Designing for Health: How SITES Improves Quality of Life

by Sonja Trierweiler

image: photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker on Unsplash

Only 11 percent of people associate terms like “green space” and “green building” with creating an environment in which people live longer and healthier lives. Improved air quality is proven to increase cognitive function and decision-making skills, and connection to nature and natural materials promotes human health and wellbeing—yet only 11 percent of people see and understand this link.

This number came from research conducted as part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Living Standard campaign, which was launched at Greenbuild Chicago in November 2018. Living Standard aims to promote healthier, safer, more equitable, and more sustainable spaces through research, storytelling, and listening to those both inside and outside of our communities.

The Living Standard Report, Volume I, found that only 11 percent of people surveyed associated terms like “green space” and “green building” as strongly related to creating a healthy environment. The graph above shows different words and phrases associated with the environment and being green. Survey takers were asked: which THREE words or phrases are MOST STRONGLY / LEAST related to creating an environment that lets you live a longer and healthier life? / image: The Living Standard Report, Volume I

Our research has found that there are a number of ways we can help people connect the dots, including relating green spaces back to health and safety outcomes, future generations, and environmental stakes. But ultimately, it boils down to storytelling and localization.

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Submit Your Ideas for the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture

Miami Beach Soundscape by West 8 / image: photo by Robin Hill ©

The American Society of Landscape Architects is now accepting proposals for the 2020 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami through January 23.

The ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture is the largest gathering of landscape architects and allied professionals in the world—all coming together to learn, celebrate, build relationships, and strengthen the bonds of our incredibly varied professional community.

We are seeking education proposals that will help to drive change in the field of landscape architecture and solve everyday challenges informed by research and practice. Help us shape the 2020 education program by submitting a proposal through our online system by Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

New for 2020

The conference education program will be organized across dynamic conference tracks designed to help you focus on the challenges that are most important to you. Before you submit your proposal, prepare by reviewing the 2020 conference tracks and descriptions. For your submission, select one of 14 tracks that represent topics most relevant to the practice of landscape architecture and cross sector collaborations today.

Please visit the submission site to learn more about criteria, the review process, and key dates. ASLA members are invited to log in to the online system using their unique ASLA ID.

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Two Women [Re]Making Wikipedia History

by TJ Marston, ASLA

image: Alexandra Mei

Starting this Sunday, December 8, the The Wikipedia Project is taking over the WxLA Instagram!

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WiLA PPN)’s new Wiki Officer, Alexandra Mei, Associate ASLA, and her research partner Shira Grosman, Student ASLA, created The Wikipedia Project to share their work promoting the history of women in landscape architecture in Wikipedia.

“As a shared and open resource, Wikipedia provides a public platform for us to acknowledge and celebrate the groundbreaking work that women have contributed to the field.”
– Alexandra Mei, WiLA Wiki Officer

The takeover will last one week, December 8 – December 14, so make sure you follow @w_x_la to catch it all!

Wiki Writers:

Alexandra Mei, Associate ASLA, is a landscape designer at Merritt Chase and a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis. She recently completed a two-year research fellowship from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, focused on the patterns of weathering and decay in the design of public landscapes. Alexandra graduated from WashU with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and from Harvard GSD with her masters in landscape architecture. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives in St. Louis.

Shira Grosman, Student ASLA, is a Masters Candidate in Landscape Architecture at Harvard GSD. She has worked in landscape architecture and architecture firms in New York and Los Angeles and conducted multiple research projects on women in design. She is currently co-editor of Womxn in Design‘s Bibliography on Identity Theories. Shira graduated from WashU with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

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Nature’s Capacity to Create a Lifetime Home

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Farmer David, age 4, helping to create our first family garden. / image: Amy Wagenfeld

I think that my commitment to nature all started with my childhood home. I grew up in a very busy Midwestern household, the oldest of four children, with two transplanted Brooklyn, New York academics for parents. My parents’ prior experience with plants and gardening was nil. Nonetheless, upon purchasing our home in Southwest Michigan, they tackled installing a vegetable garden in our suburban home with great zest and enthusiasm; determined to be farmers and to cast aside their collective urban world view. Their interest in the garden rapidly waned, but much to their surprise, their six-year-old daughter (me) took to the dirt with unfettered passion and zeal.

