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 / @lauraschroederphotography.com

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 learn.asla.org. / 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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Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, California: An Early Olmsted Design

by Chris Pattillo, FASLA

Cogswell monument left of center and typical curvilinear plot with variety of exotic trees / image: Chris Pattillo

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.

When one thinks of Olmsted, states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, maybe Connecticut immediately come to mind, but not everyone associates the Olmsted firm with work in California, where I live. While the list of Olmsted designed projects in my state is relatively short—I’ve identified ten projects so far—some of Olmsted’s most notable and impactful work was done here in California.

Probably most notable is the planning work done for Yosemite National Park. Olmsted Sr. provided the original vision for Yosemite in 1865 and Olmsted Jr.’s statement of purpose for the National Park Service in 1916 laid the groundwork for our national park system.

The firm also developed early plans for two important university campuses in California: The University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University in Palo Alto.

One of Olmsted Senior’s earliest commissions was Mountain View Cemetery in my hometown. I documented it for HALS in 2009. For a person of such remarkable vision, it is hard to imagine that Olmsted Sr. had poor eyesight as a result of a childhood illness. It is that deficiency that kept him from fighting in the Civil War. Instead, Olmsted was charged with being an administrator setting up camp facilities for the troops, and it was this experience that later led him to be hired by John C. Fremont to manage a mining camp at the Mariposa Gold Mine in California. Olmsted arrived in Bear Valley, California, in August of 1863 and was immediately put off by what he found—a community ruled by violence, alcoholism, and exploitation. Not long after his arrival the mine closed and it was at this time that the Mountain View trustees invited him to lay out their new cemetery.

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Ecology & Restoration PPN Conference Recap and Call for Member Input

by Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, and Elyna Grapstein, Student ASLA

The Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) campfire session in Nashville / image: Jason Mallory

During the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Elyna Grapstein, Student ASLA, and Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, hosted the Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) campfire session on the EXPO floor. It brought together approximately 30 participants, including students, faculty, and design professionals, for an engaging 45-minute discussion.

During this small-group, informal session, attendees participated in a mind-mapping exercise and were encouraged to list the things that were most important to them regarding restoration initiatives. The exercise prompted a group conversation about common restoration oversights.

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Shanghai Landscape Forum: The Future of Landscape

by Lee Parks, CMLI, International ASLA

The 8th Shanghai Landscape Forum was successfully held on the afternoon of December 4, 2021 at 800-Show, a Creative Park in Jing’an District, Shanghai. The event was broadcast on four live media platforms, which received the attention of the public and many peers. / image: Shanghai Jingan International Design Festival

The community of international practitioners in China represents a dynamic group of current and future landscape architects forging collaborations and deeper connections with people and organizations that share similar values to ASLA and serve the landscape profession.

In August 2021, the three founding firms of the Shanghai Landscape Forum (SLF)—Sasaki, SWA, and AECOM—met to share ideas and focus on issues that will shape the future of international practice as China advances use of technology and strives to address climate change and restore its natural environment. The 8th Shanghai Landscape Forum theme grew out of those discussions and led to ‘The Future of Landscape,’ which was held on the afternoon of December 4, 2021 after multiple delays due to the continuous disruption from COVID. As the forum could not be attended by a live audience, the event was broadcast on four live broadcast platforms, which received the attention of the public and many peers, with some 6,000 views of the live broadcast.

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Share Your Ideas at #ASLA2022 in San Francisco: Three Weeks Left to Submit

Share your expertise at the #ASLA2022 Conference in San Francisco. Submit proposals by February 22. / image: Shen Pan on Unsplash

Call for Presentations for the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture
Deadline: Tuesday, February 22, 2022, at 12:00 NOON PT

The American Society of Landscape Architects is accepting proposals for the 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco, November 11-14. Help us shape the 2022 education program by submitting a proposal through our online system by Tuesday, February 22.

