects’ expertise and leadership on these complex topics: sustainability and resiliency.

The Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network leadership recognized the importance for our group to think more deeply about these two important terms and concepts. We put out a call to firms who are demonstrating leadership in this arena to provide their insights, and Keith Bowers, FASLA, of Biohabitats created the post below.

This is worth reading several times and it might possibly change how you think and discuss sustainability and resiliency in your practice.

Lisa Cowan and Kevin Burke, Sustainable Design & Development Field Editors

In our field, resilience and sustainability should mean the same thing, but this means that we need to correct how we talk about sustainability. Perhaps the most striking similarity between our current use of the terms “sustainability” and “resilience” is their frequent application across a wide variety of practices and projects that too often are neither sustainable nor resilient. This is the way of terms of art—they burst onto the scene, meaning something important and specific, but over time their power becomes diluted as they get misused or applied loosely. I argue that if we use the term sustainability correctly, all sustainable projects would also be resilient, i.e. able to accommodate change and recover quickly. But to see why this is the case, we need to examine the concept of “sustainability” within the design profession and see why the term is frequently misapplied.

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Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War

District of Columbia War Memorial / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS DC-857-5
District of Columbia War Memorial / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS DC-857-5

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Since 2010, landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts have been challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to increase awareness of particular cultural landscapes through the annual HALS Challenge competition. The deadline to enter this year’s HALS Challenge—Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War—is July 31, 2018.

We invite you to document a World War I memorial site to honor the centennial of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. Not only were traditional monuments constructed across the country following the armistice, but “living memorials,” which honored the dead with schools, libraries, bridges, parks, and other public infrastructure, were designed to be both useful and symbolic at the same time.

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Take the ASLA Professional Development Preferences Survey

Please help ASLA national ensure that we develop continuing education content that supports your individual interests and needs by completing a short survey. ASLA is interested in hearing from licensed and non-licensed professionals. Please share your feedback by Tuesday, July 17.ASLA provides a number of ways for landscape architects to earn professional development hours (PDH) through the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™). Professional development hours (PDH) is the term that ASLA and LA CES use to describe how much credit a course carries.

ASLA’s in-person offerings include the: 

ASLA’s online offerings include:

Check out additional resources on ASLA’s Professional Development webpage, such as an up-to-date list of conferences for landscape architects focused on a variety of practice areas.

Eco Parks for Learning and Play

by Chris Roberts, ASLA

This meandering Kellogg Park bioswale, engineered for infiltration and subsurface water recharge, provides accessible passive learning and play along the entire park. / image: Pacific Coast Land Design, Inc.

“Play is the highest form of research.”
– attributed to Albert Einstein

An Unfulfilled Need

In the 1950s I loved exploring nature in an unstructured setting. Nearby windrows, vacant lots, and scrambling on the boulders in nearby hills offered exploration and adventure.

The exploration and investigation of a natural setting is not available to many of today’s urban and suburban youth. This loss—often replaced by cell phones and digital gaming—creates a deficiency unique to this century: nature deficit disorder.

Exploring natural environments is fundamental to providing future adults with the appreciation and knowledge they will need to cope with environmental degradation. Local parks could offer children and families the opportunity to experience, appreciate, and learn how nature works.

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Diversifying the Profession Through K-12 Outreach

by Allison Ong, Student ASLA

Chinook Middle School students used models to communicate their ideas for a new open space on their campus. / image: Allison Ong

In the first year of my MLA, I was assigned a review of Gina Ford, FASLA’s talk, “Into an Era of Landscape Humanism.” Her opening words have stayed with me ever since: “Fifty years ago,” she begins, “the voice of our profession was eerily prescient, undeniably smart, and powerfully inspired. It was also, let’s admit it, almost entirely white and male.” I am often reminded of Ford’s statement, as I continue to observe the lack of diversity she speaks of in firms, classes, conferences, and other spaces. Throughout graduate school, I’ve kept a constant eye open for opportunities to diversify our field. The traditional avenues for engagement presented to me, namely departmental diversity committees, didn’t satisfy my desire to act. I wanted to do something. I just didn’t know what that something was.

About a year ago an opportunity finally presented itself. The Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects at the University of Washington (UWASLA)’s mentorship program assigned me Laura Enman, Associate ASLA, of Swift Company, as a mentor. Meeting for the first time at a coffee shop, we bonded over our shared interest in improving diversity in landscape architecture. In that moment, a light bulb went off for both of us. We imagined an outreach program to empower students from diverse K-12 schools through landscape architecture. Laura was already connected to a non-profit after-school program, Techbridge Girls, whose goal is to “excite, educate, and equip girls from low-income communities by delivering high-quality STEM programming to empower them to achieve economic mobility and better life chances.” Within weeks, through Techbridge Girls and support from WASLA and UWASLA, we scheduled our first outreach opportunity.

