Get a Seat at the Table: Landscape Architects Needed for Federal Positions

ASLA 2017 Student Collaboration Honor Award. The White House Kitchen Garden, Washington, DC. University of Virginia / image: UVA School of Architecture / Mary McCall, Associate ASLA

The White House recently launched a website inviting the American public to apply for political appointment positions, and ASLA encourages its members who want to make a difference and want a seat at the table to use the White House “get involved” portal to apply for opportunities including full-time policy positions and volunteer advisory boards and committees.

Every four years, after each presidential election, about 9,000 federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government become available. These positions, commonly known as political appointments or “plum” positions (named after the color of the original publication listing these positions, The Plum Book), must be filled by the incoming president and are subject to noncompetitive appointment.

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Landscape Architects United for Climate Action

Climate Positive Design is a research initiative that launched in 2019 to improve the carbon impact of the built environment through collective action. Its mission is to help projects become Climate Positive solutions that sequester more carbon than they emit.
ASLA 2020 Professional Research Honor Award. Climate Positive Design. Pamela Conrad, ASLA / image: CMG Landscape Architecture

With the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) taking place October 31 – November 12, 2021, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) continues to advance climate action.

Earlier this month, ASLA joined with Architecture 2030 to call for all sovereign governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2040, which would accelerate the current timeline to achieve emission reductions outlined in the Paris Climate Accord by a decade. The 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué, which will be issued to world leaders at the UN climate conference.

ASLA also ratified the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Commitment, joining a global coalition of 70,000 landscape architects in 77 countries in committing to limiting planetary warming to 1.5°C (2.7 °F). This is the largest coalition of landscape architecture professionals ever assembled to advance climate action.

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Healthcare & Therapeutic Gardens Interview Series: Dr. Garuth Chalfont

by Afrouz Rahmati, Assoc. ASLA

images: courtesy of Dr. Garuth Chalfont

The Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is pleased to share a new installment in their ongoing Healthcare & Therapeutic Gardens Interview Series: a conversation with Dr. Garuth Chalfont.

Dr. Chalfont is a leading practitioner in the art and science of healing gardens, therapeutic spaces, and dementia gardens that incorporate the natural world into the healing process. He designs and builds engaging outdoor spaces in dementia care environments and leads hands-on training workshops to facilitate their active and enjoyable use by residents, staff, and families. In his research, he explores the benefits of the natural world for holistic health (mind, body, and soul), in particular how nature contributes to prevention of (and healing from) dementia.

What inspires you to do work in the therapeutic landscape?

When I first got into it, I felt that the healing qualities of nature were hugely undervalued and underused in landscape architecture and garden design. The emphasis was on visual qualities rather than a person’s lived experience of spending time outdoors and actually using the space. In care environments, that was predominantly the case. Over the years, I have witnessed and experienced positive changes in the mental and emotional health of a wide range of people through engagement with nature and the outdoors. There is an ethical imperative, that people have a birth-right to receive healing from nature and not be deprived of it.

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Let’s Design Shared Spaces Together

Nashville’s Cumberland Park / image: Laura Schroeder Photoqraphy

Cades Cove, Natchez Trace State Park, and Percy Priest Lake are just a couple of Tennessee’s most popular campgrounds, in this state with an abundance of sites for outdoor adventures. But coming soon, on November 20 and 21 only, there’ll be a new gathering spot in Nashville for landscape architects and landscape architecture enthusiasts: ASLA’s Practice Basecamp. Located on the EXPO floor, this will be the place to be, rain or shine, the weekend of the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, taking place live and in-person November 19-22, 2021.

Register by this Thursday, October 14, and save $130.

Practice Basecamp will be the EXPO’s hub for a range of practice-focused programming, including:

  • Engaging campfire sessions organized by ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)
  • Continue the Conversation with select education session presenters
  • Fast-paced Game Changer presentations
  • Presentations from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS)

Many of these sessions are designed to be opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees. The Professional Practice Network (PPN)-organized campfire sessions, for instance, will be conversation-focused, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. And perhaps best of all: no has to remember to unmute in order to participate.