I quickly found that tending to the garden was a means to escape from three pesky younger siblings and find quiet and solitude amongst the veggies. It was my place in our home, a place where I felt most attached and connected and whole. The garden was where I wanted to be whenever I could. When it came time to harvest, I can still recall, half a century later, a sense of sheer wonder and delight in what I, as a little six-year-old girl, had nurtured all summer long. I can point to those early experiences in our vegetable garden as the catalyst for what would ultimately define my professional work and lifelong love of gardening and nature as a means to define home and to enhance the human experience.

As an occupational therapy educator, researcher, and landscape design consultant, my work focuses on how experiences in nature impact health and wellbeing. I am increasingly interested in how childhood experiences with nature can enrich parent-child as well as place attachment relationships and buffer the impact of trauma. We want our children to develop healthy and secure attachment relationships with their caregivers and to home and to be whole. These relationships may be nurtured through experiences in nature.

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Natchitoches in the Red River Valley: A Confluence of Cultures

by Brenda Williams, ASLA

Front Street, Natchitoches
Front Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana / image: Brenda Williams

The 42nd Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation
Natchitoches, Louisiana, April 2-4, 2020
Deadline for Paper and Poster Submissions: January 10, 2020
Deadline for Student Scholarship Applications: January 17, 2020

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2020 annual meeting theme of Natchitoches in the Red River Valley: A Confluence of Cultures, to be held in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Program Committee invites proposals for papers and summaries of works in progress that will promote lively and thoughtful discussions regarding cultural landscape conservation and preservation. In particular, submissions that address the role and significance of transnational immigration, cultural exchange and adaptation (especially from French, Caddo Indian, Spanish, African and American cultures), landscapes of segregation, enslavement and the establishment of free communities, topics regarding political and religious landscapes, and examples of best practices regarding the conservation and preservation of historic and cultural landscapes are all actively encouraged.

These themes will be reinforced by organized visits to locations such as Los Adaes, the former capitol of Spanish Texas; the Melrose Plantation, founded by a free person of color and transformed into an artist colony; the Magnolia Plantation, where we will experience a bousillage demonstration; and a trip to downtown Natchitoches to tour the national historic landmark district, including stops at the Kaffee-Frederick General Mercantile, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the Lemee House.

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PPN Live in San Diego: Professional Practice Network Events Recap

The Women in Landscape Architecture Walk in downtown San Diego’s Horton Plaza Park. / image: Alexandra Hay

The ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture concluded this past Monday, and now it’s time to review the array of Professional Practice Network (PPN) events that took place in San Diego last weekend. The EXPO’s PPN Live space offered meeting rooms and a central stage; four PPN sessions that took place on the PPN Live stage offered 1.0 PDH (LA CES / HSW) each and covered topics from planning resilient university campuses to the current state of knowledge of environmental justice in landscape architecture practice.

During the PPN meetings, while members were gathered to network and learn, new leadership volunteers were identified for many PPNs, along with members interested in submitting posts for The Field or presenting ASLA Online Learning webinars. All ASLA members are welcome to join their PPN’s leadership team, the core group of member volunteers that guide PPN activities throughout the year. If you would like to learn more about getting involved, check out the ways to engage with the PPNs and sign up to join your PPN leadership team.

Below, we take a look back at PPN Live in San Diego. More photos from all conference events may be found across social media—just search for the hashtag #ASLA2019 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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LAAB Accreditation Standards: Public Comments Welcome

by Kristopher D. Pritchard

Paul Labus, from The Nature Conservancy, with students
ASLA 2019 Student Honor Award in Student Collaboration. Before the City, there was the Sand: Designing a Resilient Calumet TER/RAIN. Calumet City, IL. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign / image: Mary Pat McGuire, ASLA

Through December 15, 2019, the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) will host a public comment review period for the 2016 LAAB Accreditation Standards.

Pursuant to the LAAB Accreditation Procedures, LAAB is tasked with conducting ongoing and comprehensive reviews of its accreditation standards to verify they adequately evaluate educational quality and are relevant to the educational needs of landscape architecture students.

