World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) celebrates the role of landscape architects in shaping healthy, resilient, and beautiful places for all. April brings the opportunity to promote the profession and inspire the next generation of landscape architects. Get ready to take part in all the special offerings happening next month!
Use the hashtag #WLAM2023 to showcase your work on social media and connect with participants from around the world. Tag @NationalASLA for a chance to be featured on ASLA social media profiles, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as in Landscape Architecture Magazine!
ASLA is continuing to celebrate #womeninlandscapearchitecture who are shaping our environment on social media this Women’s History Month. Last week, we recapped a first set of WILA profiles here on The Field for anyone who may have missed them. Check out that first installment for Alexandra Mei, ASLA, Angelica Rockquemore, ASLA, Sandy Meulners, ASLA, and SuLin Kotowicz, FASLA.
Today, we’re sharing the next set of profiles, of Shuangwen Yang, Associate ASLA, Heidi Hohmann, ASLA, Tristan Fields, ASLA, Joni Hammons, ASLA, and Sahar Teymouri, ASLA.
Shuangwen Yang, Associate ASLA
Who are the female role models who have influenced your career?
I admire the perseverance of journalist and activist Jane Jacobs, who was passionately and fearlessly committed to introducing sympathetic city planning and design oriented around people and communities, during an era where women’s opinions weren’t welcome in many rooms. Another role model that I look up to is landscape architect Mikyoung Kim, FASLA. Seeing someone who looks like me to thrive and continue to be a great mentor to others in a white male dominated profession makes me see myself in a similar position to make greater impact.
What advice do you have for other women pursuing a career in landscape architecture?
No matter what ups and downs you run into, always uplift your peers, deeply believe in your values, and speak confidently about your work, because somebody somewhere is inspired by what you do.
The ASLA Fund invites landscape architecture educators to develop succinct and impactful research reviews that investigate evidence of the benefits of landscape architecture solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. The goals of the research reviews are to:
Understand and summarize the current state of knowledge.
Synthesize the research literature and provide insights, leveraging key data- and science-based evidence.
Create accessible executive summaries in plain language for policymakers, community advocates, and practicing landscape architects.
Over the next few years, research grants will be issued to explore solutions to a range of issues, but these first two grants will focus on:
ASLA kicked off Women’s History Month with a post from Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) leader Lara Moffat, ASLA, on recent WILA highlights and what’s ahead for the PPN. The following week, ASLA’s Gender Equity Task Force hosted the first webinar in their speaker series, which is now available to watch on-demand: Closing the Gender Equity Gap, Advocacy in the Workplace. Check out the presentations from Jeanne Lukenda, ASLA, David Sanchez-Aguilera, Sami Sikanas, ASLA, and Ujijji Davis on how to be an advocate for yourself and for larger, impactful changes to office culture and employee benefits. Hear firsthand experiences from practitioners who are making changes in their companies through employee-driven initiatives and setting off on their own.
All throughout the month, ASLA is also celebrating #womeninlandscapearchitecture who are shaping our environment on social media, starting with ASLA leadership: three women are serving as President (Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA), Immediate Past President (Eugenia Martin, FASLA), and President-Elect (SuLin Kotowicz, FASLA). If you missed the historic moment at the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture when this trio came together, a video was made to mark this occasion, featuring Eugenia Martin, FASLA, interviewing five of her predecessors as ASLA President and her two successors about their experiences and expectations leading ASLA.
In case you’re taking a break from social media, or just happened to have missed a few of these WILA profiles, we are recapping them here on The Field. This post includes Alexandra Mei, ASLA, Angelica Rockquemore, ASLA, Sandy Meulners, ASLA, and SuLin Kotowicz, FASLA. Stay tuned for a second set of profiles next week!
As a horticulturally obsessed landscape designer for most of my adult life, I’ve observed how our landscape irrigation practices, tools, and technologies have evolved over time. In the last few decades, we have radically changed our plant irrigation practices in public and private designed spaces, particularly in the West. While using a plant palette of so called ‘drought tolerant’ species, many large commercial landscapes, and managed communities such as mine, irrigate four times per week or more in a climate that has never experienced rain with such frequency. How many regions do experience this frequency of natural rainfall? I have often wondered, why do we irrigate non-lawn areas so much?