The advanced rate registration deadline for the conference is October 14, 2021—don’t miss it!

Tools for Equitable Park Planning and Design: Digital Workflows to Enhance Park Access and Quality

by Matthew Wilkins, PLA, ASLA, APA

Rio Hondo Park Concept
Rio Hondo Park Concept / image: KTUA Landscape Architecture and Planning

This last year has provided an awakening on issues of equality and our environment. One issue in particular that impacts communities nationwide and can be enhanced by landscape architects, is the ease of access and quality of parks. This topic of access to quality parks and open space has been given emphasis throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as parks and open space became vital places to work, live, learn, heal, and seek refuge. Coupled with looming environmental challenges and the ability for parks and open space to help protect and mitigate these impacts, there has never been a better time to focus our attention on the topic of creating healthy and equitable parks. This is our call to action.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, communities of color and those in stressed socio-economic areas have suffered from the inability to social distance and recreate in a safe and therapeutic environment. This adversity has compounded existing health issues impacting these communities, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity which are intertwined among various other environmental health hazards and conditions. Many of these communities are also at higher risk of adverse environmental impacts and are typically at a higher risk of displacement or damage due to extreme weather events. Considering the current impacts of COVID and future challenges they face from changing environmental conditions, one thing is evident, that immediate attention is needed to address our equity and abundance of parks and open space for the health, safety, and wellbeing of our communities across America.

Though parks and open space may seem like a low priority in budgeting for cities and agencies, it’s time for a paradigm shift to seeing these resources as significant or equal to vital social and healthcare services, as these spaces help to bring communities together and allow for therapeutic opportunities to increase health and physical enjoyment and to connect people with nature. Furthermore, park and open space areas serve as vital green infrastructure for communities facing intensified challenges due to climate change, because they serve as critical space to combat and lower the impacts of potential storms and natural disasters.

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Indian Mounds: A Sacred Burial Place

by Brenda Williams, FASLA

Indian Mounds: a sacred burial place
The cemetery is sacred to living Dakota people whose ancestors are buried here. / image: Quinn Evans

The American Society of Landscape Architects recently announced the 2021 ASLA Professional and Student Awards, including the project highlighted here: Indian Mounds Cultural Landscape Study and Messaging Plan, winner of a 2021 Professional Honor Award in the Analysis and Planning Category.

THIS PLACE IS NOT A PARK

The Indigenous burial ground that is currently called “Indian Mounds Regional Park” has been a sacred burial ground for over a thousand years. It is significant to living Indigenous Peoples as a cemetery where their ancestors are buried. It is a place of reverence, remembrance, respect, and prayer. When the City of Saint Paul established a park in this location in 1892 with the purpose of protecting the historical setting and spectacular views, connections of contemporaneous Indigenous Peoples to the sacred site were not understood, considered, or valued.

Over the last century the condition, name, and use of the landscape as a park have become beloved to the surrounding community. Yet many non-Indigenous people have wondered about this powerful landscape without understanding its importance to tribes. Through public gatherings with generous sharing by tribal representatives and members of the public, we learned that the power of this place affects the people who interact with it, and there is a strong desire to protect it as a sacred site.

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Decolonizing Landscape Architecture Education, Part 2

by Jeffrey Hou, Ph.D., ASLA, and Mallika Bose, Ph.D.

