Occupational sectors, such as landscape architecture, have been slow to close the gender gap. An estimated 24 percent of project landscape architects are women at present, but the number is steadily increasing—especially after a year that has forced all industries to rethink and reprioritize diversity.
The landscape architecture industry is now at the forefront of adapting and evolving with a renewed passion for building a more diverse workforce that is competitive and economically successful.
I am sharing some of the trends and obstacles guiding this transformation that I am encountering as Charleston Team Leader and Women’s Leadership Initiative Leader of SeamonWhiteside, a landscape architecture and civil engineering firm with offices throughout the Carolinas. The firm has focused its efforts on addressing the needed workforce diversity across the industry based on these trends.
Trend: The Glass Ceiling is Cracking
Females now hold more leadership roles in the industry than before, but few have positions at the highest level. While the change needed is recognized, a prevalent shift will eventually occur as company leadership understands that with diversity comes more talent and more business.
When did you start your work in the field of therapeutic landscapes and what inspires you to do this type of work?
I guess what inspired me goes back to 1991, and a little before that. I was a bit challenged, in hindsight, with depression, and did not know it at the time, and, unfortunately, began to self-medicate. To come out of that, I spent a lot of time in nature; it was something that helped me evolve and come back from where I was. But more significant was the diagnosis of my mother with ovarian cancer. I spent a lot of time in hospitals, and it was at the time almost identical to Roger’s study (Roger Ulrich, 1986) that we were in the room when she pointed at a tree. She talked a lot about the tree; it was the only tree and was the only piece of nature in the view. I realized that she just clung to it—a totem of reality that you can attach to because the rest of reality was so oppressive. Almost at the same time, I entered into the landscape architecture profession. And because of the social convictions stemming back to the 60s and 70s, it all came together with me that there was an opportunity to explore this area, so I sought out working with marginalized populations.
The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.
Camp Naco lies in the valley of the San Pedro River of southeastern Arizona, between the Huachuca Mountains and the Mule Mountains. Set some 300 feet from the wall that now runs along the border between the United States and Mexico, its adobe buildings bring to mind an unsettled decade at the beginning of the twentieth century when Mexican revolutionaries, striking mine workers, lawless bandits, and a World War I intrigue between Germany and Mexico dominated the political landscape. During the greater part of its history, the camp was home to rotating troops from the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers.”
ASLA is excited to host SKILL | ED, a virtual practice management event geared towards our emerging and mid-career professional members. Each day will focus on a different learning studio: business development, proposals, and contracts.
by Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA, and Sarah Kwon, Affil. ASLA
The Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (EJ PPN) held a virtual workshop in early April, facilitated by co-chairs Michelle Lin-Luse and Sarah Kwon. Our intentions were two-fold:
to raise awareness of the history of the Environmental Justice Movement by lifting up the stories and organizing efforts by Black and brown communities fighting environmental racism, and
create a space for community-building among environmental justice advocates within the landscape architectural community.
A Living History: An Interactive Timeline
After establishing the workshop space with a land acknowledgement, we introduced the participants to the history of the environmental justice movement through the EJ PPN Living History Timeline, an interactive, web-based timeline of the environmental justice movement that links our personal histories to the larger movement. This timeline is built from an open-source online tool designed by the Global Action Project, an organization that uses media-based organizing and popular education to connect personal histories to the larger ebbs and flows of social movements.
The EJ PPN Living History Timeline is an interactive timeline principally organized by key moments of environmental justice movement history, such as the events leading up to the adoption of the 17 Principles of Environmental Justice. Adjoining the EJ movement history is a timeline documenting the chronology of the formation of ASLA’s Environmental Justice PPN, its past programs, and ongoing initiatives to advance environmental justice within the field of landscape architecture.
Aynaz Lotfata is an Assistant Professor of Geography and Urban Planning at Chicago State University, Illinois. Her cross-disciplinary research focuses on environmental justice and urban wellbeing. Her studies demonstrate the integration of principles from various disciplines such as urban planning, geospatial sciences, and statistical modeling to address socio-environmental planning problems that are interconnected to landscape architecture and urban design. We are delighted to have Aynaz share her ideas about increasing walkability during the pandemic from an urban planning perspective.
