The Orchard at White Street Park

by Roger Grant, ASLA, PLA

Boy Scouts installing hammock posts at the Orchard at White Street Park, 2020 / image: Roger Grant

A Case Study in Community Orchard-Playground Design

In Suwanee, a small suburb north of Atlanta, Georgia, lies a one-acre public park combining edible fruiting plants with child-friendly play features. Suwanee has a small but popular parks network that includes a seven-acre site with an organically maintained community garden, stream, trails, and a lawn that was a former pasture. In 2012, a local landscape architect met with City staff to discuss the potential to convert the former pasture area into a new kind of park for the City—an “orchard-playground.” The concept was intended to combine the enjoyment of edible fruit with play features rooted in the natural playground movement. After several years of both volunteer- and employer-supported efforts, the City approved a final design, and the Orchard at White Street Park was constructed and officially opened in the fall of 2017.

The notion of a public orchard where fruit is grown for free harvest by the community is a logical extension of the community gardening movement that is increasingly being explored throughout the country. During the design process, there was little information regarding public orchards, but as of now, there are numerous efforts in Georgia and around the US. Some go by the name of “food forest,” which can be a combination of orchard and annual fruit and vegetable growing, and some follow the concept of “permaculture,” which relies on dynamic and symbiotic relationships between edible plants and their allies to develop a long lasting and self-sustaining harvest. While these concepts were explored during the design process, the planting design was simplified for the initial phase based on available budget and anticipated maintenance capacity. Thus, the outcome was creation of a combination of pathways, benches, fences, play features, lawn areas, and mulched fruit tree, shrub, and vine areas.

Continue reading

Join ASLA’s PreK-12 Educator Network

 

Dream Big with Design event graphic

ASLA invites PreK-12 students and educators across the country to kick off the 2021-2022 school year with DREAM BIG with Design, a two-day virtual event showcasing landscape architecture through hands-on PreK-12 learning sessions for students, with a dynamic forum for the exchange of ideas among PreK-12 educators, ASLA members, and design professionals on the future of the profession. We invite ASLA members, Prek-12 teachers, school counselors, and design professionals to sign up for more information, including access to free resources and professional development opportunities throughout the summer.

DREAM BIG with Design will be held virtually on Thursday, September 23 and Friday, September 24, 2021. The event has been designed to blend easily into PreK-12 STEM lesson plans as well as professional development plans for educators, including teachers and school counselors.

Thanks to ASLA’s dedicated members and proud sponsors, DREAM BIG with Design will be free to attend.

Continue reading

Get Out into the Field in Nashville this November

Open space at Nashville's onec1ty development
Explore the campus and hear from the hear from the development and design teams of ONEC1TY on FS-014 ONEC1TY: Mindful, Healthy Living. / image: Josh Bethea

Among the many draws of the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture—from education sessions and seven exciting new tracks to exploring the EXPO and the city of Nashville—the conference’s 14 field sessions are a chance to go beyond the classroom to experience landscapes that will generate new ideas and connections to fellow landscape architects and designers who are passionate about moving the profession forward. Below, we highlight a few of these exciting outings, all of which take place on Friday, November 19.

To take advantage of your membership and early bird discount, use your ASLA member login and password when you register. Registration rates and field session ticket prices increase after August 18, so don’t miss that early bird deadline!

Envisioning Inclusive Communities for Public Housing: the History, Struggles, and Future
2.5 PDH, LA CES/HSW, AIA/HSW, AICP, FL

Envision Cayce is a redevelopment plan and strategy for one of Nashville’s oldest public housing properties that blends a mixed-use, mixed-income sustainable community with adjacent urban historic neighborhoods near downtown. Enjoy a walking tour of the initial phases and experience the Five Points area of East Nashville.

Continue reading

Urban Trees: Strategies for Reducing Urban Heat Island in Cities

by Veronica Westendorff, PLA, ASLA, SITES AP

Heat Island Effect Diagram
Parks, open land, and bodies of water can create cooler areas within a city because they do not absorb the sun’s energy the same way buildings and paved surfaces do. / image: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

It doesn’t take a scientist to know. In the middle of summer, walking down the streets of almost any city, there is a notable wave of heat rising off the sidewalks where old trees have deteriorated or been removed and either no replacements or new, young trees which barely cast a shadow across the surface of the walkway are in their place. In contrast, sidewalks and streets lined with mature trees offer respite for pedestrians and cyclists. We cross the street to stand in the shade of a building or under the cooling canopy of the trees around us.