Photo of participants in the Redesigning the Design School Initiative
The ReDesigning the Design School initiative at the Arizona State University / image: courtesy of the Design School at Arizona State University

The following is the second installment in a summary of a recent panel on decolonizing design education that took place at the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA)‘s 2021 conference (click here for Part 1). In order to address systemic racism and biases within institutions that teach landscape architecture, we must confront the way our profession approaches the teaching and production of knowledge within landscape architecture that replicates racist and oppressive processes, policies, and outcomes in communities of color.
– ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network Leadership Team

Part 2: Cultural and Institutional Transformations

Cultural and institutional transformations were the focus of the second panel which began by discussing initiatives that have been underway at several institutions, the processes by which these changes are being implemented, challenges faced, and stories of success. The panel also discussed the role of institutions of higher learning in society and the actions that could be taken within these institutions to build bridges and connections with civil society to reimagine and work towards creating a just and equitable future for all.

Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, from Arizona State University began with a discussion of the ReDesigning the Design School initiative at ASU, started in 2019. The initiative involved listening to hundreds of voices from industry, alumni, students, staff, and faculty over hundreds of hours of meetings, and hundreds of pages of reports, over the course of two years. Cheng served on the Executive Committee for the ReDesign Committee, which identified six strategic goals:

  • build a truly accessible design school,
  • teach designers to be human-centered,
  • reinvent the relationship between community and design school,
  • decolonize design education,
  • open up silos, and
  • make design central.

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Decolonizing Landscape Architecture Education

by Jeffrey Hou, Ph.D., ASLA, and Mallika Bose, Ph.D.

Decolonizing Landscape Architecture Education panel session at CELA 2021
The first panel featured Alison Hirsch (University of Southern California), David de la Peña (University of California, Davis), Joern Langhorst (University of Colorado, Denver), and Deni Ruggeri (Norwegian University of Life Sciences), moderated by Jeffrey Hou (University of Washington, Seattle). / image: Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

The following two-part series is a summary of a recent panel on decolonizing design education that took place at the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA)‘s 2021 conference. In order to address systemic racism and biases within institutions that teach landscape architecture, we must confront the way our profession approaches the teaching and production of knowledge within landscape architecture that replicates racist and oppressive processes, policies, and outcomes in communities of color.
– ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network Leadership Team

Part 1: Curricular and Pedagogical Transformation

With the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, calls to dismantle longstanding barriers and biases in society have been permeating through our political, social, and economic systems, including design education. Amid the recent calls for change, “decolonizing design” has become a rallying cry among many students and faculty in disciplines ranging from architecture to art and design (see, for example, “Architecture’s Colonial Reckoning” from The Architect’s Newspaper and “What Does It Mean to Decolonize Design?” from AIGA Eye on Design).

But what does decolonizing mean in design? For landscape architecture, what does it mean to decolonize our educational practices? What changes are necessary to transform the power structure that produces and sustains the inequity in society through design? What are the challenges and barriers? What actions and initiatives already exist?

These questions were at the center of a two-part, main-stage panel discussion at the annual conference of the Council of Educators for Landscape Architecture (CELA), held online in March 2021. The first session focused on issues related to curriculum and pedagogy, featuring David de la Peña, University of California, Davis; Alison Hirsch, ASLA, University of Southern California; Joern Langhorst, University of Colorado, Denver; and Deni Ruggeri, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. The second session addressed cultural and institutional transformation, featuring Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, Arizona State University; Michael Rios, University of California, Davis; and Julie Stevens, Iowa State University. We served respectively as the moderators for the two panels.

The speakers were invited to speak about their involvement with related initiatives either at the program, department, college, or university level. In Session 1, Alison Hirsch has been working with a network of colleagues in North America to rethink the history curriculum in landscape architecture. In his recent role as program director, David de la Peña has been working with his colleagues and students in reassessing the program curriculum at UC Davis. At UC Denver, Joern Langhorst has focused on transdisciplinary opportunities at the college level. As the lead for the Landscape Education for Democracy (LED) initiative, Deni Ruggeri has developed an online, collaborative, multinational program to complement existing programs and curricula focusing on landscape democracy and participatory action research. (The work of those in the second panel will be introduced in Part 2 of this summary.)

