by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA
Notes from the Inaugural Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) Book Group Meeting
Written by Lolly Tai, PhD, RLA, FASLA, with a foreword by Teri Hendy, CPSI, Letting Play Bloom: Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children is magnificent. Published in 2022 by Temple University Press, it is an elegant, rich, and beautiful accounting of the need for children to experience risk in play, because as Dr. Tai eloquently states, “Children love to play in risky ways, it’s how children learn [about themselves and others and the world around them]” (p. 3). She makes clear that risky play is not a synonym for unsafe play; rather she cites Joe Frost’s idea of risky play as being “exciting, thrilling, and challenging while at the same time keeping risk to a minimum.” Children will find their way to risky play, and as the projects in the book make clear, presenting opportunities for risky play makes children happy.
The book is organized around five projects that exemplify risky play: three from the US, one from the Netherlands, and one from Australia. Each project offers risky play opportunities for children, but in different ways. The first project is Slide Hill at the Hills, a project on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. The next is the iconic Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California. We move on the Rotterdam in the Netherlands to learn about De Speeldernis, return back to the US for WildWoods at the Fernbank Museum, and then to the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden in Sydney, Australia.
The honors awarded by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) each year recognize individuals and organizations for their lifetime achievements and notable contributions to the profession of landscape architecture. Know someone who exemplifies excellence? Nominate them!
Nominations will be accepted through February 28 for the ASLA Medal, ASLA Design Medal, Community Service Awards, Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal, LaGasse Medals, Landscape Architecture Firm Award, Landscape Architecture Medal of Excellence, Olmsted Medal, Emerging Professional Medal, and Honorary ASLA Membership.
Any ASLA professional member or ASLA chapter may submit nominations for ASLA honors. Learn more about these prestigious awards below.
You may know that ASLA’s Online Learning website, learn.asla.org, relaunched on a new platform last fall, but did you notice that in addition to education session recordings from the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture and Professional Practice Network (PPN)-hosted webinars, there are two new additions to the Online Learning library of on-demand content? DREAM BIG with Design and SKILL | ED now have a new home!
Video content from the 2021 and 2022 editions of DREAM BIG with Design, the ASLA online learning series for grades PreK-12, is now available to stream, for free! ASLA members and educators are invited to experience DREAM BIG with Design and learn how to introduce landscape architecture to students. Access exciting sessions like “Building Neighborhoods for Disney Parks: Planning and Design with the Landscape Architects of Walt Disney Imagineering” and watch the “making-of” music video for the ASLA song, ‘The Big Idea,’ by award-winning musician Billy Jonas. Each year’s content is grouped into categories for PreK-grade 5 and middle school and high school-age learners.
ASLA Online Learning is also the new home of content from the 2021 and 2022 editions of SKILL | ED, ASLA’s ongoing practice management series, which focused on Business Development, Proposals, and Contracts, and Project Management. Discounts apply for ASLA members, so remember to log in with your existing ASLA username and password!
Designers, Artists, and Design Firms, and Interested Parties: IN-FILL PA wants YOU to participate in an exhibit of designs for in-fill spaces. IN-FILL PA seeks to engage residents, artists, designers, and firms to share their work to inspire dialogue to address in-fill spaces in communities.
The IN-FILL PA exhibition will take place at multiple venues throughout the Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania, this spring.
In-fill is the practice of re-purposing land for new programming. Many small towns and cities in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, have vacant lots. Often these lots sit unused for years. In some instances, communities have reassigned these spaces as outdoor amenities such as: pocket parks, playgrounds, community gardens, outdoor workspaces, meditation gardens, and performance venues. These transitions can breathe new life into underutilized spaces.
IN-FILL PA participants are asked to submit hard copies or PDFs of drawings, graphics, photo-collages, plans, and 2-D models of concept designs and implemented projects that address in-fill spaces. Before and after imagery is welcome as well as images that illustrate the process of in-fill space transformation. The exhibition is open to temporary and permanent projects.
In addition, exhibition venues will host informal charrettes encouraging residents to contribute ideas to in-fill sites in their own communities.
Your contributions to this project will serve as inspiration for local action.
