Richmond on the James: Stories of Landscape Transformation

by Kimball Erdman, ASLA, and John Zvonar

William James Bennett after George Cooke, “Richmond: From the Hill above the Waterworks” (published 1834, NGA 66532) / image: Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art

Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation 43rd Annual Meeting
Richmond, Virginia  |  May 24-27, 2023

Call for Papers and Posters Extended
Deadline: February 20, 2023

An Invitation:

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2023 annual meeting theme of Richmond on the James: Stories of Landscape Transformation to be held in Richmond, VA. We envision the Richmond meeting as a landscape dialogue/exploration that addresses, analyzes, and critiques contemporary issues of the urban cultural landscape. Homelands of the Powhattans and later a major city of the American South, Richmond is situated at the fall line of the historic James River. Richmond is Virginia’s third capital city after Jamestown and Williamsburg and, for most of the U.S. Civil War, the capital of the Southern Confederacy. It is a vibrant and revitalizing modern city notable for industry, visual arts education, and medicine, but also significant for Virginia’s Capitol Square, the Richmond National Battlefield Park, historic parks, significant cemeteries, and urban streetscapes. The summer of 2020 focused attention on Richmond’s most controversial landscape of memorial monumentality glorifying the Southern Lost Cause Narrative, as well as its legacy of slavery. Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom, listed as one of the Eleven Most Endangered Sites in 2014 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was the second largest enslaved persons’ auction site in North America. As part of Richmond’s efforts to acknowledge and repair its complicated past, the city, developers, and the preservation community are exploring ways to embrace the 21st century through densifying and preserving historic neighborhoods; involving  institutions of education and government; dismantling and recreating monumental landscapes; focusing attention on memorializing and redeveloping portions of its notorious Shockoe Bottom enslaved auction site; grappling with desecrated and previously ignored Black cemeteries; and celebrating the recreational and scenic opportunities of its James River location.

National publications rate Richmond as one of the best places to live, work, and visit. At the same time, Richmond is reconsidering the places of its often-painful past—many that are landscape-related. Our meeting program and explorations of Richmond will focus on these issues, with hopes that attendees will share how other places’ dilemmas and successes resonate with Richmond and national, regional, and worldwide issues.

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Letting Play Bloom: Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children

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

image: book cover courtesy of Lolly Tai, FASLA

Notes from the Inaugural Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) Book Group Meeting

Written by Lolly Tai, PhD, RLA, FASLA, with a foreword by Teri Hendy, CPSI, Letting Play Bloom: Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children is magnificent. Published in 2022 by Temple University Press, it is an elegant, rich, and beautiful accounting of the need for children to experience risk in play, because as Dr. Tai eloquently states, “Children love to play in risky ways, it’s how children learn [about themselves and others and the world around them]” (p. 3). She makes clear that risky play is not a synonym for unsafe play; rather she cites Joe Frost’s idea of risky play as being “exciting, thrilling, and challenging while at the same time keeping risk to a minimum.” Children will find their way to risky play, and as the projects in the book make clear, presenting opportunities for risky play makes children happy.

The book is organized around five projects that exemplify risky play: three from the US, one from the Netherlands, and one from Australia. Each project offers risky play opportunities for children, but in different ways. The first project is Slide Hill at the Hills, a project on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. The next is the iconic Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California. We move on the Rotterdam in the Netherlands to learn about De Speeldernis, return back to the US for WildWoods at the Fernbank Museum, and then to the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden in Sydney, Australia.

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ASLA Honors: Recognizing Outstanding Contributions to the Profession

Charles Kene Okigbo, ASLA, receives the ASLA Emerging Professional Medal at the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco. / image: Korey Davis Photography for ASLA

The honors awarded by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) each year recognize individuals and organizations for their lifetime achievements and notable contributions to the profession of landscape architecture. Know someone who exemplifies excellence? Nominate them!

Nominations will be accepted through February 28 for the ASLA Medal, ASLA Design Medal, Community Service Awards, Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal, LaGasse Medals, Landscape Architecture Firm Award, Landscape Architecture Medal of Excellence, Olmsted Medal, Emerging Professional Medal, and Honorary ASLA Membership.

Any ASLA professional member or ASLA chapter may submit nominations for ASLA honors. Learn more about these prestigious awards below.

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Recent Additions to ASLA Online Learning: DREAM BIG and SKILL | ED

image: ASLA

You may know that ASLA’s Online Learning website,, relaunched on a new platform last fall, but did you notice that in addition to education session recordings from the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture and Professional Practice Network (PPN)-hosted webinars, there are two new additions to the Online Learning library of on-demand content? DREAM BIG with Design and SKILL | ED now have a new home!

Video content from the 2021 and 2022 editions of DREAM BIG with Design, the ASLA online learning series for grades PreK-12, is now available to stream, for free! ASLA members and educators are invited to experience DREAM BIG with Design and learn how to introduce landscape architecture to students. Access exciting sessions like “Building Neighborhoods for Disney Parks: Planning and Design with the Landscape Architects of Walt Disney Imagineering” and watch the “making-of” music video for the ASLA song, ‘The Big Idea,’ by award-winning musician Billy Jonas. Each year’s content is grouped into categories for PreK-grade 5 and middle school and high school-age learners.

