Scholarship Season is Here

by Lisa J. Jennings

At Duke University's West Campus, the elevated pedestrian bridge provides for shady relaxation at the garden's edge.
ASLA 2018 Professional Honor Award in General Design. Legacy and Community: Juxtaposing Heritage and Invention for Duke University’s West Campus. Reed Hilderbrand LLC Landscape Architecture. / image: James Ewing

Typically, February 1 to April 1 is the busiest time of year for scholarship application deadlines.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) are among many organizations that offer a variety of scholarships, awards, competitions, fellowships, and other funding options for students pursuing degrees and careers in landscape architecture.

Take a moment to bookmark the ASLA Scholarships and LAF Scholarships pages, then set aside time to review the full list of available opportunities, many with an application deadline of February 1 or 15.

Tips for getting ready:

  • Begin your scholarship search now (if you haven’t already)
  • Make a submission materials checklist for each scholarship
  • Understand eligibility criteria
  • Highlight deadlines
  • Ask for recommendations ASAP
  • Begin drafting essay responses
  • Meet BEAT deadlines

Both the ASLA and LAF webpages feature new opportunities specifically designed to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession. A few are listed below, but don’t stop there. Ask friends, teachers, and colleagues if they know of funding opportunities offered by firms or other organizations.

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Working as a Charrette Landscape Architect, Part 2

by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP

Interdisciplinary team members at work in a charrette studio
In a charrette studio, team members from different firms and disciplines mix up and work at tables together. / image: Daniel Ashworth

Part 2: The Studio, Tools, and Lessons Learned

In part one of this series, I introduced and described the charrette concept and talked about its benefits for larger planning projects. In this post, I would like to get into what the design studio looks like, how to set up a studio space, the tools you should and could bring, and some lessons learned.

The Studio

A charrette studio is normally set up as a series of tables, most of which are working tables for team members to sit with their computers and/or drawing tools. The first things normally identified are the electrical outlet locations, as that has the biggest impact on table locations. There is usually a large table dedicated to layout/team gathering discussions or large drawings and models. One or two tables are also set up either on one side or around the corner from the charrette studio to have the technical committees and stakeholder meetings. And finally, there is usually a wall that is kept blank for pinups or to be projected on for a slideshow.

As the charrette is in progress, it is always good practice to cover up the walls with base maps and images and then replace those with each day’s production as the charrette progresses. This helps the design team find information for their work quickly, and also helps to show the public that work is occurring. When we can’t have the studio on the physical site, we have rented bicycles for team members to get to the site, and usually someone on the design team rents a car.

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Working as a Charrette Landscape Architect, Part 1

by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP

Landscape architect Daniel Ashworth working on street cross sections
The author working on street cross sections for a small area study in Memphis, TN. / image: Alexander Preudhomme, Opticos Design, Inc.

Working in design charrettes is a unique experience usually reserved for architects and planners working in firms aligned with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), using the ideas and procedures codified by Bill Lennertz through the National Charrette Institute (NCI). However, in the last five to eight years I have noticed more landscape architecture services being pulled into the charrette process, and with increasing frequency, landscape architects are leading multidisciplinary charrettes.

A design charrette is a three- to five-day intensive, focused, and collaborative workshop usually held on the project site or as close to the site as possible within the project’s community. The setting and nature of the charrette gets the project’s team members out of the distracted design office environment and into the same room together. Being on site means the project team is designing in public and are able to get immediate feedback from the public and project stakeholders through open studio hours and presentations during charrette week. The charrette process allows team members to access the project site whenever necessary, and it allows for the in-person team collaboration that leads to a better and more coordinated project and higher quality places. From a project management standpoint, a charrette can also be a cheaper and more efficient way to get the majority of project work done, even in light of the travel and lodging costs.

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Landscapes for Better Mental Health

by David Cutter, ASLA, SITES AP

Family playing on grassy area in front of building
Bringing nature closer to urban residents has positive effects on mental health. / image: Agung Pandit Wiguna, Pexels

Over 150 years ago, the nascent profession of landscape architecture was championing the intersection of public health and the design of our cities and landscapes. Frederick Law Olmsted argued convincingly for the necessity of large urban parks where residents of all social classes could connect with nature, breathe fresh air, and engage in recreation. However, it’s only been over the last couple decades that the effects of spending time in nature have been examined in a more rigorous manner, and the benefits have begun to be analyzed and quantified. Particularly in the area of mental health, the myriad of ways that contact with nature contributes to our health and well-being has been validated by numerous scientific investigations.