While the U.S. House of Representatives considers eliminating the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis—if this sounds like an unwise course of action, be sure to tell your representative that addressing climate change remains a critical matter—elsewhere in Washington, federal agencies are hard at work creating resources and hosting programs to promote green infrastructure and other key climate adaptation strategies. Just one example, and a way to stay informed of such efforts: GreenStream is an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities, both from EPA and other federal government entities and organizations. To join the listserv, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a sense of the kind of information shared with subscribers, here’s an excerpt from last week’s GreenStream update:
The National Wildlife Federation launched a new funding microsite for communities interested in pursuing federal funding and/or technical assistance for nature-based solutions and green infrastructure projects. The interactive database allows users to search and sort the more than 70 types of federal grants that fund nature-based solutions based on factors such as eligible recipients, project purpose, and the match required. It also provides information about the typical application cycles, and contact information for each program.
For the 14th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document Working Landscapes. Historic “working” or “productive” landscapes may be agricultural or industrial and unique or traditional. Some topical working landscapes convey water for irrigation or provide flood control. Please focus your HALS report on the landscape as a whole and not on a building or structure alone. For this theme, the HAER History Guidelines may be helpful along with HALS History Guidelines.
Please contact your state ASLA Chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison if possible when you have selected a site to document for the HALS Challenge to be sure no one else is already preparing a HALS historic report for it. If your chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison position is vacant, please consider volunteering yourself or suggesting it to a colleague who may be interested.
Short format histories should be submitted no later than July 31, 2023, to HALS at the National Park Service (c/o Chris Stevens, 202-354-2146, Chris_Stevens@nps.gov). The HALS Short Format History guidelines and digital template may be downloaded from either the NPS HALS or ASLA HALS websites. NOTE: Any updates to HALS Challenge rules and to the MS Word digital HALS Short Format Historical Report Template are reflected within the template itself. Please download and read it thoroughly before entering the competition. If you like to learn by example, you may view or download the HALS Challenge Winners from 2018 and before.
We are just getting started—the call for ASLA’s Professional and Student Awards will be coming up next, along with the chance to apply for our second SKILL | ED workshop, so stay tuned for much more.
If you are feeling especially ambitious for 2023 and are seeking out even more ways to get your name, ideas, and expertise out there, all are welcome to search offerings from allied organizations and others through ASLA’s RFQs and Opportunities page. Below, we highlight a sampling of the opportunities with deadlines coming up. And, anyone looking to share an opportunity with landscape architects may do so through the online submission form.
As the year draws to a close, we would like to thank all the Professional Practice Network (PPN) leaders and members who shared their experiences and expertise as authors for The Field blog, as hosts, presenters, and engaged audience members for Online Learning webinars, and at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco last month.
We hope that all who contributed to this shared body of knowledge have forged new connections and felt inspired by your peers in landscape architecture.
The PPNs’ 2022 in Review showcases the year’s top 10 most-viewed posts from The Field, all the webinars and virtual events hosted by the PPNs, plus ASLA Conference highlights. In case you missed the conference this year, 45 education session recordings are available through ASLA Online Learning, with a 25% off discount for members if you get four or more!
Below, we highlight the top five Field posts and this year’s webinars; for the full recap, please see the PPNs’ 2022 in Review.
Year in Review: The Field
The Field was established to give members in the field of landscape architecture a place to exchange information, learn about recent work and research, and share thoughts about emerging developments. Contributions are by members and for members, and we encourage all ASLA members with an idea or an experience to share to contribute to The Field.
Fresh content appears twice a week, and 100 posts were published in 2022.
Fellowship is among the highest honors ASLA bestows on members and recognizes the contributions of these individuals to their profession and society at large based on their works, leadership and management, knowledge, and service.
Nominations may be made by the executive committee of a chapter, the executive committee of ASLA, or the executive committee of the Council of Fellows in one of four categories:
During the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture, over 6,000 participants joined together to visualize the futures we want to see—sharing case studies and best practices among the profession and across disciplines to design a better future.
45 recorded conference education sessions are now available on-demand through ASLA Online Learning for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH).
