ASLA 2023 Conference in Review: Professional Practice Network Highlights from Minneapolis

For those who attended the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis last week, the Professional Practice Network (PPN) events were a wonderful way to see the PPNs in action and get a sense of what these practice area-focused groups are all about.

Throughout the conference weekend, 15 PPNs organized 17 events, taking place in the EXPO or in meeting rooms and featuring formats from presentations to lightning talks to breakout groups for conversation. These events were opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. (And if this sounds like something you’d be interested in taking part in, not just at the conference but throughout the year, then consider joining your PPN’s leadership team!) It was fantastic to see everyone in Minneapolis—thank you to all who attended, and another big thank you to the PPN leaders who made these events happen.

If you missed the conference this year, we hope the photos below provide a glimpse of the PPNs’ goings-on. For those interested in watching recordings of education sessions that took place in Minneapolis, 50+ sessions will be made available on-demand via ASLA Online Learning in the coming weeks.

The Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Meeting at the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture / image: Alexandra Hay

Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Meeting

Context matters, even at play! The Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN session reflected on how a great playscape can cultivate a sense of place, offering intriguing “aha” moments about culture, city, and region to punctuate the happy clamor of active and creative play. Brief talks were given by Cheryl Salazar, Managing Partner at PLAYCE Studio, Ltd., and Kate Tooke, ASLA, Principal at Agency, followed by an interactive conversation.

Cheryl Salazar presenting / image: Alexandra Hay

Cheryl discussed a dynamic placemaking method designed to tackle community engagement challenges in children’s outdoor environments, equipping attendees with actionable tools for building consensus and support from both internal and external stakeholders. The handout from Cheryl’s presentation is available online here and on the PPN’s Resources page.

Kate Tooke, ASLA / image: Alexandra Hay

Kate shared some project examples from her work and the work of collaborators to talk about contextual design and how that crafts stewardship and grounds visitors in the landscape/city.

The Planting Design PPN’s Plant Chat / image: Alexandra Hay

Planting Design PPN Meeting

The Planting Design PPN hosted a Plant Chat for attendees, inviting participants to share suggestions for a good “solution plant” and describe how and why they used it on a project.

The Transportation and Urban Design PPNs Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Transportation and Urban Design PPNs Meeting

The Transportation and Urban Design PPNs teamed up for an interactive event. PPN leaders Jean Senechal Biggs, ASLA, Ken Ray, ASLA, and Lauren Patterson, ASLA, talked about what the two PPNs has been working on this year and invited attendees to share input on what they’d like to see for 2024.

Putting AI to Work: Practical Applications of AI in Landscape Architecture with the Digital Technology PPN

The Digital Technology PPN’s series of three informal panels were intended to offer a forum to discuss the progress this year in our field as it further encroaches into Architecture, Engineering, Construction & Operations (AECO)’s technological edge.

Ben George, ASLA, presenting / image: Alexandra Hay

AI was the focus of the first event, a practical presentation on some of the immediate benefits a firm can experience from using AI in design workflows and business practices, which drew a huge crowd to their Learning Lab space on the EXPO floor.

image: Alexandra Hay

The presenters demonstrated how AI can be used to streamline production and turbocharge creativity through the use of commercially-available generative AI platforms to give attendees concrete knowledge to start to apply AI processes in their own practice.

Left to right: Eric D. Gilbey, ASLA, Ben George, ASLA, Lauren Schmidt, PLA, ASLA, and Radu Dicher, LFA, ASLA / image: Alexandra Hay

US National BIM Standard, Digital Twin, LOD, and Other Buzz Words with the Digital Technology PPN

The PPN’s next event was a fireside chat about select technology events of the year as they pertain to landscape-specific topics, and as contributed by the members of our group, including:

  • The new National BIM Standard (v4) by The National Institute of Building Sciences, which was soft-launched in September. Why is this relevant to me as a landscape architect?
  • Digital Twin research, direction, applications, and the work around this by the Digital Twin Integration Subcommittee of NIBS, from the angle of landscape scope. Yet another buzz word?… Does it even apply to our scope?
  • The Digital Technology PPN’s independent work on Levels of Development and its current collaboration with their normative global publisher, BIMForum. Will this change my workflows as a BIM modeler (Project Manager, or maybe even a Principal in Charge) for landscape scope?
Radu Dicher, LFA, ASLA, Eric D. Gilbey, ASLA, and Ben George, ASLA / image: Alexandra Hay

VR, Drones, and AI: Emerging Technologies Shaping the Profession with the Digital Technology PPN 

The Digital Technology PPN’s third session was a fireside chat about virtual reality, drones, and artificial impact and the opportunities and disruptions they present to our industry. The presenters discussed how these technologies are being used and where they expect changes to occur in the future.

Ecology & Restoration PPN leader Susan Kenzle, ASLA / image: Alexandra Hay

Ecology & Restoration PPN Meeting

The presentation “History of the Ecology & Restoration PPN: With a Look at Landscape Restoration & Management Efforts in Michigan and Kansas” spotlit the PPN’s history and aims, and several ongoing ecological/landscape restoration and management efforts in the Eastern Temperate Forest and Great Plains ecoregions.

