What Exactly is a Transportation Landscape Architect?

by Jeff Lormand, ASLA

Interstate 15 South Design/Build Project, Las Vegas, NV. Contractor: Las Vegas Paving. Landscape Architect: Stantec. Design Oversight: NDOT/Parsons / image: Jack Sjostrom, Parsons

When I respond to new acquaintances’ customary question “…and what do you do?” I tell them I am a Transportation Landscape Architect. They look at me flummoxed and then add the follow-up question, “And just what, exactly, is a Transportation Landscape Architect?” So, I thought I would dedicate this post to a description of what a Transportation Landscape Architect is, exactly, and what I do to earn this title.

First, let me say that the term “Transportation Landscape Architect” is relatively new, and mostly used by those that deal with this industry sector (ok, really it is a self-designation). I use it in response to the American Society of Landscape Architects’, our national organization, nearly exclusive hyper-focus on the flashy gardens of homes, museums, or suburban office complexes. Don’t get me wrong, these are great projects. It’s fun to see what a large budget and good maintenance can achieve. But for those of us working daily in the trenches to create public spaces with little budget, very little anticipated maintenance, and a desire to create a more sustainable world, one can start to feel underappreciated and overlooked; hence the need to create a distinctive designation.

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Housing for a Changing America

ASLA 2016 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. The Rivermark, Sacramento, CA. Fletcher Studio / image: Mariko Reed

There is a wide gap between the diversity of American households and the housing stock, much of which is homogeneously geared toward nuclear families. Designers working in housing and community design are taking steps to address this disparity in innovative ways, from adapting older building types to make spaces more flexible to rethinking density and the scale of residences. With a changing population, an array of housing models is needed to address all residents’ needs, including those of the most vulnerable populations.

On February 7, 2018, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted a talk on supportive housing solutions, featuring presentations by Rosanne Haggerty, President, Community Solutions; Debbie Burkart, National Vice President, Supportive Housing, National Equity Fund, Inc.; and Jennifer Schneider, Associate Director of Housing Development, SOME (So Others Might Eat).

This program was part of a series complementing the museum’s new exhibition Making Room: Housing for a Changing America, open through September 16, 2018.

The exhibition offers a snapshot of the country’s housing needs, with some statistics that community designers, leaders, and policymakers should take into account as they imagine new ways to meet evolving demands. For instance, a dramatic shift in American households has taken place since 1950—nuclear families were the leading category then, at 43% of households. That percentage has dropped to 20%, while 28% of households are single people living alone—now the largest category.

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2018 Diversity Summit Call for Letters of Interest

The Call for Letters of Interest to participate in the 2018 ASLA Diversity Summit is open through March 7, 2018 / image: EPNAC

ASLA will host the 2018 Diversity Summit from June 22-24 at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C. The six new professionals from the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit have been invited back, and ASLA is looking to invite six new participants to add valuable input to discussions and resource development. The goals of the 2018 Diversity Summit are to review benchmarks prioritized from the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit and create opportunities for participants to research and workshop resources for ASLA’s career discovery and diversity program.

Eligibility & Deadline

If you are a landscape architecture professional of color in the United States with at least two years of professional experience and are interested in applying, please complete the 2018 ASLA Diversity Summit Call for Letters of Interest by Wednesday, March 7.

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Landscape Architects’ Favorite Spots on Campus

Harvard Yard / image: Lance Katigbak via Flickr

Taking a look back at our 2016 Professional Practice Network (PPN) survey, the first question asked members to think back to their time as a student: what was your absolute favorite spot on campus?

The most popular responses—the quad, the student union, and, no surprises here, the studio—highlighted places central both to all students’ experiences, and spaces of special significance to future landscape architects. Besides the studio, nearly all responses touched on outdoor spots, from arboreta on campus to duck and turtle ponds and residential courtyards.

Perhaps the most interesting subset of answers might be those given by the Campus Planning & Design PPN members, as the campus specialists. Here are their top picks for favorite campus locales:

Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State University

Harvard Yard – “Old version, not new redone one.”

Hornbake Plaza, University of Maryland

“Intimate, off the beaten path seating area, surrounded by walls.”

