Inclusivity and the Design Process in the American College Town

by Jessica Fernandez, Ph.D, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP ND

Town and Gown Collaboration
Town and Gown Collaboration / illustration: Brett Ryder, modified

“The clear evidence is that…we can organize our institutions to serve both local and national needs in a more coherent effective way. We can and must do better.”
Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, 1999

The physical edge between a higher education campus and its neighboring community often serves as a place for tradition, celebration, and the joining of town and gown. However, this is not always the case. Edges can also create a wedge between these two entities through issues such as traffic and parking changes, unsightly views, and changes in the socio-economic structure of the campus surrounds. In recent years American colleges and universities have seen rising student enrollments, exacerbating these issues as the campus built environment rapidly changes and even expands. In response to these forces there has been a proliferated call for collaboration between campus and community, particularly related to the built environment design and planning process.

One obvious place for campus and municipal designers to join efforts is at the campus-community edge, where changes often significantly influence both sides. However, researchers describe that when town and gown work together, there are often dichotomous collaborative efforts where the university is in control. This is especially the case in American college towns, where the physical, economic, and social structure is by nature heavily influenced by the institution. A recent study out of Clemson University explores how collaborative efforts in the built environment design process might serve to make a more even playing field.

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The 2019 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Left to right: HABS LA-1319-26; HABS GA,123-AUG,56–1; HABS ARIZ,10-TUCSO,30–1; and HALS MD-1-19 / image: National Park Service 2019 HALS Challenge Banner

For the tenth annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey invites you to document historic streetscapes. Many cities have come to appreciate the cultural and commercial value of their historic streets. Disneyland and Walt Disney World have welcomed arriving visitors with an idealized, nostalgic representation of Main Street U.S.A. since their inception. Main Street programs across the nation have encouraged the revitalization of commercial historic districts, and now the Complete Streets movement is sweeping the design world.

What makes your favorite historic street(s) unique? Does your local Historic Preservation Commission protect the streetscape characteristics and features of historic districts along with the contributing buildings? You may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by documenting historic streetscapes for HALS and illuminating these significant pieces of America’s circulatory system.

Please choose an individual street or a contiguous network or grid of streets to document and pay particular attention to the landscape features, including: benches, bollards, bus stops, circles, context, crosswalks, curbing, drainage, facades, fencing, festivals, fountains, gutters, islands, lampposts, medians, meters, monuments, paving, pedestrian malls, parades, parking, planters, plazas, porches, public art, ramps, setbacks, sidewalks, signage, significance, squares, steps, stoops, street trees, traffic lights, trolley tracks, and utilities.

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Stormwater Management Park in Your Future?

by George R. Frantz, AICP, ASLA

Houtan Park Shanghai, June 2017. / Image: George Frantz

Stormwater management approaches in the US are evolving dramatically.  For most of the past three decades, the standard approach was to store water and control its rate of runoff into the environment.  In the past decade, the treatment of stormwater for urban runoff pollutants has gained traction as the impact of such pollutants has become apparent.  Throughout the country, developing green infrastructure to treat stormwater pollution is moving from the fringe of the practice to mainstream acceptance.

New York strongly encourages the adoption of green infrastructure approaches to stormwater management to reduce urban runoff pollutants. The New York State Stormwater Management Design Manual released in 2015 sets as design objectives (1) the capture and treatment the full water quality volume of runoff; ( 2) the capacity to remove 80 percent of total suspended solids (TSS) and 40 percent of total phosphorous (TP); (3) mechanisms for the pre-treatment of stormwater; and (4) an acceptable operational lifespan for stormwater systems.

One issue that New York and other states and municipalities fail to address, however, are regulations that dictate a hodge-podge of small, privately owned and maintained (or not) stormwater management systems.  General regulatory practice is that stormwater must be managed and treated on the parcel that generates it.  This has resulted in a landscape of single-function detention or retention “craters” in developed areas, with little aesthetic appeal or function beyond stormwater management.

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Conservation Finance: Follow Up to the 2018 ASLA Ecology & Restoration PPN Meeting

By Daniel Martin, Associate ASLA

The Ecology & Restoration PPN Meeting featured presentations by Michael Sprague, President and Founder of Trout Headwaters, Inc., and Damian Holynskyj, M.C.P., Director of the Eastern Region for Great Ecology, hosted by Daniel Martin, Associate ASLA, PPN Co-Chair (2016-2018). / Image: EPNAC
ECOLOGY & RESTORATION PPN MEETING IN PHILADELPHIA

For the annual Ecology & Restoration PPN meeting in October 2018, we were joined by Michael Sprague, President and Founder of Trout Headwaters, Inc., and founding Board Member of the National Environmental Banking Association, as well as Damian Holynskyj, M.C.P., Director of the Eastern Region for Great Ecology. Our discussion covered the big picture of what conservation finance is, how it is situated within the larger economy, and the role landscape architecture fills within the industry.

The conversation that was had between Mr. Sprague, Mr. Holynskyj, and Ecology & Restoration PPN leadership and members is summarized in this document, to serve as a reference for those who were not able to attend, and a jumping-off point for those landscape architects who would like to pursue this topic further.

WHAT IS CONSERVATION FINANCE?

Conservation finance takes many forms, but in the simplest sense it is a way to create economic incentives for conservation and restoration projects. When an economic incentive exists, it opens the door for many different people and organizations to become involved with environmental projects who otherwise might not be. This increases the amount of work that can be done and leverages the specialties of a broad range of professions towards shared goals.

Shared goals; it has become so common to view economy and ecology as two separate entities, related in a fashion which necessitates the degradation of one for the benefit of the other. This is an unfortunate misconception, which Mr. Sprague discussed at length. Looking at the root meanings of ecology and economy, a truer relationship begins to show. Ecology means study of the house and economy means management of the house, so in that sense it can be understood that what is truly good for one ought to be good for the other. In other words, you can’t understand what you don’t study, and you can’t manage what you don’t understand.

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