Celebrating 10 Years of The Field

Since 2016, The Field has showcased an ASLA Student Award-winning project as its banner image. The current banner comes from the project Myth, Memory, and Landscape in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, an ASLA 2018 Student General Design Honor Award winner. Team: Derek Lazo, Student ASLA; Serena Lousich, Student ASLA. Faculty Advisors: Danika Cooper, ASLA. UC Berkeley. / image: Serena Lousich, Student ASLA

Happy birthday to The Field! Since the launch of The Field the summer of 2012, more than 1,000 posts have been published by ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), from more than 460 contributors.

This blog was created to take the place of individual PPN newsletters (check out this 2002 Therapeutic Garden Design publication for a blast from the past), with the goal of encouraging collaboration and breaking down boundaries between practice area specialties with this PPN-wide platform for member-to-member information sharing.

ASLA’s Professional Practice team would like to thank all the PPN leaders and ASLA members who have shared their experiences and expertise as authors, editors, and tireless cheerleaders for The Field over the past decade. A few of our most prolific Field authors (all of whom are also current or past PPN leadership volunteers):

The most productive PPN: Children’s Outdoor Environments, with 117 posts! Other high-achieving PPNs:

In celebration of The Field‘s tenth birthday, here are the top 10 most-viewed posts.

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Olmsted and the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Fairsted, HABS MA-1168, Brookline, Massachusetts. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 13th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document Olmsted Landscapes. 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. By documenting Olmsted landscapes for HALS, you will increase public awareness of historic landscapes and illuminate Olmsted’s 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, is eligible. 

The Olmsted Landscapes HALS Challenge deadline is quickly approaching. Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2022. Surprisingly, there are not many Olmsted-related sites within the HALS Collection at the Library of Congress. Your entries will not only help celebrate Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.’s 200th birthday, but they will help round out the collection with more Olmsted documentation.

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to document our country’s significant landscapes. The National Park Service oversees HALS; the American Society of Landscape Architects provides professional guidance and support; and the Library of Congress preserves the documentation and makes it available to the public. The Historic American Building Survey (HABS, established in 1933) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER, since 1969) are older programs and thus have much more documentation.

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Last Call for ASLA SKILL | ED: Project Management for Landscape Architects

There’s just a few hours to go before the start of SKILL | ED! On June 21-23, ASLA is hosting a live webinar each day from 2:00 to 3:15 p.m. ET for this practice management series. Today’s topic: Ready for Primetime? Create a Project Management Plan to Take the Lead!, presented by Christine E. Pearson, ASLA.

Packed schedule this week? Not to worry—register now, and you’ll have access to all three live session recordings on-demand through July 31. What your SKILL | ED registration includes:

  • On-demand access to education sessions through July 31
  • 3.0 professional development hours (LA CES / non-HSW)
  • PDF download of the ASLA Standard Form Contracts package
  • Access to virtual discussion boards
  • Networking with attendees and speakers

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Loosening Up: Breaking Boundaries for Creative Play in Schoolyards, Part 3

by Eric Higbee, ASLA, Jason Medeiros, and Leon Smith

Students play with the loose parts at Hawthorne Elementary’s creative playspace. / image: Eric Higbee

Education and Creativity at Hawthorne Elementary’s STEAM Playspace

Part 3: Design, Implementation, and Lessons Learned

Welcome to Part 3 of “Loosening Up,” the story of transforming Hawthorne Elementary’s asphalt schoolyard into a community-curated, nature-based, loose parts playground. Our first post focused on our student and community engagement process, and our second post focused on navigating bureaucratic resistance to loose parts and nature play. In this third installment, we cover the final design, implementation, and lessons learned.

The Design and the Build

Community engagement and negotiation with the School District produced a vision for Hawthorne’s playspace that weaves a tapestry of loose-parts play, native plants, stormwater capture, learning gardens, an outdoor classroom, and creative play.

A first phase was built in 2019, including natural spaces, a creative play area, and a bioretention swale. A second phase, completed in 2020, expanded the creative play area and replaced aging playground equipment. As of June 2022, the third phase and completion of the vision is still waiting to be fulfilled.

The loose parts and creative play area is a focal point of the playground. Set amongst groups of native plants and trees, the space holds a collection of moveable stumps, logs, and “cookies” for kids to move, stack, manipulate, and more. To our knowledge, this is one of the only contemporary public schools in the U.S. to embrace loose parts as an intentional part of its playground design.