“Spot on quad for people watching.”

Studio

The banks of the Providence River at RISD

The UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace

“The various under-traveled pedestrian ways.”

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Changes for EPA’s National Stormwater Calculator

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. Workplace as Landscape – Facebook MPK20, Menlo Park, CA. CMG Landscape Architecture / image: Marion Brenner

Updates have been rolled out for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Stormwater Calculator (SWC), including a Low Impact Development (LID) cost estimation module and mobile web application version that can be used on both mobile devices and desktop computers.

A Safe and Sustainable Water Resources Research Program webinar on January 31 introduced these new features and demonstrated example applications. The presentation, by U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) landscape architect Jason Bernagros, will be made available as a recording, and the next free webinar in the series is scheduled for February 28, 2018 on “Village Blue Project: Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring in the Baltimore Harbor.”

EPA developed the SWC to help support local, state, and national stormwater management objectives and regulatory efforts to reduce runoff through infiltration and retention using green infrastructure practices as low impact development controls. It is designed to be used by anyone interested in reducing runoff from a property, including landscape architects, urban planners, developers, and homeowners.

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The Let’s Get Ready Project

The Let's Get Ready Game Board / image: Jennie Schoof
The Let’s Get Ready Game Board / image: Jennie Schoof

Back in October 2017, I had the honor of participating in a trial of the Let’s Get Ready Project (LGR) disaster resilience game with students at the Dixon primary school in the Yarra Valley outside of Melbourne, Australia. The disaster education game was developed and delivered in Queensland, Australia by Jennie Schoof. Jennie moved to Melbourne and commenced work as the Emergency Management Project Coordinator for the Maroondah, Knox and Yarra Ranges Council Cluster Project. In this role, Jennie adapted the game to be used for the LGR project and to meet the needs of a Victorian (Australia) environment in partnership with emergency service agencies. Jennie and Andrew Williams, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Knox Council, worked with me to prepare this Field post.

The overarching objective of LGR is to engage with youth and schools in a broad exploration of resilience and to prepare today’s children and youth to become informed and resourceful adults. The disaster resilience game, a 3 x 3 meter interactive game, is best played outdoors on a school play yard or community green space. The game comes with all resources required for a facilitator to implement the scenarios: a game token, large game dice, team signs, game and scenario cards, a facilitator guide, score sheets, and game pieces (3D bushfire, cyclone/wind, volcano/landslide, earthquake, tsunami, and floods).

The inquiry-focused, immersive approach of the training game assists in planning for, responding to, and recovering from disasters and emergencies. The project challenges participants to think about what they need to know in order to prepare for and respond effectively to natural disasters and emergencies. It encourages teamwork, leadership skills, negotiation skills, exercise, excitement, and education. The hands-on and engaging immersive teaching methods for disaster resilience education as a fundamental life skill can easily be translated into children’s local environments. The interactive participant-focused activity urges investigation of effective methods for youth and their families to prepare for, cope with, and recover from natural disasters and emergencies.

With the game facilitated by youth leaders, I observed firsthand (while playing the role of a community member along with other local emergency service personnel), that the game was FUN! While the message was serious, it was set in play, a most effective way for children to learn and retain knowledge. It tapped into team building and collaboration, two skills vital for effective decision making in a disaster situation, while also enabling youth the opportunity to develop their leadership skills.

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Get Your Nominations & Presentation Proposals Ready

ASLA 2014 Professional General Design Honor Award. Urban Outfitters Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA. D.I.R.T. Studio / image: JJ Tiziou

January is jam-packed with important deadlines at ASLA—see below for a roundup of opportunities closing in the next two weeks. Help to ensure your voice is heard, that you and your colleagues are recognized for your work and leadership, and your practice area is represented!

Council of Fellows Nominations
Deadline: Friday, January 26, 2018, 11:59 p.m. PST

Any ASLA member may recommend an eligible candidate for nomination for the ASLA Council of Fellows (COF). There are four nomination categories: Works, Leadership/Management, Knowledge, and Service. More information on these categories, plus guidelines, forms, and templates for submission, can be found on the COF website.

