What Exactly is a Transportation Landscape Architect?

by Jeff Lormand, ASLA

Interstate 15 South Design/Build Project, Las Vegas, NV. Contractor: Las Vegas Paving. Landscape Architect: Stantec. Design Oversight: NDOT/Parsons / image: Jack Sjostrom, Parsons

When I respond to new acquaintances’ customary question “…and what do you do?” I tell them I am a Transportation Landscape Architect. They look at me flummoxed and then add the follow-up question, “And just what, exactly, is a Transportation Landscape Architect?” So, I thought I would dedicate this post to a description of what a Transportation Landscape Architect is, exactly, and what I do to earn this title.

First, let me say that the term “Transportation Landscape Architect” is relatively new, and mostly used by those that deal with this industry sector (ok, really it is a self-designation). I use it in response to the American Society of Landscape Architects’, our national organization, nearly exclusive hyper-focus on the flashy gardens of homes, museums, or suburban office complexes. Don’t get me wrong, these are great projects. It’s fun to see what a large budget and good maintenance can achieve. But for those of us working daily in the trenches to create public spaces with little budget, very little anticipated maintenance, and a desire to create a more sustainable world, one can start to feel underappreciated and overlooked; hence the need to create a distinctive designation.

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Housing for a Changing America

ASLA 2016 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. The Rivermark, Sacramento, CA. Fletcher Studio / image: Mariko Reed

There is a wide gap between the diversity of American households and the housing stock, much of which is homogeneously geared toward nuclear families. Designers working in housing and community design are taking steps to address this disparity in innovative ways, from adapting older building types to make spaces more flexible to rethinking density and the scale of residences. With a changing population, an array of housing models is needed to address all residents’ needs, including those of the most vulnerable populations.

On February 7, 2018, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted a talk on supportive housing solutions, featuring presentations by Rosanne Haggerty, President, Community Solutions; Debbie Burkart, National Vice President, Supportive Housing, National Equity Fund, Inc.; and Jennifer Schneider, Associate Director of Housing Development, SOME (So Others Might Eat).

This program was part of a series complementing the museum’s new exhibition Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, open through September 16, 2018.

The exhibition offers a snapshot of the country’s housing needs, with some statistics that community designers, leaders, and policymakers should take into account as they imagine new ways to meet evolving demands. For instance, a dramatic shift in American households has taken place since 1950—nuclear families were the leading category then, at 43% of households. That percentage has dropped to 20%, while 28% of households are single people living alone—now the largest category.

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Parklets Recap from New Partners for Smart Growth 2018 Conference

The Mission Interactive Model, sponsored by Place It! / image: Katie Riddle

In February, the New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) conference, the nation’s largest smart growth and sustainability event, was held in San Francisco, CA. As a promotional sponsor, ASLA led the sixth annual Parklets Initiative along with the Local Government Commission (LGC). The interactive installations were created by design and planning firms as well as local non-profit organizations. The parklets were located adjacent to the conference session rooms, and provided an opportunity for attendees to carry over the dynamic interactive sessions into the common space, where they could network with colleagues and engage in dialogue around smart growth implementation. The programming elements of the parklets included urban forest products, creative placemaking though public transit stops, complete street design components, and participation-based urban planning tools.

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WaterSmart Irrigation & Water-Harvesting Enhance ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture

by Jim Davis, ASLA

ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture green roof / image: EPNAC

Modifications to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Headquarters building, now known as the Center for Landscape Architecture (CLA), are nearing completion for higher performance in water conservation. The exterior improvements are of particular interest to landscape architects and others who are sustainably-minded, as part of their ongoing Energy-Star initiatives. In addition to interior upgrades and hardscape improvements outside, the primary improvements of high interest to ASLA’s Water Conservation PPN include the water-harvesting system and the WaterSmart approach to irrigation for the greenroof, the new courtyard (east of the building) and the planted canopy overhanging the front windows and entry on the north side.

The light fixtures are visible, but the micro-spray emitters are not, in the building’s planted main entrance canopy.
Mostly shaded, the courtyard plantings are watered by low-volume drip-irrigation.

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2018 Diversity Summit Call for Letters of Interest

The Call for Letters of Interest to participate in the 2018 ASLA Diversity Summit is open through March 7, 2018 / image: EPNAC

ASLA will host the 2018 Diversity Summit from June 22-24 at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C. The six new professionals from the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit have been invited back, and ASLA is looking to invite six new participants to add valuable input to discussions and resource development. The goals of the 2018 Diversity Summit are to review benchmarks prioritized from the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit and create opportunities for participants to research and workshop resources for ASLA’s career discovery and diversity program.

Eligibility & Deadline

If you are a landscape architecture professional of color in the United States with at least two years of professional experience and are interested in applying, please complete the 2018 ASLA Diversity Summit Call for Letters of Interest by Wednesday, March 7.

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Landscape Architects’ Favorite Spots on Campus

Harvard Yard / image: Lance Katigbak via Flickr

Taking a look back at our 2016 Professional Practice Network (PPN) survey, the first question asked members to think back to their time as a student: what was your absolute favorite spot on campus?

The most popular responses—the quad, the student union, and, no surprises here, the studio—highlighted places central both to all students’ experiences, and spaces of special significance to future landscape architects. Besides the studio, nearly all responses touched on outdoor spots, from arboreta on campus to duck and turtle ponds and residential courtyards.

Perhaps the most interesting subset of answers might be those given by the Campus Planning & Design PPN members, as the campus specialists. Here are their top picks for favorite campus locales:

Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State University

Harvard Yard – “Old version, not new redone one.”

Hornbake Plaza, University of Maryland

“Intimate, off the beaten path seating area, surrounded by walls.”

“Spot on quad for people watching.”

Studio

The banks of the Providence River at RISD

The UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace

“The various under-traveled pedestrian ways.”

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Changes for EPA’s National Stormwater Calculator

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. Workplace as Landscape – Facebook MPK20, Menlo Park, CA. CMG Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner

Updates have been rolled out for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Stormwater Calculator (SWC), including a Low Impact Development (LID) cost estimation module and mobile web application version that can be used on both mobile devices and desktop computers.

A Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Research Program webinar on January 31 introduced these new features and demonstrated example applications. The presentation, by U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) landscape architect Jason Bernagros, will be made available as a recording, and the next free webinar in the series is scheduled for February 28, 2018 on “Village Blue Project: Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring in the Baltimore Harbor.”

EPA developed the SWC to help support local, state, and national stormwater management objectives and regulatory efforts to reduce runoff through infiltration and retention using green infrastructure practices as low impact development controls. It is designed to be used by anyone interested in reducing runoff from a property, including landscape architects, urban planners, developers, and homeowners.

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