Ecology & Restoration PPN leader Lee Skabelund, ASLA, presenting / image: Alexandra Hay

The slides from Ecology & Restoration PPN leader Lee Skabelund, ASLA’s presentation are available online here and on the PPN’s Resources page.

Water Conservation PPN leaders Bryce Carnehl, Affiliate ASLA, and Michael Igo, ASLA, PE, LEED AP / image: Alexandra Hay

Water Conservation and the Climate Action Plan with the Water Conservation PPN

The ASLA Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a progressive step forward towards carbon reduction in landscape architecture, design, and construction. A follow-up document to the CAP was created in 2023 titled “Collaborating with Industry Partners on Climate Action and Biodiversity” as a guide to ask questions of all industry partners (manufacturers, plant growers, and material sourcing) what practices they employee prior to landscape architects specifying their product or service.

Michael Igo, ASLA, PE, LEED AP, presenting / image: Alexandra Hay

While the CAP and “Collaborating” follow up is primarily focused on carbon (embodied and emitted), another key resource to measure, track, and inquire about is water consumption. This presentation explored further ways in which irrigation can be designed, manufactured, installed, and operated in a manner consistent with the goals of the CAP. Discussion points included irrigation and water metering, water budgeting for drought, climate adaptivity, alternative water supplies, regional requirements, and passive irrigation methods. The goal of this discussion was to draw a parallel in the CAP’s carbon accounting method with water accounting and highlighting the benefits of sustainable irrigation beyond green plants, such as stormwater management, heat island reduction, and carbon sequestration.

The Parks & Recreation PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Parks & Recreation PPN Meeting

The Parks & Recreation PPN hosted an engaging opportunity to meet and network with other PPN members, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing through a facilitated discussion focused on the public sector.

Parks & Recreation PPN Chair Steph Thisius-Sanders, PLA, ASLA / image: Alexandra Hay

Attendees were encouraged to share ideas and best practices from their agencies and the top issues they’re encountering working in the public sector.

Amelle Shultz, ASLA, presenting at the Campus Planning & Design PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Campus Planning & Design PPN Meeting

Campus Planning & Design colleagues at the conference had a chance to connect at the conference at this lively conversation about creating Impactful Campus Landscapes.

Laura Tenny, ASLA, presenting / image: Alexandra Hay

Guest speakers Amelle Shultz, ASLA, Ayers Saint Gross, Mark Hough, FASLA, Duke University, and Laura Tenny, ASLA, MIT, presented projects that exemplify sustainable performance through design, improvements in accessibility, visual cohesion, and a diversity of outdoor spaces to support their educational mission.

Brenda Williams, FASLA, at the Historic Preservation PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Historic Preservation PPN and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Meetings

At the first part of the meeting, the winners of the 2023 HALS Challenge, Working Landscapes, were announced (a Field post about the winners is coming soon!). Historic Preservation PPN leaders also discussed the PPN’s Cultural Landscapes Education Working Group, sharing the work of the group so far, including a session at LABash this spring, and their goals going forward. 

The second half of the Historic Preservation PPN Meeting allowed for more conversation. / image: Alexandra Hay

The second part of the meeting was an opportunity to meet and network with other PPN members. This session was conversation-focused, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing through a facilitated discussion on how landscape architects are incorporating historic preservation into their practice.

The Community Design PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Community Design PPN Meeting

The Community Design PPN and PPN Co-Chair Stacey Weaks, ASLA, led a facilitated discussion on the trends, policies and economics influencing community design. The Community Design PPN brings broad perspectives to the field of landscape architecture as the placemakers for the communities we all live in. This lively discussion with the ASLA community focused on how members are shaping great communities as the demand for a variety of housing options and scale of projects continues to grow.

The Environmental Justice PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Environmental Justice PPN Meeting

The Environmental Justice PPN hosted an engaging opportunity to meet and network with other PPN members, representatives from BlackLAN, and Minneapolis residents.

image: Alexandra Hay

One of the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN)‘s goals is to engage with local communities at ASLA. This year, Juxtaposition Arts, a non-profit youth art and design education center in North Minneapolis, is partnering with BlackLAN. In this session, attendees learned more about what BlackLAN is, their approach to working with communities, and how Juxtaposition Arts and BlackLAN work to address environmental justice and enhance community resilience and sustainability.

The Sustainable Design & Development PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Sustainable Design & Development PPN Meeting

The Sustainable Design & Development PPN began with and continues to partner with GBCI on the Sustainable SITES Initiative. Since its inception, SITES has provided a comprehensive framework for developing sustainable and resilient outdoor spaces. 2024 will mark the 10-year anniversary since the SITES v2 Rating System was released.

image: Alexandra Hay
image: Alexandra Hay

The PPN meeting focused on gathering feedback from using SITES, gaining additional insight to your client and team needs, learning more about relevant market and industry trends, and providing input into the evolution of the SITES Rating System. All were invited to reflect on the interdisciplinary impact of the SITES Rating System and discuss its future.

