Who Do You Admire?

Peninsula Residence, Hillsborough, CA, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Residential Design Category / image: Marion Brenner

When we asked ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members whose work (an individual landscape architect or a firm) they most admire in a 2015 survey, one response basically sums up the results: “too many to list.” Another member emphasized how their answer is constantly changing: “Today…Andrea Cochran…tomorrow MVVA…depends what I’m working on and how I feel!” Clearly, there are many landscape architects out there doing exceptional work, and highlighted below are both some familiar names and hopefully a few new ones to check out when you need a new source of inspiration.

Here are the most admired landscape architects, designers, and firms, each coming up four times or more:

  1. Laurie Olin, FASLA – OLIN
  2. Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA – Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
  3. Douglas Reed, FASLA, and Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA – Reed Hilderbrand
  4. Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA – Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
  5. Piet Oudolf
  6. Frederick Law Olmsted
  7. Dan Kiley
  8. Nelson Byrd Woltz
  9. Oehme, Van Sweden
  10. Peter Walker, FASLA – PWP Landscape Architecture
  11. James Corner, ASLA – James Corner Field Operations
  12. Thomas Church

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Victory on the Mississippi and the Role of Landscape Architects

The Mississippi River along New Madrid, MO

Before obtaining my Master of Landscape Architecture last spring at the University of Maryland, I worked for the National Wildlife Federation as coordinator of the Water Protection Network, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs from around the country working to modernize US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water resources policies. The USACE has been leading the federal government’s approach to water resource management for navigable rivers since the late 1920s.

Familiarity with a whole host of water resource professionals, environmental activists, and scientists who play an active role in helping to shape the federal government’s role in water resources management enables me to share details about the controversial New Madrid Levee Project.

A resolution from the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) provides an overview of the St. John’s Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project (New Madrid Levee project for short), a proposed quarter-mile levee in southeast Missouri. This resolution was the result of a deal CEQ brokered between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and USACE, who disagreed on whether mitigation the USACE proposed was adequate to replace the wetland and floodplain functions the New Madrid Levee would eliminate.

One might conclude that this case study is a poster child for how to (or how not to) manage our big river systems in the US. With the resolution, CEQ stopped the pending USACE project in its tracks while it was under final stage review to construct the New Madrid Levee. The New Madrid Levee would have severed the Mississippi River from the last place in all of Missouri where the river can flow into the floodplain to create backwater habitat that is vital for flood attenuation and fish and wildlife habitat. Approximately 50,000 acres of wetlands (comparable in size to Washington, DC) with valuable water conservation and critical fish and wildlife functions would be eliminated should the proposed levee ever be built.

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Learning in the Garden, Part 1

image: Kasey Wooten

The learning garden is a designed outdoor space meant to help children engage with and learn about the natural world, as well as provide opportunities for physical, mental, and social growth. Spaces that serve this purpose can vary hugely in form, size, and design, as well as programming, funding, and intended users. We are excited to present a three-part series of learning garden case studies to better understand how these spaces come to be, how they function now, and what we can learn from them for future projects.

The first of these case studies is the school garden A.P. Giannini Middle School in San Francisco. We asked Kasey Wooten, the school’s Outdoor Science and Garden Consultant, some questions about the facility and her role in its daily operations. Kasey is an educator with a background in farming, and she brings these skills, along with a personal interest in sustainability and in how young people relate to the food they eat, to enrich the education and growth of her students.

-Brenna Castro, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair

Where is your garden located? Is it a public or private facility?

The garden is located in the Outer Sunset in San Francisco, just 10 blocks from Ocean Beach. It sits in the middle of the school, protected by buildings on three sides. A.P. Giannini (APG) is a public school and the schoolyard, including the garden, is open to the public on Sundays 9am-4pm through the Shared Schoolyard Project.

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Effective Communication in the Architecture & Design Industry

image: iStock

In today’s world, we are bombarded by media for communication. Technology has provided us a wide array of communication tools, from desk lines to cell phones, texting to instant messaging and email, and more. But how do we know when to use the appropriate form of communication? With so many choices, often we choose the most convenient method, when it is not always the best choice for the project, company, or ourselves.

  1. Think about your reason for communication. Is it a quick discussion with a peer to move forward with your work? A simple graphic question? Do you need confirmation on utility routing from a Civil consultant? Do you need approval from a manager before proceeding on to the next step in design?
  2. Know your audience. Do you have a software question for a Millennial? Or perhaps performance praise for a peer? Are you dealing with a Discipline Director? Inside the company, or external to the company? What are the personality traits of your audience? Do they prefer detailed information or are they quick and to the point? Does a little small talk help engage the listener?
  3. Know the situation. Is time a factor? Are you requesting information or dispensing it? Is there a need to document the conversation?