While this change in temperature, referred to as Urban Heat Island (UHI), is noticeable during the day, the real impact of UHI is felt at night, when the sun has set and the impervious surfaces around us hold and slowly release the heat of the day (Norton et al., 2015). This heat begins to compound, and the following day begins at a higher temperature, increasing the overall heat in these areas. Differences in temperature may vary by as much as 22 degrees Fahrenheit (Urban ReLeaf, 2016) and are markedly higher in urban areas with more impervious surfaces and less green space. Land cover type plays a large role in moderating these effects. Impervious areas and sealed soil act almost the same in the creation of UHI, while greened areas that include shrub cover and areas with trees and urban forests lessen the effects of UHI (Norton et al., 2015).

Continue reading

Dearfield, Colorado: Homesteading and the Dream of Black Independence Through Agriculture

by Kevin M. Lyles, PLA, ASLA, and Robert Brunswig, PhD

Black-and-white portrait of Oliver Toussaint Jackson
Oliver Toussaint Jackson moved to Colorado from Ohio in 1877 at the age of 24, establishing and successfully operating a catering business, cafes, a small resort, and a farm in the Denver and Boulder areas. Largely on his own personal initiative, Jackson formed the Negro Town Site and Land Company in 1909 and began purchasing homestead land in the Dearfield area under the Desert Act of 1877 in 1910. / image: James A. Michener Library, University of Northern Colorado

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

The prevailing depiction of homesteaders settling the Great Plains of America is that of stoic white men and their supportive families. But people of all walks of life, races, and creeds sought new opportunities by heading west. Recent research indicates more than 26,000 Black people participated in homesteading the Great Plains, with about 3,500 successfully ‘proving up’ their claims (Edwards et al.). Like most homesteaders, Blacks sought opportunities to start over, obtain land at low cost, and build futures. Additionally, Blacks sought to escape oppression and rising post-Civil War “Jim Crow” racism. Many followed the teachings of Booker T. Washington, an African American intellectual who advocated for Black economic self-sufficiency and social advancement though hard work and vocational training, instead of political agitation. And so many headed west.

Unlike many white homesteaders, most Black homesteaders chose to settle together in rural communities as self-identified ‘colonies.’ Among those communities were Nicodemus (Kansas), Dewitty (Nebraska), Sully (South Dakota), Empire (Wyoming), Blackdom (New Mexico), and Dearfield (Colorado) (Friefeld et al.). Dearfield is exceptional because the colony’s main townsite remains one of very few that still has intact, original standing buildings. It was also one of the latest, established in 1910 when most of the West and Midwest’s desirable farmland and water rights were already claimed.

Continue reading

An Interview with Patrick Barkham, Part 3

Children playing in the rain
image: Patrick Barkham

What follows is the final part of the interview that I had with Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child: Coming Home to Nature. (Click to read Part 1 and Part 2.) We end the interview with some of his thoughts about designing for ‘wild children.’
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Amy Wagenfeld (AW): What do you see as the most challenging issue that’s preventing children from fully embracing nature? While you have spoken about it in previous questions, let’s fully encapsulate it here.

Patrick Barkham (PB): What’s preventing children from engaging with nature in one word is: adults. We despair about our children being hooked on electronic screens and so forth, as if it’s their fault but it’s down to us adults and I feel the problems are incredibly deep rooted in society.

There are two or three really obvious and practical things in society that I think apply to North America as much as Britain. One is the increase in fear about stranger danger, that our children are unsafe unless we’ve got our eyes on them all the time. Good parenting has become synonymous with perpetual supervision, and we’ve failed to see that this is a very recent phenomenon. It wasn’t a standard that we demanded of our parents as recently as, say, the 1950s. So somehow, we’ve got to get out of that psychological bind.

There’s another problem though, which I think is much more rational, and that’s traffic on our roads. In Britain there isn’t an enormous amount of public space. Our streets and roads are public space, but they are so busy with cars now that it really isn’t safe for children to bike and play on the street, as they once did. An obvious solution, and I think this is happening in the States as well as Britain, is to make streets more shared spaces and have car free Sundays on streets. Neighborhoods can potentially make this happen, particularly if you live on suburban estates with roads that don’t lead anywhere. Again, it’s up to us adults to better regulate our roads and to give children some rights on them, as well as to our car drivers. There’s a brilliant, very elderly sociologist in Britain named Mayer Hillman. He pointed out that we’ve prioritized the rights of car drivers over the rights of one of the most vulnerable groups in society, our children.

Continue reading

Learning the Business of Design

by Sahar Teymouri, ASLA, and Patricia Matamoros Araujo, Assoc. ASLA

Do you have questions about how a landscape architecture design on paper gets implemented in the real world, and don’t know the answers as a student? Or do you wonder about the practical details of the work you are supposed to do in the future? Maybe you’re a recent graduate just entering the profession, or an emerging or mid-career professional wanting to take the next step on your career path and learn about other aspects of landscape architecture in addition to design.