ASLA seeks education proposals that will help to drive change in the field of landscape architecture and provide solutions to everyday challenges informed by research and practice. Education tracks include:

  • Changing the Culture in Practice
  • Design and the Creative Process
  • Design Implementation
  • Leadership, Career Development, and Business
  • Olmsted & Beyond: Practice in Progress
  • Planning, Urban Design, and Infrastructure
  • Resilience and Stewardship
  • Technology: Trends and Workflow

Allied professionals are encouraged to both submit presentations and speak but are not required to be members of ASLA. Landscape architecture professionals (graduates of a landscape architecture program recognized by ASLA) wishing to present must be active members of ASLA.

Education session speakers selected from this process will receive a full complimentary registration to the Conference on Landscape Architecture.

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A New Collaboration with the Library of Congress

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Inspiring Journeys for All. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. HDLA / image: Charlie Craighead

The Library of Congress and ASLA announced a collaboration to archive the society’s Professional Award winning projects, the first time that collections representing the international landscape architecture profession will be archived by a U.S. federal institution.

While the Library of Congress has archived collections representing the professions of architecture, design, and engineering since the 1800s, this collaboration reflects the Library’s recognition of the growing significance of landscape architecture in society today. New designs will be added to the collection each year.

“This is a step forward in strengthening the connection between landscape architecture and the built environment. The chosen winners are a snapshot of the issues we face in our society each year and how landscape architects are addressing them, which also demonstrates the increasing relevance of landscape architecture to global communities,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of ASLA.

The national library’s significant collections documenting the history of landscape architecture include the papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, considered the founder of American landscape architecture, as well as a collection from the landscape architecture firm he founded. Olmsted is known for his work on New York’s Central Park, the U.S. Capitol grounds and many other landmarks. The Library also holds the original records of the American Society of Landscape Architects, dating from 1899-1966. The Historic American Landscapes Survey, begun in 2000, offers drawings and photographs for more than 900 heritage sites. A new research guide, Architecture, Design, and Engineering Collections in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, makes it possible to explore landscape design work that is within the records of many architects and photographers.

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From Community Engagement to Community Investment

by Deb Guenther, FASLA

The Ecology of Partners / image: © Mithun

The Landscape Architecture Foundation Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership was established to “foster transformational leadership capacity and support innovation to advance the field of landscape architecture.” It is an opportunity to dedicate the equivalent of three months’ time over the course of one year to nurture emerging ideas. I am honored to be one of the six current fellows. The cohort is discovering many overlapping interests, shared agendas, and mutually reinforced ideas in our work. Consequently, we’ve been thinking about ourselves as a collective—exploring multiple dimensions of the same cultural thread, like the different chapters of a book.

I am exploring the dimensions of community wealth building, defined here as “a systems approach to community development that produces a reconfiguration of institutions and local economies on the basis of greater democratic ownership, participation, and control.”

Specifically, this work focuses on shifting standard practice from community engagement to community investment by building long-term relationships between designers and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color)-led, community-based organizations.

To better understand shared values and differences between designers and BIPOC community leaders, I have created this short, anonymous survey. Through this survey I hope to learn about the ways these groups could increase collaboration to support community investment approaches to the design of the built environment.

You are invited to inform this work! The survey will be open until March 6, 2022. Please feel free to share with others—landscape architects and community-based organizations.

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Earth’s Due

by Alli Wilson

ASLA 2021 Professional Honor Award in Urban Design. The CityArchRiver Project, St. Louis, MO. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates / image: Scott Shigley

A Call for Creative Responses to Climate Change

Responses to something as sprawling, manifold, and complex as the climate change crisis can take many forms, from advocacy to art, from research to action plans. While the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is accepting video submissions from emerging artists on the climate change emergency, here on The Field, the Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (PPN) is seeking creative responses to climate change from landscape architects. Today, we are featuring a poem by Alli Wilson, along with more from Alli on what inspired her to write. We welcome your submissions, and look forward to highlighting other entries here on The Field in the future.
– ASLA’s Sustainable Design and Development PPN leadership team

This Earth is Due Diligence

Tell me, landscape architect
Do you truly think
Our environment is resilient
Or is it more on the brink

Is earth and its climate
Healthy, equitable, and safe
Or against our core values
Is reality starting to chafe