The candidate must:

  • Be a current ASLA Full Member or International Member in good standing.
  • Have achieved at least 10 continuous years of Full or International membership at the time of nomination.
  • Have demonstrated exceptional contributions over an extended period of time.
  • Have made a significant positive impact on the public and the profession beyond their local area.
  • Have received national recognition for those contributions from multiple sources.

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Professional Practice Networks Roundtable

A 2016 PPN meeting during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO / image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

In the first annual PPN survey back in January 2013, members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) were surveyed about their favorite spaces, with questions on the most innovative projects, the best small but mighty spaces, and favorite designed spaces, among others. In 2014, the PPN survey focused on career paths in landscape architecture. Members shared how they first discovered landscape architecture, their favorite cities and regions to work in, and how they keep up with design trends, to name just a few of the topics covered. The next survey’s theme was creativity and what makes for inspired design in landscape architecture, covering everything from where landscape architects go to feel inspired to finding the next big thing.

For 2016, we opened the survey-making process to our PPN leadership, asking each group to contribute one question that would then be shared with all 10,000+ collective PPN members. The key themes, trends, and responses to the survey were originally highlighted in the PPN News section of LAND, and we are sharing that information again here on The Field in case you missed any PPN updates.

Below are a few of the questions included in the 2016 survey. In future posts, we’ll pull out unique responses, summarize trends, and highlight the most popular answers from PPN members.

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ASLA Ask Me Anything’s for Emerging Professionals

Since 2015, ASLA’s Emerging Professionals Committee has organized more than a dozen Ask Me Anything online events, streamed via Facebook Live and available for viewing on ASLA’s Facebook page. For each AMA, participants can submit questions to the invited guest, giving those new to landscape architecture a chance to have their burning questions about the field answered by a range of practitioners, from mid-career professionals to established firm owners.

The Emerging Professionals Committee advises ASLA on Associate, Student, and Student Affiliate Member programs and services; facilitates communication with and among all emerging professional groups; communicates with faculty and chapters about ASLA programs and benefits pertaining to students and Associate Members; and promotes, encourages, and assists ASLA chapter leaders to increase professional interaction with emerging professionals.

Until the next live event, here’s a look back at past AMAs.

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Reimagining Waste Spaces & Traces

image: Alexandra Hay

Visiting New York’s City Reliquary is like walking into one of artist Joseph Cornell’s boxes—every surface inside the three-room museum is meticulously adorned with artifacts and salvaged ephemera. Display cases are crammed with items (with drawers below holding even more), the walls are covered to the ceiling, and the dim lighting enhances the sense of being immersed in a contemporary take on a cabinet of curiosities.

The current exhibition focuses on one type of relic that can be found in particular abundance: those found in the trash. NYC Trash! Past, Present, & Future, on view through April 29, 2018, begins with the history of solid waste management in New York City, and then shifts gears to look at innovative ways waste materials and management are being reconsidered today.

The seven artists and nonprofits highlighted, including Hack:Trash:NYC, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and Materials for the Arts, employ a variety of tactics and media to transform how waste is viewed and dealt with, from competitions to find ways to reduce what gets sent to landfills to photography and art initiatives that use waste materials as a medium or as inspiration.

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Landscape Architecture Today

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. Central Seawall Project, Seattle, WA. James Corner Field Operations LLC / image: James Corner Field Operations

To kick off 2018, we are taking a look at what ASLA members had to say about the state of the landscape architecture profession today. For the Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) survey on creativity and what makes for inspired designs in landscape architecture, we posed a very tough last question to our members: How does the profession today stack up against historical achievements in landscape architecture?

Surprisingly few people skipped this final question, and we were rewarded with extended, thoughtful responses and candid assessments of the profession. While many opinions differed and some answers directly contradicted one another, an overall sense of where landscape architects excel and where the profession doesn’t quite measure up can be gleaned. As one member put it, these are “Exciting times!!!” indeed.

Below are ASLA members’ thoughts on areas where landscape architecture is doing well, and where there are opportunities for growth and improvement.

On the Bright Side

“Beauty is being combined with environmental impact.”

“Better diversity and community engagement.”

“Better than ever—greater relevance to more areas of need and less stuffy than always working for the top 1% (most historical landscapes are relics of such practice).”