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Centering Environmental Justice in Our Landscape Architectural Practices

ASLA 2021 Professional Urban Design Honor Award. Market + Georgia Public Space. Chattanooga, Tennessee. WMWA Landscape Architects and Genesis the Greykid. / image: WMWA Landscape Architects & Chattanooga Design Studio

As practitioners and advocates of environmental justice, we know that many communities across the country fall short of achieving equity and justice in terms of access to quality green spaces and being overburdened with negative environmental exposures. In this collaborative Field post, we highlight a few voices around the profession on why and how landscape architects should remain committed towards integrating environmental justice in our respective practices.

– Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA, PLA, and Tom Martin, ASLA, on behalf of the Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership Team

Cher Wong, Associate ASLA
Landscape Architect at SmithGroup

Why are you interested in the intersection of environmental justice and landscape architecture?

From many landscape architects’ training processes, including mine, we didn’t pay enough attention to learning how our work is closely tied with social, economic, political implications and how every design language has a historical context behind it. Now, when I stand at the intersection of environmental justice and landscape architecture as a designer, I see contradictions between our traditional definition of ‘design excellence’ and the implications of many landscape architecture work in environmental justice.

But I also see opportunities on how much we need to develop new design languages that break the contradiction and better support environmental justice.

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Loosening Up: Breaking Boundaries for Creative Play in Schoolyards, Part 2

by Eric Higbee, ASLA, Jason Medeiros, and Leon Smith

Hawthorne students play with loose parts during an afterschool demonstration by Portland Free Play. / image: Fahad Aldaajani

Education and Creativity at Hawthorne Elementary’s STEAM Playspace

Part 2: Making the Case

Welcome to Part 2 of “Loosening Up,” the story of transforming Hawthorne Elementary’s asphalt schoolyard into a community-curated, nature-based, loose parts playground. Our first post focused on our student and community engagement process. This second post focuses on navigating bureaucratic resistance. A third will cover the final design, implementation, and lessons learned.

The Benefits of Loose Parts and Nature Play

There is ample evidence for the academic and social benefits of enriching a play environment with loose parts and nature. Studies have shown that loose parts play supports creative problem solving (Daly & Beloglovsky, 2015); fosters imagination, creativity, and symbolic abstract thinking (Miller, 2007); and leads to greater happiness and social inclusion during recess.

Studies have also shown that natural play environments stimulate social interaction between children and reduce the incidence of bullying (Bixler et al., 2002; Malone & Tranter, 2003; Moore 1986) and that some contact with nature during the school day improves children’s concentration and self-discipline in the classroom (Grahn, et al., 1997; Taylor et al., 2002; Wells, 2000).

The Barriers to Loose Parts and Nature Play

Yet despite the benefits, school districts are typically averse to incorporating nature or loose parts into school playgrounds.

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Nurturing Health and Well-Being through Sustainable Site Design

SITES-certified Fort Missoula Park in Missoula, Montana / image: the Sustainable SITES Initiative

Upcoming SITES Community Call

On June 23 at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern), join the SITES community to learn how two projects, the Colby College Athletic Complex in Maine and Fort Missoula Regional Park in Montana, achieved SITES certification and focused on community care.

SITES projects are powerhouses in their communities for not only supporting healthy landscapes that provide essential ecosystem services, but also for promoting the mental and physical well-being of their users. These two recent SITES-certified projects both achieved high scores in the “Site Design – Human Health and Well-being” category of the SITES v2 Rating System for demonstrating a strong commitment to social equity and resilience.

The Colby College Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center serves campus athletics programs as well as the greater city of Waterville community with indoor sports facilities and outdoor amenities. The native meadow habitat surrounding the athletics complex is the first SITES project to achieve Gold-level certification in New England. Notably, the facility also achieved LEED Platinum certification for its green building practices.

The largest SITES-certified park to date and the first SITES project to achieve certification in the state of Montana, Fort Missoula Regional Park is a 156-acre greenspace dedicated to providing a comprehensive outdoor fitness area for its visitors. The park features trails, pavilions, picnic areas, and sport courts where guests can enjoy nature while engaging in restorative physical and social activities.

