ASLA Celebrates Black History Month

Howard University campus, Washington, D.C.
Howard University’s Washington. D.C. campus, designed by landscape architect David Williston / image: © Nikolaus Fogle, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation

With the conclusion of Black History Month, ASLA would like to highlight ways to stay engaged year round with our efforts to continue fostering diversity, equity and inclusion within our profession, membership, and leadership; mirror the communities we serve; welcome and serve all people and communities; and treat them fairly and equitably.

ASLA Diversity Summit

Since 2013 ASLA has convened an annual diversity summit to strengthen its focus on the recruitment underrepresented populations into academic programs and development of emerging professionals as practitioners. Visit ASLA’s Diversity Summit webpage to learn about this popular event, access resources, and view a summary of action items identified in 2018 to help achieve five-year goals established at the 2017 Super Summit. The 2019 Diversity Summit is scheduled for May 17-19, 2019 at ASLA headquarters.

Career Discovery and Diversity

Exposure and access are key to motivating the career aspirations of all students, and ASLA is boosting its commitment to provide more career discovery resources that promote landscape architecture. Below are a few highlights of ASLA rich collection of career discovery resources available to educators, families and students:

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Swings: All Ages and All Fun

by Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA

Swings for all ages
Swings for all ages / images: a collage from our contributors

I have been thinking about swings lately, weighing the risk factors now associated with their installation in playspaces with the benefits they provide to motor and sensory development. I have also been wondering what others think about them. As a Professional Practice Network (PPN), we reached out to readers via ASLA, the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, the American Occupational Therapy Association’s social media sites, and to friends to gather some insights.

Front yard tire swing
The not-so-oft-found front yard tire swing. / image: Amy Wagenfeld

What about swings? They can provide therapeutic benefit for some children (and adults). The sensory systems most activated when swinging, gliding, or rocking include the vestibular, proprioceptive, and to a lesser extent the tactile. Here is how they contribute to overall sensory enrichment:

Vestibular: refers to the balance system. Located in the middle ear, the vestibular system responds to the position of the head in relation to gravity and movement and helps keep us from becoming dizzy. Our vestibular systems get a work out with the varied planes of movement a swing make take- front and back, side to side, circular, or up and down.

Proprioception/Kinesthesia: located in the muscles and joints, the proprioceptive system provides awareness of where our bodies are in space. When swinging, proprioception and kinesthesia help us understand the relationship of our bodies to the seat, sides, and back of the swing, and to know where to sit or lay on the swing without falling off.

Tactile: refers to the sense of touch. We make contact with and touch swings by potentially using all body parts, depending on whether sitting or lying down.

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Nature, Healing, and Creativity

by Siyi He, Associate ASLA

The 2018 ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Meeting
The 2018 ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Meeting / image: Siyi He

Therapeutic Landscape Design Practice in the United States and Overseas: A Recap of the 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting’s Healthcare and Therapeutic Design PPN Meeting

Landscape architects and designers know that nature has powerful potential to heal people’s bodies, minds, and spirits. Therapeutic garden design in healthcare facilities is creating functional spaces where people can access the healing power of nature in hospitals. The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting’s Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) Meeting was held in Philadelphia on October 20 to discuss the topic of nature, healing, and creativity in healing garden design. The meeting was hosted by PPN Co-Chair Siyi He, Associate ASLA, and began with a description of PPN’s mission and the introduction of two invited landscape architect speakers, Geoff Anderson, ASLA, and Adam E. Anderson, ASLA. PPN Officer and Past Co-Chair Melody Tapia, Student ASLA, made the closing statement for the meeting. Melody and Siyi enthusiastically introduced the PPN leadership team and encouraged attendees to join our PPN. (Four of the attendees signed up for the leadership team right there! All ASLA members are welcome to get involved.)

The panelists, along with 40 attendees, discussed landscape design and features in healing gardens and the different restrictions for therapeutic design in the United States and overseas.