“Each era has profound challenges for landscape architects and we are currently in a period where the distinctive skills of the landscape architect, trained in designing with living systems and materials, has found its voice and is addressing the great problems of our time. This will be a very clear period of history to teach in the coming years and I hope we will continue to have extraordinary achievements to show as examples.”

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Professional Practice Networks: 2017 in Review

ASLA’s 20 Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) provide opportunities for professionals interested in the same areas of practice to exchange information, learn about current practices and research, and network with each other—both online and in person at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO.

In 2017, the PPNs created 99 posts for The Field blog and 12 Online Learning presentations. Thank you to those who shared experiences on The Field and shared their expertise as Online Learning presenters! These opportunities are open to all ASLA members, and we hope to grow our group of PPN contributors in 2018.

Below, we highlight the top five Field posts and best-attended Online Learning presentations of the year, but be sure to check out the full PPN: 2017 IN REVIEW for additional information, including:

  • PPN Live at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO,
  • PPN volunteer and leadership opportunities, and
  • the ASLA Online Learning Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series.

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A Call for All Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Authors!

Children’s Outdoor Environments word cloud / image: WordItOut

Have you…

  • visited a compelling outdoor space that caters to children?
  • heard about or attended an event or program that links children to outdoor places?
  • successfully addressed a child- or family-focused design challenge?
  • attended a child-centered conference that the Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (COE PPN) and other ASLA members should know about?

If so, we invite you to share what you have learned and write a piece for The Field, the blog for ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). For more information, see The Field‘s Submission Guidelines.

Content on The Field is authored by members of ASLA and organized by ASLA’s 20 PPNs, which cover a wide range of practice areas. The PPNs provide opportunities for professionals interested in the same areas of practice to exchange information, learn about current practices and research, and network with each other—both online and in person at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO.

The Field was created to give members who work in landscape architecture a place to exchange information, learn about recent work and research, and share their thoughts about current happenings. We invite you to join the conversation!

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ASLA’s Hands-on Activity Educates Kids and Parents at NBM’s Big Build

image: Shawn Balon, ASLA

In October, the American Society of Landscape Architects participated in the National Building Museum’s Big Build to advance the quality of the built environment by educating attendees about its impact on individual lives. The annual event brings kids and parents from the D.C. region to the museum to learn about built environment professions and participate in hands-on activities. Over the course of a day, the museum welcomed 3,300 visitors to experience various trades, crafts, and passions. The Big Build had more groups than previous years and offered a variety of hands-on activities for visitors of all ages, from preschool age and up. This challenged kids and their parents to learn something new, try something they would typically never try, and think about the ways in which they could make the built environment better.

ASLA created a hands-on activity, Create a Landform: Discover How Water Moves on Land, that educated kids, teens, and adults about landforms, watersheds, and the importance of understanding stormwater management. Throughout the day, kids of all ages and their parents took part in the exercise and learned how landscape architects work with land and water.

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Black in Design Conference: Reflections from Two Women of Color

image: Black in Design

The Black in Design Conference is a biennial event that focuses on uncovering the complex dialogues related to the intersection of design and black identity. Hosted at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University by the African American Student Union (AASU), the conference highlighted the works of emerging and seasoned design professionals, activists, artists, and educators whose common goals challenge Eurocentric methods of design, education, and engagement to create spaces and places for all people. The 2017 conference, entitled “Designing Resistance, Building Coalitions,” specifically focused on design as a social justice and activism tool that promotes equity and equality in spaces around the country that oppress or erase black and brown presence. For more information, visit the Black in Design website to watch the entire conference, and for the 2019 conference announcement.

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The 2018 HALS Challenge

World War I Monument, Memorial Square, Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island (HABS RI-387) / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS RI-387

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

The 2018 HALS Challenge theme will be Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War. For the 9th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document a World War I memorial site to honor the centennial of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. Not only were traditional monuments constructed across the country following the armistice, but “living memorials,” which honored the dead with schools, libraries, bridges, parks, and other public infrastructure, were designed to be both useful and symbolic at the same time.

