Making a Difference in a Non-Profit Firm Format

by Brandon S. Peters, ASLA

image: Brandon S. Peters, ASLA

Around the world, disadvantaged populations face significant struggles with climate change, pollution, conflict, and forced migration. Unfortunately, this situation is not new. What IS seemingly new is the increased emphasis younger generations are putting into doing social justice and social impact work to address struggles like these. Thankfully, this seems not to be a fad but a larger realization that doing what you love while helping those most in need is an extremely rewarding endeavor.

Traditionally most firms are set up as a PC, LLC, S-Corp, or sole proprietorship, which are all considered to be for-profit. In recent years, many for-profit firms have noticed this increased staff interest in making a difference and have launched internal CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives to ensure their firm is meeting certain standards for sustainability or other goals. Some also dedicate staff time for outreach activities, which might include work for organizations like Journeyman International and Habitat for Humanity, or have a small non-profit sister organization to engage in design projects within their communities.

On the far end of this spectrum, there are a handful of firms, including A Complete Unknown, that operate solely as a non-profit entity.

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A New Home Renovation Trend: Security Enhancements

A breezeway with a rolling door links the home and garage, framing a painterly vignette of columnar aspen trees. A grid of trees line the courtyard, softened by a dense planting of ferns and native shrubs.
ASLA 2021 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. Highlands Retreat. Aspen, Colorado. Design Workshop, Inc. / image: Brandon Huttenlocher/Design Workshop, Inc.

While security design as it relates to the public realm and to concepts like Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) may be familiar to many landscape architects, enhancing security and privacy is also an increasingly desirable aspect of residential landscape architecture.

According to the 2022 Houzz home improvement survey, security for outdoor spaces is a new focus for homeowners, who spent 25% more on home security systems in 2021 than in 2020. Outdoor security systems are now the second most frequently installed outdoor upgrade (17%), behind lighting (22%).

A recent Forbes article by Jamie Gold about this renovation trend features Ron DuHamel, ASLA, president of FireSky and a volunteer leader for ASLA’s Design-Build Professional Practice Network (PPN).

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This Too Shall Pass: Landscape Architecture and the Green Industry in a Post-COVID World

by Michael Igo, Affiliate ASLA, PE, LEED AP

Aerial photo of the ancient city of Persepolis
The Persian city of Persepolis, ordered by Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes, designed/built by artisans / image: “Persepolis” by s1ingshot, CC BY 2.0

In 1859, presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society.  He told the fable of a Persian sultan who asked his trusted sage to summarize concisely a way to describe the perpetual and ephemeral nature of human affairs.  Lincoln continued, “They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’”

I, like all of us in the landscape architecture, green, and construction industries, could have never predicted the shift towards our business during the global COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. When we braced for the worst, many of my colleagues in all AEC sectors have experienced unprecedented growth. While we are busier than ever and despite the longer hours, we need to stop, reflect, and be grateful for the position that we are in as COVID-19 has taken a substantial toll on our society. Take a moment to remember those that lost their lives suffering with this illness, their family members who grieved their loss while in isolation, first responders and front-line medical workers, grocery and box store cashiers, stockers, and delivery persons supplying us while sequestered in our homes.  Let us remember that the business that flowed towards us flowed away from local retail stores and restaurants. We need to continue to give them our continued support in business and tips for their troubles.

After more than two years of a global pandemic and coming out on the other side, we can start to think about what is coming next and how it will impact our business and profession.

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Principles of Accessibility Design for Landscape Architecture

All Frontcountry site features and interpretive content at Grand Teton National Park is fully accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities.
ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Inspiring Journeys for All. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. HDLA / image: Charlie Craighead

New ASLA Research Report: Free downloadable resource available for ASLA members. Self-study exam available for 1.25 PDH (LA CES/HSW).

In order to lead the planning and design of inclusive, healthy, equitable, and safe environments, landscape architects have an obligation to be aware of and work in compliance with standards for accessibility. To meet this need, the ASLA Professional Practice Committee created Principles of Accessibility Design for Landscape Architecture: ADA, ABA, and Other Accessibility Standards and Guidelines as a technical overview of the national accessibility standards and guidelines.

The primary focus of this document is the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design (ADA Standards). These standards exist within a complex web of national, state, and local governmental and non-governmental organizations’ related conventions, codes, and documents. Each entity focuses on its role in supporting and achieving greater accessibility in the environment and society in general.