ASLA’s virtual SKILL | ED program took place across three afternoons last month, with a wide range of sessions addressing many of these questions. Registration to access recorded sessions on-demand is open through this Friday, July 16, and you can watch the sessions until August 31.

First, you’ll learn how to create a killer LinkedIn profile to showcase your skills, pursue the role you’re aiming for, and craft your career path. Next, you will learn how well-known, award-winning landscape architecture firms handle their business development and their strategies to stand out among their competitors. Finally, if you want to manage the business side of design, you will gain some critical insights.

Continue reading

An Interview with Patrick Barkham, Part 2

Children playing in nature
image: Patrick Barkham

Welcome back to the second part of my interview with Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child: Coming Home to Nature. (Click here to read the first part, published last week.) We pick up the conversation by looking at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on children and their families’ connections with nature.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Amy Wagenfeld (AW): As we continue to navigate through the current pandemic, what are your thoughts about connecting children and their families with nature? And, have you had any new ideas or thoughts emerge as a result of the lockdowns and restrictions that we’re experiencing?

Patrick Barkham (PB): The thing that I’ve seen is perhaps small and off point, but we in Britain had our schools shut for more than a term, so almost half a year of our schools being shut and learning either not being provided at all or via online lessons at home. It was a really obvious point to me that in the depths of the pandemic, even in the worst moments of the curve, we could have still provided schooling for our children if we had moved learning outdoors. There was some slightly hopeful talk of that in Britain at the start of the first lockdown and nothing’s really happened with it. The government hasn’t made it a priority or enabled it or funded it in schools.

Understandably, hard-pressed, under-resourced schools haven’t been able to deliver outdoor learning in any enhanced way, and indeed in most schools, there has been less outdoor learning since the pandemic struck than before because teachers have had to focus back on the apparent, key maths and English and so forth that they’ve missed out on. Maths and English can be taught outdoors equally well as indoors. I’ve met some inspiring teachers who are teaching very conventional hard maths and science and English outdoors and getting better results for the children. The children are outdoors and they’re able to concentrate and focus much better when they’re outdoors than when they’re cramped in a noisy, busy classroom, which for some children can lead to sensory overload. My answer would be that the pandemic has been a real opportunity to massively expand outdoor school for everyone.

Continue reading

The Seventh Shanghai Landscape Forum: Pandemic Revelations

by Lee Parks, International ASLA

Forum poster graphic
7th Shanghai Landscape Forum – The Revelation of Pandemic (poster) / image: The Shanghai Landscape Forum Committee

For the full event summary in Chinese and English, please visit mp.weixin.qq.com.

International practice has been an incredible challenge during the global pandemic as offices around the globe have adapted to new ways of working, attracting and retaining talent, and relying more on digital tools and communication platforms. During the early phases of returning to a ‘new normal,’ international practitioners in China came together for the 7th Shanghai Landscape Forum with the aim to share experiences of the pandemic. It was the first time the forum was held as an online event since it was initiated in 2017.

Speakers from seven world-famous design companies discussed the pandemic from a variety of viewpoints, including personal experience, academic exploration, and practical experience in the profession. Three invited guests included Qi Wei, Design Director of Vanke, Shanghai; Du Pengzhan, Planning and Design Director of Guangzhou Wanxi; and Dong Nannan, Associate Professor in the Landscape Architecture Department, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University. They shared views on development trends, new technologies, big data, autonomous vehicles, and future industry trends, offering advice to practitioners for the post-pandemic era.

Pandemics—Shaping Humanity, Our Landscapes, and Future
AECOM
Speaker: Lee Parks, International ASLA (Director, Landscape / Landscape Studio Leader)

Lee Parks, Chair of the ASLA International Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN), kicked off the forum with a personal viewpoint on pandemics. As a frequent speaker on nature conservation, biodiversity loss, and ecological design, he discussed the underlying causes, looking back in history at pandemics that shaped advances in public health, urban healthcare systems, and the provision of public open space.

Continue reading

An Interview with Patrick Barkham, Author of Wild Child: Coming Home to Nature

Patrick Barkham and his family
image: © Marcus Garrett

I recently had the pleasure of having an extensive Zoom interview with Patrick Barkham. He is an award-winning author and natural history writer for The Guardian. Patrick’s books include The Butterfly Isles, Badgerlands, Coastlines, Islander, and Wild Child. He has edited an anthology of British nature writing, The Wild Isles, and is currently writing a biography of nature writer and wild swimmer Roger Deakin. Patrick lives in Norfolk, England, with his family. What follows will be a three-part series of our conversation about Wild Child that, in all actuality, reads more like a story than an interview.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Amy Wagenfeld (AW): Patrick, thanks so much for making time to speak with me today on behalf of the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN). Let’s start with this question. Would you please tell us what your favorite place in nature is and what makes it special?