Our panelists were:

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Building a Low-Allergen Plant Palette

by Michele Richmond, PLA, ASLA, SITES® AP, LEED® Green Associate

Scanning electron microscope image of pollen grains
Pollen from a variety of common allergenic plans including morning glory, sunflower, lily, and castor bean (a 10 on the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS)). The image is magnified around x500. / image: Dartmouth College Electron Microscope Facility

Can you plant a site with species that cause little to no allergies in patients? That was the specific request from our client for a site comprised of a community healthcare clinic and workforce and affordable housing. Many of our client’s patients are traumatized children with asthma and allergies. The goal of the building and landscape design was to create a safe place allowing for positive experiences for children coming to the clinic. In this context, a single allergy attack removes children from this safe space and can set back their recovery. So, what to plant?

Allergies and Asthma in America

Today, more than 50 million people in the US have allergies and asthma [i], including hay fever and respiratory, food, and skin allergies that can come from plants in our landscape. Allergies can be a onetime event or a constant reaction to pollen. Currently, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the US, resulting in 200,000 emergency visits a year [ii] and costing more than $18 billion annually [iii]. In Washington State, asthma is the most common chronic illness for low-income children. Asthma cases have doubled in the population at large and quadrupled among low income families in the last thirty years [iv].

While allergies largely cannot be prevented, we can lessen allergic reactions. As children, we learn to identify poison ivy and oak to avoid contact. As adults, we learn to check pollen counts [v] daily to determine if we need to take allergy medicine. We learn to identify and keep a healthy distance from plants that are the worst offenders to offset symptoms.

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Campus Resiliency: What Does the Future of Campus Design Look Like?

by Mikyoung Kim, FASLA, and Ian Downing, ASLA

UChicago LAB School: Gordon Parks Arts Hall / image: Dave Burk

Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.
Dieter Rams

resilience: a capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to social well-being, the economy, and the environment.
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

As recent hurricane seasons remind us, new global weather patterns continue to wreak havoc at an alarming pace on our neighborhoods and the environment. For thousands of Americans, these storm patterns have caused large scale damage and humanitarian disasters that have had long lasting impacts on communities large and small.

As landscape architects, these issues of resiliency and stormwater management are at the forefront of our thinking. We must rethink new, innovative ways of designing for these large scale, pressing ecological and climatological issues that our planet faces. Our landscapes are in crisis—much of which has been accelerated by human activity. In considering the future of campus design, these issues of resiliency are at the forefront of university campus planning and design. Consider the possibility that this educational typology of landscape design could become a forum for learning and engagement while restoring the environment and creating engaging and unique places just to hang out.

A Holistic Approach to Designing for Resiliency

We must craft resilient designs that will not only enrich the living and working experiences for campus communities, but also prepare colleges and universities to anticipate and respond to an uncertain climate future. Our firm is focused on understanding the science of resiliency and utilizing that as the foundation of the tapestry that is landscape architecture. This integration of science with the social and cultural art of landscape architecture is our challenge—to partner with universities to create learning environments that will thrive for decades to come.

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PPN Interview: Central Park Conservancy

by Jonathan Ceci, ASLA

Historic Preservation PPN Officer Jonathan Ceci, ASLA, facilitates an interview and Q&A with Christopher Nolan, FASLA, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Landscape Architect, Central Park Conservancy, and Lane Addonizio, Affil. ASLA, AICP, Vice President for Planning, Central Park Conservancy. / image: Alexandra Hay

At the ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO, members of the Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN) were treated to an interview with Lane Addonizio, Affil. ASLA, and Chris Nolan, FASLA, of the Central Park Conservancy. The two shared experiences from their decades-long stewardship of America’s First Park, a calling that often involves negotiating a delicate balance between preservation and change.