You can purchase individual sessions or bundle and save—ASLA members can take advantage of a 25% discount when purchasing four or more conference recordings!
Those outside the landscape architecture field often think the role of a landscape architect equates to the enhancement of greenspaces within parks, office complexes, and various urban areas. Those within the field and affiliated industries realize it involves so much more.
A landscape architect typically provides planning, analysis, and creative design for all outdoor areas. The broad scope of ALL they do increases the quality of physical well-being for the local population, giving people more options for recreation, relaxation, healing, learning, and working, along with opportunities for social connection with others using the space.
A landscape architect’s role is also to play a vital part in helping to address global challenges— by thoughtfully integrating green infrastructure elements and other environmental preservation strategies whenever AND wherever possible. These methods involve the integration of natural, enhanced, and engineered assets. Natural assets, such as meadows, parks, tree canopies, soil, and wetlands, include the living and organic tools of the trade. Enhanced assets—which fall under low-impact development, including green roofs, bioswales, urban tree planting, and stormwater ponds—are utilized in various landscapes, ranging from workplace to multifamily to park environments. Engineered assets include permeable pavement, cisterns, and infiltration trenches.
Using their expertise, landscape architects provide holistic approaches to planning and managing the built environment, and landscape architecture design solutions regularly address common industry challenges we face. Many of these projects enable the shift to a carbon-neutral future by integrating innovative and occasionally all-new radical solutions. These projects include dense, walkable, mixed-use communities that connect to larger urban footprints and workplace environments, promoting functional outdoor work and physical activity—all of which help reduce emissions from transportation and urban sprawl.
While part 2 below covers a few case studies, please see part 1 of this post, published last week, for more on the scientific underpinnings of living walls.
Living Walls in Workplaces
For corporate workplaces where people spend a significant amount of time inside, living walls could vitalize the working environment, add aesthetic pleasure, and play important roles in positively impacting people’s health. According to a scientific report published by Nature, urbanization in Western cities has resulted in a lack of exposure to environmental microbes due to the increased level of hygiene, loss of biodiversity, and irregular contact with soil, which has been linked to many immune mediated diseases. Indoor green walls in urban offices can affect health-associated commensal skin microbiota and enhance immune regulation among employees . Indoor plants in the workplace were found to correlate with less sick leave, better task performance, and quicker restoration from mental fatigue [2-3].
Workplaces are embracing the idea of bringing nature inside through living walls that maximize space utilization and provide numerous biophilic features. Living walls help to achieve many goals as required by the WELL Building Standard—Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, & Mind . Duolingo, a leading tech company in the language education industry, has recently integrated several green walls that have become new attractions in their Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania headquarters.
Recent technology development makes living wall structures more flexible and designable beyond “just a green wall.” GBBN Architects’ Cincinnati office experimented with digital fabrication and augmented reality (AR) technology in their living wall design and installation. According to an interview with the living wall designers Mandy Woltjer and Troy Malmstrom, the design concept was to encourage plants to grow out of an irregular trellis that increases multi-dimensional volumes. Therefore, the plants were installed first in an AR space where the designer could precisely locate the plants in the designated position.
Results of the 13th annual HALS Challenge, Olmsted Landscapes, were announced at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture on Sunday, November 13, 2022. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. The National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) also awarded three framed certificate prizes for the best entries in the following categories: submission by a college or graduate student, work of the Olmsted firm in Ohio, and non-park work of the Olmsted Firm. This challenge resulted in the donation of 17 impressive HALS short format historical reports to the HALS collection for sites in twelve different states from coast to coast.
2022 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. By documenting Olmsted landscapes for HALS, entrants increased public awareness of historic landscapes and illuminated the Olmsteds’ living legacy. Any site designed or planned in part or in full by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., his firm, and the firm continued by his sons, John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted Junior, were eligible (see Master List of Design Projects).
