Focusing on Health & Wellness with the WILA PPN

by Lara Moffat, ASLA, with contributions from Subhashini Gamagedara, ASLA, Kristina Snyder, ASLA, Elizabeth Van Sickel, ASLA, and Delaney Zubrick, Associate ASLA

ASLA 2021 Professional Residential Design Award of Excellence. The Sky Garden at 70 Rainey. Austin, Texas. Design Workshop, Inc. / image: Brandon Huttenlocher/Design Workshop, Inc.

The WILA PPN is focusing on the theme of health and wellness for 2023, in all its forms—from finding balance to working on financial wellness and maintaining mental wellness within the busyness of professional life. Below, WILA PPN leaders share resources and what they’ve been reading related to this theme. We hope these links are helpful to you—stay well this summer!

Health & Wellness Tips

Create and craft a smile file. What is a smile file? It is a file, created on your phone or computer (or both), where you place kudos, shout outs, and things that spark joy! Had a rough moment, feeling a bit of imposter syndrome, or lacking motivation? Then open this file to turn your day around. One of the easiest things to do for your immediate well-being!

Take five, and learn about the “Three M’s for Well-Being” with meditation expert Emily Fletcher—#Mindfulness, #Manifestation, and #Meditation will help you live a well-rounded, balanced life and channel your creative prowess. After you’ve relaxed your mind, don’t’ forget to stretch! Here are nine guided exercises to lead through a Desk Stretching Circuit. Try to do these a few times a day to refresh and recharge!

Have a bit longer to focus? How about picking up a copy of The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown. It is a resource to help maintain mental health and wellness amidst work and life.

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Welcome Summer with New Opportunities

ASLA 2022 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Refugio. Santa Cruz, California. Ground Studio. / image: Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA

With the start of summer, you may be seeking new opportunities or projects to take part in to kickstart the season. ASLA’s RFQs, Opportunities, and Events page provides information on everything from calls for papers to competitions. Below, we highlight a few requests for proposals and qualifications, calls for proposals, and ASLA programs with deadlines coming up soon. Anyone who would like to share an opportunity may submit information online.

Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program
Deadline to apply: June 30, 2023

State licensure signifies a level of professional competency and is an important way to achieve greater career and business success. The Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program supports women of color in their pursuit of landscape architecture licensure and increase racial and gender diversity within the profession. Now in its second year, the program will provide 10 women of color with a two-year, personalized experience that includes up to $3,500 to cover the cost of sections of the Landscape Architectural Registration Exam (LARE), along with exam preparation courses, resources, and mentorship from a licensed landscape architect.

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Celebrate Pollinator Week with Native Ruderal Vegetation

by David Hopman, ASLA, PLA

Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes Butterfly on the readily self-seeding native Phlox Pilosa in North Texas / image: David Hopman

All cities in the United States have undesigned areas that develop what is called “spontaneous urban vegetation”—plants that establish themselves without human intervention or planning. These areas can be large, such as abandoned or vacant building lots, former farms and ranches, and river corridors. They can also be small opportunities for plants and plant communities in sidewalk cracks, between paving and buildings, or anywhere enough soil has accumulated to allow the sprouting of seeds, as was the case on New York’s High Line elevated railroad before it was so famously developed into the urban amenity it is today.

In well-developed cities, 5-10% of the total vegetation or more can be spontaneous. In Detroit, the amount of area abandoned to this undesigned vegetation is about 40% as the city has depopulated and thousands of homes have been removed.

Spontaneous urban vegetation has been widely touted by scientists and landscape architects for its environmental benefits that include but are not limited to:

  • excess nutrient absorption in wetlands,
  • heat reduction in paved areas,
  • erosion control,
  • soil and air pollution tolerance and remediation, and
  • food and medicine for people.

However, there has been very little discussion, or appreciation, of the role that this vast amount of urban vegetation can have on native pollinators.