Two days prior, I had attended their session on the challenges and rewards of improving accessibility in Central Park, Thinking Inclusive: Strategies and Perspectives on Accessibility from Central Park’s Experience. I found it one of the more inspiring sessions of the conference because Chris and Lane tied the matter of access back to the Park founders’ democratic vision. Lane shared this quote from The Third Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park (January 1860):

The primary purpose of the Park is to provide the best practicable means of healthful recreation, for the inhabitants of the city, of all classes. It should have an aspect of spaciousness and tranquility, with variety and intricacy of arrangement, thereby affording the most agreeable contrast to the confinement, bustle, and monotonous street-division of the city…The Park is intended to furnish healthful recreation for the poor and the rich, the young and the old, the vicious and the virtuous, so far as each can partake therein without infringing upon the rights of others, and no further.

In their interview during the PPN meeting, Chris and Lane referred back to this founding mission and explained that restrained adaptation has always been essential to fulfilling the Park’s historic mission of remaining broadly accessible to the public.

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ASLA 2018 Education Session Recordings Now Available

The ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO / image: EPNAC

Thirty-five education sessions that took place during the ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO in Philadelphia are now available on the ASLA Online Learning website, learn.asla.org. The recorded sessions’ topics range from climate adaptation and design solutions for dealing with fires and landslides to starting your own landscape architectural firm and storytelling for designers.

ASLA Online Learning offers both live online presentations throughout the year and more than 200 recordings for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH). ASLA member prices are discounted at least 75% below non-member prices—log in using your ASLA username and password to get the member discount.

The 2018 education sessions that have been added to the ASLA Online Learning library are:

AI: Augmented Intelligence – Landscape Architects’ Design Sense Capitalizes on Big Data – 1.5 PDH (LA CES/non-HSW)

Augmented intelligence (AI) is disrupting the complexity where designers thrive. A new era of collaboration enables shift from data overload toward data sensibility. How will capitalizing on augmented intelligence affect your practice? Your productivity? Geodesign, a unique AI, provides distinctive opportunities—learn from practitioners successfully navigating this shift.

Speakers: Kelleann Foster, ASLA, The Pennsylvania State University; James Sipes, ASLA, Sand County Studios; Jesse D. Suders, McCormick Taylor, Inc.

BIM for the Small Landscape Architecture Office – 1.5 PDH (LA CES/non-HSW)

Landscape architects face pressure on projects to use building information modeling, or BIM, software for their designs. Risks are numerous, but advantages can be significant. Learn how one landscape architect made BIM work for her as a sole proprietor and hear answers to common questions about firing up BIM.

Speakers: Meghen Quinn, ASLA, Hargreaves Associates; Bradford McKee, Landscape Architecture Magazine

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Areas in Landscape Design Impacted by Water Conservation

by Michael Igo, PE, LEED AP, Affiliate ASLA

Irrigation
image: Aqueous Consultants, LLC

Water conservation is an important topic in landscape architecture, as its professionals are stewards of the built and natural environment for society. Without a balanced water supply, drinking water, sanitation, ecological balance, and safety cannot be secured for our existence. Thus, when we speak of water conservation, what we really mean is freshwater or domestic water conservation.

Furthermore, some of the areas of water conservation discussed below are not only about water quantity conservation, but also water quality conservation in our natural surroundings. The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true in water conservation in the sense that not only does saving and using less water in landscapes reduce the quantity of water consumed, but it also prevents poor quality water for reuse or filtering site water from being reintroduced into the environment and conserves existing precious clean freshwater for domestic uses and for habitats.

Below are some of the major areas of concern that the ASLA Water Conservation Professional Practice Network (PPN) and ASLA members should keep in mind in their practice.

Stormwater

When a site is altered from its natural or previously disturbed state, the patterns of rainfall runoff and infiltration are also altered. Natural areas that were once reliant on ample infiltration can be deprived of recharge from paved and developed sites by sealing off underground soils from the atmosphere or just by increasing the velocity of water movement across a site such that runoff does not have time to infiltrate. High velocity, unmitigated stormwater flow can cause erosion of valuable land areas, transport sediment that could fill in and cause eutrophication of natural water bodies, cause damage to sites and structures downstream, and serve as a massive heat exchanging liquid as rain falls on, passes across, and carries away the latent heat trapped in urban pavement—polluting otherwise ecologically-balanced freshwater supplies and habitats.

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