Patrick Barkham (PB): My favorite place in nature is a beach in Norfolk in England called Wells-Next-the-Sea. It’s a small port on the varied marshy North coast and next to it, about a mile beyond over the marshes is the sea, and I love it because it has an enormous golden sandy beach, and sand dunes and pine woods behind it.

It’s very reminiscent of beaches on the East coast of North America and in its scale, a place where you can go and just find peace and space, both of which are two things at a kind of premium in today’s world. It’s also this vast arena of freedom for children, where they can run free and enjoy themselves. Obviously, it’s a place very rich in nature, but for us humans it’s the blank canvas on which we can play and create. My children love drawing in the sand or building the classic motif castle as the tide comes in over the sand. There’s just no end to things that you can do in this environment by engaging peacefully with it.

Continue reading

Elevating Women in a Male-Dominated Industry in 2021

by Mary Martinich, ASLA, PLA, CDT

image: SeamonWhiteside

Occupational sectors, such as landscape architecture, have been slow to close the gender gap. An estimated 24 percent of project landscape architects are women at present, but the number is steadily increasing—especially after a year that has forced all industries to rethink and reprioritize diversity.

The landscape architecture industry is now at the forefront of adapting and evolving with a renewed passion for building a more diverse workforce that is competitive and economically successful.

I am sharing some of the trends and obstacles guiding this transformation that I am encountering as Charleston Team Leader and Women’s Leadership Initiative Leader of SeamonWhiteside, a landscape architecture and civil engineering firm with offices throughout the Carolinas. The firm has focused its efforts on addressing the needed workforce diversity across the industry based on these trends.

Trend: The Glass Ceiling is Cracking

Females now hold more leadership roles in the industry than before, but few have positions at the highest level. While the change needed is recognized, a prevalent shift will eventually occur as company leadership understands that with diversity comes more talent and more business.

Continue reading

Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Daniel Winterbottom, FASLA

by Shan Jiang, PhD, International ASLA, and Melody Tapia

Children's garden play space
The Seattle Children’s PlayGarden / image: courtesy of Daniel Winterbottom

An Interview with Daniel Winterbottom, RLA, FASLA, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington and Founder of Winterbottom Design Inc., Seattle, WA

The Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is honored to present this interview with Daniel Winterbottom, RLA, FASLA, one of the most respected educators, designers, and influencers in the field of therapeutic gardens and participatory design-build. He has been published widely in Northwest Public Health, Places, the New York Times, Seattle Times, and Landscape Architecture Magazine. He is the author of two books—Wood in the Landscape (2000) and Design-Build (2020)—and he has also co-authored the award-winning book Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces.

When did you start your work in the field of therapeutic landscapes and what inspires you to do this type of work?

I guess what inspired me goes back to 1991, and a little before that. I was a bit challenged, in hindsight, with depression, and did not know it at the time, and, unfortunately, began to self-medicate. To come out of that, I spent a lot of time in nature; it was something that helped me evolve and come back from where I was. But more significant was the diagnosis of my mother with ovarian cancer. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and it was at the time almost identical to Roger’s study (Roger Ulrich, 1986) that we were in the room when she pointed at a tree. She talked a lot about the tree; it was the only tree and was the only piece of nature in the view. I realized that she just clung to it—a totem of reality that you can attach to because the rest of reality was so oppressive. Almost at the same time, I entered into the landscape architecture profession. And because of the social convictions stemming back to the 60s and 70s, it all came together with me that there was an opportunity to explore this area, so I sought out working with marginalized populations.

Continue reading

Buffalo Soldiers on the Southwest Border

by Helen Erickson, ASLA

Camp Naco, 2021 / image: Helen Erickson

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

Camp Naco lies in the valley of the San Pedro River of southeastern Arizona, between the Huachuca Mountains and the Mule Mountains. Set some 300 feet from the wall that now runs along the border between the United States and Mexico, its adobe buildings bring to mind an unsettled decade at the beginning of the twentieth century when Mexican revolutionaries, striking mine workers, lawless bandits, and a World War I intrigue between Germany and Mexico dominated the political landscape. During the greater part of its history, the camp was home to rotating troops from the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Continue reading

What You’ll Learn at SKILL | ED Next Week

Opening keynote graphic
David Rubin, FASLA, and Maura Rockcastle, ASLA, sit down for a fireside chat about how they navigated unchartered waters during the past year as firm owners, and what it means for managing their practices moving forward.

ASLA is excited to host SKILL | ED, a virtual practice management event geared towards our emerging and mid-career professional members. Each day will focus on a different learning studio: business development, proposals, and contracts.