The goal of this overview is to encourage landscape architects and designers to employ a wide view of accessible design. This will help designers avoid missing significant, unique variations in accessibility requirements that may apply to a project.

ASLA members can download Principles of Accessibility Design for Landscape Architecture: ADA, ABA, and Other Accessibility Standards and Guidelines for free and can purchase and pass a self-study exam to earn 1.25 PDH (LA CES/HSW).

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Chris Pattillo and HALS: Challenge and Legacy

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Chris Pattillo stands beside first, second, and third place banners for the first annual HALS Challenge, Revisiting Cultural Landscapes of Childhood, at the 2010 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. / image: Chris Stevens

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 13th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document Olmsted Landscapes. 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. By documenting Olmsted landscapes for HALS, you will increase public awareness of historic landscapes and illuminate Olmsted’s living legacy. Any site designed or planned in part or in full by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., his firm, and the firm continued by his sons, John Charles Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted Junior, is eligible.

In October 2000, the National Park Service (NPS) permanently established the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) program for the systematic documentation of historic American landscapes. The mission of HALS is to record historic landscapes in the United States and its territories through measured drawings, historical reports, and large-format black photographs. The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division preserves the documentation for posterity and makes it available to the general public. The NPS oversees the daily operation of HALS and formulates policies, sets standards, and drafts procedural guidelines in consultation with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). ASLA provides professional guidance and technical advice through their Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network, thus further encouraging involvement within the profession. Each ASLA chapter has one volunteer HALS Liaison, but chapters that serve multiple states may have one liaison per state. HALS Liaisons, appointed by their chapter presidents, provide technical and other types of assistance to carry out the mission of the HALS program.

The annual HALS Challenge competition for HALS short format historical reports is a valuable tool to fulfilling the HALS mission to record historic landscapes throughout the U.S., identifying and recording sites that otherwise would likely go unrecognized. It benefits the American public by engaging volunteers across the country to produce HALS baseline documentation of significant American landscapes for inclusion in the Library of Congress HALS collection.

Christine “Chris” Pattillo, FASLA, founder of PGAdesign, initiated the first HALS Challenge for the tenth anniversary of HALS in 2010. She wished to stimulate interest in the relatively new program and to get people involved around the country. She knew that if volunteers prepared their first HALS short format historic report and learned about the HALS documentation process, they would likely complete further documentation in the future. Progress had been made in identifying cultural landscapes during the first decade of HALS, but much more work was needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

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Make Your Voice Heard: ASLA’s Federal & State Legislative Priorities

Pink cherry blossoms and the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC
image: “Spring Blossoms @ the U.S. Capitol” by jpellgen, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

All ASLA members are invited to participate in the biennial Federal & State Legislative Priorities Survey. As the national voice for the landscape architecture profession, we want to hear from you on what you think are the most important policy issues. Help determine ASLA’s federal legislative agenda and state advocacy activities for 2023-2024.

ASLA works with chapters, state and federal legislators, state and administration officials, and regulatory bodies to advance policies critical to the profession. The purpose of this short survey is twofold:

  • To formulate ASLA’s federal legislative priorities for the 118th Congress
  • To provide useful data to help guide chapters’ state legislative priorities and advocacy efforts.

Take this short survey on what policy issues matter most to you.

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Improve Your Project’s Carbon Footprint

SITES-certified Fort Missoula Park in Missoula, Montana / image: the Sustainable SITES Initiative

The carbon footprint of the built environment is often understood in terms of construction, building energy use, and transportation. However, landscapes also contain enormous potential to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change.

Studies show that with concerted global action on land use over the next decade—what the United Nations is calling the decade for ecosystem restoration—nature can be a significant and necessary part of the climate solution, offering up to 37% of the mitigation needed.

The Sustainable SITES Initiative promotes sustainable and resilient landscape development and can be used for development projects located on sites with or without buildings to enhance their sustainability, implement green infrastructure strategies and improve resilience.

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Celebrating Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

ASLA 2018 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. El Retorno a la Tierra/Going Back To the Land. Las Marías, Puerto Rico. Nicole Rivera-Ramos, Student ASLA / image: Nicole Rivera-Ramos

On April 5, 2022, I had the honor of being invited to give the inaugural speech to start the celebration of Landscape Architecture Month in Puerto Rico. My goal was to share with members of the Institute of Landscape Architects of Puerto Rico the importance of supporting the profession and how they might contribute through ASLA and its platforms.

