Introducing the Education & Practice PPN

At the Denver Botanic Gardens image: Jules Bruck
At the Denver Botanic Gardens
image: Jules Bruck

A new Professional Practice Network has been established: Education & Practice, ASLA’s nineteenth PPN. Co-Chairs Jules Bruck, Affiliate ASLA, and Hilary Noonan, Associate ASLA, will lead the new group. The inaugural meeting of the PPN will take place during the Annual Meeting in Denver on Sunday, November 23 from 12:45-1:20 PM.

The Education & Practice PPN promotes collaboration and the sharing of ideas, issues, and trends that advance the profession, while informing undergraduate and graduate education. Building upon the significant research, innovations, and challenges happening in academic, public, and private practice, it seeks to promote a two-way dialogue that identifies needs and opportunities within education and practice. To read the PPN’s full mission statement, visit

All ASLA members may join one PPN for free, and each additional PPN for only $15 per year. To join the Education & Practice PPN, email, or call 888-999-ASLA.

In addition, there is an Education & Practice LinkedIn group that is open to all interested individuals.

A Message from the Education & Practice PPN Co-Chairs:

For this year’s Annual Meeting, we have highlighted a few sessions and events that we believe are right on target to connect academic, public, and private practitioners to better prepare students to succeed in the profession.

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Water Conservation at the Annual Meeting

At the Denver Botanic Gardens image: Misty Faucheux via Flickr
At the Denver Botanic Gardens
image: Misty Faucheux via Flickr

The 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver offers a variety of intermediate and advanced learning opportunities for professionals interested in Water Conservation. Here are a few of the events to check out:

Friday, November 21

FS-004 South Denver’s Captivating Contemporary Country Estates
FS-013 The Elephant Gets His Way: Innovation at the Denver Zoo
FRI-A08 Water As a Medium: Infrastructure, Expression, and Collaboration at The Clark
FRI-B03 Bioretention in the Desert, You’re Joking Right?
FRI-C02 Old School Green Infrastructure from A to Z: Acequias to Zuni Bowls
FRI-D01 Artful Rainwater Design: Ideas on Green Infrastructure that Celebrates Rain
PPN Networking Reception

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Historic Preservation Highlights in Denver

Denver's Civic Center image: © Scott Dressel-Martin
Denver’s Civic Center
image: © Scott Dressel-Martin

Let’s connect in Denver!

‘Resilience,’ the theme of the 2014 ASLA Annual Meeting, is particularly relevant to our PPN’s collective work in cultural resources and historic preservation. This meeting is a great opportunity to join colleagues and friends in the great ‘Queen City of the Plains’ for discussions, outings, and exploration of the most current issues and ideas in our design and planning for historic places.

Five field sessions offer opportunities to explore Denver’s history, from urban neighborhoods to CCC landscapes of the Denver Mountain Parks to works by Garrett Eckbo and Lawrence Halprin. Eight+ education sessions explore topics as diverse as social and cultural influences in design and planning to how-to’s for working with historic designed landscapes.

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) booth will be located in ASLA Central on the EXPO floor, along with Meet the Editors—Martha McDonald, editor of Traditional Building magazine, is participating—and TCLF will launch the new What’s Out There Guide to Denver.

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Combating Obesity Through Play

image: Chad Kennedy
image: Chad Kennedy

As I observe young toddlers playing in the park, at their homes, or at school, I often contemplate their seemingly innate need to run from one activity to the next. Despite the fact that they trip, fall, break and bang into things, running is the preferred method of transition, regardless of the activity or endeavor. How many knees are scraped, glasses of milk spilt, and cranial contusions occur each day because of this reckless behavior? It is almost physically draining to watch as an observer!

An attentive onlooker, however, might learn a thing or two from this unlearned drive to engage in physical vigor. If toddlers only continued to engage in similar forms of vigorous movement as they grew into adolescence and adulthood, the issues of obesity and lack of physical health that face our society today would certainly not exist. The reality is however, that most of us slow down as we age, finding it more of a burden than an advantage to exert a toddler-like level of energy, often leading to less than healthy weight and activity levels. This leads to several questions. How big of an issue is obesity in the United States? Are there ways to combat the obesity trend by keeping children interested in active behaviors as they grow older? What can parents do to help?

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Working with Pirates

Even in the contractor's nurseries, the standard of care does not reach the level that the design landscape architect may expect--schedule control, procurement and construction documentation should be clear and complete. image: Edward Flaherty
Even in the contractor’s nurseries, the standard of care does not reach the level that the design landscape architect may expect
image: Edward Flaherty

You may wonder what it’s like to work in the cradle of Western Civilization—the trading posts between the East and West, the Middle East and North Africa, and, for millennia, primarily a landscape of traders.

