An Interview with Lolly Tai, FASLA

Reprinted from The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design by Lolly Tai. Used by permission of Temple University Press. © 2017 by Temple University. Aquatic Exploration Chicago Botanic Garden Regenstein Learning Campus.

An Interview with Lolly Tai, PhD, RLA, FASLA, author of The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design

Lolly Tai is a very busy person. In addition to serving as Professor of Landscape Architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture at Temple University and maintaining a landscape architecture practice, Lolly is the recipient of many awards, has authored numerous articles, wrote the highly praised 2006 book Designing Outdoor Environments for Children, and is author of the newly released 2017 book The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design.

Published in 2017 by Temple University Press, The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design is a must-have book, and this is not just for landscape architects, students, and designers. Anyone who interacts with and cares about children—parents, grandparents, childcare staff, teachers, and therapists—will reap innumerable benefits and inspiration from reading this gem of a book. It is a rare book that crosses over between textbook and general interest book, and this is one. Landscape architecture and design students will be inspired by the case examples. The general public now has a guide for must-visit children’s gardens, because as we all know, letting children do what they do best—engaging in spontaneous play, learning, and exploration—can happen in an outdoor space designed just for them.

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Data + Design: Measuring a Landscape’s Value

Little Sugar Creek Greenway extends over 15 miles and traverses 17 neighborhoods, passing through urban, suburban, and rural areas. This development is projected to spur substantial growth in the surrounding community of Charlotte, North Carolina. / image: LandDesign

Today’s landscapes are asked to perform much more than functional or aesthetic services: they filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve human health, and more. As projects become more complex, and clients aim higher to meet today’s climate challenges, the use of performance metrics is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Why use data?

While the design of green space and lush plantings seems inherently ecologically beneficial, quantifying the actual value of those benefits is a little more complex. This barrier makes it challenging as we advocate for high-performing landscapes. Meanwhile, the drawbacks of initial cost and maintenance are seen as barriers to the development of more green space. This is where landscape performance metrics are valuable; using data to estimate the positive benefits of design elements and ensuring a landscape performs to the anticipated standards. Data allows us to quantify the benefits of a designed landscape, and provides hard evidence for a client trying to balance a project’s budget, schedule, and demands.

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ASLA Diversity SuperSummit Report & Resources

Participants map ASLA’s future efforts. / image: EPNAC.com

ASLA Diversity SuperSummit Report Released and Summit Resources Available on ASLA.org

In 2013, ASLA convened its first Diversity Summit with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of why landscape architecture is failing to attract a more diverse profile. Each summit has brought together a group of established and emerging landscape architects who identify as African American or Latinx to develop strategies that address diversity issues in the field.

Five years later, the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit convened the largest group of attendees to date, with 23 returning and six new participants, at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C. Participants evaluated goals from previous summits, developed focus areas for four key diversity initiatives to guide ASLA’s work plan in the coming year, and discussed the future of the Diversity Summit format and participants.

ASLA is excited to share those conversations in the ASLA Diversity SuperSummit 2017 Report. The takeaways in the report will serve as accountability for ASLA and as an actionable guide for the newly created Career Discovery and Diversity position for the upcoming year. It can also serve as a guide for other organizations pursuing the same goal. For a summary of the full report, check out the ASLA Diversity SuperSummit 2017 Summary.

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Next Big Things in Landscape Architecture

ASLA 2016 Student General Design Honor Award. Bendway Park / image: Eric Arneson, Student Affiliate ASLA, Academy of Art University

When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members about the next big thing in landscape architecture, some were too cautious to speculate about the future, answering with “I have no idea,” while others had a decidedly more self-confident answer ready: “Me.” A few members took issue with the question itself, feeling the focus on what’s next to be misguided—the next big thing in landscape architecture is “realizing we shouldn’t be looking for ‘the next big thing’ but should be paying attention to the little things.”

Given that there is so much happening right now that deserves our attention, imagining what the future may have in store is nonetheless an interesting (and pretty fun) exercise. One statement summed up a central theme of the majority of responses: “Landscape Architecture IS the next BIG THING!”