Although Puerto Rico is a United States territory, currently there is no ASLA chapter on the island. The closest professional affiliation is with the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). The theme of this year’s WLAM celebration in Puerto Rico was “Regenerative Landscapes”—however, I did not focus on presenting a project that integrates this concept. Instead, I focused on using the concept of regeneration—giving a new use to something, or using it in a different way to improve it—as an integral part of our concept of professional practice.

The response was so rewarding that I decided to share this speech after the event, perhaps inspiring others. My Landscape Architecture Month talk went as follows:

Everybody in this room has something in common: we are advocates of improving our natural and built environments, in our country and all around the world.

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World Landscape Architecture Month: Social Media Showcase

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Atlanta Dairies. Atlanta, Georgia. Perkins&Will / image: Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affil. ASLA

All throughout April, landscape architects around the world have been responding to ASLA’s World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) prompt to post to social media their response to the questions: What is landscape architecture? What does landscape architecture mean to you? This past week, ASLA National combed through the 1,000+ submissions to identify the top five #WLAM2022 Instagram posts, based on combined number of likes and comments, to repost on the National ASLA Instagram account.

In case any Field readers are taking a break from social media, or if you missed these amidst some overzealous scrolling, here are the top three posts, highlighting meandering meadow plantings, native plant communities, and the design process from concept to buildable plan.

Marcus Barnett Studio
London and Overton, United Kingdom

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Digital Landscape Architecture Conference Coming to Harvard GSD

by Stephen M. Ervin

DLA2022’s keynote speakers are Mirka Beneš of the University of Texas at Austin, Anya Domlesky, ASLA, Director of Research at SWA Group, and Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE / NYU. / image: DLA Conference

Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) Conference
June 9-10, 2022
Online and in-person at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Just three years ago, I attended the Digital Landscape Architecture Conference for the first time, when it was held in Dessau, Germany, home of the Bauhaus. At that time, I was invited to speak about BIM in landscape architecture and was amazed by the diverse audience present to listen, see, and engage. With eyes wide open, I too learned a great deal from faculty, students, practitioners, and various technology leaders. Soon after this experience, our Digital Technology PPN was asked to help spread the word about the following conference, to take place in the US, at Harvard GSD. Though COVID changed the dynamic for a couple of years, the conference retooled and continued virtually. As this year’s conference theme “Hybrid” describes the split nature of learning and disseminating presented information, it also translates to how our practice, research, and connectedness has quickly adapted and evolved to stay ahead of the new directions of the industry. I invite you to consider the announcement below by fellow DLA colleague, Stephen Ervin, and sincerely consider joining the conference either virtually or in-person to learn where digital technology in landscape architecture is heading next.
–Eric Gilbey, PLA, ASLA, Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) Immediate Past Chair

In 2020, the 21st international meeting of the Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) Conference was scheduled to come to the US for the first time ever, to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD)—after having been in Europe, mostly at the Hochschule Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, near Berlin, Germany, for the previous two decades.

Of course, the 2020 conference, planned for June of that year, was dramatically disrupted by the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Harvard along with much of the US was locked down, and the conference was held from my home office, entirely on Zoom, then a still-new experience for many of us.

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New Environmental Justice Case Study: Officer Daniel Webster Children’s Park

Officer Daniel Webster Children’s Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico / image: MRWM Landscape Architects

One of the most frequently requested resources amongst landscape architects working on environmental justice is a database of precedent projects to reference. Since 2019, the ASLA Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (EJ PPN) has been collecting case studies in order to build a robust set of examples of how to promote environmental justice into our field of practice. A new project featuring a new park in a low-income area with limited access to open spaces was recently added to this PPN resource:

Officer Daniel Webster Children’s Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Owner: City of Albuquerque
Designer: MRWM Landscape Architects
Contractor: Lee Landscapes

This park is in Albuquerque’s International District, a neighborhood that has limited parks and other public open spaces. In the early planning phases, the neighborhood strongly advocated for a park instead of developing the vacant site as a municipal bus facility. Three phases of the park have been constructed and include a large shaded play structure, group gathering areas, and a turf area with rolling hills and dense trees. Future phases will include a turf recreation field, nature-play spaces, and additional group activity areas. This park is a valued community space, providing a critical green space in a low-income neighborhood.

