Give Back: Become a Mentor

image: iStock

On a Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) survey, we asked members to share one essential lesson learned from a mentor (see LAND for a recap of the responses), and many of the answers reflected heartfelt gratitude for a helpful or transformative insight shared. Many professionals cite the importance of mentorship at different points in their careers. As students and emerging professionals navigate the impacts on the profession during the COVID-19 crisis, mentorship can play an even larger role, as a source of guidance and reassurance during these uncertain times.

The 2020 ASLA Mentorship Program launched in conjunction with the announcement of free ASLA membership for students this spring. The goal the program is to foster relationships between students and seasoned professionals that allows both parties to increase their understanding of the many facets of landscape architecture.

While many students have eagerly signed up, we are looking for more mentors to step up. What do you need to be a mentor? Just a minimum of five years of experience, and a willingness to be engaged. If you’ve benefited from the guidance of a mentor, now is the time to give back to the landscape architecture community by taking on that role. Prospective mentors are invited to sign up by August 31 so new student members can get paired with a mentor.

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An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA: The Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden

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

Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden
Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden. A spacious curved trellis serves as a welcoming transition from the elementary school to the garden. The adjacent activity space, an oval “lawn” of resilient paving, features a variety of fixed and movable seating choices. / image: Robin Hill (c)

An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA, Founding Partner of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC

The Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) is honored to share the second part of my interview with David Kamp, FASLA, whose influential work is held in the highest esteem in the design, planning, and environmental psychology community. (Please see the first installment, covering what shaped David’s design philosophy, here.)

Representative Projects

Your portfolio of projects is amazing. Could you share your thoughts about several that provided you the foundation to design the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden?

I realize that much of what I have shared with you deals with health. Building health through a stronger connection with nature, which strengthens connections to ourselves, our communities, and the larger world, is the foundation to all our projects. That includes our work with children—whether it is designing a universal access trail system for an environmental education center, dealing with the trauma of neo-natal intensive care for parents and well siblings, a public garden that engages everyone regardless of age or condition, or an international campus that welcomes children from a dozen different cultures. All of these perspectives deal with celebrating the wonder and delight of nature and using that resonating “connectiveness” to open up new worlds for kids to explore. Receiving the commission for the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden, we had a rich and nuanced perspective to draw upon for the collaboration.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career, Part 3

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

K Street Mall, Sacramento
K Street Mall, Sacramento, CA. K Street was converted to an unsuccessful pedestrian mall in the 1960s. When light rail was introduced to Sacramento in the mid-1970s, K Street was transformed into a thriving pedestrian/transit mall. CHNMB, with Byron as Principal-in-Charge, was the lead design consultant to Caltrans. / image: CHNMB photo courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career, and the second installment for Byron’s time at CHNMB and Amphion.

Career in Teaching

In ’79, when I was working on the K Street Mall, still as CHNMB, I had given a presentation up in Sacramento and met Rob Thayer. Probably two or three weeks later, Dave Johnson in our office said they were looking for someone to teach grading and drainage at UC Davis. We were slow at the time and he thought I could probably do that. I had never taught before; I thought, I wouldn’t know what to do! Dave said, “You teach all the time in the office. You know what you’re talking about, students would love it.” I literally had never thought about teaching. I definitely knew how to grade and drain, and a lot of people don’t when they get into an office. I contacted Rob (who founded the landscape architecture program at Davis) and he said, “You’ll be perfect. We’ll give you a great TA who’s already taken the course, and a workbook you can use.” I got Rich Untermann’s book, The Principles of Grading and Drainage. There were an awful lot of generalizations in it; it gets people started, but doesn’t take it very far, so I began to modify and make up my own exercises. One of the hardest things to do is to create exercises or problems. I would do one and think this is going to get exactly what I want; then I’m in the middle of doing it and a student would ask about an element I hadn’t planned on introducing yet.