For some inspiration you may browse the World War I Memorial Inventory Project and the National WWI Museum and Memorial Centennial Commemoration website. Also check out some of the WWI Sites in the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection, including:

Flanders Field American Cemetery & Memorial, HALS US-7, HALS US-7-A, HALS US-7-B

Pershing Park, HABS DC-695

District of Columbia War Memorial, HABS DC-857

World War I Monument, Memorial Square, HABS RI-387

Liberty Memorial, HABS MO-1936

Public Square (Buildings), North Walnut, HABS IL-252

Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Bridge, HAER PA-456

Fitzsimons General Hospital, Memorial Tablet, HABS CO-172-CB

Liberty Memorial Bridge, HAER ND-7

Greene Street Historic District, HABS GA-269

Perhaps you know of another monument, park, or public institution that is unrecognized. These sites are in all areas of the country, often hidden in plain sight. We challenge you to find them and document them.

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ASLA Call for Presentations: 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO

The ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO will take place October 19-22, 2018 in Philadelphia

ASLA is now accepting proposals for the 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO education program, taking place October 19-22, 2018 in Philadelphia. If you are interested in presenting and sharing your knowledge with the landscape architecture profession, we encourage you to submit a proposal through our online submission site.

The goal of the annual meeting education program is to provide professional development opportunities which address the diversity of practice types in the profession. Help to ensure your voice is heard and your practice area is represented by submitting a proposal!

In order to successfully submit a presentation for consideration, the following items are needed for each presentation: speaker names with a biography, a session title, marketing statement, learning objectives, outline, and sources. Submissions should speak to panel diversity and audience engagement. Additionally, all presenters must sign the speaker terms and agreement prior to the January 31 submission deadline.

Please visit the submission site for detailed information, including speaker policies, tactical tips, sample submission materials, and a timeline of the selection process.

ASLA members are invited to log in to the online system using their unique ASLA ID.

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Planting Design Choices for Year-Round Interest

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. Merging Culture and Ecology at The North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC. Surface 678 / image: Art Howard

With winter weather fast approaching, December is a good time to take a look back at ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ favorite plants to add interest in all seasons. Highlighted below are responses that appeared more than once. While some members noted that their answer depended on the location, many others had a tough time picking just one answer:

“Don’t have a single favorite plant. Plants belong in communities.”

“I love all plants—they all have their place. No favorites.”

“The one that catches my eye on a walk on any day.”

“Trees that evoke an emotional response or help build memories.”

Here are a few ways our members keep their planting designs visually engaging throughout the year. The most popular picks, each mentioned five or more times:

  • Dogwoods, including Red Twig, Red Osier, and June Snow™
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Amelanchier (Serviceberry), including Shadblow and Autumn Brilliance
  • Ornamental grasses, including Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem), Muhlenbergia capillaris, and Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

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Rhode Island Passes SITES® Bill

Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, Hempstead, NY / image: Friends of Hempstead Plains

The state of Rhode Island continues to lead by example in establishing sustainable energy and green building policy. This past fall the Rhode Island legislature passed a bill to expand the state’s eight-year legacy of green public buildings policy to include public lands. The Senate passed S-0952A/H-5427A amending its Green Building Act to include public lands and specifying Sustainable SITES Initiative® (SITES) and LEED for Neighborhood Development as applicable rating systems for certification. Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed the bill into law on Thursday, October 5. This move makes Rhode Island the first state in the nation to reference the SITES rating system in public policy.

Since 2010, the state has been applying LEED in its newly constructed state-funded facilities, but starting immediately, state and local governments working on new projects that address the space between buildings through public parks or landscapes will also consider applying SITES and LEED ND to sites adjacent to public facilities. LEED and SITES are complementary and can be used independently or in tandem, earning credits that count toward both rating systems.

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The Ripple Effect: Diversity in Design

The Diversity and Design panel at the ASLA Texas Chapter’s annual conference / image: Diana Fernandez

Diversity in design and urban policy has long been an issue the architecture and engineering industry has struggled with. In 2016, ASLA curated a keynote for the Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans focusing on diversity in design and urban policy (the full general session, Designing for Diversity and Diversity in Design, can be viewed online).