Read the full case study >

Case study submitted by:
Gregory Miller, PLA, FASLA
Principal Landscape Architect, MRWM Landscape Architects

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TRB Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design Mid-Year Workshop

by Willson S. McBurney, ASLA

image: Mick Haupt on Unsplash

The Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AKD40) will hold our mid-year meeting June 26-29, 2022, at the Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in Winter Harbor, Maine. Registration is now open!

All Committee members and friends are encouraged to attend the AKD40 2022 Mid-Year Workshop. The Schoodic Institute is about 1.25 hours from Bangor, 3.5 hours from Portland, and 5.5 hours from Boston.

We will conduct Committee business and will learn of the region’s rich transportation history and current best practices from the area’s transportation leaders. Tuesday’s learning sessions will focus on Coastal Maine’s transportation infrastructure needs and the resulting multimodal solutions that are satisfying the needs of Acadia National Park and the Bold Coast. Tours of the new transportation system at Acadia National Park, the Schoodic Byway, and local complete streets projects are anticipated.

The Committee will complete current TRB assignments and work products to prepare for the January 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

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Students Exploring Enriching Design: Hammock Hollow at Bok Tower Gardens

by Kaylin Slaughter, Student ASLA, and Kenneth Hurst, ASLA

A sketch of my friend basking under the palms, taking in the exquisite site. / image: Kaylin Slaughter

The mission of this study trip to Orlando, Florida, was to have the second year landscape architecture students at Texas A&M University engage with a question about popular play spaces: what elements of design make these spaces work? Students were given pencils and a journal, and were invited to tap into the knowledge we had acquired thus far in our education and record our uniquely formed observations. Through this journaling process we developed unexpected and meaningful relationships with the sites we visited.

In built environments, an individual’s experience of any given site may often feel as programmed as the paths of travel. However, designers have the capacity to see a site for its full potential. As a student of design, I see the world through two lenses. One is the rose-colored glass that shows me the designed world the way the landscape architect intended it to be seen. The other lens offers a designer’s X-ray vision that allows me to see past beauty to purpose. As a design student I am caught between these perspectives—I can uncover a space with childlike wonder, and yet I have the vocabulary to articulate the design’s successes while doing so on a journey deeper into a site’s purpose than most user groups could. This realization came to me as my classmates and I were observing a children’s play space.

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It’s Time to Show the World What Landscape Architecture is All About

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Atlanta Dairies. Atlanta, Georgia. Perkins&Will / image: Perkins&Will and Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affil. ASLA

We’re nearly halfway through World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), so today we are running through a few reminders for upcoming events, special calls to action, and more ways to take part in this global celebration of landscape architecture and the work of landscape architects.

Designing for Pollinators

On Thursday, April 14, ASLA will host a screening of the PBS Nature film My Garden of a Thousand Bees, followed by a post-film discussion with Patricia Algara, PLA, ASLA, founding principal of BASE Landscape Architecture, and Clay Bolt, World Wildlife Federation expert. Learn more and register and register to watch the film and join the post-discussion.

Celebrate Frederick Law Olmsted

Olmsted Proclamation Introduced in Congress 

A bipartisan measure, H. Res. 1013, has been introduced to recognize and celebrate Olmsted’s legacy. Contact your legislator today to urge them to cosponsor this special legislation that celebrates Olmsted and the profession of landscape architecture.

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The Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative: Vision and Concepts

image: Adam Szuscik on Unsplash

ASLA’s RFQs, Opportunities, and Events page provides information on everything from calls for papers to competitions. Below, we highlight a recently submitted series of public meetings. Anyone who would like to share an opportunity may submit information online.

The stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., between the White House and the U.S. Capitol is one of the most recognizable streetscapes. Tourists, runners, festivalgoers, protesters, skateboarders, and D.C. residents alike all know this iconic location well, and given the very many uses and user groups for this iconic urban space, reimagining it for the future is no simple task.

The Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative kicked off in 2015, and just last month, a public comment period opened for three concepts—Urban Capital, Linear Green, and Civic Stage—with different approaches to achieving the initiative’s vision: “to transform Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the U.S. Capitol into America’s stage and a street that prioritizes people over cars with inviting and inclusive public spaces.”

Starting next week, the National Capital Planning Commission is hosting three virtual public meetings for people to learn more and ask questions.