The Women in Landscape Architecture PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

Women in Landscape Architecture PPN Meeting

For 2023, the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN has focused on the theme of health: mental, physical, and social. In September, the PPN hosted a webinar on the possibilities of flexibility beyond flex time and flex space and its correlation to creating space for and boosting creativity, productivity, and employee satisfaction in landscape architecture practices. The WILA PPN Meeting continued the conversation on this topic with a discussion on aspects of flexibility tools, processes, and technologies to support design and planning focused practices.

The WILA PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay
Chingwen Cheng, PhD, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, presenting at the Education & Practice PPN joint meeting with the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) / image: Alexandra Hay

Education & Practice PPN with the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA)

In “More than Design Studio: Translating Practice to Teaching,” William Estes, II, ASLA, LEED AP, from the Education & Practice PPN and CELA leaders Chingwen Cheng, PhD, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, and Marc Miller, ASLA, discussed how practitioners can leverage professional experience into teaching skillsets. The presentations discussed ways academic programs structure learning content beyond the design studio and how that impacts job announcements and selections.

Marc Miller, ASLA, presenting / image: Alexandra Hay

Practice Basecamp events sponsored by DuMor, Inc.

The 2023 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk at Water Works Park in Minneapolis / image: Alexandra Hay

The Women in Landscape Architecture Walk

75+ participants joined the Minnesota chapter of Womxn in Landscape Architecture (WxLA-MN) for the WILA Walk through downtown Minneapolis.

This year’s walk covered 3.75 miles round trip to the Mississippi River and back. The route, which you can explore through the WILA Walk Google map, covered a broad range of city planning and landscape architecture projects designed by womxn practitioners in Minnesota and the Twin Cities region. At Water Works Park, attendees paused at this sacred space for a land acknowledgement in coordination with the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition.

Thank you to WILA Walk leaders, speakers, and volunteers for a marvelous event!

WILA Walk Co-Chairs:

WILA Walk Speakers:

  • Jean M. Garbarini, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect, Damon Farber Landscape Architects
  • Joan Macleod, Vice President, Damon Farber Associates
  • Megan Born, ASLA, Associate Partner, Field Operations
  • Vanessa Eickhoff, ASLA, Senior Landscape Architect, Perkins+Will
  • Katherine Gould, ASLA, Landscape Architect, Bolton & Menk, Inc.
  • Rebecca Krinke, ASLA, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Landscape Architecture, University of Minnesota
  • Nicole Matthews, Executive Director, Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition
  • Beth Elliott, AICP, Principal, Stantec
  • Mary Lydecker, ASLA, LEED AP, Principal, Hargreaves Jones
  • Sandra Rolph, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, Principal, O2 Design
  • Yuqi Yan, ASLA, Associate, O2 Design
  • Lydia Major, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, Landscape Architecture & Planning Studio Leader, LHB
  • Heidi Bringman, ASLA, Landscape Architect/Wetland Specialist, LHB

Stay tuned for a post with more photos from the walk!

Outstanding Service Awards

For anyone who came to Minneapolis early for the National Leaders, Outstanding Service Awards, and Honorary Members Reception on October 26, 2023, you may have noted that we have several new additions to our growing list of PPN leaders amongst the ASLA Outstanding Service Award honorees:

  • Lara Moffat, ASLA   |   Women in Landscape Architecture PPN
  • Krista Van Hove, ASLA   |   Campus Planning & Design PPN
  • Bryce Carnehl, Affil. ASLA   |   Water Conservation PPN
Lara Moffat, ASLA, in action at the WILA PPN Meeting / image: Alexandra Hay

This program recognizes ASLA member volunteers who are making notable contributions to or on behalf of the Society at the national level, and recipients at past conferences have included:

  • Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA   |   Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN
  • Kristina Snyder, ASLA   |   Women in Landscape Architecture PPN
  • David Cutter, FASLA   |   Campus Planning & Design PPN
  • Lisa Casey, ASLA   |   Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN
  • Jean Senechal Biggs, ASLA   |   Transportation PPN
  • Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA   |   Women in Landscape Architecture PPN
  • Chris Stevens, ASLA   |   Historic Preservation PPN
  • Christine Pattillo, FASLA   |   Historic Preservation PPN

We hope many more PPN leaders join this illustrious list going forward!

About ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) 

ASLA offers 20 PPNs that represent major practice areas within the profession of landscape architecture. All ASLA members may join one PPN for free, and each additional PPN for $15 per year. Log in to to check which PPN(s) you’re in.

If you are passionate about your landscape architecture practice area—whether it is ecological restoration, planting design, environmental justice, or any one of ASLA’s PPNs—consider volunteering to join your PPN’s leadership team.

PPN leaders provide input on specific practice area needs and ASLA programming. Appointments are for one year, and all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer. Most leadership teams meet once a month via Zoom during regular working hours.

To volunteer as a PPN leader, just complete this short form.

Please note: all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer to be a PPN leader, but you must be a member of the PPN whose leadership team you would like to join. If you’re not sure which PPN(s) you are currently a member of, please log in to ASLA members’ PPNs are listed on the Activities / Orders tab in your member profile. Members may request to change or add a PPN at any time via this form or by contacting ASLA Member Services.

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