Highlighted below are the key topics that appeared most often, outlining the next big things to look out for in landscape architecture. Keep in mind these responses are from 2015—let us know in the comments what’s come up since then as the latest next big thing.

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Join us for the Student & Emerging Professionals SPOTLIGHT Mini-Series

Mark your calendars for two upcoming opportunities to earn your professional development hours (PDH) with ASLA’s Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series! Each is a two-part presentation, providing access to forward-thinking topics and discussions.

Earlier this year, ASLA launched the Call for Proposals, giving Student and Associate ASLA members the opportunity to work with Professional Practice Network (PPN) mentors to create presentations for the SPOTLIGHT mini-series. Please join us later this month to view the selected presentations!

Transitional Landscapes & Tactical Mycelium

Wednesday, August 23 at 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. (Eastern)
1.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW)
FREE for Student ASLA, $20 for Associate ASLA, $30 for ASLA members, $60 for non-members

Presenters:

  • Elyana Javaheri, Associate ASLA
  • Bridget Ayers Looby, Associate ASLA, SITES AP

PPN Mentors:

  • David Cutter, ASLA, Campus Planning & Design PPN Co-Chair
  • Laura Tenny, ASLA, Campus Planning & Design PPN Co-Chair
  • Kenneth Hurst, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer and Incoming Co-Chair

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Mud and Dirt Play: Embracing the Mess

Children and mud—a perfect pair. / image: Antonio Esposito (public domain)

Few activities inspire more nostalgia than the beloved childhood pastime of splashing, running, and squishing in the mud, free of rules and inhibitions. For children and young-at-heart adults, playing in the mud is just plain fun, with a feeling of mischievousness that comes with making a mess. But for children, all that fun also benefits their physical, emotional, social, and mental growth in a variety of ways. When designing outdoor environments that support children’s development, we can promote mud play by creating flexible spaces and by supporting programming efforts such as International Mud Day—and by worrying a little less about the mess.

Benefits of Muddy, Messy Play

Mud play is more than just a fun activity that gets kids outdoors and away from computer screens. Some benefits of messy play, and ways for adults to encourage and support it, are discussed here and we will further examine some of the play-related benefits that mud play can support.

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The Evolving Practice of Ecological Landscape Design

View of the roof gardens and courtyards at the US Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC. / image: Kelly Fleming

A trend is emerging within the profession that expands our approach to planting design and the role of vegetation. Designers are backing away from the role of curator of gardens where plant species are selected and placed according to a theme in a created setting, without regard to how that species may be predisposed to behave in the setting. Instead, they are adopting the role of steward to a set of naturally occurring processes that govern the development of plant communities. An understanding of ecological principles to guide the design, planting and maintenance of landscapes, and reliance on an adaptive management process based on observation and recalibration will result in landscapes that will take less energy and resources to maintain and provide the greatest environmental benefits.

The study of landscape ecology has had a significant impact on the way landscape designers and planners think about open space and connectivity at the regional scale, and has led to the promotion and implementation of green infrastructure to provide cost-effective systems that protect and restore natural resources. Green infrastructure is crucial to combating climate change, creating healthy built environments, and improving our quality of life. The shift towards green infrastructure in the design and implementation of the built environment has opened a window through which landscape designers can employ ecologically-based strategies. It will be necessary for landscape designers to build a body of knowledge based on the principles of ecology. The revelatory book by Travis Beck, The Principles of Ecological Landscape Design, is one of the foundations of this expanding body of knowledge.

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Documenting City and Town Parks

Tower Grove Park, Sailboat Pond, View looking north between balustrades, Saint Louis, MO / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS MO,96-SALU,46H–2

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 from every state 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, Documenting City or Town Park(s), is July 31, 2017.

This year’s theme was inspired by the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016, which was celebrated with the Find Your Park movement to spread the word about the amazing national parks and the inspirational stories they tell about our diverse cultural heritage. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks—it’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever.

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How Wildlife Can Benefit from Highways

While high-traffic areas can pose a threat to grizzlies, less traveled routes offer conservation benefits. / image: NPS/Eric Johnston via Flickr

This article was originally published on May 19, 2017 by Ensia Media Group. The article was written by Kaitlin Stack Whitney (@KStackWhitney) and was titled How Grizzlies, Monarchs and Even Fish can Benefit from U.S. Highways. Republished with permission.