In the article from Stanford University re-posted below, researchers describe the Stanford Natural Capital Project and their plans to create a new software platform called InVEST that will help designers incorporate mental health considerations into the development and design of public parks.

Those landscape architects in the field of campus planning and design are probably familiar with the growing evidence that there is a mental health crisis among students on our college campuses. “A 2015 National Collegiate health assessment found that 37 percent of college students they surveyed felt so depressed within the last 12 months that they had difficulty functioning,” says Don Rakow of Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science. “It also found that 59 percent felt overwhelming anxiety.”

In this article from Cornell University, Don and his colleagues at Cornell are piloting a Nature Rx (prescription) program to use the renowned natural beauty of the campus landscape and surrounding open spaces to “somehow mitigate the prevalence of psychological problems among the large and diverse student body.” The initial success of this initiative has led to a book highlighting the value of Nature Rx programs and profiling four different programs in American colleges.

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Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Julie Moir Messervy, Part 2

by Lisa Bailey, ASLA

The Toronto Music Garden
The Toronto Music Garden / image: Virginia Weiler

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Julie Moir Messervy

The first part of this interview with Julie Moir Messervy, owner of Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio (JMMDS), covered inspiration and the creative process. This week in part 2, the conversation continues with questions on marketing, post-occupancy research, maintenance, and challenges encountered.

How do you market your firm?

We don’t market except through our blogs and newsletters. I used to do a lot of lecturing, and I still do some, but I’ve been very busy lately. I learned from a marketing course that all of my books are marketing devices, but I never did them for that reason; I did them because I had something to say.

We’re lucky to have great projects come to us through word of mouth. The American Public Gardens Association has been a wonderful source of botanical garden work. We love designing for cemeteries, which are very spiritual and the most important healing gardens of all. You really have to get the details right there. When somebody you love dies, you grasp how important that work is. To make a place that feels comfortable, and yet a little bit transcendent—it’s one of my favorite challenges.

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A New Resource on the Visual Assessment of Landscapes

by James F. Palmer, PhD, PLA, FASLA

Research visualization
A visualization of the subject domains of 1,841 citations in the visual assessment and landscape perception literature based on keyword co-occurrence. The colored lines represent links between themes, and the size of the circle represents the frequency of occurrence. / image: James F. Palmer

Announcing: Landscape and Urban Planning Special Collection on the Visual Assessment of Landscapes Themes and Trends in Visual Assessment Research

Edited by Paul H. Gobster, Robert G. Ribe, and James F. Palmer

Landscape architects have been leading contributors to the academic field of visual landscape assessment research and to the professional practice of visual impact assessment. Landscape and Urban Planning has been the leading journal publishing this work, and it has now created a collection of 18 articles published previously that are representative of the 744 articles the journal has published in this field. The collection is introduced with a literature review about themes and trends in visual assessment authored by Paul Gobster, Robert Ribe, and James Palmer, all Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Through March 2020, the whole collection may be downloaded for free.

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Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Julie Moir Messervy, Part 1

by Lisa Bailey, ASLA

Edinburgh residence garden
Edinburgh residence by JMMDS / image: photograph by Angus Bremner©

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Julie Moir Messervy

Julie Moir Messervy, owner of Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio (JMMDS), inspired me when I first heard her speak 20 years ago. Her unique way of thinking about design, her deep grasp of psychology, emotions and the invisible realm of spirit, and the subconscious impact of landscape archetypes on us resonated with me. I admire the contributions she has made through her books (Contemplative Garden, The Inward Garden, The Magic Land, Outside the Not So Big House, Home Outside, Landscaping Ideas that Work), lectures, projects, and now with the Home Outside app her firm has created. She has designed meaningful places for healing and for getting in touch with heart and spirit in cemeteries, memorials, arboretums, parks, schools, and homes. Landscape designs that do that are healthcare settings!

The following is an edited interview with Julie Moir Messervy, landscape designer, author, and speaker based in Bellows Falls, VT. The interview was conducted this spring by Lisa Bailey, ASLA, sole proprietor of BayLeaf Studio in Berkeley, CA, and a consultant with Schwartz and Associates, a landscape design firm in Mill Valley, CA.