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Loosening Up: Breaking Boundaries for Creative Play in Schoolyards

by Eric Higbee, ASLA, Jason Medeiros, and Leon Smith

Students use graphic organizers to help generate models of playground installations designed to inspire STEAM learning and creative play. / image: Fahad Aldaajani

Education and Creativity at Hawthorne Elementary’s STEAM Playspace

Part 1: Engaging Students and Community

The beneficial value of ‘Loose Parts’ and ‘Nature Play’ for childhood development comes up repeatedly in education literature and discussions on landscape design. Yet, in our opinion, there are few examples of these being built in public school settings because of a variety of prohibitive factors, including the dominance of manufactured playground equipment in children’s landscapes and district-level fear of injury and liability.

Beginning in 2017, the community at Hawthorne Elementary in Seattle bridged this gap with the Hawthorne STEAM Playspace, transforming a portion of their asphalt schoolyard into a community-curated, nature-based, loose parts playground. To our knowledge, this is one of the only contemporary public schools to embrace loose parts as an intentional part of its playground.

Over this and two more posts, we will tell Hawthorne’s story and share what we learned. In this post, we will discuss our student and community engagement process; the second post will focus on navigating bureaucratic resistance; and the third will cover the final design, implementation, and lessons learned.

Let’s dive in!

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Avenues for Expanding Practice

by Larry Weaner, FAPLD, Affiliate ASLA, and Sara Weaner

Strasburg Community Park, Strasburg, PA / image: Larry Weaner

New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) is offering both in-person and virtual educational sessions this summer. The accomplished group of presenters will include Darrel Morrison, Piet Oudolf, Veronica Tyson Strait, Gerould Wilhelm, Angela Kyle, and Larry Weaner. Some will present virtually on the artistic, social, and ecological considerations that can inform landscape design. Others will guide In the Field sessions to observe and analyze the real-world results of various ecology-based landscape approaches. All will explore avenues for expanding the practice of landscape design.

Sessions are geared toward landscape practitioners, home gardeners, students, and educators, with designations on NDAL’s site, ndal.org. CEUs are available for professional sessions.

NDAL’s In the Field regional on-site sessions include programs in Hillsborough, NJ; Garrison, NY; Shermans Dale, PA; Framingham, MA; Stafford, VA; Sparta, TN; Gray Summit, MO; and Madison, WI (the Madison, WI session with co-tour guide Darrel Morrison, FASLA). Registration is limited for these sessions.

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Making a Difference in a Non-Profit Firm Format

by Brandon S. Peters, ASLA

image: Brandon S. Peters, ASLA

Around the world, disadvantaged populations face significant struggles with climate change, pollution, conflict, and forced migration. Unfortunately, this situation is not new. What IS seemingly new is the increased emphasis younger generations are putting into doing social justice and social impact work to address struggles like these. Thankfully, this seems not to be a fad but a larger realization that doing what you love while helping those most in need is an extremely rewarding endeavor.

Traditionally most firms are set up as a PC, LLC, S-Corp, or sole proprietorship, which are all considered to be for-profit. In recent years, many for-profit firms have noticed this increased staff interest in making a difference and have launched internal CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives to ensure their firm is meeting certain standards for sustainability or other goals. Some also dedicate staff time for outreach activities, which might include work for organizations like Journeyman International and Habitat for Humanity, or have a small non-profit sister organization to engage in design projects within their communities.

On the far end of this spectrum, there are a handful of firms, including A Complete Unknown, that operate solely as a non-profit entity.

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A New Home Renovation Trend: Security Enhancements

A breezeway with a rolling door links the home and garage, framing a painterly vignette of columnar aspen trees. A grid of trees line the courtyard, softened by a dense planting of ferns and native shrubs.
ASLA 2021 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Highlands Retreat. Aspen, Colorado. Design Workshop, Inc. / image: Brandon Huttenlocher/Design Workshop, Inc.

While security design as it relates to the public realm and to concepts like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) may be familiar to many landscape architects, enhancing security and privacy is also an increasingly desirable aspect of residential landscape architecture.

According to the 2022 Houzz home improvement survey, security for outdoor spaces is a new focus for homeowners, who spent 25% more on home security systems in 2021 than in 2020. Outdoor security systems are now the second most frequently installed outdoor upgrade (17%), behind lighting (22%).