Every five years, LAAB conducts long-term reviews to determine if the current standards, when viewed as a whole and individually, are adequate to assess the quality of landscape architecture education programs and pertinent to the education and training needs of students. LAAB last approved revisions to the standards in 2016 as part of its periodic review.

Starting November 1, LAAB will host a public comment review period for the 2016 LAAB Accreditation Standards. Interested individuals should submit comments and revisions of the LAAB Accreditation Standards on or before December 15.

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ASLA Conference Education Session Highlights, Part 2

The 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture begins tomorrow, November 15, in San Diego! In addition to the events planned for PPN Live, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team also reviews the conference education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 120 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 21 professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the conference website and mobile app by keyword, topic area, speaker, who should attend, and PDH type offered (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, FL, NY, GBCI CE, GBCI SITES, ISA, and more).

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

See below for the education sessions in each PPN topic area, or click the PPN name above to jump to that section.

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ASLA Conference Education Session Highlights, Part 1

The 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture begins this Friday in San Diego! In addition to the events planned for PPN Live, each Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team also reviews the conference education program to highlight sessions relevant to their practice areas. With more than 120 courses, allowing attendees to earn up to 21 professional development hours (PDH), it is an extensive program to explore, and you can do so through the conference website and mobile app by keyword, topic area, speaker, who should attend, and PDH type offered (LA CES/HSW, LA CES/non-HSW, FL, NY, GBCI CE, GBCI SITES, ISA, and more).

If you can’t make it to San Diego this year, several sessions will be recorded and shared as Online Learning webinars so you can still learn about the latest in landscape architecture and earn PDH on demand.

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

See below for the education sessions related to each PPN practice area, or click the PPN name above to jump to that section.

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EXPO Education: Professional Development on the Show Floor

The 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego offers many opportunities to learn and network during the largest gathering of landscape architects in the world. In addition to general sessions, education sessions, deep dives, field sessions, and workshops taking place Friday through Monday, November 15-18, ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) and the EXPO’s Learning Lab offer ways to earn professional development hours (PDH) right on the show floor with:

Access to these EXPO education offerings are included in your conference registration; only professional registrants are eligible to earn PDH.

PPN Meetings for PDH

Campus Planning & Design PPN Meeting
Saturday, November 16, 9:45 – 10:45 am
1.0 PDH LA CES / HSW

Campus Resilience in San Diego, from Planning to Operations

Like many places around the globe, San Diego campuses are considering the potential future impacts of climate change and what it means to have resilient campuses in this region. Two perspectives will be explored to illustrate a range of approaches to location-specific considerations for these campus landscapes.

Speakers:

  • Krista Van Hove, ASLA, Standford University
  • Katharyn Hurd, ASLA, AICP, Urban Designer and Planner, Page
  • Michael Zilis, ASLA, Walker Macy

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PPN Live in San Diego: Professional Practice Network Events Preview

San Diego's Balboa Park

PPN Live at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego this month includes an array of events for attendees to network with colleagues and engage with ASLA’s 20 Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) in person, including PPN meetings, education sessions, and practice area-focused guided walks around the EXPO floor.

Want to make the most of your PPN experience at the conference? Set your own PPN agenda! Check out the schedule below and plan to earn professional development hours with a selection of meetings and sessions. Participate in a live session, network with your peers and product exhibitors in a guided walk around the show floor designed for your PPN, and make new connections within your practice area of landscape architecture.

Saturday, November 16

9:30 – 10:15 am

9:45 – 10:45 am

11:00 am – 12:15 pm

12:30 – 1:30 pm

1:00 – 1:45 pm

3:30 – 4:45 pm

Sunday, November 17

10:15 – 11:00 am

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

11:30 am – 12:15 pm

12:30 – 1:15 pm

12:45 – 1:45 pm

2:00 – 3:00 pm

Monday, November 18

8:00 – 10:00 am

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Scholarship Season is Here

by Lisa J. Jennings

At Duke University's West Campus, the elevated pedestrian bridge provides for shady relaxation at the garden's edge.
ASLA 2018 Professional Honor Award in General Design. Legacy and Community: Juxtaposing Heritage and Invention for Duke University’s West Campus. Reed Hilderbrand LLC Landscape Architecture. / image: James Ewing

Typically, February 1 to April 1 is the busiest time of year for scholarship application deadlines.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) are among many organizations that offer a variety of scholarships, awards, competitions, fellowships, and other funding options for students pursuing degrees and careers in landscape architecture.