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Shifting Toward Climate Positive Outcomes with the New SITES Carbon Pilot Credit

by Danielle Pieranunzi

U.S. Land Port of Entry at Columbus, NM / image: Robert Reck

The first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as “code red for humanity,” was released on August 9, 2021. For those of us invested in sustainability and climate mitigation, the results were sobering but unsurprising: We’re on track to exceed 1.5 degrees C of warming in the next two decades, and every fraction of a degree of warming leads to more dangerous and costly impacts for the planet. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C by the end of the century is still within reach, but requires holistic, transformational change. It requires universal adoption of sustainability guidelines, including broad support for sustainable landscapes, which provide the unique opportunity to not only reduce carbon emissions but to protect and even create carbon sinks. To support these goals, GBCI recently released a SITES Pilot Credit focused on assessing and improving site carbon performance.

The intent of the new SITES Pilot Credit is to understand and improve a site’s carbon performance by assessing and increasing carbon sequestration capacity and reducing embodied and operational carbon emissions. / The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

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Be Part of the Solution: Register for the 10th Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

Purdue University’s entry, A Visible Solution, earned honorable mention for design beauty and elegance in the demonstration project category of the 2020 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: Purdue University Design Board

Registration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s 10th annual Campus RainWorks Challenge is open through October 1, 2021.

Campus RainWorks is a green infrastructure design competition for American colleges and universities that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

Stormwater pollution is a problem that impacts public health and water quality in communities across the country. The Campus RainWorks Challenge invites students to become part of the solution.

To learn more, check out the official Campus RainWorks Challenge Competition Brief, with details on design categories, submission requirements, and rules for participation.

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Here are the ASLA 2021 Game Changer Contenders

Game Changers voting

The ASLA 2021 Game Changer contenders have been announced! Head over to @nationalasla on Instagram to watch all the videos and vote, either through ASLA’s Game Changers Instagram story or as a comment on the two Game Changer posts: videos #1-9 here and videos #10-15 here.

Help us choose the finalists who will present their big idea at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture this November in Nashville.

Cast your vote for your favorite submissions today, then stay tuned to see who will meet us in Music City.

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Park(ing) Day & Environmental Justice

by the Environmental Justice PPN Leadership Team

Community League of the Heights (CLOTH)’s Open Street in New York City / image: Gloria Lau, ASLA

With Park(ing) Day—this Friday, September 17, 2021—just days away, leaders from ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) have shared their experiences with Park(ing) Day, how they have highlighted environmental justice issues through their parklet designs, and their thoughts on Park(ing) Day as a platform to address environmental justice.

Chingwen Cheng, ASLA
PPN Officer and Past Co-Chair
Program Head and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture + Urban Design + Environmental Design, The Design School, Arizona State University

Park(ing) Day started by responding to a lack of people-centered urban design and automobile-driven urban development. Transforming a parking space to a park space is a statement to advocate for inclusive and people-centered design. Many neighborhoods in Phoenix have experienced inequitable distribution of open space and urban tree canopy, resulting in vulnerable conditions under extreme heat and divergent health outcomes. Park(ing) Day provides a space and time for landscape architecture professionals and educators to get together and advocate for creating quality environments for all.

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Competition / Collaboration: What a Design Challenge Taught Us During a Year Online

by Cullen Meves, ASLA

Topography and Temporality / image: Ke-Ping Kuo, Student Affil. ASLA, Northeastern University

As college students are returning to class this Fall, either online, remote, or hybrid, this post reflects on the extraordinary year just completed and the advances in digital technology evolving simultaneously in our socially-distanced current scenario. The 2020-2021 university school-year saw an immense shift in academic practice and online curriculum. Every professor, faculty member, and student experienced a barrage of new online technologies, teaching and collaboration strategies, and a fundamentally changed appreciation for the vast array of digital tools available.

Over the course of the Spring 2021 semester, five universities engaged in the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, spearheaded by ReMain Nantucket and adapting educational models developed at University of Florida. The Challenge called on interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from leading design universities to reimagine Nantucket Harbor under the latest projections of sea level rise. Teams were asked to create visually impactful designs and propose adaptations and innovations that would enable coastal communities to imagine what Nantucket’s future under sea level rise and climate impacts may look like.