Registration includes:

  • Live access to all three days, June 22-24
  • On-demand access for 60 days following the event
  • 3.0 LA CES-approved PDH
  • Networking activities

Taking place over three afternoons, each day features a one-hour presentation for PDH followed by half-hour sessions on that day’s theme, quick build-your-brand talks, networking opportunities, and ask-me-anything conversations with speakers.

Continue reading

Envisioning Environmental Justice Futures: Highlights from the EJ PPN’s Virtual Workshop

by Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA, and Sarah Kwon, Affil. ASLA

Timeline screenshot
image: EJ PPN Living History Timeline

The Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (EJ PPN) held a virtual workshop in early April, facilitated by co-chairs Michelle Lin-Luse and Sarah Kwon. Our intentions were two-fold:

  1. to raise awareness of the history of the Environmental Justice Movement by lifting up the stories and organizing efforts by Black and brown communities fighting environmental racism, and
  2. create a space for community-building among environmental justice advocates within the landscape architectural community.

A Living History: An Interactive Timeline

After establishing the workshop space with a land acknowledgement, we introduced the participants to the history of the environmental justice movement through the EJ PPN Living History Timeline, an interactive, web-based timeline of the environmental justice movement that links our personal histories to the larger movement. This timeline is built from an open-source online tool designed by the Global Action Project, an organization that uses media-based organizing and popular education to connect personal histories to the larger ebbs and flows of social movements.

The EJ PPN Living History Timeline is an interactive timeline principally organized by key moments of environmental justice movement history, such as the events leading up to the adoption of the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice. Adjoining the EJ movement history is a timeline documenting the chronology of the formation of ASLA’s Environmental Justice PPN, its past programs, and ongoing initiatives to advance environmental justice within the field of landscape architecture.

Continue reading

Tactical Planning as an Approach to Improve Urban Walkability in the Era of COVID-19

by Aynaz Lotfata, PhD

Brooklyn, New York / image: Robinson Greig on Unsplash

Aynaz Lotfata is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban Planning at Chicago State University, Illinois. Her cross-disciplinary research focuses on environmental justice and urban wellbeing. Her studies demonstrate the integration of principles from various disciplines such as urban planning, geospatial sciences, and statistical modeling to address socio-environmental planning problems that are interconnected to landscape architecture and urban design. We are delighted to have Aynaz share her ideas about increasing walkability during the pandemic from an urban planning perspective.
– Sara Hadavi, Associate ASLA, Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) leader and Landscape Architecture Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee member

The way urban planning and design practice responds to urban transformation comes with shifts in focus. Rather than taking the development of cities as the outcome of predefined decisions, the urban change is reflected as a process shaped by a wide variety of uncertainties, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. At the heart of this reflection, planning practice tackles the issue of how to be synchronized with evolutionary dimensions of cities, and how to to strengthen cities’ “adoptable capacity” (Rauws & De Roo, 2016).

Exploring the adoptable capacity of cities leads urban practitioners to value informal responses that influence productions of urban changes and organically proceeding paths of the spatial and functional organization of urban space.

The different forms of urbanisms—tactical urbanism (Lydon and Garcia, 2015), temporary urbanism (Ferreri, 2015; Andres, 2013), chrono-urbanism (15-minutes city; Moreno et al., 2020), do-it-yourself urbanism—are highlighted in the literature as alternative forms of urban space production. Actions are taken in the short-term by people while at the same time the adoption of these actions into the practices of urban design seems to have a key role in these forms of urbanism. These approaches resemble urban acupuncture (Lerner, 2014) where targeted local interventions work in a complementary way to have an overall positive effect. Notably, Colin McFarlane considers both informalities and tactical environments as channels of learning to cope with cities’ complexity and to facilitate their adaptability; and taking them as learning practices, he suggests that they offer a critical opportunity for progressive urbanism.

Continue reading

Gendered Landscapes

by Jessi Barnes, PLA, ASLA

Parking spaces for women
Some jurisdictions have women’s parking in well-lit areas near the entrances to transit or stores. / image: Pascal Terjan from London, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By making women’s safety a priority, we’ll likely make public spaces safer for everyone.

Did you know that Central Park in New York City has just one statue of real, historical women? Guess how many statues of real men are in Central Park: twenty-three. Can you believe that? Moreover, it took until August 2020 to get our single statue celebrating real women’s achievements in one of the most famous public spaces in the country.

This is hardly an anomaly. Think about your own town: how visible are women in the public spaces you frequent? Moreover, how often are you considering women’s specific needs in your designs? Probably not often—possibly not ever. It should come as no surprise then that our built environments favor men over women, and the disparity goes far beyond representation in statuary.