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Submit a Speed Session Idea for NRPA

New Orleans Riverfront: Reinventing the Crescent, New Orleans, Louisiana, Hargreaves Associates, 2008 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category / image: Hargreaves Associates and TEN Arquitectos, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

The 2017 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Annual Conference is coming to New Orleans this September, and NRPA is now accepting applications for Speed Sessions—a great way for new speakers to dip their toe in the water and share their ideas.

These 20-minute Speed Sessions are a great opportunity to speak in front of a group of your peers without having to commit to a lengthy presentation. Whether you are a first time or experienced speaker, NRPA invites enthusiastic professionals to share your stories and experiences at these sessions.

Speed Session proposals are due by March 24, 2017. Visit the NRPA website for more details and to submit your session ideas.

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Welcome to the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture

The inaugural LAM Lecture on March 9, 2017 featured Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, in conversation with Bradford McKee, Editor, LAM / image: Alexandra Hay

Last Thursday, Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) presented the first public event held in the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. The inaugural LAM Lecture, featuring Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, was just the start of a new phase for ASLA as a year of construction wraps up and we settle into our new space, designed by architecture firm Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden.

Below, we recap how the transformative renovation of ASLA headquarters in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood has progressed in recent months, giving ASLA a bright new home that embodies the mission, vision, and values of the Society and is also a showcase for sustainable design excellence.

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Where To Go To Feel Inspired

On the Soapstone Valley Trail to Rock Creek Park / image: Alexandra Hay

Landscape architects consider places in terms of their sustainability, aesthetics, design, ecological soundness, accessibility, and plant palettes, among many other facets and factors. But how often do you think about places as sources of inspiration? When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members where they go to feel inspired, responses ranged from the general to super-specific spots that spark their creativity.

For many, the key to finding inspiration is simply going outside. A walk in the woods was one of the most popular responses, and being near water—whether by a river or on the beach—was another frequent answer. Here are the key themes that members touched on:

Inspired by Nature

“A quiet place in nature, whether man-made or natural.”

“Any vantage point with a panoramic view of undisturbed land.”

“Bike ride in a rural roadway.”

“A walk outside in a park, forest, or prairie.”

“Public lands, parks—great spaces open to the public.”

“I take a walk (unfortunately it’s often here in the ‘burbs but even the most boring landscapes provoke ideas and thoughts).”

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Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing Promises Freedom for LA Mountain Lions

Proposed design for a wildlife overpass in Agoura Hills, CA / image: Clark Stevens, Architect, and Raymond Garcia, illustrator for Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains

In the modest town of Agoura Hills, CA, plans are underway to construct the largest wildlife overpass in the world. Crossing over 10 lanes of the 101 Freeway, the Liberty Canyon overpass will be approximately 165 feet wide and 200 feet long. The project aims to connect severely isolated wildlife populations within the Santa Monica Mountains to those in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains. Without such a connection, there is a significant risk that the local mountain lion population will go extinct in the next 50 years.

The design will include tunnels to accommodate more reclusive wildlife, a corridor of riparian vegetation, and sound walls to dampen the noise and headlights of the freeway. According to Clark Stevens, the architect and habitat restorationist behind the design of the overpass, a wildlife crossing is more successful when you provide multiple ways for wildlife to utilize it. For example, deer are more likely to cross over the top of the bridge, while predators such as bobcats are more likely to cross through the tunnels. The riparian corridor will restore familiar scent-paths for animals, helping to draw them through the crossing. In order to accommodate mountain lion behavior, the crossing will be sloped on both sides to provide high vantage points with a wide view.

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SITES AP Exam Chapter Contest: Will Your Chapter Take the Lead?

Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA, Andropogon Associates Ltd., 2014 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon
Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA, Andropogon Associates Ltd., 2014 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon

The SITES® AP Chapter Contest is well on its way and the three chapters in the lead are:


California Southern, California San Diego, Florida, and Minnesota are all neck and neck right behind Texas and there’s still a chance to catch up and take the lead. All participants that register and take the exam by March 31 will also have 90 days to retake the exam, at no additional cost, if needed.

Contest Rules and Awards

Two chapters will be awarded: the chapter with the most people and the chapter with the greatest percentage of their membership that register and take the exam by March 31, 2017, will be awarded a half-day SITES workshop! Those members who have already taken the exam since the launch of the exam (including those who took it at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting) are also included in the contest.

Be sure to send a tally of your members who have already taken the exam or who are registered and plan to take it by March 31 to sites@asla.org.

Register for the exam here!

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