2020 End-of-Year Roundup

ASLA 2020 Student Urban Design Honor Award. Adaptive Traditions of the Eastern Waterfront of Mumbai, India, Zixin (Sing) Chen, Student ASLA, University of Toronto, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. / image: Zixin (Sing) Chen

With the conclusion of this year of tumult now tantalizingly within reach, The Field is rounding up a few end-of-year, landscape architecture-centric recaps, in case you’ve already finished reading up on the Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)’ Year in Review. We hope you enjoy perusing them, and best wishes for a brighter and healthy new year!

The New York Times’ Year in Climate

The Times’ Climate Desk shares some of their best reporting from 2020, on wildfires in Australia, California, and beyond, this year’s relentless hurricane season, the inequality of climate change impacts, and more.

The Washington Post’s Top Climate Stories of 2020

Top stories cover how U.S. climate policy may change under President-elect Joe Biden, impacts of the coronavirus, extreme weather, and how climate risks are shaping financial institutions.

2020: Looking Back and Moving Forward from TCLF

This year-end summary from The Cultural Landscape Foundation includes Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead and the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize. You can also learn more about “Race and Space,” the unifying theme for TCLF’s 2021 programming.

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2020 in Review: Professional Practice Networks Highlights

Even during this wild rollercoaster ride of a year, ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) leaders and members continued to share their experiences and expertise as authors for The Field blog and as presenters for ASLA’s Online Learning webinars.

We would like to thank all of you who contributed to this shared body of knowledge in 2020. We hope that you have found new ways to stay connected, learned to adapt to rapid changes in practice, and felt inspired by your peers in landscape architecture.

Check out the PPNs’ 2020 in Review to see what the PPNs have accomplished this year. Below, we highlight the top 10 Field posts of the year, PPN-hosted Online Learning presentations, and the PPN leaders who took part in reVISION ASLA 2020.

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From Climate Change to Climate Action

Gina McCarthy gave the opening keynote at the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego. / image: EPNAC

President-elect Joe Biden announced this week his pick for head of the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy: Gina McCarthy, former EPA chief, current president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, and 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture keynote speaker.

ASLA members can watch the keynote, From Climate Change to Climate Action: Building a Clean, Healthy, Sustainable Future – 1.0 PDH (LA CES/non-HSW), through the ASLA Online Learning website. This recording is available exclusively to ASLA members; please log in with your existing ASLA username and password.

And, earlier this week, the 20th ICOMOS General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency while this past weekend marked the fifth anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global accord bringing nations together to fight the consequences of climate change, lower emissions and greenhouse gases, and to create a more sustainable and resilient world. Despite the United States’ absence from the agreement, ASLA and more than 4,000 state and local governments, business leaders, university heads, cultural institutions, and many others signed the “We Are Still In” declaration.

Join us in our commitment to combating climate change by signing a letter to the incoming Biden-Harris administration urging them to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement as soon as possible.

Landscape architects, as the leading designers of green infrastructure, possess the knowledge and expertise to create a more sustainable future. Through resilient and sustainable design, landscape architects are helping slow the ravages of climate change while creating a better planet for all.

Ecology-Based Landscapes

by Larry Weaner, Affiliate ASLA, and Sara Weaner

image: Larry Weaner

Ecology-Based Landscapes: A Virtual Education Series
January 4 – March 23, 2021

New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) has presented programs throughout the United States focusing on innovative theory, practical applications, and an expansive vision of “Natural Design.” Programs draw from a variety of disciplines, including agriculture, anthropology, history, and fine art.

Over the first quarter of 2021, NDAL is offering a series of virtual programs, with events in two tracks: one for professional practitioners and one for home gardeners and educators.

Topics for professionals range from native design and management, to roof gardens, to planning for the recruitment of spontaneous vegetation.

Home gardeners can explore methods for wildflower meadow creation and navigating race and inclusivity in community gardens, and school administrators and educators can learn about how to incorporate native gardening into their curriculum and campuses.