So, I was thrilled to be a participant in the Climate-Ready Landscape Plants trial evaluations at the University of California South Coast Research Center fields in Irvine, California. I was there, clipboard in hand, as a plant performance evaluator and was not involved in the research in any other way. I did, however, discuss the research at length with those who devised the trial. It was fascinating and eye-opening.
The webinar will highlight this community-focused handbook, which was released in October 2022 and was created by Wyoming’s Teton County, the Town of Jackson, Teton Conservation District, and the Jackson Hole Land Trust. The publication serves as an introduction and an invitation to environmental stewardship.
We’ll have five presenters involved with the project:
Phoebe Coburn, Communications Specialist, Teton Conservation District
Carlin Girard, Executive Director, Teton Conservation District
Chris Colligan, Project Manager, Teton County, WY
Max Ludington, President, Jackson Hole Land Trust
Chip Jenkins, Superintendent, Grand Teton National Park
SKILL | ED offers a wide cross-section of landscape architecture professionals the practice management education that is not always gained in day-to-day work.
ASLA’s ongoing SKILL | ED programming kicked off in June 2021 with a three-day virtual practice management program, during which more than 400 landscape architecture professionals and students came together to invest in their career development. 20 sessions from SKILL | ED 2021, highlighting skills crucial to career growth, are available on-demand via ASLA Online Learning, covering topics from business development, marketing, and professional contracts to billable rates, construction administration, and effective team collaboration.
The original survey was completed in 1979; then in 1981, the Olmsted Parks & Parkway National Register Thematic District was listed on the State Register of Historic Places and in 1982 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After four decades, the documentation is outdated and lacks a complete list of the many resources the Conservancy and City of Buffalo have restored and enhanced during that time and specific information on resource types and a comprehensive history. As such, BOPC is looking for a consultant or consultancy team who will produce a document to support the Conservancy’s preservation planning work by facilitating and enhancing the project review process which protects the historic integrity of the Olmsted Parks System.
by Larry Weaner, FAPLD, Affiliate ASLA, and Sara Weaner
New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL) is pleased to announce its March-April Virtual Education Series. This accomplished group of presenters will include Julianne Schrader Ortega and Keith Green of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, landscape designer Laura Kuhn, pollinator expert Douglas Sponsler, Bill Thomas of Chanticleer, and NDAL Founder and landscape designer Larry Weaner. All will explore avenues for expanding the field of landscape design.
LA CES professional development hours will be available for several events in the series:
There’s one week left for the Call for Presentations for the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Minneapolis! Help us shape the education program by submitting a proposal by Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at 12:00 PM NOON CT.
If you’re an ASLA member, make sure you have your unique ASLA Member ID or username handy—you should use it to log into the submission system. If you’ve not yet logged into the submission site, we strongly encourage you to do so this week. Once you start your submission, you can edit your proposal until the deadline. Proposals cannot be submitted until all speakers accept the speaker terms and agreement.
Explore the track descriptions for topic ideas to help you get started (though you are by no means limited to the examples listed, of course). The Annual Conference Education Advisory Committee selected these seven tracks as priority areas for the 2023 Conference education sessions: Biodiversity; Changing the Culture in Practice; Climate Action; Design and the Creative Process; Design Implementation; Leadership, Career Development, and Business; and Planning, Urban Design, and Infrastructure.
Our session submission guides, linked below, provide detailed information on what you need to include, with expert tips on putting together a winning proposal:
Education Sessions: Education sessions are 60-, 75-, and 90-minute sessions that deliver a selection of relevant and timely topics. Session includes a minimum 50 of minutes of instruction followed by 10/15 minutes of Q&A, maximum three speakers.
Deep Dive Sessions: Deep dive sessions are interactive, in-depth, 2.5-hour programs that explore specific landscape architecture topics, maximum five speakers.
Field Sessions: Multiple speakers offer education combined with a field experience, highlighting local projects. Field sessions are organized through the local chapter.
Education session speakers selected from this process will receive a full complimentary registration to the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture.