I taught the course that first time, and Rob asked if I wanted to do it again. He said I got great reviews, and I enjoyed it. I was teaching one half-day, two days a week. The first time I taught I didn’t even get paid; I gave the money back to the office because I didn’t take the time off. In ’81 the department asked me if I wanted to teach two courses. Skip Mezger, ASLA, and I taught together; it was a hands-on thing. We spent an hour talking about theory of construction and then we’d work for a couple hours doing projects on campus, or sometimes we’d just go hammer some nails. It was like taking city people to the country—it was good introductory stuff. When I started teaching halftime I cut my salary from the office. That also started me in the retirement system, which at first I didn’t think too much about. That went on for a couple years, then Skip went on to something else, or collectively we decided to change the course a little bit. It was still half days, but I was now teaching two quarters. Then I had a third course. Grading and drainage, detailing and materials, then construction documents. At one point I introduced a professional practice course as a separate course, but they couldn’t find a way to fit it in, so I worked that into construction documents, which seemed to be the place that it fit the best.

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An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA

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

Sensory Arts Garden
Within a lush and safe setting, the Sensory Arts Garden fosters curiosity and meaningful interactions and is welcoming to all regardless of ability. / image: Robin Hill (c)

An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA, Founding Partner of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC

I am delighted to share the first of a two-part interview I had with landscape architect David Kamp, FASLA. Having followed his innovative and influential work with great interest for many years, I was fortunate to have worked with David and his team at Dirtworks to design the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden, located in Jupiter, Florida. It remains one of my favorite and most meaningful projects, one that truly meets the needs of children and adults with autism. We will talk about the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden in the second part of the interview, to be published here on The Field next week. For now, please enjoy learning about what shaped David’s design philosophy.

Personal History

Please tell us about your firm, when it was founded, and what your vision was.

Early in my career, as one of the designers for Australia’s Parliament House, I saw how design could express a sense of identity both personal and national—and do it at vastly different scales. Working for landscape architect Peter Rolland, FASLA, and a design team headed by Mitchell Giurgola Thorp Architects, the design for Parliament House drew upon an important historic concept whereby the city used its natural topography as a major organizing device. The design made little distinction between architecture and landscape. It is a triumph of the planner’s art, merging built form with landform in a way that is at once natural and monumental, seeking a balance with the existing landscape and morphology of the city.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career, Part 2

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

Freeway Park, Seattle
Freeway Park, Seattle. / image: CHNMB photo courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career.

Transition Years

The whole time that Lawrence Halprin and Associates (LH&A) existed the office was located at 1620 Montgomery Street, in the waterfront area below Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. In the early 1970s, Larry started an alternative office called Roundhouse, which was located at the train turnaround, just down from Montgomery Street. Roundhouse became what Larry was really interested in, although he was still involved in projects on a request basis. He had written The RSVP Cycles, and was getting more involved in esoteric theories and practices of group dynamics. During this time we began to refine the workshops that we were becoming known for—learning ways to work with groups and help them be more creative, and break down the mindset one came in with. We cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them on the wall; we sketched. We did the “two minute drill” which involved listing five things that are most important to you in one minute—things that first come to mind. Larry did training workshops for those of us who were going to be leading workshops. Larry didn’t lead all the workshops; he led some of the early ones, then several of us took over.

This went on for a couple years, during which time we got the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Larry got that project through Roundhouse and Larry hired LH&A to do it and manage it, but he was the one in charge. I was assigned as the project manager. I had to negotiate the contract and go to Washington a couple times to meet with senators. This was always a strange project to me because FDR very explicitly said, “I do not want a memorial, give me a rock out in front of the library with my name on it.” Until certain members of his family died, that was the situation, but Congress went ahead and appropriated money for it. That project took twenty-five years—it wasn’t built until the late ’90s and it started in ’72.

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A Call for Landscape Architects to Assist Schools in Creating Outdoor Classrooms

by Jennifer Nitzky, PLA, ASLA, ISA

Nueva School
ASLA 2010 Professional Honor Award in General Design. Nueva School. Hillsborough, CA. Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture. / image: Marion Brenner

Green Schoolyards America (GSA) and their partners are organizing a national COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative around the idea of using outdoor school space, parks, and other outdoor areas as assets as schools make plans to re-open in the fall.

The initiative, led by Sharon Danks, MLA-MCP, CEO of Green Schoolyards America, has created several working groups to develop strategies, ideas, and frameworks to assist schools across the country. This initiative was launched with an online public forum titled “Outdoor Spaces as Essential Assets for School Districts’ COVID-19 Response,” held on June 4, 2020, and co-hosted by Green Schoolyards America, The Lawrence Hall of Science, San Mateo County Office of Education, and Ten Strands.