Public Meetings: Pennsylvania Avenue Vision and Concepts

  • Wednesday, April 13, 12:00-1:30 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Tuesday, April 26, 7:00-8:30 p.m. (Eastern)
  • Saturday, May 21, 10:00-11:30 a.m. (Eastern)

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Be Part of the SITES for Existing Landscapes Certification Pilot

by Danielle Pieranunzi

SITES-certified Washington Canal Park in Washington, DC / image: Sustainable SITES Initiative

Do you want to better understand how your completed project is performing and demonstrate its success? Do you have an existing park, campus, government facility, or other outdoor space that you would like to earn SITES certification for sustainable and resilient land development? Are you interested in informing and influencing the next SITES certification tool?

If any of this sounds of interest, the Sustainable SITES Initiative wants to hear from you.

SITES certification offers a path for landscape projects to enhance their sustainability, implement green infrastructure strategies, and improve resilience through nature-based solutions. As you may know, the current SITES v2 rating system is directed at new construction and major renovation projects. While this work is vital, there are many more landscapes that have already been built that seek these same goals.

To address this gap, SITES is currently developing a framework that expands into ongoing sustainable site management practices and the monitoring and reporting of their social, economic, and environmental benefits.

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The Common Space Series: Q&As with Public Practitioners

Left to right: Terry Clements, FASLA, Jon Wreschinsky, ASLA, PLA, and Haley Blakeman, FASLA, PLA / images: courtesy of the interviewees

The field of landscape architecture is one of astonishing breadth, and one need only take a look at ASLA’s membership to see how wide an expanse landscape architects’ professional trajectories cover. ASLA’s Public Practice Advisory Committee aspires to encourage more landscape architects, including students and emerging professionals, to pursue careers in the public sector—working for local, state, and federal government agencies, universities and colleges, or parks and arboreta. Many of these ASLA members have found their way to public practice after years in private practice, looking to shape public policy and have an impact on public spaces for the common good.

The realm of public practice, including non-profit and governmental work, offers unique opportunities and challenges to practitioners. In an ongoing series for ASLA’s LAND newsletter, members of the Public Practice Advisory Committee and other landscape architects showcase those opportunities and share insights on their public practice careers. We highlight the most recent conversations below.

Haley Blakeman, FASLA, PLA
Suzanne L. Turner Professor at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture at Louisiana State University
Interview conducted by Om Khurjekar, ASLA, PLA, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht

“There was a public education component to every project. We never worked in a community unless the residents and leadership invited us. Many times, we did the initial community engagement, capacity building, and master planning that would then be followed by a detailed site design led by a design firm. We built support for projects, which made it easier for design firms to get projects funded and built.”

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Precious Oasis

by CeCe Haydock, ASLA, LEED AP, SITES AP

Hyssop, thoroughwort, goldenrod, and little bluestem / image: CeCe Haydock

The poetry of sustainability is illustrated by a SITES pilot project, the Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, certified silver in 2015.

Sandwiched between a college campus and a heavily trafficked highway, the nineteen acres of the Hempstead Plains remain just as they were before humans set foot on Long Island: a native Eastern prairie. The Plains once comprised more than 40,000 acres before becoming suburbanized. Today, this precious oasis of grasses and forbs—paired with the new Education Center, made from recycled shipping containers and topped with a green roof—serves as an outdoor classroom for all ages of students.

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Celebrating & Preserving Rhode Island’s Historic Cemeteries

by Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

The walled burying ground of the Noyes family dating back to the early 1700s is still maintained by descendants of the Noyes family. / image: Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

Rhode Island Historic Cemeteries Awareness and Preservation Weeks
April 1 – May 31, 2022

Rhode Island has 39 cities and towns, and all have historic cemeteries within their boundaries. These historic cemeteries provide a window into the developmental patterns of each community and demonstrate the social and economic growth, as well as the changes that have occurred throughout each community.

The Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries maintains a website that provides members and other interested parties with information about historical cemeteries as well as a comprehensive database to search historical cemeteries by location (map), by cemetery, or by gravestone. The website also provides valuable information about gravestone conservation, the history of the database, a handbook about Rhode Island’s Historical Cemeteries and the rules and regulations for maintaining them:

Every year the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries holds an “awareness and preservation week” where members of the Commission and other advocates invite the public to learn about historical cemeteries and to address maintenance issues throughout the state. This work entails weeding, pruning of trees, and repair of headstones and includes training volunteers in the proper care and maintenance of these historical cemeteries.

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Apply to Be Part of the ASLA Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program

ASLA Diversity Summit / image: EPNAC

ASLA launched the Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program to support women of color in their pursuit of landscape architecture licensure and increase racial and gender diversity within the profession.