Take a moment to bookmark the ASLA Scholarships and LAF Scholarships pages, then set aside time to review the full list of available opportunities, many with an application deadline of February 1 or 15.

Tips for getting ready:

  • Begin your scholarship search now (if you haven’t already)
  • Make a submission materials checklist for each scholarship
  • Understand eligibility criteria
  • Highlight deadlines
  • Ask for recommendations ASAP
  • Begin drafting essay responses
  • Meet BEAT deadlines

Both the ASLA and LAF webpages feature new opportunities specifically designed to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession. A few are listed below, but don’t stop there. Ask friends, teachers, and colleagues if they know of funding opportunities offered by firms or other organizations.

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Working as a Charrette Landscape Architect, Part 2

by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP

Interdisciplinary team members at work in a charrette studio
In a charrette studio, team members from different firms and disciplines mix up and work at tables together. / image: Daniel Ashworth

Part 2: The Studio, Tools, and Lessons Learned

In part one of this series, I introduced and described the charrette concept and talked about its benefits for larger planning projects. In this post, I would like to get into what the design studio looks like, how to set up a studio space, the tools you should and could bring, and some lessons learned.

The Studio

A charrette studio is normally set up as a series of tables, most of which are working tables for team members to sit with their computers and/or drawing tools. The first things normally identified are the electrical outlet locations, as that has the biggest impact on table locations. There is usually a large table dedicated to layout/team gathering discussions or large drawings and models. One or two tables are also set up either on one side or around the corner from the charrette studio to have the technical committees and stakeholder meetings. And finally, there is usually a wall that is kept blank for pinups or to be projected on for a slideshow.

As the charrette is in progress, it is always good practice to cover up the walls with base maps and images and then replace those with each day’s production as the charrette progresses. This helps the design team find information for their work quickly, and also helps to show the public that work is occurring. When we can’t have the studio on the physical site, we have rented bicycles for team members to get to the site, and usually someone on the design team rents a car.

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Working as a Charrette Landscape Architect, Part 1

by Daniel Ashworth, Jr., PLA, ASLA, AICP

Landscape architect Daniel Ashworth working on street cross sections
The author working on street cross sections for a small area study in Memphis, TN. / image: Alexander Preudhomme, Opticos Design, Inc.

Working in design charrettes is a unique experience usually reserved for architects and planners working in firms aligned with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), using the ideas and procedures codified by Bill Lennertz through the National Charrette Institute (NCI). However, in the last five to eight years I have noticed more landscape architecture services being pulled into the charrette process, and with increasing frequency, landscape architects are leading multidisciplinary charrettes.

A design charrette is a three- to five-day intensive, focused, and collaborative workshop usually held on the project site or as close to the site as possible within the project’s community. The setting and nature of the charrette gets the project’s team members out of the distracted design office environment and into the same room together. Being on site means the project team is designing in public and are able to get immediate feedback from the public and project stakeholders through open studio hours and presentations during charrette week. The charrette process allows team members to access the project site whenever necessary, and it allows for the in-person team collaboration that leads to a better and more coordinated project and higher quality places. From a project management standpoint, a charrette can also be a cheaper and more efficient way to get the majority of project work done, even in light of the travel and lodging costs.

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Landscapes for Better Mental Health

by David Cutter, ASLA, SITES AP

Family playing on grassy area in front of building
Bringing nature closer to urban residents has positive effects on mental health. / image: Agung Pandit Wiguna, Pexels

Over 150 years ago, the nascent profession of landscape architecture was championing the intersection of public health and the design of our cities and landscapes. Frederick Law Olmsted argued convincingly for the necessity of large urban parks where residents of all social classes could connect with nature, breathe fresh air, and engage in recreation. However, it’s only been over the last couple decades that the effects of spending time in nature have been examined in a more rigorous manner, and the benefits have begun to be analyzed and quantified. Particularly in the area of mental health, the myriad of ways that contact with nature contributes to our health and well-being has been validated by numerous scientific investigations.