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Pride Month Profiles, Part 2

Clockwise from top left: Natalia Bezerra / image: Caroline Kemp; Matthew Mitsuaki Higa, Associate ASLA; Margot McLaughlin, Associate ASLA / image: Carrie Miller; Shawn Balon, ASLA / image: Kim Peters; Alyssa Gill; Arturo Merino, ASLA

ASLA’s celebration of Pride Month continues on The Field as we share a second set of landscape architect profiles to promote LGBTQIA+ visibility and acceptance in the landscape architecture and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions. Last week’s post highlighted the panelists from ASLA’s June 12 webinar, Queer Emergence: An LGBTQIA+ Conversation in Landscape Architecture: Cheri Ruane, FASLA, Kelley Oklesson, ASLA, Max Dickson, Jordan Chiang, Assoc. ASLA, and Sam Dent, ASLA.

Today, we’re sharing the next set of profiles, of Natalia Bezerra, Matthew Mitsuaki Higa, Associate ASLA, Alyssa Gill, Arturo Merino, ASLA, Margot McLaughlin, Associate ASLA, and Shawn Balon, ASLA.

Natalia Bezerra

How has being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community influenced your work in landscape architecture?

As a queer woman, I often think about how people from different backgrounds and experiences, especially those who are “othered” in society, can connect to a place and feel heard during the design process. Marginalization can occur when designers and developers disregard the needs of communities. I started my career working in community design and realized the importance of connecting with communities as your authentic self…finding common ground and interests among groups who are underserved, lack the capacity or funding to seek design and planning services. By actively listening to community groups, I learned to be an advocate for their needs in addition to being a designer. Diversity and inclusion should always be at the forefront of landscape architecture and any discipline that serves the public realm.

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Restoring a Neglected Urban Creek

by Susan Kenzle, ASLA

Restored Waller Creek in Waterloo Park / image: Susan Kenzle

The plan to restore lower Waller Creek in Austin, Texas has been decades in the making, beginning with the City of Austin’s U.S. Bicentennial project in the 1970s. Waller Creek—named after Judge Edwin Waller, who chose this location for the new capital of Texas—is one of two natural waterways that ran through the town of Waterloo, the precursor to the current city of Austin. Waller Creek is the most heavily developed tributary watershed of the Colorado River within the city limits, with over 60% impervious cover surrounding it. Waller Creek’s six-square-mile watershed includes over 3,700 acres of residential, university, commercial, civic, and other land uses. The creek’s location in the heart of the city accounts for its low water quality and highly eroded nature. It’s a prime example of the “urban stream syndrome” characterized by “flashier hydrograph, elevated concentrations of nutrients and contaminants, altered channel morphology, and reduced biotic richness, with increased dominance of tolerant species.”

Austin is in the “Flash Flood Alley” of Central Texas due to its steep terrain, rocky and clay-rich soils, and high rainfall rates. The lower reach of Waller Creek traverses the City’s downtown corridor, where several damaging floods in the past decade inundated large areas along the creek banks. Significant flooding occurred here in 1915, 1938, 1981, and 2015 until the completion of the Waller Creek tunnel, a mile long flood diversion structure, removed 28 acres of downtown from the 100-year floodplain, allowing for various development projects, as well as for the development of a world-class chain of parks and trail system called the Waterloo Greenway.

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An LGBTQIA+ Conversation in Landscape Architecture

Clockwise from top left: Sam Dent, ASLA; Kelley Oklesson, ASLA, at Contee Parago Triangle Park in Baltimore / image: Peter Hoblitzell; Jordan Chiang, Assoc. ASLA / image: Carolina Montero, EDSA; Cheri Ruane, FASLA / image: Farah Dakkak; Max Dickson, OLIN / image: Lily Snyder

From the June issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine and its featured story on nine queer landscape designers to yesterday’s webinar, Queer Emergence, to social media, ASLA’s celebration of Pride Month is well underway. Throughout June, ASLA is sharing profiles of LGBTQIA+ landscape architects for Pride Month and to promote LGBTQIA+ visibility and acceptance in the landscape architecture and architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions. In case you missed any of these profiles from social media, we are recapping them here on The Field.

The set of profiles below feature the panelists from ASLA’s June 12 webinar, Queer Emergence: An LGBTQIA+ Conversation in Landscape Architecture, which was inspired by an event at LABash 2023 at Kansas State University. The intention of this panel session was to open discussion on greater queer representation in landscape architecture—understanding the strengths and challenges of being a queer professional, and how this can inform not only LGBTQIA+ individuals, but all landscape architectural professionals. Topics covered include “why did it take us so long,” “how are we presenting in our work,” “the importance of networking,” and “what’s next.” The panel consisted of five queer professionals at different stages of their careers, to capture a portion of the diverse experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals in landscape architecture.

