Celebrating Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

ASLA 2018 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. El Retorno a la Tierra/Going Back To the Land. Las Marías, Puerto Rico. Nicole Rivera-Ramos, Student ASLA / image: Nicole Rivera-Ramos

On April 5, 2022, I had the honor of being invited to give the inaugural speech to start the celebration of Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico. My goal was to share with members of the Institute of Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico the importance of supporting the profession and how they might contribute through ASLA and its platforms.

Although Puerto Rico is a United States territory, currently there is no ASLA chapter on the island. The closest professional affiliation is with the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). The theme of this year’s WLAM celebration in Puerto Rico was “Regenerative Landscapes”—however, I did not focus on presenting a project that integrates this concept. Instead, I focused on using the concept of regeneration—giving a new use to something, or using it in a different way to improve it—as an integral part of our concept of professional practice.

The response was so rewarding that I decided to share this speech after the event, perhaps inspiring others. My Landscape Architecture Month talk went as follows:

Everybody in this room has something in common: we are advocates of improving our natural and built environments, in our country and all around the world.

We also share the fact that we chose the career that improves the quality of living in our communities, and we are:

  • The professionals that help combat global warming and lead climate action,
  • The specialists that see our cities as urban landscapes, and
  • The designers that shape experiences and contribute to improving the economy of states and countries.

Yes, we are the champions that enhance the landscape, but the best landscape is the one in front of me right now—the landscape comprised of all the landscape architects from Puerto Rico. This landscape of professionals will look even better when all of you join together to become a force.

We are a productive, sustainable, and regenerative profession—the profession of the future. Cities will run out of vacant spaces to fill, and ever-increasing populations, traffic, and temperatures in cities have determined that future design issues will require landscape architecture solutions. With the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are looking at their surrounding spaces as outdoor classrooms. All these design problems are related to landscape architecture.

That is why I am so proud to call myself a landscape architect. However, we still have work to do to make our profession more visible. We can:

  • Media engagement: share what we do on social media, in newspapers and publications, and even on television, so people can learn what we do.
  • Civic engagement: landscape architects should be represented within more government agencies.
  • Partner with other colleges to develop projects that help communities.
  • Partner with architects and other green professionals so landscape architects can be seen as the ideal partners that any design team should have.
  • Participate with IFLA and ASLA so we can promote our profession on a larger scale.
image: courtesy of Arnaldo Cardona

We are landscape architects, we are the profession now, and those colleagues that are no longer with us, will always be landscape architects, leaving a legacy of service and professionalism in the history of landscape architectural design in our country.

I want to thank Zilkia Hernandez (APEE), president of the Institute of Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico, and architect Margarita Frontera, president of the College of Architects and Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico, for inviting me to such a wonderful celebration. I hope that by sharing this speech I can inspire my colleagues to challenge our frontiers and network about our profession beyond our local area, to grow the visibility of our profession worldwide.

For more information about the events presented during the Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico, visit the Colegio de Arquitectos y Arquitectos Paisajistas de Puerto Rico website. On Facebook you can also search Instituto de Arquitectos Paisajistas de Puerto Rico to see a calendar of activities and photos from some of the activities.

Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA, is a retired landscape architect and educator, and has served on ASLA’s Committee on Education.

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