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Meet the Transportation PPN Leadership Team

Milwaukie/Main Street TriMet MAX Orange Line Station, Milwaukie, OR. Mayer/Reed | TriMet / image: ©2015 Bruce Forster Photography

The ASLA Transportation Professional Practice Network (PPN) is a forum for landscape architecture issues in transportation policy, planning, design and construction. This group is dedicated to sharing information from a variety of sources and building awareness about the contributions of landscape architects in transportation.

Landscape architects have a strong voice in transportation issues and often bridge the gap between colleagues in planning and engineering. Their work includes developing policies to support livable communities, planning sustainable transportation systems, designing and building streets to encourage active transportation, supporting native plant habitat and effectively manage stormwater, advocating for complete streets and roadway safety, and leading projects and public involvement processes to support transportation decision-making.

In addition to a chair or co-chairs, many PPNs, including Transportation, also have larger leadership teams that include past chairs and PPN officers. Most leadership teams hold monthly calls to keep track of progress on PPN activities, and all PPN members are welcome to join their PPN’s leadership team. To learn more, see ASLA’s PPN Leadership Opportunities page or contact propractice@asla.org.

In this post, we’d like to introduce the Transportation PPN leaders through their answers to the following questions:

  • What is a Transportation Landscape Architect? How do you define / describe what you do?
  • As a landscape architect practicing in the transportation sector, explain how daily practice can/does involve topics addressed in at least three other ASLA PPNs. In your opinion, do you think that practicing in the transportation sector has broadened or specialized your practice?
  • How do you as a landscape architect add value to transportation projects?

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Discover Landscape Architecture

ASLA Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Book for Kids cover / image: James Richards, FASLA

Do you have a friend who is interested in landscape architecture? Do your children like the idea of blending art with the environment? Are you a landscape architecture professional visiting a local school and searching for a fun interactive exercise?

The ASLA Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Books for kids, teens, and adults were designed by ASLA members to inspire and teach anyone interested in landscape architecture and the built environment.

Use the activity books to learn or teach about:

  • the tools and skills needed to become a landscape architect,
  • the many ways landscape architects shape our environment,
  • how landscape architects use hand drawing to formulate ideas and solve complex problems, and
  • how to make beautiful places for people to live, work, and play.

Discover more at asla.org/activitybooks.

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Reimagining the Campus Green Infrastructure Experience!

By Charlene LeBleu, FASLA

Green Infrastructure game box tops designed by MLA students.
AubieGo—Rachel Hamrick, Student ASLA, Yuzhou Jin, Rui Wang, Student ASLA, & Xueting Zhou, Student ASlA.
GI Builder—Jaspuneet Kaur, Radhika Shenoy, Student ASLA, Yuanyuan Gao, Student ASLA, & Looja Shakya, Student ASLA.

Visitors to Auburn University will now have an opportunity to experience campus green infrastructure using two newly designed interactive board games. The board games, AubieGo and GI Builder were created by Landscape Architecture graduate students for the Office of Sustainability to invite visitors, students, faculty, and beyond to learn about the green infrastructure stormwater control measures that are integrated into the campus landscape. The games provide a novel way to introduce and communicate the benefits of campus green infrastructure practices to both young and old.

The graduate students are members of the LAND 7900 Interpretive Design—Redesigning the Visitor Experience class, a three (3) hour directed elective taught by Charlene M. LeBleu, FASLA, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture. “I was asked by the Office of Sustainability and Campus Stormwater Committee to have my students create a brochure for a campus green infrastructure tour,” said LeBleu. “We did design a brochure, but I wanted my students to reimagine green infrastructure education in a different way. Designing and crafting a board game, the playing pieces, and a container to hold all pieces provided a fun and interesting creative challenge!”

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Summer of SITES®

Enrich your summer with the SITES® Accredited Professional exam: Now through September 3, 2018, ASLA is offering a $100 discount off the SITES AP Exam for the first 150 registrants to use the promo code 2018ASLAPROMO.

Click here for registration instructions.

Registrants must be an ASLA member to use the code, and will be required to provide an ASLA member number. Questions? Email sites@asla.org.

An ASLA prepared webinar series to help you study for the exam is available at a discounted rate to members.

The SITES accredited professional exam provides landscape architects with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise, and commitment to the profession. It also establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development.