First Place: California’s North Coast Redwood Parks, Job No. 08335, HALS CA-166
Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, California
By Douglas Nelson, ASLA, Landscape Architect
California’s North Coast Redwood Parks are significant for preserving the best examples of magnificent redwood forests and the world’s tallest trees. It took foresight and stewardship to recognize that these forests would be lost to logging if active conservation efforts were not undertaken in the early twentieth century. Conservationists, including the founders of the Save the Redwoods League, saw the immense value and benefits of preserving these extraordinary natural places for future generations. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. played a key role by providing recommendations for the acquisition, management, and conservation of these parks, and for preserving the economic vitality of the region through sustainable yield forestry practices in areas outside of the parks.
The term biophilia was coined by German psychologist Erich Fromm to describe the physiological tendency towards all living-beings—the “passionate love of life and of all that is alive” . Later, E.O. Wilson and Stephen Kellert’s groundbreaking introduction of the Biophilia Hypothesis to the design disciplines helped reveal the mechanism of humans’ inherent inclination to nature and other lifelike processes from the biologistic and evolutionary perspectives . It is widely encouraged to have direct contact with nature in outdoor settings, such as roaming in the woods, gardening, or simply watching nature from a park bench. A recent scientific study found that visiting nature more than once a week was significantly associated with better health and higher quality of life . Unfortunately, most of the world’s population now lives in urban environments, with up to 95% of their lives spent on indoor activities . Luckily, there are ways to establish nature connectedness from interior spaces, such as via indoor plants and nature views .
The Multifaceted Benefits of Living Walls
According to Stephen Kellert and colleagues’ biophilic design framework, the integration of daylight, natural materials, and vegetation are the fundamental applications that reconnect people to nature. While incorporating a courtyard could be constrained by spatial programming or financial limitations, a vertical greening system could be a great substitute . A vertical greening system, also known as a vertical garden, a living wall, or simply a green wall, provides numerous benefits to the indoor occupants and the environment at large.
As outlined by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), there are different types of living wall systems. Green facades support climbing vines or cascading ground covers that are rooted in soil beds at the bottom or different levels of the structure. Living walls are pre-vegetated modules that are affixed to a vertical structure that support a much lusher mixture of plant species. Living walls can be broadly classified into three systems—the panel system, felt system, and container and/or trellis system .
Updates from the ASLA MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee
ASLA MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee (MLARC) members volunteer their time in support of MasterSpec®, a product of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The MLARC is one of a handful of review committees charged by AIA with the review of MasterSpec sections and related materials in an advisory role to AIA and Deltek. The committees review specification sections scheduled for updating, new sections, and other selected documents developed by Deltek for distribution to MasterSpec Licensed Users. Deltek is the company that produces MasterSpec, while rights to MasterSpec are owned by AIA. In addition to architects, review committees consist of mechanical and electrical engineers from across the country.
The 2020-2022 ASLA MLARC committee members included:
Phillip L. McDade FASLA, Chair
Patty King, ASLA
Wight and Company
Glen Phillips, ASLA
Thomas Ryan, FASLA
Gaylan Williams, ASLA
Jennifer Wong, ASLA
Central Park Conservancy
MasterSpec specification sections must be responsive to the changing needs of the design professions and to the changing technology of the construction industry, according to the discipline represented in each section. The MasterSpec library contains 11 sections designated as landscape architectural specifications as well as 14 others that touch on aspects of landscape architecture.
Your input is needed for a survey on gender equity in design. This survey seeks to understand the place-based lived experiences of trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, queer individuals and communities as they navigate the places and spaces of daily life (home, work, school, public space, recreation, etc.). Your contribution will help generate tools for equitable design and support urban designers, architects, landscape architects, and interior designers in the co-creation of equitable and inclusive places.
The survey asks demographic questions, but no identifiable information is collected. All responses are anonymous. The survey will take less than 20 minutes to complete. At the end of the survey, there is an opportunity to enter a drawing to win a $100 gift card. (You will be asked to use an email address to enter the drawing, but your email will be unattached from any data you provide and discarded after the drawing.) For each response, up to 1,000 responses, we will be donating $1 to The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQIA2+ youth.
Take the survey. Your participation is greatly appreciated! The survey will remain open until the end of January.
