Diversifying the Profession Through K-12 Outreach

by Allison Ong, Student ASLA

Chinook Middle School students used models to communicate their ideas for a new open space on their campus. / image: Allison Ong

In the first year of my MLA, I was assigned a review of Gina Ford, FASLA’s talk, “Into an Era of Landscape Humanism.” Her opening words have stayed with me ever since: “Fifty years ago,” she begins, “the voice of our profession was eerily prescient, undeniably smart, and powerfully inspired. It was also, let’s admit it, almost entirely white and male.” I am often reminded of Ford’s statement, as I continue to observe the lack of diversity she speaks of in firms, classes, conferences, and other spaces. Throughout graduate school, I’ve kept a constant eye open for opportunities to diversify our field. The traditional avenues for engagement presented to me, namely departmental diversity committees, didn’t satisfy my desire to act. I wanted to do something. I just didn’t know what that something was.

About a year ago an opportunity finally presented itself. The Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects at the University of Washington (UWASLA)’s mentorship program assigned me Laura Enman, Associate ASLA, of Swift Company, as a mentor. Meeting for the first time at a coffee shop, we bonded over our shared interest in improving diversity in landscape architecture. In that moment, a light bulb went off for both of us. We imagined an outreach program to empower students from diverse K-12 schools through landscape architecture. Laura was already connected to a non-profit after-school program, Techbridge Girls, whose goal is to “excite, educate, and equip girls from low-income communities by delivering high-quality STEM programming to empower them to achieve economic mobility and better life chances.” Within weeks, through Techbridge Girls and support from WASLA and UWASLA, we scheduled our first outreach opportunity.

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Meet the Transportation PPN Leadership Team

Milwaukie/Main Street TriMet MAX Orange Line Station, Milwaukie, OR. Mayer/Reed | TriMet / image: ©2015 Bruce Forster Photography

The ASLA Transportation Professional Practice Network (PPN) is a forum for landscape architecture issues in transportation policy, planning, design and construction. This group is dedicated to sharing information from a variety of sources and building awareness about the contributions of landscape architects in transportation.

Landscape architects have a strong voice in transportation issues and often bridge the gap between colleagues in planning and engineering. Their work includes developing policies to support livable communities, planning sustainable transportation systems, designing and building streets to encourage active transportation, supporting native plant habitat and effectively manage stormwater, advocating for complete streets and roadway safety, and leading projects and public involvement processes to support transportation decision-making.

In addition to a chair or co-chairs, many PPNs, including Transportation, also have larger leadership teams that include past chairs and PPN officers. Most leadership teams hold monthly calls to keep track of progress on PPN activities, and all PPN members are welcome to join their PPN’s leadership team. To learn more, see ASLA’s PPN Leadership Opportunities page or contact propractice@asla.org.

In this post, we’d like to introduce the Transportation PPN leaders through their answers to the following questions:

  • What is a Transportation Landscape Architect? How do you define / describe what you do?
  • As a landscape architect practicing in the transportation sector, explain how daily practice can/does involve topics addressed in at least three other ASLA PPNs. In your opinion, do you think that practicing in the transportation sector has broadened or specialized your practice?
  • How do you as a landscape architect add value to transportation projects?

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Discover Landscape Architecture

ASLA Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Book for Kids cover / image: James Richards, FASLA

Do you have a friend who is interested in landscape architecture? Do your children like the idea of blending art with the environment? Are you a landscape architecture professional visiting a local school and searching for a fun interactive exercise?

The ASLA Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Books for kids, teens, and adults were designed by ASLA members to inspire and teach anyone interested in landscape architecture and the built environment.

Use the activity books to learn or teach about:

  • the tools and skills needed to become a landscape architect,
  • the many ways landscape architects shape our environment,
  • how landscape architects use hand drawing to formulate ideas and solve complex problems, and
  • how to make beautiful places for people to live, work, and play.

Discover more at asla.org/activitybooks.

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Reimagining the Campus Green Infrastructure Experience!

By Charlene LeBleu, FASLA

Green Infrastructure game box tops designed by MLA students.
AubieGo—Rachel Hamrick, Student ASLA, Yuzhou Jin, Rui Wang, Student ASLA, & Xueting Zhou, Student ASlA.
GI Builder—Jaspuneet Kaur, Radhika Shenoy, Student ASLA, Yuanyuan Gao, Student ASLA, & Looja Shakya, Student ASLA.

Visitors to Auburn University will now have an opportunity to experience campus green infrastructure using two newly designed interactive board games. The board games, AubieGo and GI Builder were created by Landscape Architecture graduate students for the Office of Sustainability to invite visitors, students, faculty, and beyond to learn about the green infrastructure stormwater control measures that are integrated into the campus landscape. The games provide a novel way to introduce and communicate the benefits of campus green infrastructure practices to both young and old.