Building upon numerous ASLA efforts, the panelists—Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2009-2011; Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, CEO, OLIN; Mark Rios, FASLA, Principal, Rios Clementi Hale Studios; Diana Fernandez, ASLA, Associate, Sasaki; and Kona Gray, FASLA, Principal, EDSA—each brought their own perspectives on how designers can rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of constituents whom have historically been underrepresented in the discussion for urban policy and city making. The conversation was continued on the EXPO floor, where attendees participated in a lively question and answer session focusing on topics such as education, design practice, and policy changes.

Unbeknownst to the panelists was the ripple effect the keynote had on the local ASLA chapters in attendance. Following the national conference, the panelists were approached by the Texas and Florida chapters to bring the topic of diversity in design to their local communities. Melissa Henao-Robledo, ASLA, a Landscape Forms Business Development Representative for Central and Southern Texas and a past Diversity Summit participant, worked with the ASLA Texas Chapter to organize a panel on Diversity and Design and what comes next. The panel compiled for the Texas conference sought to emphasize the demographic trends affecting the way we practice as designers. Similarly, Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA, a partner at Gentile Glas Holloway O’Mahoney & Associates, Inc., worked with the ASLA Florida Chapter to create a keynote for the chapter conference focusing on diversity in design in practice and education. Each conference provided varied opportunities to discuss the topic of diversity in design and urban policy within a regional and national context.

The impact of the 2016 keynote on diversity in design and urban policy has had a profound effect on our profession at the national and local level. From inspiring panels on the topic to creating the space for the topic to be discussed, it is a reminder of how landscape architecture can be a leading voice and presence in solving our society’s most pressing needs.

The following excerpts were taken from individual interviews of the participants and organizers of the presentations.

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Landscapes for All Seasons

Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC earlier this November / image: Alexandra Hay

With autumn colors still vividly in mind (though fading fast or already gone) and Thanksgiving nearly here, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members had to say about places they love to visit at any time of year. We picked out a few key themes and responses below. While quite a few members felt that “all landscapes are amazing in all seasons,” many had favorite spots that are as stunning in the dead of winter as the peak of summer, and at every point in between: “Every place is always changing throughout the year. You can’t experience them and understand them without being there in the moment.”

National Parks

Acadia National Park, ME – “It offers so many ecosystems—ocean, lake, river, bog, mountain. You are above the tree line, in a cave, you name it, and you can experience wild nature combined with some of the most sophisticated designed landscapes in America, all within one fairly small island.”

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ – “Always majestic, sublime, and different.”

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC and TN – “Continuous habitat diversity.”

Olympic National Park, WA – “Raw beauty and strength.”

Yosemite National Park, CA – “The quiet, magnificent rock formations and trees coupled with the light changes, the air is clean and fresh any time of the year and fragrance of pines, coupled with hundreds of miles of hiking trails that you can discover for the first time.”

Zion National Park, UT

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The Children’s Outdoor Environments and Healthcare & Therapeutic Design Meeting in Review

Joanne Hiromura, ASLA, presents during the joint meeting of the Children’s Outdoor Environments and Healthcare & Therapeutic Design PPNs that took place during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles last month. / image: Alexandra Hay

The 2017 ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (COE PPN) meeting took place with a new twist this year. Recognizing a synergy between PPNs, we held a joint meeting with our colleagues from the Healthcare & Therapeutic Design (HTD) PPN on Saturday afternoon during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles last month. If attendance is an indicator, this new direction was a positive one—an unofficial count of 73 makes it the biggest PPN meeting of the conference. For those of you who attended in person, we thank you for coming!

The meeting began with short summaries of the past year from leadership of both the COE and HTD PPNs. Amy Wagenfeld, Affiliate ASLA, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, transitioned from current to past co-chair, with Ken Hurst, PhD, MLA, RLA, ASLA, CLARB, CPSI, stepping into the co-chair role with Brenna Castro, PLA, ASLA, CPSI. Amy, along with Chad Kennedy, PLA, ASLA, CPSI, LEED AP BD+C, will be serving as communications co-directors for the PPN. Over the past year, we have continued to be busy. The COE PPN logged nine blog posts for The Field, hosted three Online Learning webinars (one jointly with the HTD PPN), and have averaged three new posts per month for the PPN LinkedIn group. And, Ken Hurst was a mentor for one of the Student & Emerging Professionals SPOTLIGHT presentations that took place this summer.