We claim we are stewards
Protecting this earth
Yet of meaningful actions
I am finding a dearth

Individual colleagues
Do good work, to be sure
But we can’t all then claim
To be part of the cure

So let’s turn our mission
Into more than a statement
Those old wasteful habits
Let’s see more abatement

Those large format sheets
We print every day
The educational lunches
All in their own tray

Those shipments of rock
With tons of emission
When we look for materials
Let’s source with contrition

Planting non-natives
Pushes birds off that land
Their inevitable extinction
Then goes hand-in-hand

We focus on aesthetics
While the planet gets hotter
Will boulder color matter
If a project’s under water?

Invasives, like cigarettes
Once thought of as healthy
We know now it’s untrue
Yet we still plant them plenty

Just stop with the bottles
Of single use plastic
For community meetings
Carboys aren’t all that drastic

Leave that leaf litter
To naturally decompose
Don’t have it removed
That system just blows

We drive cars to meetings
A quick bike ride away
And should insist irrigation
Is recycled or grey

Have on-site compost
Built into designs
Why ship fertilizer
You can make it just fine

With metal structures
Bolt it, don’t weld
This makes reuse easy
When it needs to be felled

Our furnishing choices
Have long enough lumbered
Use reused, then recycled
You’ll feel unencumbered

Concrete doesn’t cure
Our problems at all
The soil can’t breathe
Plus emissions aren’t small

Until addressing these costs
Is part of each build
Our title of steward
Remains unfulfilled

If we do this right
It’s our time to shine
Our potential is sitting
Like fruit on the vine

Let’s set industry standards
Our peers by our side
So construction isn’t wasteful
But pointed to with pride

So let us start small
With our own pollution
Be more than a profession
Let’s be a solution

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New Opportunities for the New Year

Opportunities and RFQs

Now is the time to explore opportunities and prepare for what’s ahead, with the new year still before us. While you may already be familiar with ASLA’s current open calls—for honors nominations (due February 4), presentations for the 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture (due February 22), entries for the Professional Awards (due March 18), and entries for the Student Awards (due May 23)—all are welcome to find even more offerings from allied organizations and others through ASLA’s RFQs and Opportunities page.

Below, we highlight a sampling of the opportunities and competitions listed currently. And, anyone looking to share an opportunity with landscape architects may do so through the online submission form.


National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program
Deadline: March 1, 2022

Requests for Proposals and Qualifications

Framework Plan for Washington Park, Chicago
Deadline: February 2, 2022

Competitions, Awards, and Calls for Submissions

Call for Speakers for LABash
Deadline: January 31, 2022

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Equity at Work: Designing an Inclusive and Equitable Workplace Culture

by Jake Minden

image: Equity at Work Report

Equity at Work: Designing an Inclusive and Equitable Workplace Culture is a collaborative research project between University of Washington MLA Graduate Jake Minden, The College of Built Environments Applied Research Consortium, and Mithun.


Built environment design professionals are responsible for myriad spaces that contribute to positive or negative effects on societal health, well-being, and happiness. Who designs the built environment (representation), and how they do it (equitable practice) matters. Improving the representation and retention of design practitioners from historically excluded racial and ethnic minority groups and developing more equitable and inclusive workplace practices is imperative to reduce the negative effects of white supremacy in built environment design practice and the built environment itself.

Many racist barriers in need of removal exist within the design professions, from K-12 to post-secondary education to professional development and leadership. The scope of this research focuses on workplace culture as it relates to the retention of employees from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority communities.

Workplace culture is traditionally seen as top-down and defined by the leaders of a firm or organization. However, as workplaces become increasingly adaptable to a rapidly changing world and workforce, employees are expressing more agency in shifting workplace cultural norms and expectations. Independent of who creates workplace culture, it is ubiquitous to all firms and organizations, unspoken, and dynamic. Positioning workplace culture as a tool for or against white supremacy in the workplace places significant social and ethical responsibility onto those designing or influencing workplace culture. This research asks built environment design professionals to identify weaknesses within their workplace cultures and to empower professionals with information and concrete options for improving equitable practices.