The graduate students are members of the LAND 7900 Interpretive Design—Redesigning the Visitor Experience class, a three (3) hour directed elective taught by Charlene M. LeBleu, FASLA, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture. “I was asked by the Office of Sustainability and Campus Stormwater Committee to have my students create a brochure for a campus green infrastructure tour,” said LeBleu. “We did design a brochure, but I wanted my students to reimagine green infrastructure education in a different way. Designing and crafting a board game, the playing pieces, and a container to hold all pieces provided a fun and interesting creative challenge!”

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Summer of SITES®

Enrich your summer with the SITES® Accredited Professional exam: Now through September 3, 2018, ASLA is offering a $100 discount off the SITES AP Exam for the first 150 registrants to use the promo code 2018ASLAPROMO.

Click here for registration instructions.

Registrants must be an ASLA member to use the code, and will be required to provide an ASLA member number. Questions? Email sites@asla.org.

An ASLA prepared webinar series to help you study for the exam is available at a discounted rate to members.

The SITES accredited professional exam provides landscape architects with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise, and commitment to the profession. It also establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development.

Landscape Architects Make the Case

“For me and the firm, incorporating the principles of SITES into our work is something that we have done for years. What the initiative provides is a logical and structured methodology to accomplish a rich diversity of improvements that can be shared with clients and the community. The more thorough a team is with embracing the credits the better the project can be for the public or private users. The structure allows us as designers to do a better job explaining the complexity of what it is we do and the certification allows the team and client to celebrate good work.”

Hunter Beckham, FASLA

SWT Design Novus International Headquarters Campus, St. Louis, Missouri – Three-star Certified Pilot Project

“SITES is the single best crash-course in real landscape sustainability. Certification requires tangible, quantifiable standards and that rigorous challenge both educated and inspired me. Sustainable practices and client education is now an integral part of all my landscape work.”

CeCe Haydock, ASLA, LEED AP

Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, Garden City, New York  – Two-star Certified Pilot Project

Warm Winter Memories—Cool Neighborhood Park

by Tom Mortensen, PLA, ASLA

An ice skating rink is part of a new public plaza at the Titletown District in Green Bay, Wisconsin. raSmith is providing ongoing site engineering and surveying for this multi-phase, mixed-use development. / image: ROSSETTI, Detroit

People say the memories of certain smells stay with you for a lifetime. Corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, the sterile smell of a dentist’s office, athletic socks in a gym bag or the Xylene-based color design markers I used in the 1980s back in college. Even my ice skates have a familiar smell. Not bad, just familiar—like old leather mixed with slush.

I was driving through the neighborhood near my childhood home where I grew up on the northern edge of Milwaukee County, and I decided to take a slow drive down memory lane. Everything looked smaller than I remembered, except the trees. Eventually I ended up at the neighborhood park where I spent countless hours playing pickup ball games, hanging out with friends, and ice skating.

Yes, ice skating. Every single day. After school, after dinner, and on weekends.

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Australia’s Morialta Playspace

by Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA

Morialta Conservation Park, Nature Playspace Concept Plan / image: Peter Semple Landscape Architect (PSLA)
Final concept plan, Morialta Nature Playspace / image: courtesy of Peter Semple Landscape Architect (PSLA)

Recently, while on a trip to Australia, my colleagues and I had the pleasure of stopping in at a brand-new nature playspace just outside of Adelaide. Located within the 2,058 square-mile Morialta Conservation Park, the Muka Muka Rrinthi nature playspace is nothing short of dazzling. Not to mention, the footprint of the playspace is huge. While designed to be best suited for children ages 5-15, I saw many younger tykes happily creating their own play opportunities. It is easily a full-day, take-a-picnic-lunch destination for families looking for something wonderful to do with their children.

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Cleveland’s Active Transit Awakening

by Peter Salamon, Associate ASLA

The Cleveland Group Plan by Charles Burnham / Image: The Cleveland Memory Project

In our April 2018 Urban Design PPN Field post, we learned about Detroit’s approach to urban transit. Continuing with this theme of rust belt cities, we’ll now explore Cleveland’s challenges and achievements in connecting people to place.

Whereas Detroit’s Woodward plan launched a framework extending far from the city center, Charles Burnham’s Group Plan for the City of Cleveland established only an immediate civic core. This was due mainly to the downtown’s unique geography, as the Cuyahoga River Valley isolated it from the more residential areas pushed to neighboring bluffs. Development in these areas loosely followed what translated in Iroquois to “the crooked river,” and could be best characterized as piecemeal; not following any distinct pattern, and often, the law.

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