While we are busily organizing several great webinars and Field posts for the upcoming year, we extend an open invitation for you to consider sharing your knowledge by presenting a webinar or writing a blog post (or several!).

Following these PPN updates, Joanne Hiromura, ASLA, RLA, Director of Landscape and Outdoor Playspace Design at studioMLA Architects in Brookline, MA, and Naomi Sachs, PhD, ASLA, EDAC, Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, provided keynote presentations.

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The 2017 HALS Challenge Winners

Lee Park (HALS VA-78). The bronze statue of General Robert E. Lee serves as the centerpiece of Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS VA-78

The results of the 8th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Documenting City or Town Parks, were announced at the HALS Meeting of the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Los Angeles. Congratulations to the winners!

1st Place: Lee Park (Emancipation Park), HALS VA-78
Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia
By Liz Sargent, FASLA, Liz Sargent HLA, and Jennifer Trompetter, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

2nd Place: McKinley Park, HALS CA-133
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California
By Douglas Nelson, ASLA, RHAA Landscape Architects

3rd Place: Enright Park, HALS PA-31
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
By Angelique Bamberg

Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 27 impressive HALS short format historical reports from 15 states to the HALS collection. The list is below. This year’s theme was selected in keeping with the 2016 National Park Service Centennial and the FIND YOUR PARK campaign. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks! It’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever. Again, Landscape Architecture Magazine graciously provided full page ads for the 2017 HALS Challenge in the April and May issues.

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Urban Design Professional Practice Network Survey Results

Our recent Urban Design Professional Practice Network discovery survey sheds light on elements necessary for successful urban design and definitions that best represent our members’ views of urban design as a profession. Our total PPN membership is almost 1,800, and we had 125 respondents, representing 7% of members. As an informal survey, it gives us insight into how our members view urban design. This now offers us a tool as we begin to look to the future of our PPN, finding ways to maximize the collective creativity and knowledge we have within our ranks.

The first question asked willing participants to rate a list of pre-selected design elements based on importance in the successful design of urban places. No definitions were provided for each of these elements; participants were left to define, and ultimately rate, each element on their own.

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The Los Angeles Women in Landscape Architecture Walk

image: Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA

Four Los Angeles landscape architecture projects were highlighted during the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting’s Women in Landscape Architecture Walk, organized by Stephanie Psomas, ASLA, of Pamela Burton & Company, and the local host chapter, ASLA SoCal. Nearly 80 participants braved the early start time on the final day of the meeting and were rewarded with the rare treat of watching light break over the historic and modern cityscape of downtown Los Angeles.

1: Biddy Mason Park

The crowd of began gathering at the centrally located Biddy Mason Park. This L-shaped pocket park is distinctly urban and makes up the interior space of nearly an entire city block. Despite being immediately adjacent to the popular local and tourist stop of Grand Central Market, the park entrance is subtly marked and the space is quiet.

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PPN Live in Los Angeles: The 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Review

images: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

With the 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO now behind us, it’s time to review the array of events and gatherings that took place throughout the meeting weekend through PPN Live. Attendees had numerous opportunities to network with colleagues from all 20 of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) by:

  • participating in the PPN meetings that took place in PPN Live,
  • attending a PPN-themed, exhibitor-led tour of the EXPO floor,
  • and networking with PPN peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs.

Meetings in PPN Live

PPN meetings took place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, October 21-22, and were open to all attendees, giving them the chance to meet fellow PPN members and explore different practice areas.

The EXPO’s PPN Live space offered meeting rooms, the PPN Lounge for networking, and a larger presentation space called Griffith Park Stage, which hosted our largest PPN meeting to date: the joint meeting of the Children’s Outdoor Environments and Healthcare & Therapeutic Design PPNs, which featured presentations by Joanne Hiromura, ASLA, and Naomi Sachs, ASLA.

During the PPN meetings that took place, new PPN leadership volunteers were identified for many PPNs, along with members interested in submitting posts for The Field or presenting an ASLA Online Learning webinar. Want to learn more about getting involved? Check out the PPN leadership positions to consider and send an email to propractice@asla.org if anything strikes you, or if you have any questions about the PPNs. We look forward to building on the momentum of the PPN meetings in Los Angeles!