Among the working groups developed through this initiative, a new pro bono landscape design assistance program called COVID-19 Emergency Schoolyard Design Volunteers is matching schools with landscape architects and design students.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

The Halprin Gang
The Halprin Gang, late 1960s. Byron is in the striped shirt, center, below a waving Larry Halprin. / image: courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story.

Introduction: Education

My view of landscape architecture, of course, has evolved over the years. I graduated from high school in 1959. The direction we were given was to be an engineer, and if you were smart enough, to be an aerospace engineer; that was the field to go into. I had decent enough grades; I could have probably gone into it easily enough. In the library—libraries still existed then, with books in them!—there were career pamphlets; “be an engineer,” be this or be that. I pulled out the one on engineers and looked at what you needed to do. It had math, math, math, math. I can do math, but I don’t enjoy math, so I thought I’m not going to do engineering. I enjoyed drawing. I was decent at artwork, so I considered maybe something more in an artistic field. I thought seriously about architecture for a while and looked up their pamphlets. Unfortunately architects have to do calculus.

I had done a lot of gardening around our house. My mom really encouraged me to plant flowers. I didn’t know too much about plants, but I had an interest in it. At the time I found landscape architecture, the little brochure said landscape architects do houses, backyards…they do parks, and other sorts of things, but it was pretty much focused on designing people’s backyards. That’s the impression of landscape architecture that I entered UC Berkeley with—I wanted to do people’s backyards.

When I got to school, in those particular days, landscape architecture education started with architecture. You had a couple of introductory landscape courses, but all of the basic design was done through architecture—spatial manipulation, colors, patterns, textures, working with any kind of design philosophy from a very basic standpoint. It was a whole year of just introductory design courses through the architecture department, and those were good. There was a lot of advanced structure to it—structure in terms of form—and we’d been doing these for years. I think it was a good introduction. It opened my eyes; it was a lot more than I ever thought it was going to be.

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Measuring Performance: Findings and Insights from LAF’s 2020 CSI Program

by Megan Barnes, Associate ASLA

Arizona State University
Arizona State University Orange Mall Green Infrastructure Project / image: Chingwen Cheng

No matter how sustainability is defined—carbon neutral, net zero water, biodiversity, quality of life—it cannot be achieved without considering landscape.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program is a unique research collaboration and training program for faculty, students, and practitioners. Through CSI, LAF-funded faculty-student research teams work with leading practitioners to document the impacts of exemplary, high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify the environmental, social, and economic benefits of built projects and produce Case Study Briefs for LAF’s Landscape Performance Series. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Landscape Performance Series, which provides critical information to build capacity to achieve sustainability and transform the way landscape is considered in the design and development process. The Landscape Performance Series’ collection of over 160 Case Study Briefs created through CSI is an essential resource for educators, students, and practitioners seeking to assess progress toward environmental, social, and economic goals based on measurable outcomes.

The projects selected for the 2020 Case Study Investigation program represent a diverse geography and project types. Several projects have been recognized and awarded for their excellence in sustainable design and performance outcomes. Among the selected projects for the 2020 program are many that incorporate significant diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and address pressing challenges associated with climate change. Project types include an affordable housing project, a freshwater research lab, an adaptive use stadium converted partially into green roofs, and a series of fog collection and other interventions created in partnership with an informal settlement in Peru. The geographically diverse projects also include a rooftop garden in Sydney designed by and for indigenous users, a resilient university campus project in the Arizona desert, and two stormwater management and water conservation infrastructure projects that provide multiple layers of benefits.

Please join LAF’s 2020 Case Study Investigation Research Fellows and Research Assistants for a finale webinar in which they will present their process and most compelling findings from their efforts to quantify environmental, social, and economic benefits of exemplary landscape projects.

Upcoming LAF Webinar: Measuring Landscape Performance: Findings & Insights from LAF’s 2020 CSI Program (recording now available)
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern)
1.5 PDH (LA CES/HSW)

Registration is required and space is limited. A recording of the webinar will be made available on the LAF website.

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