Landscape Architects Make the Case

“For me and the firm, incorporating the principles of SITES into our work is something that we have done for years. What the initiative provides is a logical and structured methodology to accomplish a rich diversity of improvements that can be shared with clients and the community. The more thorough a team is with embracing the credits the better the project can be for the public or private users. The structure allows us as designers to do a better job explaining the complexity of what it is we do and the certification allows the team and client to celebrate good work.”

Hunter Beckham, FASLA

SWT Design Novus International Headquarters Campus, St. Louis, Missouri – Three-star Certified Pilot Project

“SITES is the single best crash-course in real landscape sustainability. Certification requires tangible, quantifiable standards and that rigorous challenge both educated and inspired me. Sustainable practices and client education is now an integral part of all my landscape work.”

CeCe Haydock, ASLA, LEED AP

Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, Garden City, New York  – Two-star Certified Pilot Project

Warm Winter Memories—Cool Neighborhood Park

by Tom Mortensen, PLA, ASLA

An ice skating rink is part of a new public plaza at the Titletown District in Green Bay, Wisconsin. raSmith is providing ongoing site engineering and surveying for this multi-phase, mixed-use development. / image: ROSSETTI, Detroit

People say the memories of certain smells stay with you for a lifetime. Corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, the sterile smell of a dentist’s office, athletic socks in a gym bag or the Xylene-based color design markers I used in the 1980s back in college. Even my ice skates have a familiar smell. Not bad, just familiar—like old leather mixed with slush.

I was driving through the neighborhood near my childhood home where I grew up on the northern edge of Milwaukee County, and I decided to take a slow drive down memory lane. Everything looked smaller than I remembered, except the trees. Eventually I ended up at the neighborhood park where I spent countless hours playing pickup ball games, hanging out with friends, and ice skating.

Yes, ice skating. Every single day. After school, after dinner, and on weekends.

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Australia’s Morialta Playspace

by Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA

Morialta Conservation Park, Nature Playspace Concept Plan / image: Peter Semple Landscape Architect (PSLA)
Final concept plan, Morialta Nature Playspace / image: courtesy of Peter Semple Landscape Architect (PSLA)

Recently, while on a trip to Australia, my colleagues and I had the pleasure of stopping in at a brand-new nature playspace just outside of Adelaide. Located within the 2,058 square-mile Morialta Conservation Park, the Muka Muka Rrinthi nature playspace is nothing short of dazzling. Not to mention, the footprint of the playspace is huge. While designed to be best suited for children ages 5-15, I saw many younger tykes happily creating their own play opportunities. It is easily a full-day, take-a-picnic-lunch destination for families looking for something wonderful to do with their children.

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Cleveland’s Active Transit Awakening

by Peter Salamon, Associate ASLA

The Cleveland Group Plan by Charles Burnham / Image: The Cleveland Memory Project

In our April 2018 Urban Design PPN Field post, we learned about Detroit’s approach to urban transit. Continuing with this theme of rust belt cities, we’ll now explore Cleveland’s challenges and achievements in connecting people to place.

Whereas Detroit’s Woodward plan launched a framework extending far from the city center, Charles Burnham’s Group Plan for the City of Cleveland established only an immediate civic core. This was due mainly to the downtown’s unique geography, as the Cuyahoga River Valley isolated it from the more residential areas pushed to neighboring bluffs. Development in these areas loosely followed what translated in Iroquois to “the crooked river,” and could be best characterized as piecemeal; not following any distinct pattern, and often, the law.

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Mitigating the Thermal Characteristics of Stormwater

by Charlene LeBleu, FASLA

Data logging thermistors are located inside and outside material testing mesocosms. / Image: Britton Garrett

The Auburn University Green Infrastructure Team is studying thermal inputs to stormwater systems.  The team includes faculty researchers Amy Wright, Horticulture, Mark Dougherty, Biosystems Engineering, Keith Rahn, Building Science, and Charlene LeBleu, FASLA, Landscape Architecture. Graduate Research Assistants include MLA students Andres Orjuela, Student ASLA; Britton Garrett; Rui Wang, Student ASLA; and Ryan Bowen, MLA & Master of Building Science. The research is conducted in the Green Infrastructure Laboratory at the Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce (CASIC) Building. The laboratory provides a controlled environment, and is designed for both wet and dry research. The center was built with funding provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. The main purpose of this research is to develop design models for standard stormwater control measures that can be used to meet specific effluent temperature standards and to maintain the required thermal regime in a receiving stream. This project hypothesizes that pervious surfaces, turfgrass and rain gardens can be used to mitigate ground level thermal loads in stormwater runoff.