Design shortcomings from male bias have negative impacts on women’s mobility, economic status, and health—all of which increase vulnerability and decrease sustainability and resilience. If we’re interested in creating sustainable, resilient communities, we have to directly address women’s needs.

Continue reading

Skyline Park Threatened Again

Denver's Skyline Park
Skyline Park, HALS CO-1, Denver, Colorado. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Colorado and Denver have a rich history of Modernist architecture and landscape architecture. From large sites such as Herbert Bayer’s Aspen Institute, to the Denver Botanical Gardens designed by Garrett Eckbo, to the Cliff May houses and Googie-style Tom’s Diner, the growing city of Denver in the 60s was home to many modernist masterpieces. One of these was Lawrence Halprin’s Skyline Park, a three-block linear park in the heart of downtown. A significant part of the park was lost to redesign in the early 2000s and now the few Halprin remnants are at risk of being lost. The following is an article written by Annie Levinsky, Executive Director of Historic Denver, about the current status of Skyline Park.
– Ann Mullins, FASLA

Future Uncertain for Remaining Elements of Halprin’s Skyline Park

In 2020, the Department of Parks & Recreation launched a new planning effort to redesign Skyline Park, located between 15th and 18th along Arapahoe in Downtown. The park already has an unfortunate preservation history.

Constructed between 1972 and 1975, this one-acre linear park and plaza was a central feature of the Skyline Urban Renewal District. The park was designed by Lawrence Halprin, who subsequently went on to be one of the most lauded landscape architects of the later 20th century.

Continue reading

Best Management Practices for Highway Roadsides

by Willson S. McBurney, ASLA, PLA

Cars on a highway
image: Sebastian on Unsplash

News from the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AKD40) are hosting a webinar this month that will focus on compost-based best management practices on highway roadsides. Committee member Jack Broadbent with Caltrans and our presenters will discuss how these practices advance roadside revegetation, control erosion, reduce runoff, filter stormwater, and improve stormwater quality. They will also introduce practical tools and innovative methods to enhance water quality and roadside vegetation.

TRB Webinar: Compost It! Environmental Benefits of Compost in Highway Roadsides
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
2:00-3:30 p.m. (Eastern)

This webinar was organized by the TRB Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design with support from the Environmental Analysis and Ecology Committee (AEP70) and the Roadside Maintenance Operations Committee (AKR20).

Continue reading

In the Flow: Loose Parts Play, Take Two

image: Nathalie Aluisi

Having enjoyed collaborating on our first loose parts play post last month, bi-coastal photos continue to be shared within the Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team. As the weather improves and we head swiftly towards summer, here is hoping that we see many more children (and those of us who are still children at heart) having lots of unstructured and creative fun with loose parts play. Enjoy this second photo series and please consider how loose parts play opportunities can be safely programmed into your projects.

Continue reading

LAAB Accreditation Standards: Last Call for Comments on Proposed Revisions

by Kristopher D. Pritchard

ASLA 2020 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Designing a Green New Deal. University of Pennsylvania.

The Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) wants to hear what you think about the proposed revisions to its Accreditation Standards.

At its April 2021 meeting, LAAB approved draft revisions to its Accreditation Standards. Before these revisions are finalized and published, LAAB collects input from its communities of interest and determines if the revisions are adequate or if any additional revisions are needed.

LAAB will review comments and vote on final revisions later this year with an expected publish date of January 2022.

Please submit comments no later than 11:59 p.m. PT on Friday, May 28, 2021 using this form.

Continue reading

Daughters of Zion Cemetery: Grassroots Preservation How-To

by Liz Sargent, FASLA, Edwina St. Rose, and Bernadette Whitsett-Hammond

Photograph of Daughters of Zion Cemetery
Daughters of Zion Cemetery, established in 1873, is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Conditions within the cemetery have been improved dramatically through the efforts of the Preservers of Daughters of Zion Cemetery, a grassroots preservation advocacy group established in 2015. This view shows the recently restored cast iron surround at the grave of Rev. M. T. Lewis (center). / image: Liz Sargent

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

In 1873, the Daughters of Zion Society formed a charitable organization to establish a burial place for African Americans in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, as an alternative to the segregated municipal option at Oakwood Cemetery. Although the exact number is not known, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys revealed as many as 600 burials at Daughters of Zion Cemetery. With many of the founding members having passed, the Society was dissolved in 1933 and the cemetery began to fall into disrepair. Although family members often cared for individual graves or plots, there was no one responsible for maintaining the cemetery. It became overgrown and subject to vandalism.