In its inaugural 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.

Apply to become part of the ASLA Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program by April 1, 2022.

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PPN Roundtable: Climate Change’s Impacts on Parks and Recreation

images: Matt Boehner and courtesy of the 2022 NEWEA Annual Conference session “Effects of Sea Level Rise on Maine’s Wastewater Infrastructure”

With World Landscape Architecture Month just two weeks away, ASLA’s Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team have compiled observations made and actions taken in response to climate change and its manifold impacts—impacts that are being felt around the world. Though something so wide-reaching can be difficult to grasp fully in scale and scope, we hope these updates from your peers in landscape architecture and from parks and rec departments across the country may help make the sprawling challenges wrought by climate change a little more tangible—and demonstrate how imperative it is to take action now.

Contributions for today’s post come from:

  • Matt Boehner, ASLA – Columbia, Missouri
  • Kalle Maggio, ASLA – New England
  • Bronwen Mastro, ASLA, PLA, LEED BD+C – Bend, Oregon
  • Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, PLA – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Steph Thisius-Sanders, ASLA, PLA – Bakersfield, California

Matt Boehner, ASLA
Senior Landscape Architect, Columbia Parks and Recreation
Columbia, Missouri

There has been an increase in large flood event storms since 2015, with 100-, 200-, and even 500-year events occurring every two or three years. Over the course of June 23-25, 2021, the Mid-Missouri area recorded nearly 11 inches of rainfall, resulting in over $500,000 in flood damage to parks and trails throughout Columbia.

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The World’s First Project Certified as LEED, SITES, and Parksmart

by Sumner Byrne

Atlanta’s Grant Park Gateway has LEED, SITES, and Parksmart certifications. / image: Dorian Sky

In 2018, the City of Atlanta addressed the need for a new parking garage near Zoo Atlanta and the BeltLine, two of the city’s most iconic public spaces. With increased calls to reduce traffic congestion and improve community safety, the existing eight-acre surface parking lot was unable to keep up with increasing demand.

Faced with a major renovation, Atlanta’s Parks and Recreation Department (DPR) used the opportunity to invest in a multifunctional, sustainable space, using certifications as a tool to direct their work for the greatest community benefit.

Today, the Grant Park Gateway offers over 1,000 parking spaces topped with a two-and-a-half-acre green roof and restaurant space, providing a grand lawn area, a shaded terrace plaza, terraced seating, a water feature and a pedestrian overpass, as well as nearly nine acres of green space. It is the first project in the world to achieve LEED certification, SITES certification for sustainable landscape development, and Parksmart certification for its parking structure.

This triple-certified project’s success is thanks to the visionary efforts of the City of Atlanta’s DPR, design-build lead the Winter Johnson Group, lead landscape architect HGOR, Smith Dalia Architects, sustainability consultant the Epsten Group, Breedlove Land Planning, the residents of the Grant Park neighborhood, and many others.

Some of the collaborators shared their thoughts on the pursuit of multiple certifications and how LEED’s integrative process became more relevant than ever on the Atlanta site.

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Legacy Plaza: Designing an Outdoor Learning Experience on UNL’s East Campus

by Jennifer Seacrest

Conceptual master plan for Legacy Plaza at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Click here to view at a larger scale. / image: Olsson Studio

When the University of Nebraska-Lincoln asked for ideas to reimage a greenspace that would honor four U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture from Nebraska and reflect the historical and agrarian legacy of East Campus, the Olsson Studio and University steering committee decided to take it a step further.

Our team opted to design a space that would become an experience for students and faculty as well as for members of the greater Lincoln community. We wanted to create a space that was welcoming and useful that would give the university flexibility in terms of programming. Thus, every decision made was done through the lens of creating a unique and memorable experience for those who will use the space, engage students, and showcase the natural beauty of East Campus.

Legacy Plaza is located on UNL’s East Campus surrounded by the Food Industry Complex to the south, Dinsdale Family Learning Commons to the east, and the Nebraska East Union to the north. In 2013, the campus master plan identified the project as an opportunity to invest in civic infrastructure by creating “memorable, symbolic open spaces.” In addition, then-Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green challenged Campus Planning to use this 6.5-acre tract of land to honor four U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture from Nebraska. In doing so, the department wanted to integrate the space into the campus landscape and honor the agriculture roots of East Campus providing a home for the statues honoring the former Secretaries and naming the greenspace Legacy Plaza.