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The LAF Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership

Alpa Nawre, ASLA, presents to community members in India / image: Tsz Wai Wong

In a time of ceaselessly shifting cycles (of news, weather, economic ups-and-downs, and never-ending debates on seemingly every topic imaginable), taking time out to focus on building transformative leadership and advancing ethically-motivated ideas is a refreshing break from the norm. The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership aims to nurture and inspire landscape architecture professionals to pursue “ideas that have the potential to bring about impactful change to the environment and humanity and increase the visibility and leadership role of landscape architecture.”

On May 17 in Washington, DC, LAF hosted an event for their inaugural class of fellows. The Symposium was the culmination of the year-long fellowship, which supports senior-level, mid-career, and emerging professionals as they develop and test new ideas that will drive innovation and transformation. Each fellow gave a short presentation on their work, the diversity of which demonstrates the breadth of the profession and the transformative potential of landscape architecture’s expansive scope.

Brice Maryman, ASLA, began with a critical look at the misalignment between myths about homelessness and what data shows. Contrary to frequently-repeated observations on the prevalence of substance abuse, mental illness, and other apparently common causes, the one underlying trauma found in nearly all situations is in fact a lack of affordable housing. Citing Richard Rothstein’s 2017 book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Maryman went on to the impact of zoning regulations on today’s widening wealth gap and the marked concentration of larger homeless populations in a handful of coastal urban areas.

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The Atlanta Beltline: An Interview with the Principal Landscape Architect, Part 2

By Thomas Schurch, ASLA, AICP

Atlanta BeltLine Inc in partnership with Trees Atlanta is establishing a 22-mile linear arboretum unlike any other in the world. / Image: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.

In this second of the two-part interview with Principal Landscape Architect Kevin Burke, ASLA, Kevin addresses facets of the BeltLine’s construction, funding and construction costs, social impacts, and public participation that he has been involved with. As stated in Part I, this urban design project is remarkable for its ultimate transformation of Atlanta that includes 22 miles of pedestrian friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, 5,600 units of affordable housing, public art, historic preservation $10-20 billion in economic development, 30,000 permanent jobs, and, of course, sustainability.

CONSTRUCTION

What is your role in “post construction oversight”? 

We believe that the upkeep of public funds investment is a basic parameter of our responsibility. However, a significant level of our funding comes from a Tax Allocation District (a.k.a. Tax Increment Financing) tied to local real estate values on commercial/industrial/multi-family properties. This source was legislatively created to spur economic development and specifically precludes utilization of these funds for O&M. As such, we are somewhat hampered in our ability to do what most landscape architects would consider basic maintenance needs. The Parks and Recreation Department assists us, especially with graffiti removal, as resources permit.

To aid our efforts, we established a “Fixit Line” that facilitates the public letting us know matters needing attention.

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The Atlanta Beltline: An Interview with the Principal Landscape Architect, Part 1

By Thomas Schurch, ASLA, AICP

The integration of stormwater green infrastructure into the park has facilitated a walkable neighborhood and has led to the construction of over 2,500 housing units within a half block. / Image: Tom Schurch

The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the most comprehensive urban design efforts in the current era and rivals others today such as San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Manhattan’s Battery Park City, New York’s Fresh Kills, Boston’s Big Dig, and the Orange County Great Park. As such, it is transformative for Atlanta, a city known for poor land use practices over the past quarter century. The BeltLine will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods through 11 nodes within a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, light rail transit, and parks – all based on abandoned railroad corridors that encircle Atlanta. As an engine of economic development, it is demonstrating remarkable outcomes in adjoining areas comprising infill, compatible mixed land use, including urban housing, and thereby exemplifying transit oriented development.

As with all urban design projects of this scale, identifying one firm or one individual to credit for the achievement is impossible. With regard to urban design and landscape architecture, however, a key individual who has guided the BeltlIne’s unfolding is its Principal Landscape Architect, Kevin Burke, ASLA. The following is the first of a two-part interview in which Kevin shares his experiences and insights concerning this remarkable achievement. Part I provides a general project overview and design considerations. Part II addresses construction, funding and construction costs, social impacts, and public participation.

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Ecology & Restoration PPN CELA 2018 Conference Reflections

by Lee R. Skabelund, ASLA

The International Student Rain Garden at Kansas State University. Selected slide from the CELA 2018 presentation, “Examining Green Infrastructure Performance: Learning from Two University Campus Sites” (3/22/2018). / Image: Lee R. Skabelund & Katie Kingery-Page

The 2018 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference (CELA) was held in Blacksburg, Virginia March 21-24, 2018 at Virginia Tech University. Given my involvement in four educational sessions (including two green roof panel discussions) I was not able to attend as many presentations as I wanted to. However, what I listened to was informative. One 3/22 session I attended was highly relevant to ecological design and included a presentation by Reid Coffman, Ph.D, Associate Professor and Director of the Novel Ecology Design Lab (NEDLab) at Kent State University. He addressed the role of living architecture in providing a suite of ecosystem services—getting us to think about “ecosystem signatures” and the bundling of and interactions among ecosystem services. He emphasized the trade-offs that must be considered regarding biodiversity, productivity, energy dynamics, hydrologic cycling, and many different human dimensions (including visual order, health and wellness, equity issues, economics, and policy).