While everyone is encouraged to take the survey, we are specifically encouraging participation by trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, queer individuals, and communities. Please share this survey widely among your personal and professional networks by sharing this post and survey link with your networks; a PDF poster with a QR code is also available to share with others. For more information on the research, visit our Instagram page. For questions about the research, contact email@example.com.
Practice Basecamp at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco earlier this month was the EXPO’s hub for a range of practice-focused programming, including fast-paced Game Changer talks and presentations on ASLA’s Climate Action Plan. Today we are taking a look back at the campfire sessions and presentations organized by ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). These events were opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. (And if this sounds like something you’d be interested in taking part in, not just at the conference but throughout the year, then consider joining your PPN’s leadership team!)
If you missed the conference this year, we hope the photos below provide a glimpse of some of Practice Basecamp’s goings-on. For those interested in watching recordings of education sessions that took place in San Francisco, 40+ sessions will be available on-demand via ASLA Online Learning in the coming weeks.
ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture Recap: The Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Campfire Session on Trauma Responsive Design
Kat Lewis, ASLA – Moderator
Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA – Campfire Lead
Lisa Casey, ASLA – Campfire Facilitator
Chad Kennedy, ASLA – Campfire Facilitator
The Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) hosted their campfire session on Saturday afternoon of the conference. PPN leaders were joined by an enthusiastic group of around twenty individuals who participated in the discussion. Our session was opened by Kat, who gave a brief overview of the purpose, with the focus not being on a single solution but to explore the complexity and considerations of trauma responsive design. But first, we needed to establish that there is no clear definition of trauma responsive design and little to no evidence-based research to support it, but there needs to be!
Amy and Lisa went through a series of questions about what trauma is, and whether there is a difference between childhood and adult trauma to engage the group and get the conversation going. They went on to talk about stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and how toxic stress feeds ACEs and collectively changes the child’s brain structure and negatively alters their development.
This became a call to action that launched into some brainstorming about landscape architects partnering with healthcare professionals to study the impact of landscape projects on reducing the impacts of child trauma.
We had a strong turnout for this discussion and there were many interested in joining or learning more about the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN. Even if you were not able to join us in San Francisco, we encourage you to join the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN and considering becoming a PPN leader.
Children, Nature, and Health Reference List
At our campfire session, it came up in conversation that having a list of child and nature-focused articles would be helpful. What follows is a reference list organized by topic (some articles appear in multiple sections). It is intended to be representative of recent and seminal publications and by no means covers all the amazing literature that has been published, so let’s think of this list as an evolving resource. Please share your favorite articles in the comments section and we will keep the list growing. We plan to add an expanded version to the PPN’s Resources webpage in the future.
For those who attended the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture last weekend, the PPN events in Practice Basecamp were a wonderful way to see the PPNs in action and get a sense of what these practice area-focused groups are all about—namely, providing opportunities to members for networking, peer-to-peer learning, and knowledge-sharing.
PPN leaders provide input on specific practice area needs and ASLA programming. Appointments are for one year, and all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer. Most leadership teams meet once a month via Zoom during regular working hours. Come nerd out with like-minded professionals about your practice area niche!
As a designer, one of the main things you hope for are opportunities where your experience, creative ideas, and outside-the-box thinking lend themselves to creating human experiences that make people stop and wonder. Upon initial brainstorming sessions with Assembly Atlanta developers, I knew this project would present that opportunity.
The prime goal of Assembly Atlanta is to bring a mixed-use mega-entertainment hub, unlike any other, to the metro-Atlanta area. And that is EXACTLY what is happening. In September of 2023, the team of Gray Television, The Gipson Company, Smith Dalia Architects, Kimley-Horn, and landscape architecture and planning firm HGOR will be delivering such a destination.