What inspires you to do this work?

I was inspired by being a child playing in nature. I am one of seven children and found some away time, as well as solace and delight, in the fields, woods, and orchards around our house. Exploring nature has always been an important part of my life.

My favorite question that I’ve always asked my clients is, “Where did you go as a child for daydreaming, reverie, and reflection?” Not only do most people recall their love of nature, but they recognize their deep love and longing for the places in nature they played in. It’s not always an outdoor space; it could be a city library, under the piano, or in their bed. People want a place like that, not necessarily literally similar, but that recreates the feelings of security, wonder, and creativity. Having a contemplative place in your life—a place to remember and reconnect with the spirit—is a real source of healing.

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Detroit as a Cultural Landscape Palimpsest

by Brenda Williams, ASLA, and John Zvonar, FCSLA

Conference attendees in front of the Detroit Public Library
AHLP Detroit conference attendees in front of the Detroit Public Library. / image: AHLP

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation: Conserving Cultural Landscapes (“the Alliance”) met for its Annual Conference in Detroit, Michigan, in May 2019. The theme of the conference was “Detroit as a Cultural Landscape Palimpsest.” The group spent three days immersed in presentations and site visits focused on learning about cultural landscapes throughout the city. We learned how MoTown is addressing dramatic demographic and economic change through innovative approaches to create a positive, resilient future, while embracing, celebrating, and preserving cultural heritage. Following the palimpsest theme, the Detroit landscapes were viewed each day through the lens of a different time span. If Detroit is on your bucket list (and it really should be) you’ll find lots of great information and ideas in this post and associated links.

The Alliance is an interdisciplinary professional organization which provides a forum for communication and exchange of information among its members. It is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of historic landscapes in all their variety, from formal gardens and public parks to rural expanses. If you are not familiar with the Alliance, you can learn more about the organization on their website, ahlp.org.

During the conference, we learned of the importance of the Detroit region to Indigenous communities prior to the arrival of Europeans, and ways current Indigenous Peoples are continuing relationships with the landscape. The Honorable Grand Chief Ted Roll of the Wyandotte of Anderdon Nation, and Joshua Garcia, Wyandotte Nation Youth-Intern Ambassador, introduced us to the land of the Anishinabeg (First People). Representing the voices of Indigenous communities directly associated with the area, they led visits to and taught us about Wyandot sites.

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Bridging Landscape Ecology and Landscape Architecture

by Taryn Wiens

Grounding Root System Architecture
ASLA 2015 Student Research Honor Award. Grounding Root System Architecture, Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA, University of Virginia. Faculty Advisor: Julie Bargmann. / image: Gwendolyn McGinn

ASLA’s Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) invites you to a discussion on novel ecosystems this Friday, October 4, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (Eastern). [The recording is now available.] Join the conversation!

Richard Hobbs defines a novel ecosystem as “an ecosystem that consists of new combinations of species that have not previously coexisted, and/or new configurations of environmental factors such as changed climate or altered soil properties.” The basic premise that such ecosystems exist seems straightforward, yet has been highly contentious and marks a significant shift in perspective.

This webinar panel brings together designers and ecologists to unravel the nuances of “novel ecosystems” as a conceptual framework, and the implications for work in restoration, conservation, and design.

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Students & Educators: Enter to Win the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

The University of Arizona's entry, (Re)Searching for a Spot, won second place in the demonstration project category of the 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge.
The University of Arizona’s entry, (Re)Searching for a Spot, won second place in the demonstration project category of the 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: University of Arizona Design Board

Registration for the 8th annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Campus RainWorks Challenge is open now through Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices. Current undergraduate and graduate students at American colleges and universities are eligible to participate.

Pollution associated with urban stormwater runoff is a problem that is growing in magnitude. The Campus RainWorks Challenge invites the current generation of scholars to lend their creativity and knowledge to the green infrastructure design process and become part of the solution to stormwater pollution by designing an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater pollution while benefitting the campus community and the environment.

ASLA is a proud supporter of the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge. ASLA members participate as jurors during the review process. If you are interested in volunteering as a juror, please contact propractice@asla.org.

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