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The 2020 HALS Challenge Winners: Vanishing or Lost Landscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

2020 HALS Challenge Winner, First Place. Harvard Botanic Garden, HALS MA-6, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Aerial view. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The results of the 11th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Vanishing or Lost Landscapes, were announced at the annual ASLA HALS Meeting, held virtually on December 8, 2020. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes will be awarded to the top four submissions (there was a tie for second place). This challenge resulted in the donation of 27 impressive HALS short format historical reports and a few measured drawings to the HALS collection for sites in eleven different states.

Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect, and climate change. By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, participants have increased historic landscape awareness by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past.

First Place: Harvard Botanic Garden, HALS MA-6
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Prepared by Allison A. Crosbie, ASLA, Preservation Administrator, Cambridge Historical Commission. This site was significant as one of the earliest botanical gardens in the United States and for its association with Asa Gray (1810-1888), a prominent botanist, educator, and writer.

Second Place (Tie):
Jerome Relocation Center, HALS AR-9
Jerome, Chicot, and Drew Counties, Arkansas
This HALS report and accompanying maps were completed by a team from the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, both of the University of Arkansas. The project was led by faculty member Kimball Erdman, ASLA, with the assistance of fellow faculty member Greg Herman, staff member Angie Payne, and students Justice Barnes, Trevor Brown, Student ASLA, Vanessa Castaneda, Nate Cole, Amanda Davidson, Student ASLA, Alec Fischer, Chloe Harris, Cayla McGrail, Mary Nell Miskin, Kelsey Mork, Stephen Sines, and Jenna Whitmire. This site was significant as a Farm Security Administration (FSA) farming community, then a War Relocation Authority (WRA) Japanese internment camp, and finally as a United States prisoner of war (POW) camp housing German soldiers and officers.

University Mound Nursery, HALS CA-153
San Francisco, California
Prepared by Stacy Farr and Eleanor Cox. This site is historically significant for its association with the commercial flower-growing industry (floriculture) in San Francisco, and because it includes the last extant commercial greenhouses in a district that was once so thoroughly characterized by nurseries that it was known as the city’s Garden District.

Third Place: Henry Schumacher Farm, HALS WI-19
Waunakee, Dane County, Wisconsin
Prepared by Megan Turner, ASLA, with photographs by Rona Neri. This site is locally significant to the early settlement of Dane County and the Village of Waunakee.

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Landscape Architecture Tackles Homelessness and Shelter in the Pandemic

by Yekang Ko, PhD, and Cory Parker, PhD, PLA

Analysis of informal homeless tent encampment
Analysis of informal homeless tent encampment with hand-washing station. / image: Amicia Nametka

Environmental justice for vulnerable groups addresses inequitable distribution of resources or denial of participation in decision-making. The unhoused are one of our most vulnerable groups, and the COVID-19 outbreak puts vulnerable urban populations, especially people experiencing homelessness, in impossible circumstances. The issue of homelessness has escalated in the past decade, driven by economic polarization and the housing crisis. Since COVID-19’s spread through the United States, we have witnessed rising numbers of unhoused people, a trend likely to continue.

Critical discussions on how cities and civil society are responding to this crisis question traditional roles of environmental design. In this post, we explore how landscape architects can contribute to ongoing struggles of spatial justice, particularly by addressing homelessness in the post-pandemic world. We draw specific examples from Eugene, Oregon, the city with the highest homeless population per capita in the U.S. One third of Eugene’s unhoused population experiences mental illness of some kind, many camp along the Willamette River where increased flooding due to climate change threatens them and, with the recent record-breaking wildfire in September, they breathed smoke-filled air for more than a week of hazardous air quality.