Cheri Ruane, FASLA
Vice President and Design Discipline Leader, Weston & Sampson

How did you find your way into landscape architecture?

I worked for my cousin’s landscape contracting firm in high school and met someone going to UMass for landscape architecture and learned about it at age 15.

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Lean Project Delivery in Design and Construction

image: Pakorn_Khantiyaporn via

In the design and construction industry, complex problems arise daily. Join us for a course series to gain insight into approaches and tools to:

  • optimize team communication and problem solving
  • find and address hurdles before they slow down workflow
  • provide value to your projects and client

This series was created to help you design, document, and build projects on time and on budget. Lean methodology is aimed at creating more value for the client and eliminating waste occurring from a lack of collaborative planning.

Lean processes are often applied in the design and construction industry by owners, designers, general contractors, construction project managers, and tradespeople. With a Lean mindset, design teams can share information freely and collaboratively to solve difficult problems and make decisions quickly and efficiently.

This knowledge and skill set will help you excel in your role as a landscape architecture professional and contribute to the overall success of projects!


To take advantage of your membership discount use your ASLA member log in and password when you register. Can’t make the live sessions June 13-15? Register today and catch it all on-demand!

Registration includes:

  • Seven courses, including four that offer LA CES-approved professional development hours (3.0 PDH non-HSW, 1.25 PDH HSW)
  • On-demand access to education sessions
  • Access to virtual discussion boards
  • Networking with attendees and speakers

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Consider Participating in the 2023 HALS Challenge

by Douglas Nelson, ASLA

2021 HALS Challenge Winner Golden Gate Village, HALS CA-158 / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. 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.

I have participated in eight HALS Challenges and was fortunate to have won first place in the 2021 and 2022 Challenges. If you have an interest in historic landscapes, you should consider submitting an entry. Although you might think it is intimidating to enter a national competition, it is best to think of your entry as a way of documenting a landscape that is meaningful to you. All Challenge entries become part of the permanent record for the Historic American Landscapes Survey that is maintained by the Library of Congress. The 2023 HALS Challenge theme is Working Landscapes. This can be interpreted broadly to include many types of landscapes of industry, commerce, agriculture, infrastructure, and other purposes.

Preparing a HALS Challenge entry does not necessarily require a major effort. You can work with one or more partners. My entries have typically been done within spare time over a week or so. From my experience with previous HALS Challenge submissions, I offer the following advice in preparing a successful entry:

Find a Landscape of Interest to You or One that you Already Know

Your interest and passion in the subject landscape should be reflected in your writing. Landscapes that you know well and have experienced will be easier for you to write about. It also helps if the landscape is geographically near you to allow you to visit, study, and photograph it. For the 2022 Challenge theme of Olmsted Landscapes, I chose California’s North Coast Redwood Parks. I thought that this would be a longshot entry because it is not a traditional Olmsted-designed landscape, but Frederick Olmsted, Jr. played a significant role in the planning and establishment of these parks. I know them well and had an interest in learning more about their establishment. To my surprise, it won first place.

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AECOM Roof Garden: From Corporate Garden to Nature Space Advocacy, Part 3

by Lee Parks, International ASLA, and LIAO Jingjing

Teamwork to revitalize the roof garden / image: courtesy of Chen Liang

This is the final installment in a three-part series on the evolution of AECOM’s green roof in Shanghai. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

2021 Revitalization, Stage 2

In 2021 the roof garden vision was updated to: “increase amenities, encourage outdoor garden use by employees, increase contact with nature and fresh air.” In line with corporate environmental, social and, and governance (ESG) strategies, the roof garden offered a real opportunity for employees to protect the environment, socially interact, to have equitable access to nature, and to govern the garden for the benefit of people, place, and nature. The increasing biodiversity also demonstrated the roof’s potential as an ecological stepping-stone for a greener community.

Improving the garden included plans for a range of quiet, semi-private spaces and open multi-functional spaces to create more attractive and engaging places for employees. This included new vibrant colored moveable tables and chairs to activate lunchtime use. Additional plant containers were added to increase nectariferous species for greater ecological and social benefits for employees, our community, and for wildlife.

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