The teams worked with 24 local and regional advisors as well as residents of Nantucket for context and inspiration, all from remote locations geographically dispersed across the United States and for the most part connecting only via online meetings during the semester-long Challenge. Digital communication and representational tools took center-stage over the course of this Challenge and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses these tools offer in this new era of online design.

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STEM, à la Landscape Architecture

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

Planting seedlings
image: Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

To learn more about career discovery, register now for Dream Big with Design later this month, ASLA’s inaugural virtual showcase of landscape architecture and PreK-12 design learning, with fun sessions and resources for students, as well as for PreK-12 educators, ASLA members, and other design professionals seeking to introduce students to the profession. There’s also a pre-Dream Big webinar happening on Friday, September 17—Hollywood’s Backlot Urbanism: A Cinematographic Pattern Language for Landscape Architecture, presented by Chip Sullivan, FASLA.

From June 28 to August 6, 2021, I had the opportunity to be an instructor in a summer program at elementary schools in Henrico County and Richmond, Virginia. Even though my priority at the time was working on my book, I accepted the challenge as a way to test how lessons on landscape architecture concepts can be integrated when implementing STEM activities.

I used lessons that I created and taught during my career as an educator for over 30 years at New York City public schools, but now with an added STEM approach. Although I knew that I was going to integrate concepts from landscape architecture and 3D design, I decided not to include the phrase “landscape architecture” in the program title because it can sound like complex and intimidating work for elementary school children. For this reason, I selected lessons that would help students develop design skills about the outdoor and built environment using the word “environment” as a more inclusive term, because I wanted to be perceived just as the “STEM teacher.”

But what is STEM? Many people know it as the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; however, I agree with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)’s description of it as “an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real world lessons as students apply these disciplines in contexts that make connections between school, community, work and the global enterprise enabling students to compete in the new economy.” Therefore, I used this definition as a guide when designing each lesson for this summer program.

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Virtual Community Outreach Meetings May Be Here to Stay

by Kalle Maggio, ASLA, David Barth, PhD, ASLA, Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, and Lauren Schmitt, ASLA

Woman using a laptop and smartphone
image: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Over the past year and a half, and as we all continue to be affected by the pandemic, many industries, including the design professions and public practice, shifted from in-person community meetings to the plethora of virtual platforms available for community outreach initiatives. The ASLA Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team decided to conduct a survey that asked landscape architects to describe their experience facilitating virtual community outreach.

The majority of those who provided feedback through this survey used computers and phones for these meetings, and the virtual meeting platforms that were used the most were Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Zoom was the most utilized and described as intuitive, recognizable, and yielded higher participation rates than other platforms. Microsoft Teams has the upper hand for its scheduling capabilities and links with the Microsoft Outlook email platform.

However, there are those who stated that community meetings all have different requirements and engagement should be customized to meet the community’s needs on a case-by-case basis.

The consensus is that though in-person meetings cannot be replaced completely, there is a growing acceptance of virtual meetings due to their convenience and efficiency. People are able to join virtual meetings for the arranged time slot rather than having to spend time traveling to and from a physical meeting site. Some survey participants stated that it allows meeting facilitators to maintain better order, which is necessary for any productive meeting. There is also the ability to record meetings, which provides better review and documentation. Overall, the pandemic has made an impact on the way we continue to conduct business and interact with one another both physically and virtually.

Survey Findings Snapshot

The online survey garnered 61 responses, representing practitioners in private consulting practice (60%) and public agency practice (30%), with other respondents representing students, academic institutions, and non-profits.

