Designing for Health: How SITES Improves Quality of Life

by Sonja Trierweiler

image: photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker on Unsplash

Only 11 percent of people associate terms like “green space” and “green building” with creating an environment in which people live longer and healthier lives. Improved air quality is proven to increase cognitive function and decision-making skills, and connection to nature and natural materials promotes human health and wellbeing—yet only 11 percent of people see and understand this link.

This number came from research conducted as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Living Standard campaign, which was launched at Greenbuild Chicago in November 2018. Living Standard aims to promote healthier, safer, more equitable, and more sustainable spaces through research, storytelling, and listening to those both inside and outside of our communities.

The Living Standard Report, Volume I, found that only 11 percent of people surveyed associated terms like “green space” and “green building” as strongly related to creating a healthy environment. The graph above shows different words and phrases associated with the environment and being green. Survey takers were asked: which THREE words or phrases are MOST STRONGLY / LEAST related to creating an environment that lets you live a longer and healthier life? / image: The Living Standard Report, Volume I

Our research has found that there are a number of ways we can help people connect the dots, including relating green spaces back to health and safety outcomes, future generations, and environmental stakes. But ultimately, it boils down to storytelling and localization.

Continue reading

Submit Your Ideas for the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture

Miami Beach Soundscape by West 8 / image: photo by Robin Hill ©

The American Society of Landscape Architects is now accepting proposals for the 2020 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami through January 23.

The ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture is the largest gathering of landscape architects and allied professionals in the world—all coming together to learn, celebrate, build relationships, and strengthen the bonds of our incredibly varied professional community.

We are seeking education proposals that will help to drive change in the field of landscape architecture and solve everyday challenges informed by research and practice. Help us shape the 2020 education program by submitting a proposal through our online system by Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

New for 2020

The conference education program will be organized across dynamic conference tracks designed to help you focus on the challenges that are most important to you. Before you submit your proposal, prepare by reviewing the 2020 conference tracks and descriptions. For your submission, select one of 14 tracks that represent topics most relevant to the practice of landscape architecture and cross sector collaborations today.

Please visit the submission site to learn more about criteria, the review process, and key dates. ASLA members are invited to log in to the online system using their unique ASLA ID.

Continue reading

Two Women [Re]Making Wikipedia History

by TJ Marston, ASLA

image: Alexandra Mei

Starting this Sunday, December 8, the The Wikipedia Project is taking over the WxLA Instagram!

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WiLA PPN)’s new Wiki Officer, Alexandra Mei, Associate ASLA, and her research partner Shira Grosman, Student ASLA, created The Wikipedia Project to share their work promoting the history of women in landscape architecture in Wikipedia.

“As a shared and open resource, Wikipedia provides a public platform for us to acknowledge and celebrate the groundbreaking work that women have contributed to the field.”
– Alexandra Mei, WiLA Wiki Officer

The takeover will last one week, December 8 – December 14, so make sure you follow @w_x_la to catch it all!

Wiki Writers:

Alexandra Mei, Associate ASLA, is a landscape designer at Merritt Chase and a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis. She recently completed a two-year research fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, focused on the patterns of weathering and decay in the design of public landscapes. Alexandra graduated from WashU with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and from Harvard GSD with her masters in landscape architecture. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in St. Louis.

Shira Grosman, Student ASLA, is a Masters Candidate in Landscape Architecture at Harvard GSD. She has worked in landscape architecture and architecture firms in New York and Los Angeles and conducted multiple research projects on women in design. She is currently co-editor of Womxn in Design‘s Bibliography on Identity Theories. Shira graduated from WashU with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

Continue reading

Nature’s Capacity to Create a Lifetime Home

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

Farmer David, age 4, helping to create our first family garden. / image: Amy Wagenfeld

I think that my commitment to nature all started with my childhood home. I grew up in a very busy Midwestern household, the oldest of four children, with two transplanted Brooklyn, New York academics for parents. My parents’ prior experience with plants and gardening was nil. Nonetheless, upon purchasing our home in Southwest Michigan, they tackled installing a vegetable garden in our suburban home with great zest and enthusiasm; determined to be farmers and to cast aside their collective urban world view. Their interest in the garden rapidly waned, but much to their surprise, their six-year-old daughter (me) took to the dirt with unfettered passion and zeal.

I quickly found that tending to the garden was a means to escape from three pesky younger siblings and find quiet and solitude amongst the veggies. It was my place in our home, a place where I felt most attached and connected and whole. The garden was where I wanted to be whenever I could. When it came time to harvest, I can still recall, half a century later, a sense of sheer wonder and delight in what I, as a little six-year-old girl, had nurtured all summer long. I can point to those early experiences in our vegetable garden as the catalyst for what would ultimately define my professional work and lifelong love of gardening and nature as a means to define home and to enhance the human experience.

As an occupational therapy educator, researcher, and landscape design consultant, my work focuses on how experiences in nature impact health and wellbeing. I am increasingly interested in how childhood experiences with nature can enrich parent-child as well as place attachment relationships and buffer the impact of trauma. We want our children to develop healthy and secure attachment relationships with their caregivers and to home and to be whole. These relationships may be nurtured through experiences in nature.

Continue reading