ASLA recently launched the call for entries its 2023 Professional and Student Awards Program, with a new addition to the Professional Awards’ Analysis & Planning category: the ASLA / IFLA Global Impact Award. New for 2023, the ASLA / IFLA Global Impact Award will be presented to a project that demonstrates excellence in landscape architecture by addressing climate impacts through transformative action, scalable solutions, and adherence to ASLA’s and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA)’s climate action commitments.
The ASLA / IFLA Global Impact Award grew out of several discussion between IFLA and ASLA leadership. In August 2021, IFLA presented their Climate Action Commitment, in which they committed to collaborate with others “to champion climate positive design.” In September of the year, IFLA requested that ASLA ratify the association’s commitment to actions contained in the statement. Around the same time, IFLA’s strategic plan recommended partnering with member associations to advance awareness of the profession and its exemplary work, including associating with programs and awards. During this same time, ASLA was developing the Climate Action Plan. The confluence of the two climate documents, commitments to actions, ASLA’s interest in raising awareness of climate as part of the awards program, and IFLA’s desire to partner with associations on awards led to the formation of the ASLA / IFLA Global Impact Award.
Visual Impact Assessments (VIAs) are a technical resource report produced for transportation projects that require consideration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). VIAs evaluate visual resources—scenic views or vistas—in a project study area and develop mitigation measures to reduce or mitigate a project’s negative impacts on visual resources. Because they require landscape design, revegetation and grading expertise, these reports are often completed by landscape architects. For example, a wildlife overpass might be designed to blend in with surrounding vegetation and topography as the result of mitigation commitments established by the VIA.
NEPA is generally required for projects involving federal lands, federal dollars, or a federal agency permit. Different federal agencies have different methods for visual assessment; the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and United States Forest Service (USFS) all have varying requirements and guidance.
The 2015 FHWA Guidelines for the Visual Impact Assessment of Highway Projects provides nationwide guidance for Departments of Transportation (DOTs) completing VIAs. These guidelines state that “With the ever-increasing sophistication of computer modeling, adding vegetation and structures to [a] corridor’s topographic information to establish actual physical constraints will become increasingly possible and is preferred for the VIA.” The computer modeling discussed here is referred to as a “viewshed analysis.” A viewshed analysis is a computer algorithm or analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software that shows what area is visible from a certain location, taking into consideration obstructions like buildings, trees, and topography. The visible area is called a viewshed and is typically depicted on a map.
This past year, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) created new funding opportunities for transportation and green infrastructure projects. ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are working to share information to support landscape architects thinking about growing your practice in transportation. See below for a few ways to learn more about these new sources of funding.
– Jean Senechal Biggs, ASLA, Transportation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leader
Increase Access to Transit in Low-Income Neighborhoods
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration announced $20 million in competitive grants to help improve public transit in rural and urban areas experiencing long-term economic distress.
This grant is a part of the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program, which aims to build modern infrastructure and an equitable, climate-secure future. Specifically, the program supports increased transit access for environmental justice populations, community outreach and public engagement, and the transition to low- and no-emission vehicles and associated charging equipment.
For projects eligible under the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program, applicants should reference:
FTA Circular 8100-1D – Program Guidance for Metropolitan Planning and State Planning and Research Program Grants and
FTA Circular 9030.1E – Urbanized Area Formula Program: Program Guidance and Application Instructions.
Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation 43rd Annual Meeting Richmond, Virginia | May 24-27, 2023
Call for Papers and Posters Extended Deadline: February 20, 2023
The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2023 annual meeting theme of Richmond on the James: Stories of Landscape Transformation to be held in Richmond, VA. We envision the Richmond meeting as a landscape dialogue/exploration that addresses, analyzes, and critiques contemporary issues of the urban cultural landscape. Homelands of the Powhattans and later a major city of the American South, Richmond is situated at the fall line of the historic James River. Richmond is Virginia’s third capital city after Jamestown and Williamsburg and, for most of the U.S. Civil War, the capital of the Southern Confederacy. It is a vibrant and revitalizing modern city notable for industry, visual arts education, and medicine, but also significant for Virginia’s Capitol Square, the Richmond National Battlefield Park, historic parks, significant cemeteries, and urban streetscapes. The summer of 2020 focused attention on Richmond’s most controversial landscape of memorial monumentality glorifying the Southern Lost Cause Narrative, as well as its legacy of slavery. Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom, listed as one of the Eleven Most Endangered Sites in 2014 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was the second largest enslaved persons’ auction site in North America. As part of Richmond’s efforts to acknowledge and repair its complicated past, the city, developers, and the preservation community are exploring ways to embrace the 21st century through densifying and preserving historic neighborhoods; involving institutions of education and government; dismantling and recreating monumental landscapes; focusing attention on memorializing and redeveloping portions of its notorious Shockoe Bottom enslaved auction site; grappling with desecrated and previously ignored Black cemeteries; and celebrating the recreational and scenic opportunities of its James River location.
