2013 End-of-Year Roundup

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

To conclude 2013, The Field is rounding up a few end-of-year, landscape architecture-centric summaries and best-of lists. We hope you enjoy perusing them, and best wishes for a brilliant new year!

2013’s Notable Developments in Landscape Architecture

Written by Charles Birnbaum, President of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, this year-end summary is organized by a few key themes of 2013:

  • Assessing the aptness of designs and encouraging dialogues between landscapes and buildings and between old and new
  • Harmonious marriages between landscapes and buildings, such as the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien-designed Lakeside skating complex in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park
  • Credits and designations, including the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks designations
  • New York’s ongoing parks projects: Phase Three of the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Governors Island Park

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Congress on Coastal Resilience

The NOAA Center for Climate and Weather Prediction in College Park, Maryland image: Alexandra Hay
The NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Maryland
image: Alexandra Hay

The Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) held a Congress earlier this month at the NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on the subject of Coastal Resilience and Risk, an issue that already has a significant impact on most of the United States’, and the world’s, numerous coastal communities. Home to more than half of the nation’s population, the United States’ coasts are especially vulnerable. Currently, there is no shared vision or unified national program to reduce flood risk, and the issue is further complicated by a lack of funding for comprehensive flood mapping programs and a widespread lack of understanding of the risks that flooding entails.

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The 2013 HALS Challenge Winners

Gaiety Hollow. Center of Parterre Garden with the Arbor in the background.  image: Laurie Matthews, 2010
Gaiety Hollow. Center of Parterre Garden with the Arbor in the background.
image: Laurie Matthews, 2010

Congratulations to the 2013 HALS Challenge Winners!

The results of the 4th annual HALS Challenge, Documenting the Cultural Landscapes of Women, were announced at the HALS Subcommittee and Chapter Liaisons Meeting during the ASLA Annual Meeting and Expo in Boston on Saturday, November 16, 2013. Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 30 impressive HALS short format historical reports and 2 HALS drawing sets to the HALS collection!

  • 1st Place: Gaiety Hollow HALS OR-5, Salem, OR
    by Laurie Matthews
  • 2nd Place: The Arizona Inn HALS AZ-9, Tucson, AZ
    by Gina Chorover, Jennifer Levstik, and Helen Erickson with University of Arizona Student Researchers: Jae Anderson, Crystal Cheek, and Ryan Sasso
  • 3rd Place: Gypsy Camp for Girls, HALS AR-5, Siloam Springs, AR
    by Benjamin Stinnett and Kimball Erdman

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Children’s Outdoor Environments: Annual Meeting Highlights

Plaza with Native Plant Garden Links to the Pre-existing Harborwalk image: Lisa Horne
Plaza with native plant garden links to the pre-existing Harborwalk
image: Lisa Horne

The ASLA Annual Meeting in Boston had several informative presentations and exciting events on children’s outdoor environments. As always, the conference ends too soon. If you missed it this year or overlooked one or two of the presentations, see highlights below.

Field Session: Outdoor Classrooms Designed for Learning

This field session included an afternoon of touring three different schools: Harvard-Kent School, Russell School, and Perry School. The Boston Schoolyard Initiative has invested over $20 million in projects over the past 18 years with a total of 32 outdoor classrooms constructed. Over 850 teachers have been involved with the project and at least 30,000 school children are affected each year by the Boston Schoolyard Initiative’s work.

The notes for this session can still be downloaded here.

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The Cost of Green Infrastructure

image: Martha Sheils
image: Martha Sheils

As co-chair of the Sustainable Design and Development PPN, I work with other officers and ASLA staff to develop topics of interest and input from landscape architects and other allied professionals for this blog. Project economics are an important, but immensely challenging, topic in making the case for sustainable design. At the suggestion of Dena Kennett, ASLA, who worked on ASLA’s behalf to develop a green infrastructure workshop for the 2013 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference and worked directly with my colleague, Martha Sheils, a resource economics professional, to address this issue, we are trying something new here—adapting a PowerPoint presentation to this format to provide SDD members with access to information that resonated with conference attendees. 

When our company, Studioverde, was in its formative stages, I had many fruitful discussions with Martha—a friend and colleague from when we worked together in another multidisciplinary firm—about the importance of ecosystem services and the economic case for sustainable design, implementation, and maintenance. Martha has an uncanny ability to identify, distill, and communicate heady research outside of the landscape architecture profession that applies to our work. These early discussions and Martha’s research led us to the Sustainable Sites Initiative back in 2007, and she is currently working on education and outreach to help municipalities and professional organizations understand the benefits of integrated stormwater management models.
–Lisa Cowan, PLA, ASLA

The following article is Part 1 of a two-part series and was adapted from a panel discussion titled The Cost of Green Infrastructure as Convergence of Political Leadership, Architecture and Engineering: Cheaper than We Thought held during the 12th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building Safe, Healthy, Equitable and Prosperous Communities Conference  in February, 2013.

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Accessible Play Environments Pilot Study

image: Kenneth Hurst
Caruth Park in Dallas, Texas
image: Kenneth Hurst

“Play is the child’s work. The world is his laboratory, and he is the scientist.”
-M. Paul Friedberg, 1970, Play and Interplay, p. 35

Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1991 followed by the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design has ushered in an increasing awareness of accommodating people with physical challenges and has fostered an emphasis on accessibility and play for children of all abilities. In the spring of 2012, a user count study was undertaken in a suburban North Texas community to test a hypothesis that play environments built to a higher standard of accessibility, rather than the minimum requirements of ADA, are often more popular and receive more use than playgrounds meeting basic ADA standards.

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