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Creating a Space to Reflect, Heal, and Remember

by Valerie Bassett, ASLA

Park visitors using musical instruments
image: Valerie Bassett

The Quinterra Legacy Garden

Seven years after five university students were killed at a house party in Calgary, Alberta, a memorial park designed to honor them opened recently in the local South Glenmore Park. The design of the area, now known as the Quinterra Legacy Garden, was informed by sensitivities surrounding the planning process and shaped by the steps taken to support the families’ design vision for the creation of the park.

The tragedy happened in April 2014 on “Bermuda Shorts Day,” a time which used to be a celebration of the end of the university school year. After several years of mourning, in 2019, we were contacted by the Quinterra Group, set up by family and friends of those lost, to meet with them to understand their aspirations.

In short, the Group’s vision was for a peaceful, contemplative, and vibrant outdoor community space for people to be inspired, to heal, and to connect with nature. They also wanted it to be a special place to celebrate the students’ lives and bring a positive light to the tragedy. With each of the students being known for their love of music, art, and the community, this had to be at the core of the legacy garden.

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Time to Change the Game

Call for Game Changer presentations graphic
The call for presentations is now open for these fast-paced, innovative talks at the 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. Submit by September 9.

Do you have an idea that will change the field of landscape architecture? Here’s your opportunity to share it at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture.

We’re seeking presentations for game-changing ideas that can move a profession forward—ideas from different perspectives, voices, and backgrounds. Those big ideas could come from you. You don’t need to present on-the-boards projects—just your big idea!

Game Changer sessions are designed to be fast-paced, innovative talks. Presenters will have just seven minutes to share your game changing idea.

The deadline for presentation proposals is noon PT on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

No matter your speaking experience, this is a great opportunity to share ideas and concepts under development that will drive innovation. Submissions from first-time presenters, students, emerging professionals, and allied professionals are strongly encouraged.

What you need to enter:

  • Your information: Tell us about yourself.
  • Short description: Pitch this presentation in two sentences. How will your idea change the field?
  • Video: Submit a short (one-minute), cell phone-quality video describing your Game Changer session. No fancy production required. Most importantly, have fun with it! The video must be under one-minute to be eligible.

Eligibility and registration:

  • Landscape architecture professionals (graduates of a landscape architecture program recognized by ASLA) and landscape architecture students wishing to present at the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture must be active members of ASLA.
  • Selected Game Changer presenters will receive 30% off a full registration to the 2021 Conference.
  • Allied professionals are encouraged to both submit and speak, but they are not required to be members of ASLA.

To help you get started, the ASLA Professional Practice Networks leadership teams have created a list of inspirational game changer topics that you might consider exploring.

Campus Planning & Design

  • What’s one silver lining from COVID that has changed how campus open spaces are used—and is it here to stay? COVID has changed how open spaces are planned and used. What will future open spaces look like?

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What is the Post-Pandemic Future of Transit in the U.S.?

by Sean Batty, ASLA

A busy street in Portland, Oregon with pedestrians, buses, and trams
image: Sean Batty

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on U.S. transportation. Remote work and unemployment dramatically reduced commuting trips for all transportation modes. Significant declines in transit ridership across the country has been the subject of many headlines. As vaccination rates increase and businesses (hopefully) re-open, what does the future hold for public transit?

U.S. transportation systems, including transit, are designed around the home-to-work commute. This is true despite that fact that most trips do not originate from a home and end at work. Travel to work trips are more likely to occur during “peak demand” or rush hour. The rise in telecommuting has made these early morning/late afternoon trips susceptible to long term (and possibly permanent) decline.

Mass vaccinations and declines in infection rates have eased travel restrictions and social distancing mandates in many states. As a result, travel demand has rebounded to near post-COVID levels relatively quickly. Experts are predicting that this trend will continue after the pandemic is truly over, unless the shift toward telecommuting persists.