– Sara Hadavi, Associate ASLA, Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) leader and Landscape Architecture Magazine Editorial Advisory Committee member
The way urban planning and design practice responds to urban transformation comes with shifts in focus. Rather than taking the development of cities as the outcome of predefined decisions, the urban change is reflected as a process shaped by a wide variety of uncertainties, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. At the heart of this reflection, planning practice tackles the issue of how to be synchronized with evolutionary dimensions of cities, and how to to strengthen cities’ “adoptable capacity” (Rauws & De Roo, 2016).
Exploring the adoptable capacity of cities leads urban practitioners to value informal responses that influence productions of urban changes and organically proceeding paths of the spatial and functional organization of urban space.
The different forms of urbanisms—tactical urbanism (Lydon and Garcia, 2015), temporary urbanism (Ferreri, 2015; Andres, 2013), chrono-urbanism (15-minutes city; Moreno et al., 2020), do-it-yourself urbanism—are highlighted in the literature as alternative forms of urban space production. Actions are taken in the short-term by people while at the same time the adoption of these actions into the practices of urban design seems to have a key role in these forms of urbanism. These approaches resemble urban acupuncture (Lerner, 2014) where targeted local interventions work in a complementary way to have an overall positive effect. Notably, Colin McFarlane considers both informalities and tactical environments as channels of learning to cope with cities’ complexity and to facilitate their adaptability; and taking them as learning practices, he suggests that they offer a critical opportunity for progressive urbanism.
By making women’s safety a priority, we’ll likely make public spaces safer for everyone.
Did you know that Central Park in New York City has just one statue of real, historical women? Guess how many statues of real men are in Central Park: twenty-three. Can you believe that? Moreover, it took until August 2020 to get our single statue celebrating real women’s achievements in one of the most famous public spaces in the country.
This is hardly an anomaly. Think about your own town: how visible are women in the public spaces you frequent? Moreover, how often are you considering women’s specific needs in your designs? Probably not often—possibly not ever. It should come as no surprise then that our built environments favor men over women, and the disparity goes far beyond representation in statuary.
Colorado and Denver have a rich history of Modernist architecture and landscape architecture. From large sites such as Herbert Bayer’s Aspen Institute, to the Denver Botanical Gardens designed by Garrett Eckbo, to the Cliff May houses and Googie-style Tom’s Diner, the growing city of Denver in the 60s was home to many modernist masterpieces. One of these was Lawrence Halprin’s Skyline Park, a three-block linear park in the heart of downtown. A significant part of the park was lost to redesign in the early 2000s and now the few Halprin remnants are at risk of being lost. The following is an article written by Annie Levinsky, Executive Director of Historic Denver, about the current status of Skyline Park. – Ann Mullins, FASLA
Future Uncertain for Remaining Elements of Halprin’s Skyline Park
In 2020, the Department of Parks & Recreation launched a new planning effort to redesign Skyline Park, located between 15th and 18th along Arapahoe in Downtown. The park already has an unfortunate preservation history.
Constructed between 1972 and 1975, this one-acre linear park and plaza was a central feature of the Skyline Urban Renewal District. The park was designed by Lawrence Halprin, who subsequently went on to be one of the most lauded landscape architects of the later 20th century.
News from the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AKD40) are hosting a webinar this month that will focus on compost-based best management practices on highway roadsides. Committee member Jack Broadbent with Caltrans and our presenters will discuss how these practices advance roadside revegetation, control erosion, reduce runoff, filter stormwater, and improve stormwater quality. They will also introduce practical tools and innovative methods to enhance water quality and roadside vegetation.
This webinar was organized by the TRB Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design with support from the Environmental Analysis and Ecology Committee (AEP70) and the Roadside Maintenance Operations Committee (AKR20).