Annual Meeting Highlights from Water Conservation

Boston's Public Garden image: Alexandra Hay
Boston’s Public Garden
image: Alexandra Hay

Flying home from 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting in Boston,  my flight back to Seattle encountered typical Midwest winter weather in the Great Lakes area, perhaps the only large region in the US without an existential threat to their fresh water supply. My hours traveling gave me time to reflect on the Annual Meeting’s over a dozen sessions related to water conservation. Three education sessions plus our Water Conservation PPN Meeting are featured below, all of which reflect how the water conservation focus at the 2012 Phoenix conference remained high on the national agenda at the Boston 2013 conference. Below, you’ll find my thoughts on a project in San Diego, biophilic design, plus discussion among a dozen  leading water conservation professionals.

Whether you attended the Annual Meeting or could not make the trip to Boston this year, I’m happy to share a few highlights. Each session title is a link, providing more information about the presenters or subject of that session, so please take a look!

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Investing in Natural Infrastructure

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

From meeting increasing demand with aging water infrastructure to planning for extreme weather events, the challenges of managing water wisely are growing ever more numerous and complex.

The World Resources Institute recently released a report, Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States, on how forests, wetlands, and floodplains can play a central role in avoiding and alleviating water-related crises. Drawing on the expertise of more than 50 authors, the report describes in detail how currently underutilized natural infrastructure might be harnessed to improve water management practices, and the many opportunities there are for doing so. The case studies included range from forest-based efforts in Maine, Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado, and Washington to a stormwater control program on Staten Island, New York.

The report is intended to be “a call to action for water utility staff and land managers alike to bring natural infrastructure into focus in their institutions, with this guide as a foundation from which businesses and municipalities can innovate in the face of a growing water crisis.” By investing in natural infrastructure now, water managers can both reduce the costs of water management and help to ensure access to clean water for generations to come.

The full report can be read online here.

Wind Turbines and Landscape

These wind turbines are located in Western Australia, about 200 km north of Perth, along Bibby Road west of Badgingarra National Park. image: Philip Bouchard via Flickr
Wind turbines in Western Australia, about 200 km north of Perth, along Bibby Road west of Badgingarra National Park.
image: Philip Bouchard via Flickr

The proceedings of the 8th Round Table of the Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, held in Montreal this past March, can now be viewed online. The Round Table focused on “Wind Turbines and Landscape: Towards Sustainable Development,” a topic of great interest, and sometimes great debate, for those in the fields of sustainable design and renewable energy. The discussion explores both the environmental and visual impacts of wind farms and the ambivalence of public opinion on the issue—-many people like the idea of wind farms, but pull back at the thought of wind turbines near their own communities.

The Round Table’s full proceedings are available for download here.

On a related note, the September 2013 issue of The Atlantic highlights a radically different kind of wind turbine: the Electrostatic Wind Energy Convertor. Developed by researchers at the Delft University of Technology and designed by the Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo, the Convertor consists of a rectangular frame crossed by horizontal tubes instead of the typical turbine’s long, swinging blades. Silent and easy to maintain, the Convertor eliminates many of the wind turbine’s drawbacks, while presenting a whole new set of design challenges to landscape architects attempting to integrate new, sustainable technologies into the landscape.

Read more and check out a photograph of the Electrostatic Wind Energy Convertor on The Atlantic‘s website.

Planting Design Annual Meeting Preview

image: Deirdre Toner
image: Deirdre Toner

With the ASLA Annual Meeting coming up fast, I would like to remind everyone about the PPN Networking Reception on Friday, November 15 at 5:15pm and the Planting Design PPN Meeting on Sunday morning, November 17, 10:10-10:45am, where we will look at a summary of the results from our 2013 Planting Design Survey and strategize together for the information you’d like to receive from your PPN in 2014. See you there!

Here’s a glance at the events and education sessions with a particular emphasis on planting design.

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Residential Design at ASLA 2013

Rough Point, one of the stops on a Saturday Field Session in Newport, Rhode Island image: Rick Laferriere
Rough Point, one of the mansions that will be visited during a field session focusing on Newport, Rhode Island
image: Rick Laferriere

With the ASLA Annual Meeting only weeks away, it’s time for a glance at the events with a particular emphasis on residential design:

On Friday, November 15, there are two great field sessions. Thomas Elmore, ASLA and Jennifer Judge, ASLA have planned visits to two of Newport, Rhode Island’s treasures, The Elms and Rough Point. See two of Rhode Island’s most beloved mansions and get a sense of high, high-end residential design from years past.

On a more contemporary note, Keith LeBlanc and his team are hosting a day-long excursion to some of his most beautiful private gardens. Tour the residences with Keith and understand how the artisanship of highly-detailed residential landscape design persists today.

As residential designers, a detailed and sophisticated grasp of plants is key. Learn how to get the most mileage and best performance from your horticultural selections by attending Sunday, November 17’s session, “Effective Strategies for Horticultural Sustainability in Planting Design” with Patrick Cullina and W. Gary Smith, ASLA.

On that note, as a residential designer, establishing collaborative working relationships with experts in the nursery trade is vital for learning about current cultivars, and rediscovered species and sourcing excellent specimen material. This topic is covered in detail on Monday, November 18’s session, “Planting: Unlocking Creativity Through New Avenues of Designer/Grower Collaboration.” Speakers include nursery owners Chet Halka and Theodore Kiefer as well as Edmund Hollander, FASLA and Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA.

On the business side of things, check out “The One-Man Show” on Sunday, November 17. Mike Heacox, ASLA, Chris Thompson, ASLA, Duane Christopher, ASLA and Annette Heacox, ASLA discuss the agony and ecstasy of micro business management.

And don’t forget about the PPN Networking Reception on Friday, November 15 at 5:15pm and the Residential Landscape Architecture PPN Meeting on Sunday, November 17 at 4pm–I look forward to seeing you there!

by Jennifer Horn, Chair of the Residential Landscape Architecture PPN