Places with Potential

ASLA 2017 Professional Research Honor Award. Rendering Los Angeles Green: The Greenways to Rivers Arterial Stormwater System (GRASS), Los Angeles, CA. 606 Studio Cal Poly Pomona / image: 606 GRASS I Team, Cal Poly Pomona

When we asked ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members what place has the most potential to be transformed by landscape architecture, the top answer was perfectly clear: cities came up again and again in the responses. Specific cities that were mentioned include Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, Oakland, Utica, Washington, DC, and Hong Kong.

Many responses also called out specific urban areas that are especially good places for landscape architects to rethink:

“Cities, particularly vacant/underused publicly owned land.”

“Cities/brownfields and other abused urban spaces.”

“Historic landscapes of urban centers.”

“Inner city housing.”

“Leftover urban spaces: rights-of-way, utility easements, artificial drainage ‘improvements.’”

“Old, worn-out city parks.”

“Urban streetscapes.”

ASLA 2017 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Fitzgerald Revitalization Project: Landscapes as the Framework for Community Reinvestment, Detroit, MI. Spackman Mossop Michaels / image: Spackman Mossop Michaels

Though the emphasis was clearly on cities, many other types of places that landscape architecture could transform also appeared, ranging from the opposite extremes of the Sahara and the ocean floor, and everything in between:

“Trick question…everywhere.”

“Any poorly planned suburban strip development.”

“Any retail, urban, suburban, transportation and industrial space. Too often, we surrender this space to the engineers, and we should be directing their efforts. We need to also bring some common sense to planning and zoning laws and enforcement, too.”

“Derelict industrial sites.”

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. SteelStacks Arts + Cultural Campus, Bethlehem, PA. WRT / image: Jeffrey Totaro

“Developer-driven suburbia.”

“Empty lots within neighborhoods have the great potential to be converted to smart community gardens and insertion of a community garden in a local park or in a school yard is beneficial for the community instead of application of a cosmetic landscape design.”

“Every ecologically-barren traditional corporate landscape with its turf, asphalt, and storm drains, etc.”

“Housing for the middle class.”

“RV parks and campgrounds.”

“School campuses.”

“Schools and civic buildings/spaces.”

“Street design.”

“Suburbia and exurbia.”

“The arid southwest.”

“The edges – mostly coastlines, but anywhere near a shoreline that will be affected by melting glaciers and rising sea level.”

“The kitchen. People ask for mudrooms, but what clients want is for their garden to relate directly to eating and social spaces.”

“Public roadsides.”

“The street, the parking lot, and the roof.”

Before. ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Klyde Warren Park – Bridging the Gap in Downtown Dallas, Texas. OJB Landscape Architecture / image: OJB Landscape Architecture
After. ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Klyde Warren Park – Bridging the Gap in Downtown Dallas, Texas. OJB Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner Photography

At the start of 2015, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). The theme: creativity and inspired design. As you can imagine, responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2015, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field. For the latest updates on the results of the annual PPN Survey, see LAND’s PPN News section.

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