A recent Forbes article by Jamie Gold about this renovation trend features Ron DuHamel, ASLA, president of FireSky and a volunteer leader for ASLA’s Design-Build Professional Practice Network (PPN).

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This Too Shall Pass: Landscape Architecture and the Green Industry in a Post-COVID World

by Michael Igo, Affiliate ASLA, PE, LEED AP

Aerial photo of the ancient city of Persepolis
The Persian city of Persepolis, ordered by Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes, designed/built by artisans / image: “Persepolis” by s1ingshot, CC BY 2.0

In 1859, presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society.  He told the fable of a Persian sultan who asked his trusted sage to summarize concisely a way to describe the perpetual and ephemeral nature of human affairs.  Lincoln continued, “They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’”

I, like all of us in the landscape architecture, green, and construction industries, could have never predicted the shift towards our business during the global COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. When we braced for the worst, many of my colleagues in all AEC sectors have experienced unprecedented growth. While we are busier than ever and despite the longer hours, we need to stop, reflect, and be grateful for the position that we are in as COVID-19 has taken a substantial toll on our society. Take a moment to remember those that lost their lives suffering with this illness, their family members who grieved their loss while in isolation, first responders and front-line medical workers, grocery and box store cashiers, stockers, and delivery persons supplying us while sequestered in our homes.  Let us remember that the business that flowed towards us flowed away from local retail stores and restaurants. We need to continue to give them our continued support in business and tips for their troubles.

After more than two years of a global pandemic and coming out on the other side, we can start to think about what is coming next and how it will impact our business and profession.

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Principles of Accessibility Design for Landscape Architecture

All Frontcountry site features and interpretive content at Grand Teton National Park is fully accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities.
ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Inspiring Journeys for All. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. HDLA / image: Charlie Craighead

New ASLA Research Report: Free downloadable resource available for ASLA members. Self-study exam available for 1.25 PDH (LA CES/HSW).

In order to lead the planning and design of inclusive, healthy, equitable, and safe environments, landscape architects have an obligation to be aware of and work in compliance with standards for accessibility. To meet this need, the ASLA Professional Practice Committee created Principles of Accessibility Design for Landscape Architecture: ADA, ABA, and Other Accessibility Standards and Guidelines as a technical overview of the national accessibility standards and guidelines.

The primary focus of this document is the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design (ADA Standards). These standards exist within a complex web of national, state, and local governmental and non-governmental organizations’ related conventions, codes, and documents. Each entity focuses on its role in supporting and achieving greater accessibility in the environment and society in general.

The goal of this overview is to encourage landscape architects and designers to employ a wide view of accessible design. This will help designers avoid missing significant, unique variations in accessibility requirements that may apply to a project.

ASLA members can download Principles of Accessibility Design for Landscape Architecture: ADA, ABA, and Other Accessibility Standards and Guidelines for free and can purchase and pass a self-study exam to earn 1.25 PDH (LA CES/HSW).

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Chris Pattillo and HALS: Challenge and Legacy

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Chris Pattillo stands beside first, second, and third place banners for the first annual HALS Challenge, Revisiting Cultural Landscapes of Childhood, at the 2010 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. / image: Chris Stevens

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 13th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document Olmsted Landscapes. 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. By documenting Olmsted landscapes for HALS, you will increase public awareness of historic landscapes and illuminate Olmsted’s 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, is eligible.

In October 2000, the National Park Service (NPS) permanently established the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) program for the systematic documentation of historic American landscapes. The mission of HALS is to record historic landscapes in the United States and its territories through measured drawings, historical reports, and large-format black photographs. The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division preserves the documentation for posterity and makes it available to the general public. The NPS oversees the daily operation of HALS and formulates policies, sets standards, and drafts procedural guidelines in consultation with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). ASLA provides professional guidance and technical advice through their Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network, thus further encouraging involvement within the profession. Each ASLA chapter has one volunteer HALS Liaison, but chapters that serve multiple states may have one liaison per state. HALS Liaisons, appointed by their chapter presidents, provide technical and other types of assistance to carry out the mission of the HALS program.

The annual HALS Challenge competition for HALS short format historical reports is a valuable tool to fulfilling the HALS mission to record historic landscapes throughout the U.S., identifying and recording sites that otherwise would likely go unrecognized. It benefits the American public by engaging volunteers across the country to produce HALS baseline documentation of significant American landscapes for inclusion in the Library of Congress HALS collection.