In 2018, the percentage of workers telecommuting was around 6% nationally, or triple the rate of telecommuting in the 1980s. Technological advances since the 1980s have made telecommuting possible even if not all were on-board with the practice. Companies reluctant to allow telecommuting pre-COVID suddenly were forced to allow staff to work from home. The extended duration of the pandemic habituated remote work for many. This, combined with advancements in teleworking technologies, potential benefits to the corporate bottom line, and increased employee satisfaction and retention, has caused some experts to predict a more significant and lasting adoption of telework. The result may be a ‘flattening of the peak’ volume during historically traditional rush hours. [See “A Little More Remote Work Could Change Rush Hour A Lot,” by Emily Badger for The New York Times.]

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Community Scale Wildfire Mitigation for Paradise, California

by Jonah Susskind, ASLA

Officials conduct a prescribed burn in Sonoma County, California. / image: Jonah Susskind

On November 8, 2018, the town of Paradise, California, was destroyed in a matter of hours as the Camp Fire tore through the region, making history as the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire event ever recorded. Over the past 50 years, California and much of the Western United States and Canada have experienced a dramatic increase in catastrophic wildfires.

Today, the average fire season in these areas is two and a half times longer than it was in 1970. In California, six of the state’s 20 most destructive wildfires have burned in 2020 alone, with associated costs projected to eclipse 20 billion dollars. Experts caution that due to climate change, we have entered a new era of perennial megafires that will only become more destructive and costly in the coming decades. In California, these impending challenges have been magnified by the rapid proliferation of new housing along the outermost edges of metropolitan regions. These areas, known as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), represent the fastest growing land use category in the United States, and are currently home to more than 11 million Californians (about a quarter of the state’s total population).

In Paradise and other WUI communities, these parallel risk factors—climate change and increased rural development—have been compounded by the state’s strict enforcement of federal fire suppression policies, aimed at eliminating wildfire from the landscape altogether. While these policies have been relatively effective at minimizing the impacts of wildfire throughout the past century, they have inadvertently created an increasingly hazardous oversupply of fuel in today’s forests. As a result, wildfires are becoming larger and more destructive than ever before, triggering a cascade of challenges related to firefighting operations and urban planning.

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Sustainability, Urban Resilience, and False Resilience

by Dr. Carl A. Smith, Int. ASLA

The Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, AR, is a cherished community resource that provides aesthetic delight and an introduction to native plants. However, much of the site is vulnerable to floods of increasing severity and frequency, and the garden relies on the energy and dedication of its volunteer staff to rebuild after storm events. In a sense, the garden is resilient, so long as this support culture is in place so that it can rebuild and continue. However, interest in a more authentically resilient approach has led the garden to discuss the creation of floodable gardens. This opens up a conversation related to aesthetics and ecological performance of the site, and also to its place within an urban watershed affected by development and climate change. / image: courtesy of the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks

Despite a rich, broad, and mature literature that has emerged over the past few decades, the concepts of sustainability and resilience are still sometimes used interchangeably. Even among experts the terms are considered somewhat difficult and lack generally agreed-upon definitions. Here, I provide some thoughts on workable definitions, and a sense of how the concepts of sustainability and resilience—specifically in an urban context—resonate but might also differ.

I have just attended (and presented at) the Cities in a Changing World: Questions of Culture, Climate and Design conference, hosted by the New York City College of Technology (City Tech), CUNY. The event featured many international presentations relating to urban sustainability and/or resilience within the context of an emerging era of post-COVID green recovery. Although there were very few landscape architects in attendance, I believe our community could have much to offer, as our cities move towards less carbon-dependent and more socially equitable futures. Therefore, a further consideration of nomenclature around key terms of sustainability and resilience—building on Sustainability vs. Resiliency: Designing for a Trajectory of Change, a Field post by Keith Bowers, FASLA, from 2018—is timely.

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2021 SCUP Winner in Focus: Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Spirit Bridge

by Laura Tenny, ASLA

FDU Spirit Bridge / image: Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affil. ASLA

Congratulations to this year’s SCUP 2021 Excellence in Landscape Architecture winners! This national award is given annually by the Society for College and University Planning to recognize outstanding campus design and planning projects. ASLA’s Campus Planning and Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) celebrates our colleagues who are working in the higher education environment.

