Vote for Your Favorite Game-Changing Idea

At the start of August, ASLA put out a call for ideas that will change how the field approaches climate action, asking for submissions focusing on an ASLA Climate Action Plan goal. The Climate Action Plan seeks to transform the practice of landscape architecture by 2040 through actions taken by ASLA and its members focused on climate mitigation and adaptation, ecological restoration, biodiversity, equity, and economic development.

Now, it’s time to check out the one-minute video submissions and like your favorite game-changing idea to help decide who will present at this year’s ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis! Voting runs for two days only: August 29 – August 30, 2023.

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90 Years of Landscape Architecture: Celebrating TxDOT’s History

by Sandra Chipley, RLA, ASLA

Bluebonnets in Ellis County near Ennis, Texas / image: Michael Amador, TxDOT Photo Library Archives

The Texas Department of Transportation’s landscape architects have been designing safety, comfort, and aesthetics into our Texas roadways for 90 years. In celebration of this monumental 2023 anniversary, TxDOT has produced a short video chronicling their contributions and accomplishments. In 1933, Chief Engineer Gibb Gilchrist hired the Texas Highway Department’s first landscape architect, ‘Jac’ Gubbels, who immediately championed the benefits of roadside beautification to the public, contractors, and highway engineers. Gubbels’ 1938 book, American Highways & Roadsides, promoted his design philosophies on highway alignment road profiles, erosion control, and driver safely. Today, TxDOT’s transportation landscape architects are answering the questions of how best to integrate roads into the environmental context; they are designing with native plantings to reduce heat islands to lessen impacts of a warmer environment as well as designing for improved air and water quality. Share in TxDOT’s celebration by viewing the video!

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What Stories Remain Untold?

The Soil You See…, by Wendy Red Star, in Constitution Gardens on the National Mall / image: Alexandra Hay

For the next month—through September 18, 2023—there is an outdoor art exhibition to explore across National Mall, from the plaza in front of the Lincoln Memorial to Constitution Gardens and sites near the Washington Monument. The Trust for the National Mall, National Park Service, and the National Capital Planning Commission, with curator Monument Lab, selected six artists for Beyond Granite: Pulling Together. The goal: to “create a more inclusive, equitable, and representative commemorative landscape on the National Mall.”

The installations offer a striking contrast to the Mall’s permanent memorials. While articles on Beyond Granite abound (The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, have covered it), it’s worth a visit if you’re in Washington, DC, to experience it for yourself. Written descriptions and photographs never quite capture the Mall, with its mix of tourists and locals enjoying the space and enlivening the monumental expanse, and cannot fully convey the installations’ sound and interactive components. On the sunny Saturday when I visited, the Mall was abuzz, as usual, with tour groups big and small, joggers, rugby players, dog walkers, picnickers… My impression was that many more people stumbled upon the exhibition than specifically sought it out. When you ascend the steps of the National Gallery of Art, or any of the Mall’s other grand structures, you know what you’re in for. But when you have an unexpected encounter with something new in an otherwise familiar landscape or setting, it can be a very different experience of art—one that surprises you into engaging with a perspective you might not have otherwise.

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Preserving Urban Tree Canopies

by Veronica Westendorff, RLA, ASLA

Climate-adaptive parking in Rotterdam, the Netherlands / image: courtesy of Gina Kranendonk via LinkedIn

Preserving Urban Tree Canopies: A Cost-Effective Approach to Mitigating Urban Heat and Climate Change

It’s hot. End of July, early August, humid, southern hot. Not surprising really, but this year we are experiencing smog and air quality issues from more forest fires, heat waves are rolling across the globe, burn units are filling with second degree burn cases from touching the pavement. We build, we cut down, and then we are surprised…

I’ve been following biophilic design on LinkedIn, seeing the comparison of temperatures between solid pavement and permeable pavement with just turf—and a 12° difference in temperature from that single difference in the pavement material. I’ve been researching and writing about urban heat island, how we can use trees to mitigate the heat, and which policies have the greatest success in the opinion of city planners, in order to recommend policies and programs to reduce urban heat island.

Even without the support of research, we know through a lifetime of experiences that we prefer to sit, walk, run, drive, park, and keep our vehicles in the shade of trees. The denser the better, right? And denser shade comes from larger, healthier trees. Older trees. Trees that have space, have been cared for, have been selected to survive in the place that they were planted. Right plant in the right place and all that. I think it’s not difficult to convince people of the importance of saving trees when it’s the beginning of August and our homes are running the air-conditioning non-stop, but development is a complicated thing. After all, we live and work and exist in spaces that were once treed or greened, and we value our lifestyles, our economic growth. I don’t have an answer for that dilemma. I am, however, seeking solutions to these problems, and tree canopy cover is a solution to some of the challenges of increasing temperatures.

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How Do Federal Water Policies Impact Your Work?

ASLA 2022 Honor Award in General Design. West Pond: Living Shoreline. Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Dirtworks Landscape Architecture P.C. / image: Alex Zablocki

Sustainable management of our nation’s water resources is essential to climate mitigation and resilience, biodiversity conservation, and environmental justice. ASLA is working to ensure reliable and robust policies and funding for landscape architects to continue working on water projects, in part by gathering input from landscape architects who plan and design water projects or are water management subject matter experts.