In the article from Stanford University re-posted below, researchers describe the Stanford Natural Capital Project and their plans to create a new software platform called InVEST that will help designers incorporate mental health considerations into the development and design of public parks.

Those landscape architects in the field of campus planning and design are probably familiar with the growing evidence that there is a mental health crisis among students on our college campuses. “A 2015 National Collegiate health assessment found that 37 percent of college students they surveyed felt so depressed within the last 12 months that they had difficulty functioning,” says Don Rakow of Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science. “It also found that 59 percent felt overwhelming anxiety.”

In this article from Cornell University, Don and his colleagues at Cornell are piloting a Nature Rx (prescription) program to use the renowned natural beauty of the campus landscape and surrounding open spaces to “somehow mitigate the prevalence of psychological problems among the large and diverse student body.” The initial success of this initiative has led to a book highlighting the value of Nature Rx programs and profiling four different programs in American colleges.

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Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Julie Moir Messervy, Part 2

by Lisa Bailey, ASLA

The Toronto Music Garden
The Toronto Music Garden / image: Virginia Weiler

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Julie Moir Messervy

The first part of this interview with Julie Moir Messervy, owner of Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio (JMMDS), covered inspiration and the creative process. This week in part 2, the conversation continues with questions on marketing, post-occupancy research, maintenance, and challenges encountered.

How do you market your firm?

We don’t market except through our blogs and newsletters. I used to do a lot of lecturing, and I still do some, but I’ve been very busy lately. I learned from a marketing course that all of my books are marketing devices, but I never did them for that reason; I did them because I had something to say.

We’re lucky to have great projects come to us through word of mouth. The American Public Gardens Association has been a wonderful source of botanical garden work. We love designing for cemeteries, which are very spiritual and the most important healing gardens of all. You really have to get the details right there. When somebody you love dies, you grasp how important that work is. To make a place that feels comfortable, and yet a little bit transcendent—it’s one of my favorite challenges.

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A New Resource on the Visual Assessment of Landscapes

by James F. Palmer, PhD, PLA, FASLA

Research visualization
A visualization of the subject domains of 1,841 citations in the visual assessment and landscape perception literature based on keyword co-occurrence. The colored lines represent links between themes, and the size of the circle represents the frequency of occurrence. / image: James F. Palmer

Announcing: Landscape and Urban Planning Special Collection on the Visual Assessment of Landscapes Themes and Trends in Visual Assessment Research

Edited by Paul H. Gobster, Robert G. Ribe, and James F. Palmer

Landscape architects have been leading contributors to the academic field of visual landscape assessment research and to the professional practice of visual impact assessment. Landscape and Urban Planning has been the leading journal publishing this work, and it has now created a collection of 18 articles published previously that are representative of the 744 articles the journal has published in this field. The collection is introduced with a literature review about themes and trends in visual assessment authored by Paul Gobster, Robert Ribe, and James Palmer, all Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Through March 2020, the whole collection may be downloaded for free.

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Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design: Julie Moir Messervy, Part 1

by Lisa Bailey, ASLA

Edinburgh residence garden
Edinburgh residence by JMMDS / image: photograph by Angus Bremner©

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Julie Moir Messervy

Julie Moir Messervy, owner of Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio (JMMDS), inspired me when I first heard her speak 20 years ago. Her unique way of thinking about design, her deep grasp of psychology, emotions and the invisible realm of spirit, and the subconscious impact of landscape archetypes on us resonated with me. I admire the contributions she has made through her books (Contemplative Garden, The Inward Garden, The Magic Land, Outside the Not So Big House, Home Outside, Landscaping Ideas that Work), lectures, projects, and now with the Home Outside app her firm has created. She has designed meaningful places for healing and for getting in touch with heart and spirit in cemeteries, memorials, arboretums, parks, schools, and homes. Landscape designs that do that are healthcare settings!

The following is an edited interview with Julie Moir Messervy, landscape designer, author, and speaker based in Bellows Falls, VT. The interview was conducted this spring by Lisa Bailey, ASLA, sole proprietor of BayLeaf Studio in Berkeley, CA, and a consultant with Schwartz and Associates, a landscape design firm in Mill Valley, CA.

What inspires you to do this work?

I was inspired by being a child playing in nature. I am one of seven children and found some away time, as well as solace and delight, in the fields, woods, and orchards around our house. Exploring nature has always been an important part of my life.