National publications rate Richmond as one of the best places to live, work, and visit. At the same time, Richmond is reconsidering the places of its often-painful past—many that are landscape-related. Our meeting program and explorations of Richmond will focus on these issues, with hopes that attendees will share how other places’ dilemmas and successes resonate with Richmond and national, regional, and worldwide issues.
by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA
Notes from the Inaugural Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) Book Group Meeting
Written by Lolly Tai, PhD, RLA, FASLA, with a foreword by Teri Hendy, CPSI, Letting Play Bloom: Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children is magnificent. Published in 2022 by Temple University Press, it is an elegant, rich, and beautiful accounting of the need for children to experience risk in play, because as Dr. Tai eloquently states, “Children love to play in risky ways, it’s how children learn [about themselves and others and the world around them]” (p. 3). She makes clear that risky play is not a synonym for unsafe play; rather she cites Joe Frost’s idea of risky play as being “exciting, thrilling, and challenging while at the same time keeping risk to a minimum.” Children will find their way to risky play, and as the projects in the book make clear, presenting opportunities for risky play makes children happy.
The book is organized around five projects that exemplify risky play: three from the US, one from the Netherlands, and one from Australia. Each project offers risky play opportunities for children, but in different ways. The first project is Slide Hill at the Hills, a project on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor. The next is the iconic Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California. We move on the Rotterdam in the Netherlands to learn about De Speeldernis, return back to the US for WildWoods at the Fernbank Museum, and then to the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden in Sydney, Australia.
The honors awarded by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) each year recognize individuals and organizations for their lifetime achievements and notable contributions to the profession of landscape architecture. Know someone who exemplifies excellence? Nominate them!
Nominations will be accepted through February 28 for the ASLA Medal, ASLA Design Medal, Community Service Awards, Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal, LaGasse Medals, Landscape Architecture Firm Award, Landscape Architecture Medal of Excellence, Olmsted Medal, Emerging Professional Medal, and Honorary ASLA Membership.
Any ASLA professional member or ASLA chapter may submit nominations for ASLA honors. Learn more about these prestigious awards below.
You may know that ASLA’s Online Learning website, learn.asla.org, relaunched on a new platform last fall, but did you notice that in addition to education session recordings from the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture and Professional Practice Network (PPN)-hosted webinars, there are two new additions to the Online Learning library of on-demand content? DREAM BIG with Design and SKILL | ED now have a new home!
Video content from the 2021 and 2022 editions of DREAM BIG with Design, the ASLA online learning series for grades PreK-12, is now available to stream, for free! ASLA members and educators are invited to experience DREAM BIG with Design and learn how to introduce landscape architecture to students. Access exciting sessions like “Building Neighborhoods for Disney Parks: Planning and Design with the Landscape Architects of Walt Disney Imagineering” and watch the “making-of” music video for the ASLA song, ‘The Big Idea,’ by award-winning musician Billy Jonas. Each year’s content is grouped into categories for PreK-grade 5 and middle school and high school-age learners.
ASLA Online Learning is also the new home of content from the 2021 and 2022 editions of SKILL | ED, ASLA’s ongoing practice management series, which focused on Business Development, Proposals, and Contracts, and Project Management. Discounts apply for ASLA members, so remember to log in with your existing ASLA username and password!