Each threat exposes unhoused people to significant health impacts. As a mid-sized city with a population of 170,000, Eugene is known for its pioneering community-wide efforts in addressing the housing crisis and homelessness, including affordable housing movements, tiny house villages, and rest stops. As an alternative to policing, Eugene partnered with a non-profit to provide CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets), a mobile intervention program responding to mental health, substance abuse, and housing crises. Eugene and Lane County have also been actively looking for housing solutions, including building an additional large low-barrier emergency shelter with 75 beds and 350 units of permanent supportive housing units.

In the fall of 2019, the University of Oregon’s studio “Planning for Home: Landscape Approach for Resilient Transitional Housing,” taught by Yekang Ko and Shannon Arms, ASLA, proposed a systematic approach to the creation of a city-wide housing network that includes emergency shelters, transitional housing communities (up to two years), and permanent supportive and/or affordable housing.

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Common Space: A Public Practice Series

Greenbriar Local Park
Greenbriar Local Park, Potomac, MD, Hord Coplan Macht with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). / image: Jennifer Hughes Photography

The realm of public practice, including non-profit and governmental work, offers unique opportunities and challenges to practitioners.

The ASLA Public Practice Advisory Committee aspires to encourage more landscape architects, including students in landscape-architecture programs and emerging professionals, to pursue careers in the public sector. Less than ten percent of ASLA’s membership identify as public practitioners, working for local, state, and federal government agencies, universities and colleges, or parks and arboreta. Many of these ASLA members have found their way to public practice after years in private practice, looking to shape public policy and have an impact on public spaces for the common good.

In an ongoing series for ASLA’s LAND newsletter, members of the Public Practice Advisory Committee and other landscape architects share insights on their public practice careers. Check out what’s already appeared, recapped below, and stay tuned for new articles in the future!

Interviews:

Linda Komes, ASLA
Landscape architect and project manager in the Park Development Division of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission
Interview conducted by Julie Higgins, PLA, ASLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

Nick Aceto
Landscape architect and urban designer at Aceto Landscape Architects
Interview conducted by Jennifer Shagin, ASLA, Redevelopment Support Specialist at City of Fort Collins, CO and land planner at Todd Hodges Design, LLC

Robynne Heymans, Associate ASLA
Park Planner, Austin Parks and Recreation Department
Austin, TX

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The Urban Studio Presents: Pardon Our Disruption

Urban Studio event series
The Urban Studio’s three-part virtual event series, Pardon Our Disruption, begins today, December 1!

The Urban Studio has three exciting and relevant programs of interest to members of the Environmental Justice PPN! Not only will you gain new insights into your own practice, you’ll be supporting the Urban Studio’s mission to advance the landscape architecture profession to create more healthy, vibrant, and just communities for all.
– Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA, PLA, Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) Co-Chair

The Urban Studio’s three-part virtual event series, Pardon Our Disruption, begins today. Supporting these events helps create pathways for young professionals and shake up the landscape architecture profession in order to accelerate efforts toward a more equitable future for all.

Upset the Set Up
Tuesday, December 1, 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) / 1:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Join us for an interactive workshop to learn about effective co-creation tools and methods for meaningful community engagement. Facilitated by The Urban Studio’s creative engagement experts Daví de la Cruz, Associate ASLA, and Jenn Low, PLA, plus special guests Daniel Villa and his work with Hello Data and Christin Hu to talk about their work designing cooperative games. These tools and methods will cover a few central themes when designing for engagement: power, co-learning, storytelling, and play.

Interrupt the Program
Tuesday, December 8, 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) / 1:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Join The Urban Studio co-founders Kendra Hyson, ASLA, and Maisie Hughes in conversation with Kona Gray, FASLA, PLA, Principal of EDSA, and Torey Carter-Conneen, the new CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects, to reimagine the future of landscape architecture.

Digitize the Revolution
Tuesday, December 15, 4:00 p.m. (Eastern) / 1:00 p.m. (Pacific)
Explore the intersection of mapping and social justice with Andrew Sargeant, ASLA, and Jelani Byrd as they demonstrate how to democratize data using open-source assets and live, 3D mapping with QGIS.

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