This year’s Landscape Architecture winners are:

Jury’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Integrated Planning and Design
Wellesley College
1998 Wellesley College Master Plan and Implemented Projects
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects (MSME); Elizabeth Meyer; Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, Inc.; H Plus Incorporated

Excellence in Landscape for General Design
Fairleigh Dickinson University
FDU Spirit Bridge
Viridian Landscape Studio; BEAM Ltd.; Maser Consulting; ICI Consultants, Inc.; Roofmeadow; Bruce Brooks Associates; Big R Bridge

Excellence in Landscape for Open Space Planning
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Tech Infinite Loop and Green Links
Sasaki; HG Design Studio; Accessibility Consultants, Inc.
[See the Campus Planning and Design PPN’s summer 2019 newsletter for a member spotlight of Jack Rosenberger, ASLA, Campus Landscape Architect at Virginia Tech.]

We wanted to dig a little deeper into these fantastic campus projects, so for this Field post, we (virtually) sat down with principal Tavis Dockwiller, ASLA, and project manager Victor Trujillo of Viridian Landscape Studio of Philadelphia, PA, to learn more about their FDU Spirit Bridge project.

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Public Space in Flux: Shaping the Built Environment of the Future

Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, TX, on April, 10, 2020 / image: Taner Ozdil

­As an integral part of community life, public space is essential to the social, physical, mental, and economic health of cities. From urban plazas and community parks to city sidewalks and corners, public space creates a collective sense of community and allows for enhanced social inclusion, civic participation, sense of belonging, and recreation.

But what happens when we’re told that those spaces are no longer safe? Since March 2020, COVID-19 has challenged the civic right to public space and connection, creating a flux in access and experience that will clearly have long-lasting impacts on how landscape architects work within the public realm. As we step out of initial knee-jerk reactions and into yet another wave, what is the role of urban design within the context of this “new normal”?

To see how different cities are responding and how firms and practitioners are adapting and exploring innovative ways to leverage the pandemic and shape the built environment of the future, we asked a cross section of Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) members to share their pandemic experiences and ways in which the industry is rethinking the approach to public space design.

Maren McBride, ASLA — Seattle, WA/Vancouver, BC

In both Seattle and Vancouver, it has been inspiring to see a clear shift in the way that communities have collectively, and proactively, embraced public space—no longer seen as something nice to have, but essential to health and wellbeing. It’s a strong reminder of the incredible responsibility we have, as landscape architects, to create an equitable, sustainable, and resilient public realm that fosters human connection and joy, even in times of crisis.

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Think Globally, Act Locally: The Making of a Model Sustainable SITES Landscape Ordinance

by Paul Wessel

Bartholdi Park at the U.S. Botanic Garden / image: Sustainable SITES Initiative

Land use in the U.S. is largely governed at the local level. Since infrastructure is on everyone’s lips right now, it’s a great opportunity to talk locally about green infrastructure, and interdisciplinary, integrated approaches to sustainable and resilient site development.

A great way to begin local discussion is by proposing landscape guidelines to be adopted by local town councils.

ASLA Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (PPN) Co-Chair Joshua Sloan, ASLA, who is also the Vice President and Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture at VIKA Maryland, has begun drafting a Model Sustainable SITES Landscape Ordinance to get the ball rolling. And he’s looking for your assistance.

The goals are to:

  • Provide a framework for holistic landscape design guidelines to integrate into or augment existing landscape guidelines and ordinances
  • Encourage sustainable and resilient landscape design
  • Establish performance-based landscape design standards
  • Foster an awareness of the Sustainable SITES Initiative and the elements that go into sustainable, resilient landscape design
  • Allow SITES certification to substitute local landscape guidelines as a professionally-vetted, nationally adopted framework for sustainable site design

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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.

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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.

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Get Out into the Field in Nashville this November

Open space at Nashville's onec1ty development
Explore the campus and 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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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