Designers, Artists, and Design Firms, and Interested Parties: IN-FILL PA wants YOU to participate in an exhibit of designs for in-fill spaces. IN-FILL PA seeks to engage residents, artists, designers, and firms to share their work to inspire dialogue to address in-fill spaces in communities.
The IN-FILL PA exhibition will take place at multiple venues throughout the Susquehanna Valley, Pennsylvania, this spring.
In-fill is the practice of re-purposing land for new programming. Many small towns and cities in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, have vacant lots. Often these lots sit unused for years. In some instances, communities have reassigned these spaces as outdoor amenities such as: pocket parks, playgrounds, community gardens, outdoor workspaces, meditation gardens, and performance venues. These transitions can breathe new life into underutilized spaces.
IN-FILL PA participants are asked to submit hard copies or PDFs of drawings, graphics, photo-collages, plans, and 2-D models of concept designs and implemented projects that address in-fill spaces. Before and after imagery is welcome as well as images that illustrate the process of in-fill space transformation. The exhibition is open to temporary and permanent projects.
In addition, exhibition venues will host informal charrettes encouraging residents to contribute ideas to in-fill sites in their own communities.
Your contributions to this project will serve as inspiration for local action.
While the U.S. House of Representatives considers eliminating the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis—if this sounds like an unwise course of action, be sure to tell your representative that addressing climate change remains a critical matter—elsewhere in Washington, federal agencies are hard at work creating resources and hosting programs to promote green infrastructure and other key climate adaptation strategies. Just one example, and a way to stay informed of such efforts: GreenStream is an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities, both from EPA and other federal government entities and organizations. To join the listserv, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a sense of the kind of information shared with subscribers, here’s an excerpt from last week’s GreenStream update:
The National Wildlife Federation launched a new funding microsite for communities interested in pursuing federal funding and/or technical assistance for nature-based solutions and green infrastructure projects. The interactive database allows users to search and sort the more than 70 types of federal grants that fund nature-based solutions based on factors such as eligible recipients, project purpose, and the match required. It also provides information about the typical application cycles, and contact information for each program.
For the 14th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document Working Landscapes. Historic “working” or “productive” landscapes may be agricultural or industrial and unique or traditional. Some topical working landscapes convey water for irrigation or provide flood control. Please focus your HALS report on the landscape as a whole and not on a building or structure alone. For this theme, the HAER History Guidelines may be helpful along with HALS History Guidelines.
Please contact your state ASLA Chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison if possible when you have selected a site to document for the HALS Challenge to be sure no one else is already preparing a HALS historic report for it. If your chapter’s volunteer HALS Liaison position is vacant, please consider volunteering yourself or suggesting it to a colleague who may be interested.
Short format histories should be submitted no later than July 31, 2023, to HALS at the National Park Service (c/o Chris Stevens, 202-354-2146, Chris_Stevens@nps.gov). The HALS Short Format History guidelines and digital template may be downloaded from either the NPS HALS or ASLA HALS websites. NOTE: Any updates to HALS Challenge rules and to the MS Word digital HALS Short Format Historical Report Template are reflected within the template itself. Please download and read it thoroughly before entering the competition. If you like to learn by example, you may view or download the HALS Challenge Winners from 2018 and before.
We are just getting started—the call for ASLA’s Professional and Student Awards will be coming up next, along with the chance to apply for our second SKILL | ED workshop, so stay tuned for much more.
If you are feeling especially ambitious for 2023 and are seeking out even more ways to get your name, ideas, and expertise out there, all are welcome to search offerings from allied organizations and others through ASLA’s RFQs and Opportunities page. Below, we highlight a sampling of the opportunities with deadlines coming up. And, anyone looking to share an opportunity with landscape architects may do so through the online submission form.
As the year draws to a close, we would like to thank all the Professional Practice Network (PPN) leaders and members who shared their experiences and expertise as authors for The Field blog, as hosts, presenters, and engaged audience members for Online Learning webinars, and at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco last month.
We hope that all who contributed to this shared body of knowledge have forged new connections and felt inspired by your peers in landscape architecture.
The PPNs’ 2022 in Review showcases the year’s top 10 most-viewed posts from The Field, all the webinars and virtual events hosted by the PPNs, plus ASLA Conference highlights. In case you missed the conference this year, 45 education session recordings are available through ASLA Online Learning, with a 25% off discount for members if you get four or more!