Christine “Chris” Pattillo, FASLA, founder of PGAdesign, initiated the first HALS Challenge for the tenth anniversary of HALS in 2010. She wished to stimulate interest in the relatively new program and to get people involved around the country. She knew that if volunteers prepared their first HALS short format historic report and learned about the HALS documentation process, they would likely complete further documentation in the future. Progress had been made in identifying cultural landscapes during the first decade of HALS, but much more work was needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

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Make Your Voice Heard: ASLA’s Federal & State Legislative Priorities

Pink cherry blossoms and the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC
image: “Spring Blossoms @ the U.S. Capitol” by jpellgen, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

All ASLA members are invited to participate in the biennial Federal & State Legislative Priorities Survey. As the national voice for the landscape architecture profession, we want to hear from you on what you think are the most important policy issues. Help determine ASLA’s federal legislative agenda and state advocacy activities for 2023-2024.

ASLA works with chapters, state and federal legislators, state and administration officials, and regulatory bodies to advance policies critical to the profession. The purpose of this short survey is twofold:

  • To formulate ASLA’s federal legislative priorities for the 118th Congress
  • To provide useful data to help guide chapters’ state legislative priorities and advocacy efforts.

Take this short survey on what policy issues matter most to you.

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Improve Your Project’s Carbon Footprint

SITES-certified Fort Missoula Park in Missoula, Montana / image: the Sustainable SITES Initiative

The carbon footprint of the built environment is often understood in terms of construction, building energy use, and transportation. However, landscapes also contain enormous potential to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change.

Studies show that with concerted global action on land use over the next decade—what the United Nations is calling the decade for ecosystem restoration—nature can be a significant and necessary part of the climate solution, offering up to 37% of the mitigation needed.

The Sustainable SITES Initiative promotes sustainable and resilient landscape development and can be used for development projects located on sites with or without buildings to enhance their sustainability, implement green infrastructure strategies and improve resilience.

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Celebrating Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

ASLA 2018 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. El Retorno a la Tierra/Going Back To the Land. Las Marías, Puerto Rico. Nicole Rivera-Ramos, Student ASLA / image: Nicole Rivera-Ramos

On April 5, 2022, I had the honor of being invited to give the inaugural speech to start the celebration of Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico. My goal was to share with members of the Institute of Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico the importance of supporting the profession and how they might contribute through ASLA and its platforms.

Although Puerto Rico is a United States territory, currently there is no ASLA chapter on the island. The closest professional affiliation is with the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). The theme of this year’s WLAM celebration in Puerto Rico was “Regenerative Landscapes”—however, I did not focus on presenting a project that integrates this concept. Instead, I focused on using the concept of regeneration—giving a new use to something, or using it in a different way to improve it—as an integral part of our concept of professional practice.

The response was so rewarding that I decided to share this speech after the event, perhaps inspiring others. My Landscape Architecture Month talk went as follows:

Everybody in this room has something in common: we are advocates of improving our natural and built environments, in our country and all around the world.

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World Landscape Architecture Month: Social Media Showcase

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Atlanta Dairies. Atlanta, Georgia. Perkins&Will / image: Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affil. ASLA

All throughout April, landscape architects around the world have been responding to ASLA’s World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) prompt to post to social media their response to the questions: What is landscape architecture? What does landscape architecture mean to you? This past week, ASLA National combed through the 1,000+ submissions to identify the top five #WLAM2022 Instagram posts, based on combined number of likes and comments, to repost on the National ASLA Instagram account.

In case any Field readers are taking a break from social media, or if you missed these amidst some overzealous scrolling, here are the top three posts, highlighting meandering meadow plantings, native plant communities, and the design process from concept to buildable plan.