But first, we’ll start with something you may be more familiar with. Large nurseries like Monrovia, Keeline Wilcox and ValleyCrest often have rows upon rows of trees, shrubs and ground covers, each properly pruned, grown to near perfection and available in seemingly unlimited quantities in any size you want. Selecting plants there is the same as going down the breakfast cereal aisle in a large American grocery store—huge selections, multiple sizes of each, in massive quantities. Just like cereal boxes, the plants in these nurseries are labelled, well displayed, properly set out and all uniformly healthy. That sophistication and mastery of horticultural and logistics processes—integral to plant growth—is a spectacular achievement that some landscape architects never fully appreciate—until they worked with the pirate landscape contractors of the Middle East.

In the Western Region of Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s, a large new town was under construction and street trees were part of the infrastructure work. That was the first time some landscape architects had seen—on a competitively bid, huge project scale—plants being grown in used, empty tin cans. Always rusting, the cans rarely even had drainage holes and were always stacked cheek-by-jowl to save on land rental costs. Plants were hand watered seemingly by chance. Pruning equipment? Just never around.

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The Art and Science of Urban Landscapes

Klyde Warren Park; Dallas; designed by the Office of James Burnett; opened in 2012. An LAF Case Study Investigation (CSI) performance study image: Taner R. Ozdil, 2013
Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, designed by the Office of James Burnett, opened in 2012 — an LAF Case Study Investigation (CSI) performance study
image: Taner R. Ozdil, 2013

The Art and Science of Urban Landscapes—One Performance Study at a Time

As urban areas continue to densify—cities now house more than 50% of the population in the United States—open green space has become a much desired but scarce commodity. The meaning attached to urban landscapes is now much more than its mere aesthetic value. It is the combination of economic, environmental, social and aesthetic implications of landscape projects that creates synergy around landscape architecture as part of urban form and function.

The global ‘environmental awakening,’ especially in the early 2000s, and growing awareness of sustainable and green design practices across design and planning fields made us more cognizant of issues such as rapid urbanization, uneven natural and human resource allocation, extraneous consumption behaviors, climate change and rapid ecological and environmental degradation. Such developments reminded both academia and practitioners that there are two sides (“the art” and “the science”) to understanding, designing, constructing and managing landscapes, and landscape architecture professionals have the opportunity to be in the forefront of this discussion with well-established, knowledge-based practices, especially in complex urban settings.

Investigating landscape performance and learning from past lessons has become a necessary dimension of landscape architecture, not only to reduce the gap between academia and practitioners, but also to promote the impact of the field as part of urban design. It is critical to subscribe to the phrase “the art and science” more than ever to elevate our roles and to better understand and shape the built environment.

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Urban Renewal & Resilient Design at SXSW Eco

The amphitheater at Historic Fourth Ward Park, part of the Atlanta BeltLine image: John McNicholas via Flickr
The amphitheater at Historic Fourth Ward Park, part of the Atlanta BeltLine
image: John McNicholas via Flickr

Interview with Nette Compton, ASLA

Nette Compton has served as an officer of the Sustainable Design and Development PPN for the past year, and she will be stepping up to the PPN co-chair position at this year’s ASLA Annual Meeting in Denver. Nette is actively involved in many sustainable and urban design initiatives and events through her work at the Trust for Public Land, and we wanted to highlight her upcoming session at SXSW Eco, which takes place next week, October 6-8, 2014, in Austin. Nette will be on the panel discussing “Urban Renewal and Resilient Design” on October 8. In the interview below, she shares some information about the session and why this topic is of such critical importance.

One of the reasons that we have decided to provide more exposure here in The Field about this event is to encourage other SDD PPN members to participate in outreach efforts on sustainability and resiliency aimed at groups outside of the profession. Landscape architects can raise awareness about how our profession contributes expertise and solutions for urban renewal and resilient design. We welcome contributions like this by SDD members, on talks that they will be or have been involved in on sustainability initiatives. Please share your ideas!
–Lisa Cowan, ASLA, SDD PPN Co-Chair

How did this presentation come about?

In my new role at the Trust for Public Land, part of my position entails speaking about the impact of public space on cities. As Associate Director of City Park Development, I focus on how parks can improve the livability and function of cities for its residents, from providing a place to play to landscape-scale improvements in air and water quality. The presentation’s emphasis on resiliency and creative use of urban space fit right in with my past experience at the New York City Parks Department, where I was the Director of Green Infrastructure and involved in climate and resilience planning both pre- and post-Sandy. We wanted to have practitioners from around the country as part of the discussion as well, to show how these big ideas of resilience planning for cities at the landscape scale can happen anywhere, and take advantage of a range of opportunities.

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