–ASLA Transportation PPN Leadership Team

Roads often present peril for wildlife—but with good planning, they can benefit animals instead.

Late last August, armed with a sweep net and identification guides, Sarah Piecuch was looking for butterflies. She trudged through waist-deep grasses, trying to keep her footing steady while tallying those she found fluttering through the sky or perched on nearby flowers.

But Piecuch isn’t an entomologist, and she wasn’t walking in a pristine meadow. Rather, she’s a wildlife biologist for the New York State Department of Transportation, and she was surveying the land beside busy highways in hopes of learning what kind of management can make these long, thin strips of habitat most beneficial for pollinators. Her work is just one of a number of projects across the country aimed at using the space along interstate highways to help wildlife.

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Time to Recharge

The view from the end of the hike to the top of the Diamond Head State Monument, Honolulu, HI / image: Alexandra Hay

With summer in full swing, some of you may be taking (or dreaming of taking) a summer vacation soon. Continuing with the theme of theme of creativity and inspired design, below we take a look at how Professional Practice Network (PPN) members recharge and keep that creativity flowing. While vacations and travel in general were mentioned, along with coffee and lots of naps, the most frequent response involved spending time outdoors (no surprise there).

Here are a few of our members’ favorite ways to take a break.

Take a Hike

“Get out in nature—mountains, desert or coastal.”

“Go to the beach and walk.”

“Hiking in the Catskills and viewing the landscape from a mountain top.”

“I am drawn to free-flowing rivers and creeks.”

“I fly fish as far away from people as possible.”

“Reading, hiking, leaving the phone behind.”

“Take my RV out to a park—usually end up at a US Army Corps of Engineer facility located nearby, or to a local State Forest.”

“Taking a walk through an open meadow.”

“Work in my yard.”

“Working my farm.”

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Is Your Professional License Safe?

Wisconsin State Capitol / image: Wikimedia Commons

If you haven’t noticed, professional licensure for Landscape Architects is on the chopping block in several states. Wait! What? Why?

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) published a report in November 2016 entitled “Fencing Out Opportunity” with the subtitle “Occupational Licensing in the Badger State”—less of a report and more of a fictional assassination of our profession of Landscape Architecture!

Let’s start at the beginning—the report author, Collin Roth, targets professional licensure as a job-killing evil that keeps non-licensed citizens from earning a living, drives up consumer costs, and believes that anyone can fulfill the duties of a Landscape Architect. Now, take this “report” in front of several eager state legislators, and we have a real problem here.

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker included policy in his biennial budget proposal that would create a legislative council to review all professional licensure in the state for standards to grant the license, continuing education requirements, and the economic impacts that the license has on the state economy. During budget deliberations, the WI Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) stripped policy items from the budget, including this one, as they should. Including policy items in the biennial budget precludes public hearings and floor debate—not a good way to govern a state! However, in Wisconsin, when a policy issue is stripped from the budget, it becomes a ‘Bill.’ A Bill needs sponsorship in both the Assembly and the Senate before it can be assigned to a committee for consideration and public hearings. A junior legislator hoping to score brownie points can sign on as sponsor of the Bill, and now we have a serious threat to our occupation!

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Building Micro Greenspaces in Disadvantaged Communities

image: From Lot to Spot

Viviana Franco is the Executive Director of From Lot to Spot, based in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA. From Lot to Spot (FLTS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2007 as a direct result of the relationship between lack of accessible green space and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. FLTS’ unique approach involves grassroots, community engagement to ensure disadvantaged communities contribute their voice in developing healthy spaces in their neighborhoods. FLTS relies on landscape architects for assistance with design; however, it takes much more to allow a project to come to life. The following is the story of one project, the Heart of Watts Community Garden.

–Matt Romero, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair

Sometimes constructing a greenspace—from planning to design to construction—can takes years and millions of dollars. And sometimes for large, regional projects this is warranted.

However, this lengthy and costly process in low-income communities who have already been neglected for so long or have been waiting decades for adequate access to parks or gardens can be disheartening and infuriating.