Marcus Barnett Studio
London and Overton, United Kingdom

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Digital Landscape Architecture Conference Coming to Harvard GSD

by Stephen M. Ervin

DLA2022’s keynote speakers are Mirka Beneš of the University of Texas at Austin, Anya Domlesky, ASLA, Director of Research at SWA Group, and Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE / NYU. / image: DLA Conference

Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) Conference
June 9-10, 2022
Online and in-person at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Just three years ago, I attended the Digital Landscape Architecture Conference for the first time, when it was held in Dessau, Germany, home of the Bauhaus. At that time, I was invited to speak about BIM in landscape architecture and was amazed by the diverse audience present to listen, see, and engage. With eyes wide open, I too learned a great deal from faculty, students, practitioners, and various technology leaders. Soon after this experience, our Digital Technology PPN was asked to help spread the word about the following conference, to take place in the US, at Harvard GSD. Though COVID changed the dynamic for a couple of years, the conference retooled and continued virtually. As this year’s conference theme “Hybrid” describes the split nature of learning and disseminating presented information, it also translates to how our practice, research, and connectedness has quickly adapted and evolved to stay ahead of the new directions of the industry. I invite you to consider the announcement below by fellow DLA colleague, Stephen Ervin, and sincerely consider joining the conference either virtually or in-person to learn where digital technology in landscape architecture is heading next.
–Eric Gilbey, PLA, ASLA, Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) Immediate Past Chair

In 2020, the 21st international meeting of the Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) Conference was scheduled to come to the US for the first time ever, to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD)—after having been in Europe, mostly at the Hochschule Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, near Berlin, Germany, for the previous two decades.

Of course, the 2020 conference, planned for June of that year, was dramatically disrupted by the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Harvard along with much of the US was locked down, and the conference was held from my home office, entirely on Zoom, then a still-new experience for many of us.

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New Environmental Justice Case Study: Officer Daniel Webster Children’s Park

Officer Daniel Webster Children’s Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico / image: MRWM Landscape Architects

One of the most frequently requested resources amongst landscape architects working on environmental justice is a database of precedent projects to reference. Since 2019, the ASLA Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (EJ PPN) has been collecting case studies in order to build a robust set of examples of how to promote environmental justice into our field of practice. A new project featuring a new park in a low-income area with limited access to open spaces was recently added to this PPN resource:

Officer Daniel Webster Children’s Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Owner: City of Albuquerque
Designer: MRWM Landscape Architects
Contractor: Lee Landscapes

This park is in Albuquerque’s International District, a neighborhood that has limited parks and other public open spaces. In the early planning phases, the neighborhood strongly advocated for a park instead of developing the vacant site as a municipal bus facility. Three phases of the park have been constructed and include a large shaded play structure, group gathering areas, and a turf area with rolling hills and dense trees. Future phases will include a turf recreation field, nature-play spaces, and additional group activity areas. This park is a valued community space, providing a critical green space in a low-income neighborhood.

Read the full case study >

Case study submitted by:
Gregory Miller, PLA, FASLA
Principal Landscape Architect, MRWM Landscape Architects

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TRB Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design Mid-Year Workshop

by Willson S. McBurney, ASLA

image: Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AKD40) will hold our mid-year meeting June 26-29, 2022, at the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in Winter Harbor, Maine. Registration is now open!

All Committee members and friends are encouraged to attend the AKD40 2022 Mid-Year Workshop. The Schoodic Institute is about 1.25 hours from Bangor, 3.5 hours from Portland, and 5.5 hours from Boston.

We will conduct Committee business and will learn of the region’s rich transportation history and current best practices from the area’s transportation leaders. Tuesday’s learning sessions will focus on Coastal Maine’s transportation infrastructure needs and the resulting multimodal solutions that are satisfying the needs of Acadia National Park and the Bold Coast. Tours of the new transportation system at Acadia National Park, the Schoodic Byway, and local complete streets projects are anticipated.

The Committee will complete current TRB assignments and work products to prepare for the January 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

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Students Exploring Enriching Design: Hammock Hollow at Bok Tower Gardens

by Kaylin Slaughter, Student ASLA, and Kenneth Hurst, ASLA

A sketch of my friend basking under the palms, taking in the exquisite site. / image: Kaylin Slaughter

The mission of this study trip to Orlando, Florida, was to have the second year landscape architecture students at Texas A&M University engage with a question about popular play spaces: what elements of design make these spaces work? Students were given pencils and a journal, and were invited to tap into the knowledge we had acquired thus far in our education and record our uniquely formed observations. Through this journaling process we developed unexpected and meaningful relationships with the sites we visited.