My favorite question that I’ve always asked my clients is, “Where did you go as a child for daydreaming, reverie, and reflection?” Not only do most people recall their love of nature, but they recognize their deep love and longing for the places in nature they played in. It’s not always an outdoor space; it could be a city library, under the piano, or in their bed. People want a place like that, not necessarily literally similar, but that recreates the feelings of security, wonder, and creativity. Having a contemplative place in your life—a place to remember and reconnect with the spirit—is a real source of healing.

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Detroit as a Cultural Landscape Palimpsest

by Brenda Williams, ASLA, and John Zvonar, FCSLA

Conference attendees in front of the Detroit Public Library
AHLP Detroit conference attendees in front of the Detroit Public Library. / image: AHLP

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation: Conserving Cultural Landscapes (“the Alliance”) met for its Annual Conference in Detroit, Michigan, in May 2019. The theme of the conference was “Detroit as a Cultural Landscape Palimpsest.” The group spent three days immersed in presentations and site visits focused on learning about cultural landscapes throughout the city. We learned how MoTown is addressing dramatic demographic and economic change through innovative approaches to create a positive, resilient future, while embracing, celebrating, and preserving cultural heritage. Following the palimpsest theme, the Detroit landscapes were viewed each day through the lens of a different time span. If Detroit is on your bucket list (and it really should be) you’ll find lots of great information and ideas in this post and associated links.

The Alliance is an interdisciplinary professional organization which provides a forum for communication and exchange of information among its members. It is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of historic landscapes in all their variety, from formal gardens and public parks to rural expanses. If you are not familiar with the Alliance, you can learn more about the organization on their website, ahlp.org.

During the conference, we learned of the importance of the Detroit region to Indigenous communities prior to the arrival of Europeans, and ways current Indigenous Peoples are continuing relationships with the landscape. The Honorable Grand Chief Ted Roll of the Wyandotte of Anderdon Nation, and Joshua Garcia, Wyandotte Nation Youth-Intern Ambassador, introduced us to the land of the Anishinabeg (First People). Representing the voices of Indigenous communities directly associated with the area, they led visits to and taught us about Wyandot sites.

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Bridging Landscape Ecology and Landscape Architecture

by Taryn Wiens

Grounding Root System Architecture
ASLA 2015 Student Research Honor Award. Grounding Root System Architecture, Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA, University of Virginia. Faculty Advisor: Julie Bargmann. / image: Gwendolyn McGinn

ASLA’s Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) invites you to a discussion on novel ecosystems this Friday, October 4, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (Eastern). [The recording is now available.] Join the conversation!

Richard Hobbs defines a novel ecosystem as “an ecosystem that consists of new combinations of species that have not previously coexisted, and/or new configurations of environmental factors such as changed climate or altered soil properties.” The basic premise that such ecosystems exist seems straightforward, yet has been highly contentious and marks a significant shift in perspective.

This webinar panel brings together designers and ecologists to unravel the nuances of “novel ecosystems” as a conceptual framework, and the implications for work in restoration, conservation, and design.

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Students & Educators: Enter to Win the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge

The University of Arizona's entry, (Re)Searching for a Spot, won second place in the demonstration project category of the 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge.
The University of Arizona’s entry, (Re)Searching for a Spot, won second place in the demonstration project category of the 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: University of Arizona Design Board

Registration for the 8th annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Campus RainWorks Challenge is open now through Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices. Current undergraduate and graduate students at American colleges and universities are eligible to participate.

Pollution associated with urban stormwater runoff is a problem that is growing in magnitude. The Campus RainWorks Challenge invites the current generation of scholars to lend their creativity and knowledge to the green infrastructure design process and become part of the solution to stormwater pollution by designing an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater pollution while benefitting the campus community and the environment.

ASLA is a proud supporter of the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge. ASLA members participate as jurors during the review process. If you are interested in volunteering as a juror, please contact propractice@asla.org.

