Third Annual Aggie Leadership in Community Development Conference: The Thesen Islands Sustainable Land Redevelopment by CMAI Architects

by Michael Murphy, PhD, ASLA

Dr. Chris Mulder speaking at the 2018 Aggie Leadership in Development Conference with other CMAI personnel and former interns on stage / image: Master of Land and Property Development Program, Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University

In February, the Master of Land and Property Development Program at Texas A&M’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, sponsored its third Annual Aggie Leadership in Community Development conference. The conference featured the work of Dr. Chris E. Mulder, Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Architecture and Outstanding International Alumnus of Texas A&M University. The conference, held to improve awareness among the faculty and student body of exemplary work by former students, was held at the Annenberg Conference Center at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library. Chris Mulder’s firm, CMAI Architects, has been responsible for some of the most significant sustainable development projects in his native South Africa, and for this work he has received international recognition for excellence in development at Thesen Island in Knysna, South Africa.

The Leadership in Community Development Conference, open to the University and professional communities, was established by Professor Geoffrey J. Booth, former director of the Master of Land and Property Development program at Texas A&M to improve relationships between students and the leaders of the planning, design, and development fields. In addition to presentations by Dr. Mulder, attendees heard reports from his former interns from the Department, now established professional practitioners, who described the importance of their own experiences in working at CMAI during their student years, and for some, for an extended period of employment. Mulder established a long-standing tradition of mentoring student interns during the firm’s early years of the 1980s and he has continued in this role up to the present.

Continue reading


Introducing the Campus Resilience Series

by Katharyn Hurd, Associate ASLA

Students in a new course at the Stanford Educational Farm called Liberation Through Land: Organic Gardening and Racial Justice meet under the oak trees with visiting alumni. / image: L.A. Cicero via Stanford News Service

The Campus Planning & Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is kicking off a blog and Online Learning webinar series on campus resilience. We want to hear your ideas, concerns, and strategies for approaching this broad and complex topic. Please share with us by contacting PPN Co-Chairs Laura Tenny, ASLA, and Katharyn Hurd, ASLA. We’d love to bring you all into the discussion on this important and timely topic.

Many universities have begun discussions around sustainability and creating a more resilient physical campus. Defining resilience is the first, and often most difficult, step. For many campuses, resilience is defined by developing long-term strategies to respond to climate change impacts. It also may include goals to reduce reliance on precious resources and vulnerable infrastructure. Working toward these objectives is essential to the long-term survival of an institution.

We’ve seen the catastrophic impacts of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and wildfires within the past year. These events have been a jarring wake-up call for those of us working on campuses. Universities, in particular, are typically rooted in their locations for the very long term. It’s rare for a university campus to pick up and move somewhere else. Therefore, planning for both known and unknown future impacts is a critical survival strategy for any institution that intends to remain in place and operate effectively.

Continue reading

Women in Design: How to Find a Network of Other Women Designers

by Christa Schaefer, ASLA, and Tanya Olson, ASLA

Scenes from the Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network‘s annual gathering / image: EPNAC

You’ve reached that point in your professional life where you find yourself looking for people to connect professionally and create networks with. These special individuals provide a unique dynamic to the depth of our professional lives and may be peers or mentors. They make us feel self-assured and connected, and sometimes become great friends or even business partners. They can be male or female, but there are benefits to finding connection with others of the same sex. Here are two stories from the Women in Landscape Architecture (WILA) leadership team on how they found a network of Women in Design (WID).

WID-Wisconsin – Christa Schaefer, ASLA

I finished my MLA in the Twin Cities and moved back home to Waukesha, WI for job opportunities and to stay connected with family. When I moved I found myself leaving my professional connections behind and felt disconnected from landscape architects in my new home. I wondered who and where they were.

Job opportunities helped me develop a few professional connections, but few were with other women in design fields. I reached out and became engaged with the Wisconsin Chapter of ASLA (WI-ASLA), but still found minimal female connections. Ultimately those opportunities through WI-ASLA expanded my leadership skills and I did finally make some very valuable female connections. These connections have helped support me finding my way through the very male-dominated world I currently work in.