In the same session, Paul Coseo, Ph.D., PLA, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, discussed designing experiments to improve green infrastructure performance from both ecological and socio-cultural perspectives. Paul emphasized the need to get beyond anecdotal evidence of performance by taking scientifically sound measurements. He noted the need to recognize and overcome barriers to effective, ongoing green infrastructure maintenance and management. This comment paralleled ideas discussed by Katie Kingery-Page, ASLA, PLA, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional & Community Planning at Kansas State University, and myself as we highlighted lessons learned from two green infrastructure projects that we have helped implement and manage on the Kansas State University campus. Our three presentations led to a vibrant conversation about the role of university faculty and students in societally-relevant impacts of implemented green infrastructure experiments and demonstration projects—where inputs are transformed into tangible goods and services that support human and broader ecological needs, functions, and dynamics.

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Help Us Shape the Political Landscape

U.S. Capitol / image: EPNAC
U.S. Capitol / image: EPNAC

The ASLA 2019-2020 Federal and State Legislative Priorities Survey will help determine ASLA’s federal legislative agenda for the upcoming 116th Congress and shape your Chapter’s state legislative activities.

All members of ASLA are invited to share their input through this short 11-question survey. May 31 is the deadline for responses.

ASLA achieved critical legislative successes last year, including working with chapters to successfully stave off state attacks on licensure, upgrade state licensure laws, and achieve licensure in the District of Columbia. On the federal side, ASLA helped to pass legislation to support the National Park Service, promote green infrastructure in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, and protect and preserve the Land and Water Conservation Fund. ASLA Government Affairs also continues its fight against proposed environmental and climate change rollbacks in federal law.

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Montecito Wildfire and Mudslide Damaged Lovelace Garden to be Restored

by Chris Pattillo, FASLA

Harold S. Gladwin Residence (Jon B. and Lillian Lovelace Residence), Montecito, CA (HALS CA-129) / image: Stephen Schafer © 2017 schafphoto.com

Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Documents to Be Used to Restore Garden

The 2017 fire season in drought-stressed California ravaged whole residential neighborhoods in Napa and Sonoma Counties in Northern California and devastated Santa Barbara County in Southern California. A few months later the damage was compounded in Southern California when heavy rains triggered massive mudslides, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country—Montecito. As I watched the news on the evening broadcast I feared what might be happening at the Lovelace estate where my firm, PGAdesign, had recently completed HALS documentation of Isabelle Greene’s landscape masterpiece. As it turned out I had to wait several days even to find out, as the area of devastation and evacuees was policed and firmly cordoned off. Finally, crews were allowed in to begin mud and debris clearing there, and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

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Boulder Scramble: A Creative Natural Playground Feature

by Davis Harte, PhD

The Village School Boulder Scramble / image: Davis Harte

Davis Harte is a wellness design educator at the Boston Architectural College who bridges evidence and practice with work in children’s places, trauma-informed spaces, and also birth units. Visit Paradigm Spaces’ website for more information. We are very pleased to have Davis share her thoughts about the Village School’s boulder scramble—a place for young children to play and be creative, while simultaneously providing a solution for serious erosion issues.
– Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, Co-Communications Director and Past Co-Chair, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN)

Arriving at around lunchtime, I find ruddy-cheeked and joyful children playing on the Village School’s natural playground. The day is unseasonably warm, feeling more like late spring instead of mid-winter in the Willamette Valley. Rex Redmon, the landscape architect who designed the nature playground at the school, and father of two girls who attend this Eugene, Oregon K-8 public charter school, greets me near the entrance. Despite being 18 years old, the school has been in its current location for only two years. The building housing the school on the current campus is the oldest school building in Eugene, dating back to 1920. The property edges a hillside, studded with Douglas firs, ponderosa pines, and speckled in sections with poison oak near the parking lot.

Landscape designer Leslie Davis joins Rex and me as we pore over the master plan for this natural playground. Our focus today is the boulder scramble, located on the northwest side of a large graded field, book-ended by a fenced-off beehive and a wooden playhouse built by third graders and volunteer parents for a previous theater production. The unique landscape design feature is the needed partner to a 3-foot wide, 15-foot long metal slide, which echoes this section’s slope.