With proprietorship of the property in question, the City of Charlottesville assumed ownership of the property through eminent domain in the 1970s. Despite this change and a subsequent listing of the property in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, the condition of the cemetery continued to decline. In 2015, a group of local pastors, led by Rev. Dr. Lehman Bates, II of Ebenezer Baptist Church, appealed to the local community to devise a plan to improve the condition of the cemetery and address long-term care. Tours to the grounds conducted by descendants, pastors, city representatives, and preservationists revealed evidence of vandalism, hazardous trees, erosion, fallen and broken headstones, plot surrounds with missing elements, and no signage to identify the cemetery by name.

Within a few short months of the tours, Edwina St. Rose and Bernadette Whitsett-Hammond, who have family buried at the cemetery, and Maxine Holland formed the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery (Preservers) to address the needs associated with the cemetery. At the time, St. Rose served on the City of Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee, a volunteer group that met regularly with city officials to consider historic preservation opportunities. Charlene Green, then Charlottesville Director of the Office of Human Rights, also brought concerns regarding the Daughters of Zion Cemetery to the attention of the Historic Resources Committee. Members of the committee, which included Liz Sargent, FASLA, vowed to assist in raising awareness and support preservation initiatives. In speaking to St. Rose about her work on the project, Sargent learned that the city would likely fund repairs if provided with an appropriate plan and cost estimate for the work based on discussions about the most pressing needs for the cemetery. Sargent offered to prepare a Preservation Strategies Plan with cost estimates for the group to present to Charlottesville City Council. With the blueprint in hand, the Preservers successfully lobbied City Council for their plan and were allocated $80,000 to complete several preservation initiatives. In just a few short years, the Preservers, with the assistance of several other dedicated volunteers, have accomplished nearly all of their restoration goals. Their work and creative advocacy strategies suggest a model for other grassroots preservation efforts on raising the awareness, funds, and interest necessary to achieve a vision or set of goals.

Continue reading

The Colorado Water Plan: Tips and Tools for Landscape Architects

by John Berggren and Glen Dake, FASLA

Colorado landscape photograph
2018 ASLA Professional Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning. A Colorado Legacy: I-25 Conservation Corridor Master Plan. Douglas County, CO. Design Workshop – Aspen. / image: John Fielder

Water conservation was a primary component of Colorado’s first-ever state water plan in 2015, and it stands to be even more important as the state prepares its second iteration of the plan later this year. Landscape architects and allied professions have a key role in matching water use to available supplies, especially given the impacts of climate change and recent droughts.

In the 2015 Colorado Water Plan (CWP) the state set an objective that “75 percent of Coloradoans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning” by 2025, but it has been up to local counties, cities, and towns to determine which water-saving actions can be integrated in their development process. Landscape architects can help to develop and design water conservation strategies and now is the time to steer the CWP update in that positive direction.

Continue reading

Eat – Plant – Drawdown: Why Designing for Climate Matters

by April Philips, FASLA

VF Outdoor Headquarters in Alameda, CA is LEED Platinum, 100% off the energy grid, and a certified Bay-Friendly Landscape. / images: April Philips Design Works, Inc.

Landscape architects must look at the hidden connections between climate adaptation, urban agriculture, food waste, community equity, and public health. By applying systems thinking that integrates climate adaptation and carbon drawdown strategies with foodshed planning, the industry can advance innovative solutions to address these critical issues facing our urban communities.

There is a distinct advantage for designers and planners in gaining a deeper understanding of how climate positive solutions build greater community resiliency, why systems thinking is key to solving the climate crisis, and why addressing the food landscape matters in shaping a more equitable and healthier, more nourished world.

The Intersection of Food + Climate + Resilient Communities

Food and climate are intricately entwined, and human health—the health of you and everyone you know and everyone on this planet—is impacted by this intricate dance. Every single person on the planet needs to eat to live, to nourish our bodies, to grow. We all are affected by the climate we live in. Our food is affected by the climate it grows in. Food becomes the platform from which we can connect with both each other and the land. How might we commit to nourishing both?

Continue reading

SKILL | ED: Education to Build Your Practice

 

SKILL | ED virtual practice management program graphic

ASLA SKILL | ED
June 22-24, 2021
Introducing a New Virtual Learning Opportunity to Build Your Business Skills and Enhance Your Earning Power

Register now for three afternoons of intensive, effective learning during ASLA’s new virtual SKILL | ED program. This first-of-its-kind practice management event is designed to designed to empower landscape architecture professionals as their job responsibilities grow. Join us to build your business skill base and power up your career growth. You’ll learn about business development, proposal writing, and professional contracts—the business skills landscape architects use in their practice every day.

This innovative learning experience will provide the tools you need to add value to your firm and develop time-tested business development skills which can be used throughout your career.

To take advantage of ASLA membership discounts, use your member log in and password when you register.