Below, we highlight the top five Field posts and this year’s webinars; for the full recap, please see the PPNs’ 2022 in Review.
Year in Review: The Field
The Field was established to give members in the field of landscape architecture a place to exchange information, learn about recent work and research, and share thoughts about emerging developments. Contributions are by members and for members, and we encourage all ASLA members with an idea or an experience to share to contribute to The Field.
Fresh content appears twice a week, and 100 posts were published in 2022.
Fellowship is among the highest honors ASLA bestows on members and recognizes the contributions of these individuals to their profession and society at large based on their works, leadership and management, knowledge, and service.
Nominations may be made by the executive committee of a chapter, the executive committee of ASLA, or the executive committee of the Council of Fellows in one of four categories:
During the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture, over 6,000 participants joined together to visualize the futures we want to see—sharing case studies and best practices among the profession and across disciplines to design a better future.
45 recorded conference education sessions are now available on-demand through ASLA Online Learning for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH).
You can purchase individual sessions or bundle and save—ASLA members can take advantage of a 25% discount when purchasing four or more conference recordings!
Those outside the landscape architecture field often think the role of a landscape architect equates to the enhancement of greenspaces within parks, office complexes, and various urban areas. Those within the field and affiliated industries realize it involves so much more.
A landscape architect typically provides planning, analysis, and creative design for all outdoor areas. The broad scope of ALL they do increases the quality of physical well-being for the local population, giving people more options for recreation, relaxation, healing, learning, and working, along with opportunities for social connection with others using the space.
A landscape architect’s role is also to play a vital part in helping to address global challenges— by thoughtfully integrating green infrastructure elements and other environmental preservation strategies whenever AND wherever possible. These methods involve the integration of natural, enhanced, and engineered assets. Natural assets, such as meadows, parks, tree canopies, soil, and wetlands, include the living and organic tools of the trade. Enhanced assets—which fall under low-impact development, including green roofs, bioswales, urban tree planting, and stormwater ponds—are utilized in various landscapes, ranging from workplace to multifamily to park environments. Engineered assets include permeable pavement, cisterns, and infiltration trenches.
Using their expertise, landscape architects provide holistic approaches to planning and managing the built environment, and landscape architecture design solutions regularly address common industry challenges we face. Many of these projects enable the shift to a carbon-neutral future by integrating innovative and occasionally all-new radical solutions. These projects include dense, walkable, mixed-use communities that connect to larger urban footprints and workplace environments, promoting functional outdoor work and physical activity—all of which help reduce emissions from transportation and urban sprawl.
While part 2 below covers a few case studies, please see part 1 of this post, published last week, for more on the scientific underpinnings of living walls.
Living Walls in Workplaces
For corporate workplaces where people spend a significant amount of time inside, living walls could vitalize the working environment, add aesthetic pleasure, and play important roles in positively impacting people’s health. According to a scientific report published by Nature, urbanization in Western cities has resulted in a lack of exposure to environmental microbes due to the increased level of hygiene, loss of biodiversity, and irregular contact with soil, which has been linked to many immune mediated diseases. Indoor green walls in urban offices can affect health-associated commensal skin microbiota and enhance immune regulation among employees . Indoor plants in the workplace were found to correlate with less sick leave, better task performance, and quicker restoration from mental fatigue [2-3].
Workplaces are embracing the idea of bringing nature inside through living walls that maximize space utilization and provide numerous biophilic features. Living walls help to achieve many goals as required by the WELL Building Standard—Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, & Mind . Duolingo, a leading tech company in the language education industry, has recently integrated several green walls that have become new attractions in their Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania headquarters.
Recent technology development makes living wall structures more flexible and designable beyond “just a green wall.” GBBN Architects’ Cincinnati office experimented with digital fabrication and augmented reality (AR) technology in their living wall design and installation. According to an interview with the living wall designers Mandy Woltjer and Troy Malmstrom, the design concept was to encourage plants to grow out of an irregular trellis that increases multi-dimensional volumes. Therefore, the plants were installed first in an AR space where the designer could precisely locate the plants in the designated position.