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Landscapes by Day & Night

ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award. The Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University, Houston, TX. The Office of James Burnett / image: Paul Hester

When we asked ASLA Professional Practice Network (PPN) members what landscape they find just as spectacular at night as during the day, a few responded that any landscape looks just as amazing no matter the time of day, while others felt that no landscape looks quite as good at night as during the day. Between these two extremes were another set of contrasts: the magic of places without light pollution, where people can take in the “beauty of the natural night sky,” and how vibrant cities can be at night. Both types of settings dominate the most popular responses:

  • New York City, with Central Park and Bryant Park mentioned most often
  • The National Mall in Washington, DC, with the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial mentioned
  • Chicago, specifically the waterfront, North Shore Drive, and Millennium Park
  • Paris, especially the courtyard of the Louvre
  • Beaches
  • Deserts

While the skillful use of lighting and the presence of water were key motifs among the most popular nighttime settings, some members praised enjoying the evening no matter where you are: “Mystery and theatrical power are enhanced at night.” We also asked members what made these spaces so captivating, whether seen by night or by day.

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Oh, For the Love of Butterflies (and Children)!

The Bayscape Garden at Pot Spring Elementary School, Baltimore County, MD – May 29, 2017 / image: Tobi Louise Kester

Every year, Pot Spring Elementary School in Baltimore County, Maryland is faced with what seems to be a big problem. Their Bayscape Garden, where the kids are given hands-on experience with plants, insects, birds, and butterflies, looks something like this:

The Bayscape Garden at Pot Spring Elementary School, Baltimore County, MD – April, 2016 / image: Tobi Louise Kester

Located immediately adjacent to the school’s back door, the garden’s proximity to the pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st grade classrooms is no accident…it’s meant to be a part of the learning environment of the school. But each spring, after the snow melts and the mostly herbaceous plants have been dormant for many months, the Bayscape is a far cry from the vibrant, colorful, and exciting place of adventure the students might imagine when they think of gardens. It looks abandoned and forlorn, a mess that is almost lost in the open space of the school yard. It looks like it doesn’t have much potential for anything besides becoming a bigger mess!

But, as a landscape architect, I know better. I can envision the possibilities of lush vegetation, brimming with life. I see a pathway that leads through the garden, and maybe even a hideaway for quiet viewing of ecology in action (and the blending of science and artistic expression) on a personal scale. I can see children smelling the brightly colored flowers, hearing the birds, touching the delicate (yet somehow tenaciously strong) leaves, and excitedly watching the caterpillars eating the milkweeds, then forming their chrysalises, and transforming into delicate butterflies. I can see it because I’ve helped the School staff, other volunteers, and children of Pot Spring create it before!

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Annual Meeting Education Session Highlights, Part 2

Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, featured in the ASLA Annual Meeting field session Connecting Across the I-10 Divide: Tongva Park and the Colorado Esplanade / image: Alexandra Hay

The 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO begins tomorrow, October 20! In addition to the events planned for PPN Live, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership Team also reviews the Annual Meeting education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With over 130 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 21 Professional Development Hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the Annual Meeting website and mobile app by title, speaker, topic area, and PDH type (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, AIA, AICP, CMAA, FL, GBCI CE, GBCI SITES, ISA, NY, etc.).

Below, we run through the second half of these education highlights (see the sessions picked by ASLA’s 10 other PPNs in our previous post):

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Annual Meeting Education Session Highlights, Part 1

The view of Los Angeles’ City Hall from Grand Park / image: S. Greg Panosian

The 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO begins this Friday! In addition to the events planned for PPN Live, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership Team also reviews the Annual Meeting education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With over 130 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 21 Professional Development Hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the Annual Meeting website and mobile app by title, speaker, topic area, and PDH type (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, AIA, AICP, CMAA, FL, GBCI CE, GBCI SITES, ISA, NY, etc.).

Below, we run through the first half of these education highlights (stay tuned for sessions picked by ASLA’s 10 other PPNs this Thursday):

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