Leslie Davis and her partner and husband Aaron Davis, of Whole Gardens, conceived of and implemented the boulder scramble as the primary star in this particular story. It serves the purpose of erosion control and dry access, as well as a place to play. The slide was a ‘must-have’ for a 1st/2nd grade teacher, whose classroom door opens a few steps away from the top of the slide. The sloped area spans about 210 feet across, and was covered in invasive ivy before the transformation. The whole slope was underutilized until the slide was added last autumn just before the 2017/2018 school year began. The boulder scramble was added during winter break.

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Mentoring the Future of Landscape Architecture

by Elizabeth Auvil, Associate ASLA

University of Oregon landscape architecture students gather at a festive happy hour to celebrate the 25th annual Shadow Mentor Day. / Image: ASLA Oregon

The softly lit room bubbles with energy as individuals fill the space. Another annual reunion of landscape architecture students and professionals in Oregon has commenced. The atmosphere swirls with inspiration and reflection from the day as both students and professionals share how valuable it is to have an opportunity for mentorship. How amazing it is to witness a room of a hundred people share how much they love and appreciate an experience, and to consider it once never existed.

In 1994, a small group of students at the University of Oregon had an idea to connect students like themselves with landscape architects. At the time, there was no avenue between professionals in the Pacific Northwest and students of landscape architecture. With the support of the faculty and collaboration with the Oregon Chapter of ASLA, students visited landscape architecture offices to “shadow” a mentor for a day. They also managed to successfully start a tradition that has continued for 25 years.

Two UO students listen to their mentor and learn about work “on the boards” during their day in an office. / Image: ASLA Oregon

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Call for Comments: LAAB Announces Proposed Revisions of Accreditation Standards

by Kristopher Pritchard, Accreditation & Education Programs Manager, ASLA

ASLA 2013 Student Collaboration Honor Award. X-Scape. Brett Berger, Student ASLA; Aaron Choi, Student Affiliate ASLA; Christine Phu, Student Affiliate ASLA; and Diego Valencia, Student ASLA, Arizona State University. Faculty Advisor: Philip Horton / image: Student Team

The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) invites comments on its proposed revisions to the LAAB Accreditation Standards. LAAB last approved revisions to the standards in 2016 as part of its periodic review of its standards. LAAB conducts a formal, comprehensive review of the accreditation standards every five years (page 4, LAAB Accreditation Procedures). The proposed revisions are posted on the LAAB website under LAAB News & Actions.

LAAB currently accredits first professional programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level in the United States and its territories. Of these programs, all are traditional programs housed within universities and colleges throughout the United States. While some courses within a few programs are offered via distance education, there are no LAAB-accredited programs that currently offer a large portion or all of their curriculum online. However, as more students enroll in online courses and programs during their time in higher education, the demand for an LAAB accredited online program will likely grow. About 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one distance learning course in a U.S. institution in fall 2014—up 3.9 percent from the previous fall, according to Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States, an annual report by the Babson Survey Research Group. Additionally, a majority of calls received at ASLA regarding landscape architecture education involves the availability of online programs.

Therefore, LAAB has undertaken the process to review its standards relative to the delivery of online courses in landscape architecture. This review began in February 2017 and its timeline is included below.

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Philadelphia’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure Landscape Guidebook

by Caitlin Glagola, Associate ASLA; Tim Linehan, Associate ASLA; and Rachel Streit

PWD’s GSI Landscape Design Guidebook / image: Philadelphia Water Department

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) has one of the most progressive stormwater management plans in the country to address the city’s combined sewer infrastructure. PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters program, which begins its 7th year this July, has constructed more than 600 stormwater management practices (SMPs) in the city, including rain gardens, tree trenches, stormwater planters, and stormwater bumpouts. These stormwater landscapes, collectively known as green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), slow, filter, and infiltrate rainfall to help prevent polluted runoff from entering the city’s sewers and waterways. GSI is versatile and fits into the urban fabric of Philadelphia to not only manage stormwater but also to mitigate urban heat, improve air quality, provide habitat, improve human health, increase land value, and improve quality of life for city residents.

Projects installed have been closely monitored to assess system functionality, plant health, resiliency, and overall aesthetic qualities. In the various SMPs, PWD has observed that species vary in their tolerances to moisture levels, concentration of pollutants, as well as sediment and trash. Each design considers these factors by establishing upper zones, lower zones, and entrance zones within a SMP. The boundaries for these hydrologic zones will depend on the designed maximum ponding depth, steepness of the side-slopes, frequency of inundation, and infiltration rate. / image: Philadelphia Water Department

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The Thrasher-Ward Memorial at the American Academy in Rome, an Historic American Landscape

by James O’Day, ASLA

Dedication Ceremony, Thrasher-Ward Memorial, 1925, American Academy in Rome, Italy / image: Photo Archive, American Academy in Rome, photographer unknown, used with permission
Dedication Ceremony, Thrasher-Ward Memorial, 1925, American Academy in Rome, Italy / image: Photo Archive, American Academy in Rome, photographer unknown, used with permission

Since 2010, landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts from every state have been challenged to complete at least one Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) short format history to increase awareness of particular cultural landscapes. The 2018 HALS Challenge theme is Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War. The submission deadline is July 31, 2018.

