Promoting Pollinator Habitat as Landscape Architects

by Anthony Fettes, ASLA, PLA, SITES AP

Monarch caterpillar on a marsh milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) host plant along the Chicago Riverwalk / image: Anthony Fettes, Sasaki

Around the world, an estimated 80 percent of all flowering plant species and over one-third of our food is dependent upon or benefited by animal pollinators. However, many of these pollinator species are in decline, threatening the productivity of both global food production and ecological communities. What is causing this decline? How are we contributing, and what can be done to reverse this trend?

With reports of dramatic bee kills from acute exposure to neonicotinoids, the wide-spread prevalence of pesticides is frequently implicated in the decline of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. But upon further inquiry, pesticides are only one component of more complex and interrelated challenges facing pollinators. Loss of habitat for feeding, nesting, and overwintering is often equally, if not more, detrimental than pesticides alone. Fragmented foraging sites require many pollinators to travel further distances in search of resources, thus increasing their exposure to pesticides, pollution, and extreme weather events. Together, the compounding effects of habitat loss and climate variability can reduce the seasonal reliability and abundance of floral resources—impacting nutrition and reproductive success, leaving pollinators stressed, and making declining populations more susceptible to disease, parasites, and poisoning.

The pollinator and vegetable gardens together provide an opportunity to learn about beneficial ecosystem services while improving productivity. / image: Matthew Arielly, Sasaki

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Land Use and Transportation Planning Intertwined in Today’s World

by John D. Hendrickson and Elaine Linn, PLA, ASLA

Laurier Avenue Segregated Bike Lane Design Pilot Project. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. / image: WSP

As landscape architects, we are highly in tune with the principles and practices of land use planning and, for most of us, it is part of our everyday professional life. Although we are often commissioned to design a single site, we know better than anyone the tangible implications to the surrounding areas, the community, and the regional context our designs may impact. So where does site-specific design stop and land use planning in a broader context begin? How do we best steward the resources and demographics in a global and holistic context? To answer these questions we may need to take a look at the connectivity between land uses. And to do that, we are going to tap into the fields of transportation planning and engineering, and analyze how they overlap with our contributions as landscape architects to the modern world of land use planning.

For this article, we have asked for the perspective of a seasoned transportation planner with over 25 years of experience in analyzing, managing and directing statewide projects and programs in transportation operations, safety and future-ready transportation. John D. Hendrickson, AICP, an Assistant Vice President at WSP and is the director of a traffic engineering and transportation planning group for clients throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mr. Hendrickson is also currently the President of the Virginia Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (VASITE). One of his goals as a transportation planner is to improve communities by blending sustainable transportation systems with sustainable land uses. The result is the creation of complete and efficient roadway networks that allow for multi-modal opportunities that analyze existing operational and safety challenges and develop solutions. Below are John’s perspectives on transportation and land use planning, and the critical importance of each.

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Smarter Parks, Smarter Cities

by Kelsey Jessup

image: Yalp Interactive

Today, there are increasingly more cities, parks departments, and real estate developers asking designers to create smart parks. The definition of what makes a park “smart” is still evolving and, up until now, there hasn’t been a comprehensive, reliable source to learn about smart parks precedents and the technology that exists specifically for parks and public spaces. SMART Parks: A Toolkit is exactly what has been needed. It provides landscape architects and planners everything they need to know and how to be ready for the next client that asks for a smart park.
– Ed Krafcik, ASLA, Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) Officer

“Advancements in technology impact every aspect of our lives—how we work, play, and live,” says the City of Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. And cities like Chicago are becoming “smarter,” using technology to enhance livability, workability, and sustainability. Yet, some aspects of cities are being left out of planning, most blatantly: public parks. To help address this, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation recently released SMART Parks: A Toolkit, a compilation of technologies that can be used in parks to increase environmental sustainability, visitor enjoyment, and maintenance efficiency.

The Luskin Center unites UCLA scholars with forward-looking civic leaders to address the most pressing issues confronting our community, nation, and world. Parks are a critical part of urban infrastructure and have been a Luskin Center priority. Staff and students have created multiple reports on how to increase and enhance community green spaces, including a toolkit on parklets (small innovative parks), how to transform underutilized alleys into multi-functional “green” alleys, and never-before-told case studies and lessons learned from successfully-implemented development projects along the LA River greenway. This research helps municipalities, nonprofits, and communities reinvent, regenerate, and rethink their cities and park spaces.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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