In built environments, an individual’s experience of any given site may often feel as programmed as the paths of travel. However, designers have the capacity to see a site for its full potential. As a student of design, I see the world through two lenses. One is the rose-colored glass that shows me the designed world the way the landscape architect intended it to be seen. The other lens offers a designer’s X-ray vision that allows me to see past beauty to purpose. As a design student I am caught between these perspectives—I can uncover a space with childlike wonder, and yet I have the vocabulary to articulate the design’s successes while doing so on a journey deeper into a site’s purpose than most user groups could. This realization came to me as my classmates and I were observing a children’s play space.

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It’s Time to Show the World What Landscape Architecture is All About

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Atlanta Dairies. Atlanta, Georgia. Perkins&Will / image: Perkins&Will and Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affil. ASLA

We’re nearly halfway through World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), so today we are running through a few reminders for upcoming events, special calls to action, and more ways to take part in this global celebration of landscape architecture and the work of landscape architects.

Designing for Pollinators

On Thursday, April 14, ASLA will host a screening of the PBS Nature film My Garden of a Thousand Bees, followed by a post-film discussion with Patricia Algara, PLA, ASLA, founding principal of BASE Landscape Architecture, and Clay Bolt, World Wildlife Federation expert. Learn more and register and register to watch the film and join the post-discussion.

Celebrate Frederick Law Olmsted

Olmsted Proclamation Introduced in Congress 

A bipartisan measure, H. Res. 1013, has been introduced to recognize and celebrate Olmsted’s legacy. Contact your legislator today to urge them to cosponsor this special legislation that celebrates Olmsted and the profession of landscape architecture.

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The Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative: Vision and Concepts

image: Adam Szuscik on Unsplash

ASLA’s RFQs, Opportunities, and Events page provides information on everything from calls for papers to competitions. Below, we highlight a recently submitted series of public meetings. Anyone who would like to share an opportunity may submit information online.

The stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., between the White House and the U.S. Capitol is one of the most recognizable streetscapes. Tourists, runners, festivalgoers, protesters, skateboarders, and D.C. residents alike all know this iconic location well, and given the very many uses and user groups for this iconic urban space, reimagining it for the future is no simple task.

The Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative kicked off in 2015, and just last month, a public comment period opened for three concepts—Urban Capital, Linear Green, and Civic Stage—with different approaches to achieving the initiative’s vision: “to transform Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the U.S. Capitol into America’s stage and a street that prioritizes people over cars with inviting and inclusive public spaces.”

Starting next week, the National Capital Planning Commission is hosting three virtual public meetings for people to learn more and ask questions.

Public Meetings: Pennsylvania Avenue Vision and Concepts

  • Wednesday, April 13, 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Tuesday, April 26, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Saturday, May 21, 10:00-11:30 a.m. (Eastern)

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Be Part of the SITES for Existing Landscapes Certification Pilot

by Danielle Pieranunzi

SITES-certified Washington Canal Park in Washington, DC / image: Sustainable SITES Initiative

Do you want to better understand how your completed project is performing and demonstrate its success? Do you have an existing park, campus, government facility, or other outdoor space that you would like to earn SITES certification for sustainable and resilient land development? Are you interested in informing and influencing the next SITES certification tool?

If any of this sounds of interest, the Sustainable SITES Initiative wants to hear from you.

SITES certification offers a path for landscape projects to enhance their sustainability, implement green infrastructure strategies, and improve resilience through nature-based solutions. As you may know, the current SITES v2 rating system is directed at new construction and major renovation projects. While this work is vital, there are many more landscapes that have already been built that seek these same goals.

To address this gap, SITES is currently developing a framework that expands into ongoing sustainable site management practices and the monitoring and reporting of their social, economic, and environmental benefits.

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The Common Space Series: Q&As with Public Practitioners

Left to right: Terry Clements, FASLA, Jon Wreschinsky, ASLA, PLA, and Haley Blakeman, FASLA, PLA / images: courtesy of the interviewees

The field of landscape architecture is one of astonishing breadth, and one need only take a look at ASLA’s membership to see how wide an expanse landscape architects’ professional trajectories cover. ASLA’s Public Practice Advisory Committee aspires to encourage more landscape architects, including students and emerging professionals, to pursue careers in the public sector—working for local, state, and federal government agencies, universities and colleges, or parks and arboreta. Many of these ASLA members have found their way to public practice after years in private practice, looking to shape public policy and have an impact on public spaces for the common good.