Results of the 13th annual HALS Challenge, Olmsted Landscapes, were announced at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture on Sunday, November 13, 2022. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. The National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) also awarded three framed certificate prizes for the best entries in the following categories: submission by a college or graduate student, work of the Olmsted firm in Ohio, and non-park work of the Olmsted Firm. This challenge resulted in the donation of 17 impressive HALS short format historical reports to the HALS collection for sites in twelve different states from coast to coast.
2022 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted, social reformer and founder of American landscape architecture. By documenting Olmsted landscapes for HALS, entrants increased public awareness of historic landscapes and illuminated the Olmsteds’ 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, were eligible (see Master List of Design Projects).
First Place: California’s North Coast Redwood Parks, Job No. 08335, HALS CA-166
Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, California
By Douglas Nelson, ASLA, Landscape Architect
California’s North Coast Redwood Parks are significant for preserving the best examples of magnificent redwood forests and the world’s tallest trees. It took foresight and stewardship to recognize that these forests would be lost to logging if active conservation efforts were not undertaken in the early twentieth century. Conservationists, including the founders of the Save the Redwoods League, saw the immense value and benefits of preserving these extraordinary natural places for future generations. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. played a key role by providing recommendations for the acquisition, management, and conservation of these parks, and for preserving the economic vitality of the region through sustainable yield forestry practices in areas outside of the parks.
The term biophilia was coined by German psychologist Erich Fromm to describe the physiological tendency towards all living-beings—the “passionate love of life and of all that is alive” . Later, E.O. Wilson and Stephen Kellert’s groundbreaking introduction of the Biophilia Hypothesis to the design disciplines helped reveal the mechanism of humans’ inherent inclination to nature and other lifelike processes from the biologistic and evolutionary perspectives . It is widely encouraged to have direct contact with nature in outdoor settings, such as roaming in the woods, gardening, or simply watching nature from a park bench. A recent scientific study found that visiting nature more than once a week was significantly associated with better health and higher quality of life . Unfortunately, most of the world’s population now lives in urban environments, with up to 95% of their lives spent on indoor activities . Luckily, there are ways to establish nature connectedness from interior spaces, such as via indoor plants and nature views .
The Multifaceted Benefits of Living Walls
According to Stephen Kellert and colleagues’ biophilic design framework, the integration of daylight, natural materials, and vegetation are the fundamental applications that reconnect people to nature. While incorporating a courtyard could be constrained by spatial programming or financial limitations, a vertical greening system could be a great substitute . A vertical greening system, also known as a vertical garden, a living wall, or simply a green wall, provides numerous benefits to the indoor occupants and the environment at large.
As outlined by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), there are different types of living wall systems. Green facades support climbing vines or cascading ground covers that are rooted in soil beds at the bottom or different levels of the structure. Living walls are pre-vegetated modules that are affixed to a vertical structure that support a much lusher mixture of plant species. Living walls can be broadly classified into three systems—the panel system, felt system, and container and/or trellis system .
Updates from the ASLA MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee
ASLA MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee (MLARC) members volunteer their time in support of MasterSpec®, a product of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The MLARC is one of a handful of review committees charged by AIA with the review of MasterSpec sections and related materials in an advisory role to AIA and Deltek. The committees review specification sections scheduled for updating, new sections, and other selected documents developed by Deltek for distribution to MasterSpec Licensed Users. Deltek is the company that produces MasterSpec, while rights to MasterSpec are owned by AIA. In addition to architects, review committees consist of mechanical and electrical engineers from across the country.
The 2020-2022 ASLA MLARC committee members included:
Phillip L. McDade FASLA, Chair
Patty King, ASLA
Wight and Company
Glen Phillips, ASLA
Thomas Ryan, FASLA
Gaylan Williams, ASLA
Jennifer Wong, ASLA
Central Park Conservancy
MasterSpec specification sections must be responsive to the changing needs of the design professions and to the changing technology of the construction industry, according to the discipline represented in each section. The MasterSpec library contains 11 sections designated as landscape architectural specifications as well as 14 others that touch on aspects of landscape architecture.