Former conceptual visioning plans sat dormant for four years. When renovations began on the Dinsdale Learning Commons and the East Union, the Legacy Plaza project suddenly had new life.

That’s when the Olsson Studio entered the picture.

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Celebrating Women in Landscape Architecture

The 2021 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk in Nashville’s Frankie Pierce Park / image: courtesy of Laura Schroeder, ASLA /

On this International Women’s Day, ASLA’s Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) is excited to see landscape architects in the spotlight and taking the lead in a variety of ways, from ASLA National—with President Eugenia Martin, FASLA, President-Elect Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA, and President-Elect candidates SuLin Kotowicz, FASLA, and Pam Linn, FASLA—to 2019 ASLA conference keynote speaker Kotchakorn Voraakhom, ASLA, being interviewed by The New York Times as part of their Women and Leadership special report.

In the midst of Women’s History Month, we are taking a look back at 2021 WILA highlights, along with initiatives currently underway, including a partnership with WxLA and the new Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program.

Last November at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Women in Landscape Architecture PPN Co-Chairs Lara Moffat, ASLA, and Sahar Teymouri, ASLA, led a session on “From Mentorship to Sponsorship: Friendship is the Key!” exploring how professional relationships contribute to a flourishing career.

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Student Immersion in the Built Environment

by Kaylin Slaughter, Student ASLA, and Kenneth Hurst, ASLA

Orlando is a wonderland for second-year landscape architecture students. / image: Kaylin Slaughter

In May of 2021, a class of students from Texas A&M studied immersive spaces using landscape journals, pocket sized notebooks within which to record field sketches.

That trip opened a rift in the bubble of design education, spilling out new possibilities and bringing forth questions about what opportunities are missed as students sit hunched over a textbook in their hometowns. The key takeaway from the trip was that travel and site engagement allows students to make multi-faceted, personal relationships with the site. While case studies, textbooks, and design stories may create a primary understanding of site design, this trip demonstrated that an in-person engagement with the built environment provides deep connections that cannot be replicated with words.

The students’ first assignment was to produce hand-drawn field sketches within simple Moleskine sketchbooks. The student could decide what the object of those sketches would be, so long as they interpreted that element’s contribution to the site as critical. Upon their return home, the students would compile their sketches into a presentation, turning some into construction documents, and writing up a synthesis for the trip.

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SJTU School of Design Launches Professional International Master of Landscape Architecture Program

by Lee Parks, CMLI, International ASLA

Masters students for the course of Metropolitan Landscape Planning and Design on a site visit with Teaching Fellow Lee Parks, International ASLA, Director and Landscape Practice Leader, AECOM, Shanghai. / image: courtesy of Lee Parks

Founded in 1896, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher education in China. At the end of 2017, the university integrated high-quality resources in the design fields, and amalgamated three departments—Architecture, Design, and Landscape Architecture—to establish the School of Design. In 2021 the School of Design launched a professional (international) master’s program in Landscape Architecture (M.LA.) and began a new initiative to create practice-oriented academic positions and further emphasize design studio teaching and talent development.

The M.LA. program aims to achieve harmony between human and nature with the comprehensive application of scientific, technical, and artistic approaches. Students who graduate from this program will be interdisciplinary, creative, international high-quality talent, engaged in the professional field of landscape architecture planning, design, construction, and management. Research focuses include: Landscape Architecture Planning and Design, Landscape Architecture History and Theory, Landscape Plant Resources and Applications, Landscape Planning, and Ecological Restoration.

To attract design practitioners from around the world with backgrounds in architecture, design, and landscape architecture, teaching fellowship positions were created. Outstanding design practitioners from leading external universities and from professional practice are employed as teaching fellows to enrich hands-on experience in design.

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Explore ASLA 2021 Conference Education Sessions On-Demand

Inside the LA Studio with James Corner Field Operations is one of the 2021 education sessions now available on / image: Jason Mallory

If you missed ASLA 2021 in Nashville or ASLA 2022 in San Francisco this November still feels far off, check out the 37 education sessions from the 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture available through ASLA Online Learning for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH).

They may be purchased as individual recordings or as packages, organized by track. Log in using your ASLA username and password for member discounts. ASLA Online Learning content, except for a few of the LARE Prep webinars, is free for Student ASLA members!

And in case you missed the 2021 general session, during which ASLA leaders Tom Mroz, FASLA, immediate past President, and Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO, answer the question What will ASLA look like in 2030?, the video is available to watch for free on Vimeo.