Continue reading

Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Clare Cooper Marcus

by Lisa Bailey, ASLA

A healing garden should be: visible and easily accessed from the main foyer, predominantly green, and should have a path that tempts you to explore and semi-private seating niches off to the side. St Joseph Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa, CA / image: Clare Cooper Marcus

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Clare Cooper Marcus

Clare Cooper Marcus, Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, in the College of Environmental Design’s Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, has studied and been the grand champion for healthcare and therapeutic gardens since the time of her retirement from UC Berkeley in the 1990s. She taught for 24 years and authored several books, including Healing Gardens: Therapeutic Benefits and Design Recommendations, co-authored with Marni Barnes in 1999, and Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces, co-authored with Naomi Sachs, ASLA, in 2013. Though not a landscape architect, Clare’s interest is in the social aspect of design and in what the people who are using designed spaces think and feel about them. She combines this background with her passion for gardening in her own backyard.

The following interview was conducted at Clare’s home and garden in Berkeley by Lisa Bailey, ASLA, sole proprietor of BayLeaf Studio and a consultant with Schwartz and Associates, a landscape design-build firm in Mill Valley, CA.

How did you become THE person who studied healing gardens?

Well, of course the person who started it all was Roger Ulrich with his famous study, “View through a window may influence recovery from surgery.” Roger is a good friend and colleague and I was inspired by his work. Then Marni Barnes and I conducted the first (I think) post-occupancy evaluations (POEs) of hospital gardens.

I was further motivated when, a few months after retirement, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was treated at the Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Medical Center where there is a green space in the center with three ancient 150-year-old Valley Oak trees protected by law. That became an oasis for me during treatment. When people came to visit me, we would walk through the green space on balmy evenings in the summer. It was doubly important to me to have green space when dealing with the stress of a life-threatening illness. It had a very personal meaning.

Continue reading

Give Feedback On A Student’s Guide To Environmental Justice

by Kari Spiegelhalter, Tess Ruswick, and Patricia Noto, ASLA Environmental Justice PPN Student Representatives

The cover page of A Student’s Guide to Environmental Justice

What is environmental justice? How does it relate to social justice, environmental racism, community health, and equitable design? As designers of places and cities, what is our responsibility to work towards greater equity? As students of landscape architecture, and the student representatives of the Environmental Justice PPN, we found that these questions that weren’t always being addressed in our coursework or studio projects in school. We had a hunch that other students felt the same way, so in spring of 2017, we attended LABash at the University of Maryland, the annual gathering of landscape architecture students from all over the country. Through surveys and conversations with students, we found that many students were concerned, if a bit confused, about environmental justice. Read more about our experiences at LABash in The Field article “Environmental Justice PPN Student Representatives At LABash.”

Students frequently interpreted design for environmental justice as ecological design rather than design that addresses the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on minorities and marginalized groups and the unequal distribution of and access to environmental benefits.

Continue reading

Join the Environmental Justice PPN Virtual Conversations

Hawthorne Bicentennial Mosaic Workshop_Community Design / image: From Lot to Spot

The Environmental Justice PPN has kicked off 2018 by leading virtual conversations for members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. In early February, the PPN hosted a virtual presentation and conversation on the Environmental Justice + Landscape Architecture: A Student’s Guide, developed by three MLA students from Cornell and RISD. Look for Tuesday’s Field post with more information on the first draft and how you can help shape the resources, case studies, and activities included in the guide!

On March 8, Viviana Franco, Executive Director of From Lot to Spot (FLTS), will be joining the PPN conversation on equitable community engagement. FLTS, based in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2007 as a direct result of the relationship between lack of accessible green space and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. FLTS’ unique approach involves grassroot, community engagement to ensure disadvantaged communities contribute their voice in developing healthy spaces in their neighborhoods. Viviana will be discussing her organization’s approach to providing equitable community engagement as well as some case studies where those principles have been applied.

Continue reading