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ASLA in Nashville: Planting Design and Transportation PPN Meeting Recap

by the Transportation PPN leadership team

At the Transportation and Planting Design PPNs’ joint session, the conversation focused on best practices to incorporate pollinator habitats along transportation corridors and approaches to fight back against invasive species. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out the reading & resources list prepared by Planting Design and Transportation PPN leaders. / image: Alexandra Hay

For the 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, the Transportation Professional Practice Network (PPN) teamed up with the Planting Design PPN to engage in a lively campfire discussion about planting design for pollinators.

Pollinator planting has been and remains a hot topic (see the December 9, 2021 Field post by Liia Koiv-Haus, ASLA, “Making Space for Pollinators,” and “Roadside Realm” from the March 2021 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine). Both PPNs agreed that preserving pollinator habitat is important, but the methods and resources used to create habitat differed. This is due, in part, to the landscape scales in which each PPNs’ members typically practice. Other differences included maintenance abilities and strategies, budgets, and “owner” motivation. Planting design practitioners are often hired by property owners intent on creating habitat; transportation practitioners are usually required to justify spending public dollars on habitat creation and not on other, more easily justifiable, competing interests (such as roadway improvements and accessibility).

Transportation PPN leaders started the discussion by outlining federal and state resources that departments of transportation (DOTs) use to inform policy and practice decisions about pollinators. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration’s Pollinators and Roadsides: Best Management Practices for Managers and Decision Makers is the primary reference for state transportation agencies. The document elaborates on a variety of techniques used by state DOTs, four of which also appeared in Liia Koiv-Haus, ASLA’s “Making Space for Pollinators”—altered mowing practices, reduced herbicide use, protection of existing stands of native vegetation, and re-seeding efforts post construction.

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The 2022 HALS Challenge: Olmsted Landscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Rockefeller Carriage Roads, HAER ME-13, Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

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 (see Master List of Design Projects).

The Olmsted Research Guide Online (ORGO) and Olmsted Online are helpful research tools. You may search for records held at the Olmsted National Historic Site and the Olmsted collections at the Library of Congress. The copyright status of some of these materials is uncertain, so please do not reproduce the graphics in your HALS documentation. You may analytically write about and cite them instead.

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Recognizing Outstanding Contributions to the Profession of Landscape Architecture

Magdalena Aravena, ASLA, receiving the Emerging Professional Medal from Immediate Past President Tom Mroz, FASLA, at the 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville. / image: Jason Mallory

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.

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, February 4, 2022, 6:00 p.m. (Eastern), 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.

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2021 in Review: Professional Practice Networks Highlights

2021, in short: 20 webinars. 100 blog posts. Reconnecting in Nashville.

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 last month.

Below, we highlight the top five Field posts and webinars; for the full top ten of each, plus PPN highlights from the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, please see the PPNs’ 2021 in Review.

And, in case you missed the conference this year, the first batch of education session recordings from Nashville are available on the ASLA Online Learning website; additional recordings will be added early in the new year.

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 2021.

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Chicago’s Obama Presidential Center Pursues SITES & LEED

by Paul Wessel

Obama Presidential Center
Photo courtesy of the Obama Foundation

We are delighted and honored that Chicago’s Obama Presidential Center has announced its plans to achieve LEED v4 Platinum, SITES Silver, and International Living Future Institute (ILFI) Zero Energy certification.

The most pertinent to ASLA members is their commitment to the SITES certification, a comprehensive certification system for creating sustainable and resilient land development projects. SITES 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.

The Center is a historic opportunity to build a world-class museum and public gathering space on the South Side of Chicago that celebrates our nation’s first African American President and First Lady. It will host the offices of the Obama Foundation, a library, collaborative space for residents of Chicago’s South Side, a renewed and reinvigorated park, and a children’s play area.