The First World War had a profound effect on the American Academy in Rome, and the Thrasher-Ward Memorial bears witness to its impact upon the institution and its Fellows. Europe was already immersed in the conflict when the academy held a dedication ceremony on October 1, 1914 for its new home on the Janiculum Hill. Despite the dire circumstances and the Trustees’ concerns, the academy remained open even after Italy joined the conflagration in the spring of 1915. Eventually, the Fellowships were upended when America entered the war in the spring of 1917. The academy was closed, the Fellows were dispersed, and its buildings were repurposed to serve the Italian Red Cross.

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Detroit Transit Investment Will Spur Growth

by Rebecca McKevitz, Associate ASLA

Detroit’s new QLINE is the city’s first step towards improving transit / image: Rebecca McKevitz

The past ten years have brought no shortage of conversation surrounding the current state of America’s rust-belt cities and the endless number of impacts the 2007 economic crisis had on these important cultural hubs. There has been an on-going fascination with both the collapse and rebuilding of these struggling urban centers from economists, politicians, city planners, and residents alike. Almost five years since the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in Detroit, we are just starting to see glimpses of rebirth, and the majority of Detroiters are still questioning when they will feel the effects of this economic rebound. For urban centers, density promotes efficiency, and Detroit’s tremendous sprawl has created many challenges for the city. More specifically, a lack of reliable public transit has ailed the city for more than half a century.

Detroit’s significant transportation problems began when the city was designed for complete car dependency, resulting in spatially separated land uses, wide roadways, expansive parking lots and a lack of pedestrian friendly urban spaces (Talen). Detroit cannot afford to delay improvements in its public transit system any longer. The successful future of Detroit is dependent on many economic, political and social factors, but the first step towards revitalization is reconnecting the city through an updated and expanded public transit system. There are many systematic problems that got Detroit to where it is today, but refocusing efforts on a regional transit master plan will allow the city’s residents to engage with and contribute to their city, and will attract new business and development to the Motor City.

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Therapeutic Gardening for an Adult Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

by Nancy Wicks, OTR/L

image: Nancy Wicks

Two days before the start of the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, Nancy Wicks, OTR/L, an occupational therapist at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at the University of California Los Angeles, hosted Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affiliate ASLA, and Melody Tapia, Student ASLA, then a landscape architect student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The goal of the visit: to participate in a therapeutic garden group with patients on the adult inpatient unit.

The therapeutic garden group takes place each week on the adult inpatient psychiatric unit. It is an integral part of programming for acutely ill patients in recovery from a range of psychiatric diagnoses including schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.

The program was started as a quality improvement project through the 4 East Unit Practice Council, which is multidisciplinary (Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers) using a quality improvement methodology called A4 Lean, which is one of the quality improvement tools used at UCLA. This methodology gives clinicians a structure to assess the current state of service provision and then implement changes.

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS: 2018 STUDENT AND EMERGING PROFESSIONAL SPOTLIGHT

The ASLA 2018 Online Learning Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series call for proposals is now open! This initiative gives 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!

ASLA members with the following membership types may apply:

Student Member
Student Affiliate Member
Associate Member
Full Member – Emerging Professional

The call for proposals is now open and will close on Friday, May 25, 2018.

TO SUBMIT AN ONLINE PROPOSAL:

  1. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/spotlight2018
  2. Provide a presentation description – including title, short description (150 words), outline, and three learning objectives for the presentation.
  3. Submit a portfolio giving ASLA and PPN mentors the opportunity to get to know you and your work (maximum five sheets at 8.5”x11”).

Selected participants will be notified in June. At this time, you will be introduced to your PPN mentor and the collaboration begins! Presentations will take place in August.

Check out the 2017 SPOTLIGHT presentations for inspiration!

Transitional Landscapes presented by Elyana Javaheri, Associate ASLA
Tactical Mycelium presented by Bridget Ayers Looby, Associate ASLA, SITES AP
PPN Mentors:
David Cutter, ASLA, Campus Planning & Design PPN
Laura Tenny, ASLA, Campus Planning & Design PPN
Kenneth Hurst, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN

Tropical TalkStory: Hardwood Hammocks presented by Tricia Keffer, Student ASLA
Aloha Art presented by Rachel Katzman, Associate ASLA
PPN Mentors:
Emily O’Mahoney, ASLA, Women in Landscape Architecture PPN
Kristina Snyder, ASLA, Women in Landscape Architecture PPN

Questions? Please email us at propractice@asla.org.

