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 Chris Stevens, 202-354-2146, Chris_Stevens@nps.gov). 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.

Marie Zimmermann Farm, HALS PA-10, Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Your HALS documentation will be archived by the Library of Congress for perpetuity and will allow future generations to learn about the site(s) you record. T

The HALS Challenge is primarily a writing competition. If you are interested in our drawing competitions, check out the Holland Prize and Peterson Prize Competitions.

Tassi Ranch, HALS AZ-2-46, Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Tassi Ranch, HALS AZ-2-6, Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Sponsored by HALS, cash prizes will again be awarded to the top three submissions. Winners will be announced at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis in October 2023. Employees of the National Park Service, American Society of Landscape Architects, and Library of Congress may submit HALS Short Format Historical Reports but are ineligible for prizes.

John Bartram House & Garden, HALS PA-1-55(CT), Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Beginning in 2024, HALS Challenges will no longer have themes. All HALS short format historical reports submitted each year will then be eligible. There will be 14 years’ worth of themes and entries to turn to for inspiring examples. By not having a theme, we hope to encourage more entries from more states, and professors that teach HALS will be able to plan their curricula years in advance. HALS will also update the scoring sheet to include 5 bonus points for student entries to encourage more emerging professional interest in the HALS Challenge.

North Family, Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, HALS NY-7-58 (CT), New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Now for 2023, people are hereby challenged to complete at least one HALS short format historical report to document Working Landscapes. Preservation through documentation!

Pine Ranch, HALS AZ-4-18(CT), Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

For more information, contact Chris Stevens, 202-354-2146, Chris_Stevens@nps.gov.

Fryingpan Charcoal Kilns, HALS CO-5, Basalt, Eagle County, Colorado / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Chris Stevens, ASLA, is the Senior Landscape Architect for the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) at the National Park Service. He is past chair of the ASLA Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN) and past ASLA HALS Subcommittee chair / coordinator.

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