Designing landscapes suited for filming and producing major motion pictures and TV was previously associated with Hollywood, California. Eventually, it made its way to the quaint coastal region of the Carolinas because of scenic versatility and the need for lower production costs. Creating a Tinsletown-like hub in land-locked Atlanta was previously not a priority, even though filmmakers have utilized the state’s geography for years. Picturesque landscapes in Georgia, adorned with oak trees, bright city lights, small-town charm, and mountainous terrain, have been backdrops for films like The Hunger Games, Driving Miss Daisy, The Blind Side, and Smokey and the Bandit. Subsequently, the Georgia film industry has grown substantially over the past decade to position the state as the worldwide leader in film production.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a project execution and delivery process articulated entirely around data. Taking a step back to gain perspective, it’s hard to underestimate how critical data is in the world at large at this point in time. Truly, what is reality anymore?…Within the architecture, engineering, construction, operation, and facility management (AECO-FM) industry, a process having accelerated during the past couple of decades renders the current status of the field essentially scaffolding around a data-centric framework. I like to frame the issue by explaining that the 3D geometry—the most conspicuous exhibit of BIM product, the “model” everyone’s thinking of when thinking of BIM—is just one of the byproducts of the data embedded in the digital project.
Entering the landscape architecture practice: in a sense, our trade is one of the last to join the paradigmatic shift. A pertinent point to be made is that a certain understanding of the “BIM” acronym—where “building” is not understood as a process (the latter being the preferred interpretation today) but as the noun—explicitly all but excludes our trade entirely. This is also the reason why some professionals in the field, including myself, petition for replacing the word “building” with “project,” such as in using the “digital project” concept. But essentially all current projects are BIM—which sets their underlying structure, articulates the deliverables of most trades, and, most frequently, delivers a comprehensive normative standards framework to the project.
But along this “assimilation” process, one of the typical expectations from the rest of the trades in absorbing us as full participants is the actual informational contribution, we, as landscape architects, can pitch into the project data pool. It’s the question I’ve been asked most as a landscape architecture practice BIM manager.
The 2022 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture begins this Friday! In addition to the events planned for the EXPO’s Practice Basecamp, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team also reviews the conference education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 120 sessions offering professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the conference website and mobile app by track, speaker, and PDH type offered (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, FL, NY, AICP, GBCI, ISA, and more).
If you can’t make it to San Francisco this year, a number of education sessions will be recorded and shared as Online Learning webinars so you can still learn about the latest in landscape architecture and earn PDH on-demand.
Below, we run through education highlights by PPN practice area:
This fall, ASLA’s Community Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) solicited updates from our members from across the country to give us a snapshot of community design trends in 2022. While past posts have featured members from the PPN’s leadership team, this time our goal was to hear from members and other professionals working in community design through contributions to this collaborative post.
Landscape architects play a pivotal role in community design—we are the connectors! Our designs convey vision in built form within the public realm around us, allowing people to experience unique spaces each and every day. Designers have a significant impact on new communities, redevelopment, and infill projects. As this post reveals, community design trends are ushering in increased density and smaller living footprints, which ultimately requires a balance of space for people to live outside their residences. This challenge presents us with the opportunity to be placemakers, creating authentic and enduring landscapes that allow life to happen. As we emerge from the pandemic shift, we’re tasked with strengthening the community experience that fosters connections between people and the places we live. The following content highlights observations from designers focused on community design every day, presenting a terrific snapshot of the current trends shaping the communities we live in.
Continuing a tradition that began at the 2009 ASLA conference in Chicago when Angela Dye, FASLA, was ASLA President, this year the ASLA Northern California Chapter’s WILA Walk will explore the SOMA district, including the East Cut neighborhood, San Francisco’s new Downtown, and Yerba Buena District, the original cultural and civic institutional hub at SOMA. We will see and discuss an energetic mix of sleek residential and commercial high rises, repurposed live-work historic buildings, small businesses, corporate headquarters, new streetscapes, and public green spaces as well as a revitalization plan for the original cultural hub.
Presentations from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee
Curious about the call for PPN leadership volunteers, but want to know more before you sign up? If you’re going to San Francisco, then you are in luck—Practice Basecamp is an ideal spot to see the PPNs in action and get a sense of what these practice area-focused groups for ASLA members are all about. The PPN-organized campfire sessions will be conversation-focused, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing—the primary aims of the PPNs.