People tell us time and time again, “Well, that’s government,” as if we are supposed to accept that the sometimes bureaucratic system that breeds inefficiency is ok, and that we should just accept it in our line of business.

Well,  we don’t.

We believe strongly in building small, community-driven, cost-effective greenspaces that can transform communities.

We want to tell the story of the Heart of Watts Community Garden, where a streamlined, cost-effective process to build a community-driven greenspace only helped to empower the community more. In urban, low-income communities of color greenspace is not only critical for community morale, but it boils down to social responsibility.

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If You Could Travel Back in Time

The Roman Forum / image: Alexandra Hay

Given that time is such an integral and transformative factor for any landscape, the prospect of time travel is especially intriguing for landscape architects curious to see lost landscapes or what an existing place looked like at an earlier period or while under construction. So it came as no surprise when ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members responded with such gusto to the question: If you could travel back in time to a historical landscape, where and when would you go?

Tied for first place with 10 mentions each were two radically different spots, from very different eras: Versailles and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Here are the rest of the top answers, in order of popularity:

  1. Central Park under construction
  2. Early North America, prior to European settlement
  3. Hetch Hetchy Valley, before the creation of the O’Shaughnessy Dam
  4. Impressionists’ gardens, and specifically Monet’s gardens at Giverny
  5. Vaux-le-Vicomte
  6. Villa d’Este

Quite a few members also specified that they would like to visit these historic landscapes accompanied by their designers or other important figures associated with these places:

“I would take a horseback ride through the English countryside with Capability Brown!”

“Work with Thomas Jefferson – Architecture and Horticulture.”

“I’d love to experience the south of France with the Impressionist painters.”

“Hetch Hetchy Valley with John Muir.”

“The emerald necklace with Olmsted.”

“Stand over Kiley’s shoulder while he designs the Miller House.”

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Musical Roadway in New Mexico

Highway, Death Valley / image: tsaiproject via Flickr

Who doesn’t love to drive down the highway listening to music, especially patriotic music around the 4th of July? Well, the folks at the New Mexico Department of Transportation are helping motorists enjoy this pastime by incorporating music into the road! National Geographic’s show Crowd Control initiated the project (with funding from Allstate Insurance) to help drivers focus on the road and drive the speed limit.

The installation is similar to rumble strips, the pavement grooves that alert drivers when they are drifting out of the drive lanes and onto the roadway shoulder. However, NM DOT’s musical highway has pavement grooves placed within the drive lanes. Vehicle tires emit a sound as they pass over the grooves. This sound varies in pitch according to the groove spacing. The correct sequence of grooves and spacing cause the vehicle’s tires to emit sounds that mimic a song, in this case, a famous, well-known, patriotic song, “America the Beautiful.”

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TRB Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design Mid-Year Meeting

Roundabouts - Routes 82 and 85 in Salem, CT / image: Connecticut Department of Transportation
Roundabouts – Routes 82 and 85 in Salem, CT / image: Connecticut Department of Transportation

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AFB40) is holding their mid-year meeting in Hartford, Connecticut August 6th through the 9th. The meeting’s theme, Retro-fitting for Resilience, focuses on the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s (CT DOT) efforts to restore the state’s transportation infrastructure. The subject matter has been deemed appropriate for continuing education hours for landscape architects licensed to practice in Connecticut. Refer to the conference website for additional information.

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PPN Live in Los Angeles

Save up to $150 by registering for the ASLA 2017 Annual Meeting and EXPO by this Friday, June 30!

This October in Los Angeles, the ASLA 2017 Annual Meeting and EXPO will offer 122 education sessions, 16 field sessions, five workshops, and two general sessions, allowing attendees to earn up to 21 professional development hours (PDH). Prices for registration, workshops, and ticketed events are at their lowest before the early-bird deadline, June 30. Purchase today and take advantage of most cost effective opportunity this year to learn, network, and celebrate at the largest gathering of landscape architects in the world.

In addition to education sessions, field sessions, workshops, and special events, be sure to add PPN Live to your annual meeting plans. Through PPN Live, you can network with colleagues from all 20 ASLA Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) throughout the annual meeting weekend.

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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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