Continue reading

The [Landscape] Architecture of Change in Emerging Markets

by Brandon S. Peters, ASLA

Rwanda photo
Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills. / image: Brandon S. Peters, ASLA

How can we make the most impact as landscape architects or designers in emerging markets? It is a question that I have been asking myself over the past 10 years as I lived and worked in China and Rwanda.

The definition of an emerging market is a developing nation that is becoming more engaged with global markets as it grows but is still developing from a low income, less developed, often pre-industrial economy. One of the common misconceptions of emerging markets is that they are the “rise of the rest” where in actuality they are the “rise of the most” as their population and land mass dwarfs the world’s most developed nations. The emerging world is coming and we all as stewards of the planet and as landscape architects should be active in it: investing in it, physically being in it, and embracing it.

Continue reading

Earn PDH with ASLA’s Resilience-Focused Case Studies

Collage of case study photos
Images: from ASLA’s Smart Policies for a Changing Climate online exhibition

Earlier this year, 10 new projects were added to ASLA’s Smart Policies for a Changing Climate online exhibition, bringing the total to 30 projects featured as case studies that demonstrate how landscape architects are designing smart solutions to climate impacts, such as flooding, extreme heat, drought, and sea level rise.

Now, there are two ways to earn Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development through these case studies:

Continue reading

The EcoCommons at the Georgia Institute of Technology

by Christopher Streb, PE

Hammocks at the EcoCommons
image: Jeremiah Young

Since the late 2000s, a landscape transformation has been underway in Midtown Atlanta that aims to restore nature and her benefits within the city. On the west side of I-75, the Georgia Institute of Technology has been implementing a core component of a vision established in its 2004 Campus Master Plan: an 80-acre green corridor called the EcoCommons. While the pandemic quieted student life through the better part of the last year, the University forged ahead in its realization of the EcoCommons on 7 acres of land adjacent to the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. Recently completed, the landscape aims to provide a setting for learning, examination, and reflection, while becoming a model of ecological regeneration in an urban setting.

The vision for the EcoCommons is to restore a native Piedmont ecosystem, integrating smart technology to monitor this ecologically performing landscape, and serve as a living laboratory. A historical examination of the site revealed important insights that informed the design and further contextualized the objectives. From the 1930s to 2019, before becoming the EcoCommons, the land was ecologically unproductive, consisting of surface parking spaces and one-story buildings. However, beneath the contemporary veneer lay important stories that reflect both historical events and perspective.

Continue reading

Career Discovery Outreach in Landscape Architecture Through Community Service

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

Schoolyard redesigned with student input
image: Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

For more about ASLA’s career discovery initiatives, please visit asla.org/become.aspx and explore the ASLA Career Discovery and Diversity and Tools for PreK-12 Teachers webpages.

In this COVID era, new challenges require new solutions. There are many questions that cannot be answered yet but new design issues will arise on how human activities and gatherings will be affected because of the pandemic. In schools, we used to think that the ideal spaces for instruction were the classrooms, where sometimes there is no cross-ventilation and the air quality can jeopardize the health and safety of the users. However, in the same way restaurants that used to have only dine-ins are now offering drive-thrus, schools might be forced to use their outdoor spaces as outdoor classrooms. This will present a real design issue for architects and landscape architects and will bring us an opportunity for the community to see and appreciate the work we do.

So, if the future trend will be to use outdoor spaces as a classroom, let me share an example of an outdoor classroom designed and done by students.

While working with a non-profit organization that used architecture and the built environment to implement K-12 learning experiences, I had the opportunity to serve as an Architect-Educator in an elementary school in Staten Island, New York. As a former New York City art teacher, I immediately connected with the art teacher of the school. While working together and sharing that I also had a degree in landscape architecture, she asked me if I was able to help her restore the schoolyard that really had not been cared for. After I finished working with the groups to which I had been assigned, I volunteered my time to help her restore the school garden.

Continue reading

Poetry and Song in the Landscape

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Black and white photograph with perspective view of house
Anne Spencer House, HABS VA-1173-A-1. Perspective view, showing garden in background. Anne Spencer House Study. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

Two entries from the 2013 HALS Challenge, Documenting the Cultural Landscapes of Women, provide inspiration for the 2021 HAS Challenge, Historic Black Landscapes. These historic sites commemorate two significant Americans, both Black women and artists.

The first example, the Anne Spencer Garden, HALS VA-59, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was documented in 2013 by Elizabeth Blye Delaney, RLA, ASLA, and Ted Delaney, Assistant Director of Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg.

From the HALS Report:

This landscape is significant because it was created by an African American woman, Anne Spencer (1882–1975), who was a distinguished poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Spencer was a librarian and educator in the segregated school system of Lynchburg, Virginia, a co-founder in 1919 of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights activist, and a gardener.

Continue reading