ASLA Online Learning is also the new home of content from the 2021 and 2022 editions of SKILL | ED, ASLA’s ongoing practice management series, which focused on Business Development, Proposals, and Contracts, and Project Management. Discounts apply for ASLA members, so remember to log in with your existing ASLA username and password!

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Call to Participate: IN-FILL PA

by Cynthia Hron, Associate ASLA

image: Cindi Hron

Designers, Artists, and Design Firms, and Interested Parties: IN-FILL PA wants YOU to participate in an exhibit of designs for in-fill spaces. IN-FILL PA seeks to engage residents, artists, designers, and firms to share their work to inspire dialogue to address in-fill spaces in communities.

The IN-FILL PA exhibition will take place at multiple venues throughout the Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania, this spring.

Project Background

In-fill is the practice of re-purposing land for new programming. Many small towns and cities in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, have vacant lots. Often these lots sit unused for years. In some instances, communities have reassigned these spaces as outdoor amenities such as: pocket parks, playgrounds, community gardens, outdoor workspaces, meditation gardens, and performance venues. These transitions can breathe new life into underutilized spaces.

IN-FILL PA participants are asked to submit hard copies or PDFs of drawings, graphics, photo-collages, plans, and 2-D models of concept designs and implemented projects that address in-fill spaces. Before and after imagery is welcome as well as images that illustrate the process of in-fill space transformation. The exhibition is open to temporary and permanent projects.

In addition, exhibition venues will host informal charrettes encouraging residents to contribute ideas to in-fill sites in their own communities.

Your contributions to this project will serve as inspiration for local action.

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Keeping Up with Federal Green Infrastructure Resources

ASLA 2022 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Moakley Park Resilience Plan, Boston, MA. Stoss Landscape Urbanism / image: Stoss Landscape Urbanism

While the U.S. House of Representatives considers eliminating the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis—if this sounds like an unwise course of action, be sure to tell your representative that addressing climate change remains a critical matter—elsewhere in Washington, federal agencies are hard at work creating resources and hosting programs to promote green infrastructure and other key climate adaptation strategies. Just one example, and a way to stay informed of such efforts: GreenStream is an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities, both from EPA and other federal government entities and organizations. To join the listserv, send an email to

For a sense of the kind of information shared with subscribers, here’s an excerpt from last week’s GreenStream update:

Green Infrastructure Funding Microsite

The National Wildlife Federation launched a new funding microsite for communities interested in pursuing federal funding and/or technical assistance for nature-based solutions and green infrastructure projects. The interactive database allows users to search and sort the more than 70 types of federal grants that fund nature-based solutions based on factors such as eligible recipients, project purpose, and the match required. It also provides information about the typical application cycles, and contact information for each program.

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The 2023 HALS Challenge: Working Landscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Whitesbog Village & Cranberry Bog, HALS NJ-1-61, Pemberton, Burlington County, New Jersey / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

For the 14th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document Working Landscapes. Historic “working” or “productive” landscapes may be agricultural or industrial and unique or traditional. Some topical working landscapes convey water for irrigation or provide flood control. Please focus your HALS report on the landscape as a whole and not on a building or structure alone. For this theme, the HAER History Guidelines may be helpful along with HALS History Guidelines.

Please contact your state ASLA Chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison if possible when you have selected a site to document for the HALS Challenge to be sure no one else is already preparing a HALS historic report for it. If your chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison position is vacant, please consider volunteering yourself or suggesting it to a colleague who may be interested.

Short format histories should be submitted no later than July 31, 2023, to HALS at the National Park Service (c/o Scott Keyes, The HALS Short Format History guidelines and digital template may be downloaded from either the NPS HALS or ASLA HALS websites. NOTE: Any updates to HALS Challenge rules and to the MS Word digital HALS Short Format Historical Report Template are reflected within the template itself. Please download and read it thoroughly before entering the competition. If you like to learn by example, you may view or download the HALS Challenge Winners from 2018 and before.

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Opportunities Abound for 2023

ASLA 2022 Professional Urban Design Honor Award. Shirley Chisholm State Park, Brooklyn, NY. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates / image: Alex MacLean

We may be less than a week into the new year, but ASLA is starting 2023 strong with an array of just-opened opportunities (and deadlines coming up next month):

Call for Fellows Nominations
Deadline: February 15, 2023

Call for Presentations for the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture
Deadline: February 22, 2023

Call for Honors Nominations
Deadline: February 28, 2023

We are just getting started—the call for ASLA’s Professional and Student Awards will be coming up next, along with the chance to apply for our second SKILL | ED workshop, so stay tuned for much more.

If you are feeling especially ambitious for 2023 and are seeking out even more ways to get your name, ideas, and expertise out there, all are welcome to search offerings from allied organizations and others through ASLA’s RFQs and Opportunities page. Below, we highlight a sampling of the opportunities with deadlines coming up. And, anyone looking to share an opportunity with landscape architects may do so through the online submission form.

Competitions and Awards

Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards Call for Nominations
Deadline: January 9, 2023

Livable Streets LA Design Challenge
Deadline: January 15, 2023

Calls for Submissions and Applications

Loeb Fellowship
Deadline to apply: January 9, 2023

Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) Call for Papers and Posters
Deadline: January 16, 2023

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