Want to make the most of your PPN experience at the conference? Explore what’s planned and get ready to make new connections in San Francisco:
A Recap of the 2022 Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation Annual Conference
The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) held its annual meeting in Natchitoches, Louisiana, from May 18-21 this year. Twice postponed because of COVID, the conference was entitled Natchitoches in the Red River Valley: A Confluence of Cultures. Over the three days we heard presentations and visited sites in Natchitoches and the surrounding area. From tenant cabins, to “juke-joints,” to churches and cemeteries, we learned about the unique culture of the Red River Valley and the Cane River.
The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation is an interdisciplinary professional organization which provides a forum for communication and exchange of information among its members. It is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of historic landscapes in all their variety, from formal gardens and public parks to rural expanses. The conference, usually held every year, are a great way to learn about historic landscapes and experience in-depth exploration of the locations where they take place.
Our meetings were held at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), on the campus of Northwestern State University of Louisiana. NCPTT offices and some laboratories are located in historic Lee H. Nelson Hall, a former gymnasium. We learned about the history of the gymnasium and the long road to its preservation. Jason Church and Vrinda Jariwala, of NCPTT, conducted tours of the labs.
by Sebastian Schlecht and Chih-Wei G.V. Chang, ASLA
The Landscape Laboratory of Ruhr Metropolis and the First Biennale of Urban Landscape
Ruhr Region: A Continuous Transformation
For most landscape architects in the US, the Ruhr region of Germany is best known for its successful post-industrial renovation projects, such as Duisburg North Landscape Park or IBA Emscher Park. But its story of transformation did not stop there. Being one of the biggest metropolitan areas in Europe, the Ruhr region is still facing complications and challenges from its past and present. Its sprawl and polycentric urban form make energy, mobility, and infrastructure upgrades less straightforward. With the unthinkable re-opening of coal power plants due to the European energy crisis, the region is once again at the center of focus: What will Ruhr do in an uncertain future?
It is fair to say that its industrial past brings not only challenges, but also unique niches and capacities for the structural transformation of its landscape. With more land area in between the network of smaller post-industrial cities, special emphasis is placed on the adaptation to climate change effects, ecological restoration, and function as a key to economic and social progress. This of course includes the transformation of industrial heritage, the necessary livability of neighborhoods, and integrated urban landscape revitalization. The region is calling for new ideas, and exploring the opportunities and new qualities of its possible futures.
Last week, we explored San Francisco’s Koret Children’s Quarter and playground, the Tot Lot at Portsmouth Square Park, Willie “Woo-Woo” Wong Playground, and Presidio Tunnel Tops in Part 1. Today in Part 2, we are moving slightly further afield to Dennis the Menace Park, located on California’s Central Coast.
Dennis the Menace Park
El Estero Park, 777 Pearl Street
Monterey, CA 93940
A couple of hours south of San Francisco, a small town on Monterey Bay is home to a park that represented the forefront of creative children’s outdoor play when it was opened 65 years ago and is still going strong today. Its namesake is the famous cartoon character Dennis the Menace, and the creator of this mischievous comic character helped make this project a reality. A quick Google search shows that the park was originally built before any notion of children’s safety standards existed. It had numerous fabricated steel pieces that were engineering marvels that kids could climb on, slide down, and even spin, elevated approximately 15’ above the ground, on. There have been various park renovations, but the essence of the park is intact and it still feels like a wild and unique play space.
As a landscape architect with four young children, I enjoy visiting unique and dynamic playgrounds wherever I travel. This summer, I had the good fortune of traveling to San Francisco, and I wanted to share my thoughts on a few playgrounds I visited for anyone thinking about the topic of children’s outdoor play as they head to San Francisco for the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and hopefully my experiences will be a motivating factor for others to get out and explore unique outdoor spaces in the Bay Area and beyond.
Koret Children’s Quarter and Playground
320 Bowling Green Drive (southeast corner of Golden Gate Park)
San Francisco, CA 94199
Originally opened in 1888, some claim that this is the oldest children’s playground in the US. It was remodeled and reopened in 2007, and has some unique, artistic, and fun features that make it stand out. The play area is about an acre and mostly open, with a sunny exposure. Pathways lead to sand areas with age sensitive manufactured playground equipment.