Pop-Up Playspaces Become Permanent Playspaces to Create Healthier and Happier Communities

by Missy Benson, ASLA

image: Playworld

Play is transformative and essential for us to thrive. Unique pop-up play areas can show us how to bring everyone together and live more playful lives. A new book about play describes how this is possible. Just published by the Design Museum Foundation, Design & Play is based on the nationally-traveling exhibit Extraordinary Playscapes and explores playground design, the importance of play to childhood development and social equity.

I am thrilled to be part of this book and to share this story. Two years ago, I was part of the exhibit team to provide a pop-up playspace in Chinatown Park, one of the parks created by Boston’s Big Dig project, called the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Designed by Carol R. Johnson Associates, Chinatown Park contains the Chinatown Gate, which both towers over a flurry of commuter and tourist activity, and provides a gateway into this culturally rich community.

Chinatown Park is full of activity everyday with groups practicing tai chi and playing chess on outdoor tables. Yet, there was not a place for families to play together until the installation of the pop-up PlayCubes. The pop-up PlayCubes are cuboctahedrons designed by architect Richard Dattner in the early 1960s and redesigned in 2016 by Dattner and Playworld with eight triangular faces and six square faces. Each face has a circular cutout so kids, teens, and adults can climb on top or get inside.

This iconic shape is sculptural and replicates nature—possible reasons why people of all ages are here playing together. As Richard Dattner explains, “PlayCubes are part of nature, albeit on a crystalline or molecular level. Archimedes, Kepler, and others have discovered and re-discovered this form over millennia, but it took Playworld and me to find a way to incorporate play. Stacking spheres ‘naturally’ take this cuboctahedron form, as Bucky Fuller discovered in his investigations.”

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Things Are Not Always As They Seem

by James Sottilo, Ecologist/Arborist; Dr. Efren Cazares, Mycologist; Ted Hartsig, Soil Scientist

Expedia Waterfront Campus / image: Surfacedesign, Inc.

Introduction

Our team began the day reviewing the landscape of Expedia’s anticipated waterfront campus with Michal Kapitulnik, Tim Kirby and Heath House of Surfacedesign, Inc. Our mission – find the potential of current site soil for repurposing. Reusing native soil profiles in future blends can have a tremendous impact on future plant acclimation and site maturity. The campus presented a contrasting ecology. Certain areas of vegetation were lush and dense while other areas displayed brown, drying turf; it was clear to the team where our attention would be needed – right?

Exploring the vibrant sections of vegetation, soil was dark, rich and moist to a depth of 14-inches. Its observable characteristics were rated as productive and ideas for soil reuse and logistics were already being explored.

Taking a few steps into neighboring areas, the look of the landscape began to change. A particular section of grassland was going dormant due to irrigation having been turned off as the site was pending demo and construction. Rooting in this area was measured at 4-inches and the soil profile was a fine sand and clay mix. Another section of land, deemed the Rectangle of Death, had dying to dead grass cover; the soil was a sandy gavel mix with obvious signs of compaction.

Healthy vegetative soil / image: James Sottilo
Dormant grassland soil / image: James Sottilo
Rectangle of Death soil / image: James Sottilo

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CommUNITY Station: Thinking Beyond the Parklet

by Miguel A. Vazquez and Lisa Beyer, ASLA

commUNITY station: Connecting People and Place, sponsored by The Riverside University Public Health System-Public Health and Alta Planning and Design / image: Miguel Vazquez

For the past few years, the Local Government Commission (LGC) has partnered with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and other organizations to showcase the great potential of parklets as public spaces during annual New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) Conferences. This year, during the conference in San Francisco, various organizations participated in the Parklet program. Our team, representing Riverside University Health System-Public Health (RUHS-PH) and Alta Planning+Design (AP+D), collaborated on the design and creation of a public space we called CommUNITY Station.

Our aim was to raise awareness about the potential application of parklets as transit stops in areas where bus stops lack basic amenities like seating, shade, and lighting, inspired by a group of high school students from rural eastern Coachella Valley who identified bus stops as opportunities to improve the pedestrian and transit environments. The commUNITY station was an opportunity to think beyond the traditional transit stop design. Innovation in materials, cost effectiveness, design and feel while maintaining the basic standards that protect the health, safety and welfare of transit users were some of the points of conversation and potential for future collaboration among the NPSG conference attendees.

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