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Don’t Miss ASLA’s February Deadlines: Call for Presentations, a New SKILL | ED Workshop, and More

ASLA SKILL | ED Workshop

February may be a short month, but its last week is action-packed. First, the ASLA 2022 Call for Presentations closes later today, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. Then, this Friday, February 25, is the deadline to register to enter the ASLA Professional Awards, with submissions due March 18. And next Monday, February 28, is the deadline to apply for ASLA’s new SKILL | ED workshop, highlighted below.

Thoughtful Connections and Growing Impact is a 3-month business development series for emerging business owners and business development professionals. This workshop will coach professionals on how to build a business with purpose and intention. At the end of the workshop, you will have clear direction on how to create a business development plan, client engagement strategies to increase your project backlog, and the tools you need to create an accountability plan to keep you (or your team) on task.

This workshop is for you if:

  • You want to build your brand and attract your ideal clients.
  • You are looking for systems and processes to keep you focused and organized.
  • You are within the first five years of owning your own practice.
  • You are a business development professional in the landscape architecture industry.

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A New Design Guide for Nature Exploration Areas

by Lisa Howard, ASLA, and Willa Caughey

A child simultaneously developing fine and gross motor skills, executive function, and creative skills at Evergreen Brick Works. / image: Lisa Howard

For those with access, nature has been a healing salve throughout the pandemic—a safe space to interact with the outside world, stimulate the senses, and explore freely. But for the many without ready access to pockets of nature, the crisis served to amplify existing inequities and brought urgency to the already pressing need for more equal access to natural outdoor spaces, particularly for children.

Dedicated natural areas for children don’t need to be expansive or pristine to offer benefits, but access is key. Small pockets set aside for nature exploration that are within 15 minutes walking distance from children’s residences or schools can provide children daily or weekly access to experiences that regularly support their cognitive, physical, and social development in ways a traditional playground can’t.

Historically, children generally had more freedom to roam and explore their surrounding landscapes. From streets to backyards, vacant lots to forests, these unofficial spaces offered opportunities for children to learn, grow, and challenge themselves in an unstructured environment. Today, opportunities to play and explore in these types of landscapes have been significantly diminished by children’s increasingly structured lives, urban/suburban development, and the absence of “eyes on the street.” Nature Exploration Areas (NEAs) offer a model for reintroducing such landscapes—and their associated benefits—into children’s daily lives.

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Sharing the Poetics of Sustainable Landscapes

by Dr. Carl A. Smith, Int. ASLA

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Natural History Museum of Utah: A Museum Without Walls. Salt Lake City, Utah. Design Workshop, Inc. / image: Brandon Huttenlocher/Design Workshop, Inc.

As well as sharing your experiences and expertise in the professional and technical aspects of sustainable and resilient landscapes, The Field can also be a place to share your interpretive and personal reflections on the environment at large, and on the shared challenges we are facing to reconcile the optimistic practice of design with the uncertainties inherent in the climate crisis.

Through photography, drawings, paintings, poems, as well as more-linear text, ASLA’s Sustainable Design & Development Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team encourages you to think about landscapes that have provoked a wonder of nature and an ecological conscience within you. Through practice, what places have you had a hand in creating that provide an immersive, aesthetic experience for users and, through that, might inculcate a sense of environmental wonder and responsibility? The PPN welcomes ASLA members to consider submissions for The Field that are your personal, forthright reflections on the challenges of navigating through the implementation of sustainable landscapes, as well as unapologetically aesthetically-biased and/or personal documentation of built works.

This new, broadened approach was highlighted in January’s wonderful post by Alli Wilson, Earth’s Due, which included her poem “This Earth is Due Diligence.” The post concluded with hints and tips for improving the environmental performance of projects, as well as lifting practice modes and behaviors. In that sense, Alli’s post offers both a rational and actionable focus common to most Professional Practice Network (PPN) posts, as well as something more creative and reflective. I suspect that this dual approach will chime with many of the readership whose environmental sensibilities, concerns, and aspirations cannot be fully captured by the technical and professional realm, nor perhaps with reflections on a single project.

As a little further context (and encouragement) to this new approach, I offer here a few thoughts on landscape-sustainability and place-aesthetics, and how the creative impulse might weave through sustainability thinking which, as I argued in a previous post, Sustainability, Urban Resilience, and False Resilience, remains a relevant aspirational concept.

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