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The 2021 HALS Challenge Winners: Historic Black Landscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

First Place 2021 HALS Challenge Winner: Golden Gate Village, HALS CA-158. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Results of the 12th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Historic Black Landscapes, were announced at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville on November 21, 2021. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes will be awarded to the top four submissions (there was a tie for third place). This challenge resulted in the donation of 26 impressive HALS short format historical reports and a few measured drawings to the HALS collection for sites in 19 different states from coast to coast.

Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. From plantations to segregated cities, the nation’s landscapes retain the physical manifestations of our racist history. Yet historic Black landscapes also represent creative achievements and reflect Black culture. By documenting historic Black landscapes participants helped expand our understanding of America’s past and future, revealing patterns of community that have been built over the course of four hundred years.

First Place: Golden Gate Village, HALS CA-158
Sausalito, California
By Douglas Nelson, ASLA, RHAA Landscape Architects
Golden Gate Village is significant as a post-World War II public housing project that was created with a goal of providing a racially integrated community based on progressive social and environmental ideals.

Second Place: River View Farm, HALS VA-87
Charlottesville, Virginia
By Liz Sargent, FASLA, Principal, Liz Sargent HLA, with Steve Thompson, Dede Smith, and Nell Boeschenstein
Situated on a hill above the South Rivanna Reservoir five miles from the center of Charlottesville, River View Farm affords an unusual opportunity to understand an African American family farm of the post-Emancipation era.

Third Place (Tie):
Beltane Ranch, HALS CA-162
Glen Ellen, California
By Arthur Dawson, of Baseline Consulting, Kara Brunzell, of Brunzell Historical, and Janet Gracyk
Beltane Ranch is significant for its association with civil rights advocate and businesswoman Mary Ellen Pleasant, and the fact that Beltane has been run largely by women ever since she bought the property 125 years ago.

City Hall Park (Oscar Grant Plaza), HALS CA-157
Oakland, California
By Cecilia Distefano, Kelly Flairty, Cathy Garrett, ASLA (CA PLA, NVLA, LEED AP, CLARB), Evan MacGregor, Petra Marar, ASLA, Adrienne Newton, ASLA (CA PLA), Grace Tada, Assoc. ASLA, and Kari Tanaka (CA PLA, ULI)
Oscar Grant Plaza—unofficially eponymously named in honor of the Black East Bay resident killed by San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police in 2009—served as a central destination for protests, civil disobedience, vigils, art, and other public actions of the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter uprising for racial justice.

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Making Space for Pollinators

by Liia Koiv-Haus, ASLA

Black-eyed susans and solar panels
image: OpenEI / Creative Commons Zero

At least one third of the food we eat and 75% of flowering plants depend on pollinators: bees, butterflies, moths, bats, birds, wasps, beetles, and other insects (Natural Resources Conservation Service). Meanwhile, pollinator decline is happening due to loss of habitat, disease, parasites, and changing climate. In 2015-2016, 44% of managed bee colonies in the U.S. were lost (Bee Informed Partnership). Continuous declines in bee populations have caused prices for renting bees to skyrocket to four times the price they were in 2004. Data on wild pollinators is lacking, but overall pollinators are declining in 70% of countries due to changing land use patterns, pesticides, and other factors (Apidologie).

In 2014, the Obama Administration established a Pollinator Health Task Force with representatives from departments, agencies, and offices. This task force developed a National Pollinator Health Strategy with an action plan to conduct research on pollinators and restore habitat, prioritizing high risk areas. The action plan involved data collection, sharing, and modeling; strategies for creating affordable seed mixes, especially on post-fire restoration projects; preventing pollinator exposure to pesticides; producing a public education plan; and developing public-private partnerships. A major goal was to increase sheer land area of pollinator habitat, which has spurred strategic planning efforts.

One example strategy to promote pollinator health has been the “colocation” of solar panels and plants to maximize land use benefits: planting native wildflowers and grasses among rows of solar panels.

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The Architecture of Landscape Architecture Practices

by Yujia Wang, ASLA

Mountain View Pavilion
Mountain View Pavilion, a small, 200-square-meter service complex including a medical room, an accessible restroom, a small café, and plenty of public space. Designed by Urban Narratives Office L+P 一场景观规划

I have always thought the name of our profession to be very interesting—the phrase “landscape architecture,” a name that embodies a compelling combination and intersection of nature and the humanities. This may have even been one of the reasons I was drawn to enter the field in the first place.