The realm of public practice, including non-profit and governmental work, offers unique opportunities and challenges to practitioners. In an ongoing series for ASLA’s LAND newsletter, members of the Public Practice Advisory Committee and other landscape architects showcase those opportunities and share insights on their public practice careers. We highlight the most recent conversations below.

Haley Blakeman, FASLA, PLA
Suzanne L. Turner Professor at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University
Interview conducted by Om Khurjekar, ASLA, PLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

“There was a public education component to every project. We never worked in a community unless the residents and leadership invited us. Many times, we did the initial community engagement, capacity building, and master planning that would then be followed by a detailed site design led by a design firm. We built support for projects, which made it easier for design firms to get projects funded and built.”

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Precious Oasis

by CeCe Haydock, ASLA, LEED AP, SITES AP

Hyssop, thoroughwort, goldenrod, and little bluestem / image: CeCe Haydock

The poetry of sustainability is illustrated by a SITES pilot project, the Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, certified silver in 2015.

Sandwiched between a college campus and a heavily trafficked highway, the nineteen acres of the Hempstead Plains remain just as they were before humans set foot on Long Island: a native Eastern prairie. The Plains once comprised more than 40,000 acres before becoming suburbanized. Today, this precious oasis of grasses and forbs—paired with the new Education Center, made from recycled shipping containers and topped with a green roof—serves as an outdoor classroom for all ages of students.

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Celebrating & Preserving Rhode Island’s Historic Cemeteries

by Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

The walled burying ground of the Noyes family dating back to the early 1700s is still maintained by descendants of the Noyes family. / image: Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

Rhode Island Historic Cemeteries Awareness and Preservation Weeks
April 1 – May 31, 2022

Rhode Island has 39 cities and towns, and all have historic cemeteries within their boundaries. These historic cemeteries provide a window into the developmental patterns of each community and demonstrate the social and economic growth, as well as the changes that have occurred throughout each community.

The Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries maintains a website that provides members and other interested parties with information about historical cemeteries as well as a comprehensive database to search historical cemeteries by location (map), by cemetery, or by gravestone. The website also provides valuable information about gravestone conservation, the history of the database, a handbook about Rhode Island’s Historical Cemeteries and the rules and regulations for maintaining them:

Every year the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries holds an “awareness and preservation week” where members of the Commission and other advocates invite the public to learn about historical cemeteries and to address maintenance issues throughout the state. This work entails weeding, pruning of trees, and repair of headstones and includes training volunteers in the proper care and maintenance of these historical cemeteries.

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Apply to Be Part of the ASLA Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program

ASLA Diversity Summit / image: EPNAC

ASLA launched the Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program to support women of color in their pursuit of landscape architecture licensure and increase racial and gender diversity within the profession.

In its inaugural year, the program will provide 10 women of color with a two-year, personalized experience that includes up to $3,500 to cover the cost of sections of the Landscape Architectural Registration Exam (LARE), along with exam preparation courses, resources, and mentorship from a licensed landscape architect.

Apply to become part of the ASLA Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program by April 1, 2022.

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PPN Roundtable: Climate Change’s Impacts on Parks and Recreation

images: Matt Boehner and courtesy of the 2022 NEWEA Annual Conference session “Effects of Sea Level Rise on Maine’s Wastewater Infrastructure”

With World Landscape Architecture Month just two weeks away, ASLA’s Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team have compiled observations made and actions taken in response to climate change and its manifold impacts—impacts that are being felt around the world. Though something so wide-reaching can be difficult to grasp fully in scale and scope, we hope these updates from your peers in landscape architecture and from parks and rec departments across the country may help make the sprawling challenges wrought by climate change a little more tangible—and demonstrate how imperative it is to take action now.

Contributions for today’s post come from:

  • Matt Boehner, ASLA – Columbia, Missouri
  • Kalle Maggio, ASLA – New England
  • Bronwen Mastro, ASLA, PLA, LEED BD+C – Bend, Oregon
  • Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, PLA – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Steph Thisius-Sanders, ASLA, PLA – Bakersfield, California

Matt Boehner, ASLA
Senior Landscape Architect, Columbia Parks and Recreation
Columbia, Missouri

There has been an increase in large flood event storms since 2015, with 100-, 200-, and even 500-year events occurring every two or three years. Over the course of June 23-25, 2021, the Mid-Missouri area recorded nearly 11 inches of rainfall, resulting in over $500,000 in flood damage to parks and trails throughout Columbia.

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