Before Congress wrapped up its legislative business prior to its August recess, both the House of Representatives and Senate acted on water policies key to the work of landscape architects, with both chambers taking action on Interior, Environment, And Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations bills (H.R. 4821 and S. 2605):

Within this legislation, Congress outlined funding levels for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)—one of the largest federal funding sources for landscape architects to plan and design federal water infrastructure projects nationwide. Projects focus on stormwater management, damaged shorelines, and natural landscape protection at parks, campuses, streetscapes, trails, plazas, residences, and more.

The new congressional majority in the House drastically cut the CWSRF and allocated a meager $535 million, while the Senate allocated nearly $1.64 billion for the program. ASLA supports the Senate’s recommended funding for the program and is working to urge its passage.

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How Do Nursery Growers Decide What to Grow?

by Jane Beggs-Joles, Corporate ASLA

Mid-summer production at Prides Corner Farms, Lebanon, CT. / image: Jane Beggs-Joles

It’s August 2023, and growers are deciding on their inventory for 2025.

You read that right: two years out. That’s the best-case scenario, and that’s for flowering shrubs. Sure, perennials will have a quicker turn-around, but trees take even longer. And that two-year forecast? It’s for a three-gallon container. If you like five- or seven-gallon specimens, the timeline gets even longer.

Here are the details:

Right now, growers are looking at what sold this spring and anticipating what will sell through the rest of the year. This tells them both what plants are popular and how much space they have for new crops. They do some math, make some educated guesses about demand, and then order their starter plants (liners) for delivery in spring 2024. Most of those flowering shrubs will need at least a year to grow to a finished size, and that’s how we get all the way to 2025. For slower-growing plants and larger specimens, it will take even longer. If they can’t get the liners until summer or fall, add another few months to the schedule.

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Research on Design that Enhances Transportation Environments

by Christine Colley, RLA, ASLA

TRB AKD40 Committee Members walking a shared-use path near Irvine, California, as part of the 2023 Mid-Year Meeting. / image: Willson McBurney, ASLA, TRB AKD40 Committee Chair

TRB Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design Call for Posters for the Transportation Research Board 103rd Annual Meeting – January 7-11, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB)’s Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AKD40) invites researchers, students, academics, and practitioners to develop posters to be considered for publication and/or presentation at TRB’s 2024 Annual Meeting.

AKD40 welcomes posters on completed and on-going projects from broad landscape and environmental design areas such as Green Streets, roadside environments for pollinators, Complete Streets, transportation design impacts on Main Streets, landscape design to safeguard the public, and art in transportation.

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2023.

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WxLA Scholarships for Next Generation Leaders

ASLA 2021 Professional Communications Honor Award. WxLA – Champions for Equality in Landscape Architecture. / image: Jeri Hetrick

WxLA, the advocacy initiative for gender justice in landscape architecture, launched their scholarship program in 2019 to reach next-generation practitioners. That first year, they raised more than $30,000 through GoFundMe; with those funds, plus $10,000 of in-kind donations and custom t-shirt sales, the scholarship was off to a roaring start and is still going strong. Since 2019, WxLA has helped 35 emerging professionals attend the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. Those scholars then give back to WxLA by supporting their events and initiatives—including takeovers, workshops and presentations—to advance awareness and empower womxn in the profession.

This year, Tuesday, August 15 is the deadline for nominations and self-nominations for the WxLA Scholarships for the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture, October 27-30 in Minneapolis.

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Evolution of the Suburban Retail Environment: Cases from Three Different Settings

by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP, and Lauren Patterson, PLA, ASLA

The Winter Park Mall in 1969 / image: Florida Memory | Florida Department of Commerce

The previous article, Evolution and Re-Calibration of the Typical Suburban Retail Environment, was the first one of the Urban Design Professional Practice Network (PPN)’s series on the evolution of the suburban retail environment, which touched on the history of suburban retail and discussed the transformation of retail centers since the turn of the century. Continuing this series, this article presents three case studies that showcase how different municipalities and developers have been looking at the transition of retail centers throughout America. The suburban retail environment is undergoing a “paradigm shift” from car-oriented retail to a new age that supports the changing patterns and lifestyles that have evolved with technology.

Most suburban areas throughout America experienced a time where the indoor mall was a one-stop destination for convenience. Now communities across the country are dealing with the implications of how these large-scale developments function in the new retail age. While there were over 2,000 malls active in the U.S. in the 1980s, there are currently less than 1,000, and that number is falling every year. This article explores how these retail centers have begun a slow transition to adapt to the needs of their communities and transition to profitable centers. The following case studies illustrate different strategies and challenges that occur with suburban redevelopment.

Case Study 1: Winter Park Village

  • Location: Winter Park, Florida
  • Retail Center: Winter Park Mall—525,000 SF | 1964 – 1999
  • Current Condition: Original mall was demolished and transitioned into an outdoor mall in 1999 and is currently a mixed-use center that is continuing to develop.

Winter Park Village is a redevelopment of the Winter Park Mall that was originally built in 1964, and was the first indoor mall in the Orlando region. Located at 432 North Orlando Avenue in Winter Park, FL, the indoor mall was demolished in 1998, and the first redeveloped stores were built and began to open in 1999. The first redevelopment included 350,000 square feet of retail space, including a 20-screen cinema; 115,000 square feet of offices; and 200+ multifamily units, while the original planning documents included more residential uses. The mall’s redevelopment extended Gay Road into the mall redevelopment, and it was designed as a retail main street with a terminated vista on the Regal Cinema.

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