Of course, the second half of the phrase, “architecture,” originally indicated “design” in general. As Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. wrote in his letter to Charles Eliot in 1886, “I prefer that we should call ourselves Landscape Architects…rather than landscape gardeners…because the former title better carries the professional idea. It makes more important the idea of ​​design.”

Interestingly, in recent years, I have discovered that the real, literal “architecture” aspect of landscape architecture is more and more reflected in my practice.

Part of this points to the fact that (small) architecture—some call it parkitecture—is oftentimes an inherent part of public space (for larger-scale  spaces, at least). Some of these architectural pieces are there to carry basic service functions, such as public restrooms, shower rooms, etc.; others provide operable square footage for the park: the likes of cafés, mini libraries, stages, galleries, and so on. They are a part of the programming and energize the public space. In the design of several large parks that I undertook, our landscape architecture office being the lead consultant, architectural design of this nature was considered by the client as a part of the overall scheme.

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Climate Action Now: Landscape Architects as Climate Advocates

Climate Action Now presenters Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, Scott Bishop, ASLA, April Philips, FASLA, Pamela Conrad, ASLA, and Adrian Smith, FASLA / image: courtesy of Adrian Smith

During the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, representatives from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee (CAC) shared how ASLA is advocating for the landscape architecture community to have a voice in the international conversation on climate action, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s recent COP26.

Committee leaders discussed communications, action, advocacy, and working together with international coalitions to scale up the new inclusive, climate-smart planning and design practices required to achieve zero emissions in the built environment by 2040. Our presenters were:

  • Scott Bishop, ASLA, Climate Action Committee (CAC) Chair, Bishop Land Design
  • Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, CAC Immediate Past Chair
    Pamela Conrad, ASLA, CMG Landscape Architecture, Climate Positive Design
  • April Philips, FASLA, April Philips Design Works
  • Adrian Smith, FASLA, ASLA Vice President of Professional Practice, NYC Parks and Recreation

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The 2021 ASLA Conference in Review: Professional Practice Network Highlights from Nashville

The 2021 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk / image: Alexandra Hay

Practice Basecamp at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville earlier this month was the EXPO’s hub for practice-focused programming, including fast-paced Game Changer talks and presentations from ASLA’s Climate Action Committee and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (stay tuned for announcements of the 2021 HALS Challenge winners and the 2022 HALS Challenge theme, coming to The Field soon!).

Today we are taking a look back at the campfire sessions organized by ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). These conversation-focused events were opportunities to meet and network with other ASLA members and conference attendees, allowing for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge-sharing. In case you missed the conference this year, we hope the photos below provide a glimpse of all the goings-on in Practice Basecamp.

For those interested in watching recordings of education sessions that took place in Nashville, many sessions will be available on-demand via ASLA Online Learning in the coming weeks.

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Sustainability, Sustainable Landscape Metrics, and SITES

Grant Park Gateway, Atlanta, GA / image: The Sustainable SITES Initiative®

Take a survey to show your sustainable landscape knowledge!

A research team is looking to understand landscape architecture professionals’ knowledge, interest, and participation in sustainable landscape design and sustainable landscape metrics.

They’ve released an anonymous survey and are hoping that you will weigh in. The survey explores the relationship between professionals’ interest in sustainable landscapes and knowledge of and participation with sustainable landscape metrics.

The research team includes:

  • Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, ASLA Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) Co-Chair
  • Michael Ross, ASLA, SITES AP, Assistant Professor, School of Landscape Architecture, The University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • Kathryn Nelson, ASLA, SITES AP, Instructor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Texas Tech University
  • Olivia Sievers Ross, SITES AP, Hinoki Designs

You may notice that those involved are SITES APs. In fact, the survey partially focuses on the SITES certification. The SITES certification promotes sustainable and resilient landscape development. It 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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