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Design Software Survey Results

Design Software Survey Results

Last year, the Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team released a survey to gather information about available technology applications currently used by landscape architects to operate effectively and efficiently. In collaboration with professors Benjamin George, ASLA (Utah State University), and Peter Summerlin, ASLA (Mississippi State University), PPN co-chairs Matt Wilkins, ASLA, Eric Gilbey, ASLA, and officer Nate Qualls, ASLA, collected over 480 responses, capturing the industry’s current state of software usage.

Software and technology are thoroughly entrenched as an essential tool for designers. However, there are many available options vying for designer’s attention and use, and it is often difficult to assess and understand the ramifications of adopting certain software packages. For educators, working to prepare students to become future practitioners, it is important to understand how software is being used in the profession in order to better train their students. For practitioners, these results may inform decisions on software investment or adoption of emerging technologies for your practice.

This data provides a detailed picture of the current state of software use in the profession and enables an analysis of how software usage varies across the discipline. Not unexpectedly, the results of the study indicate that AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, and SketchUp are the most commonly used and most important software packages in the profession. However, when factoring in the type of projects that a firm works on, this ranking changes and other software, such as GIS, Revit, Rhino, and Civil3d, become more prominent. There is also variability in what software is used based on the geographic location of the firm. Larger firms are also more likely to use and value a broader range of software applications. The survey also found that individual emerging technologies are closely related, indicating that some firms are very entrepreneurial in adopting new technologies.

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Preparing for the Future: O&M Manuals

by Nate Lowry, ASLA

Operations and maintenance manuals
image: courtesy of IndypendenZ at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have all seen that new project or development get constructed, and have initial community impact and luster, only to see it become dilapidated and run-down over time. The truth is a project’s success is not determined by only the initial product or outcome—on-going maintenance and upkeep needs to be adequately addressed by designers and owners alike to ensure a project remains a success into the future.

Proper time and planning is needed to ensure operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals aren’t an afterthought or get thrown together on minimal time at the end of the project. Controlling future maintenance costs, knowing what to replace and when, troubleshooting technical products, and understanding maintenance intervals are a few aspects project owners need to be well-versed in and where O&M manuals are essential. Without adequate O&M manuals and requirements to produce them, project owners are likely set up for failure and not given the tools to make their project a continued success. A tight package of project specifications is often vital to a project’s initial success, and including complete O&M requirements is crucial for understanding perpetual maintenance and the continued success of a given project.

First things first, what is an O&M manual? An O&M (operations and maintenance) manual is generally a series of documents produced by the contractor to help the owner in perpetuity properly maintain, understand, and address key maintenance milestones and other project aspects. It is key for the design professional(s) to ensure steadfast contractor requirements in producing complete and informative O&M manuals for project hand-off.

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‘Constructing Landscape’ Film Series

by Christian Gabriel, ASLA

Kathryn Gustafson at the National Portrait Gallery
Kathryn Gustafson, FASLA, at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. / image: Taylor Lednum

Over the past few years we’ve been developing a series of high-definition thematic films covering a range of subjects of critical importance to landscape architects. The primary goal of the project is to aid in articulating many of landscape architecture’s collective concerns for friends and family, allied professionals, new and prospective students, policy makers, land developers, and the general public. The films are not directed at experts (or the few), but instead the general public (the many).

The series, titled ‘Constructing Landscape,’ is now available for viewing on our website. The individual five-minute shorts are edited interviews with 18 landscape architects. The films are titled “Material and Perspective” to help distinguish the world-view and concerns of landscape architects, “Designing with Time” to address the very unique temporal issues associated with landscape materiality, “Ecological Infrastructures” to address natural systems and the concerns of scale, “Site as Security” to address the deployment of security features within our public landscapes, and finally “Preservation and Design Evolution” to address both the process of landscape evaluation and the re-purposing of sites.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Action

2019 Diversity Summit participants
images: from the 2019 Diversity Summit Report

2019 Diversity Summit Report

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Action: Supporting Emerging Professionals – Inspiring the Next Generation of Landscape Architects – Connecting Design to Real-World Solutions

In 2013, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) convened its first Diversity Summit with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of why landscape architecture as a profession doesn’t attract a more diverse profile. Each summit brings together a group of experienced and emerging landscape architects who identify as African American or Latinx to develop strategies that address diversity issues in the field. These strategies are compiled into Diversity Summit summaries and reports, which are implemented throughout the year and reexamined at the following year’s summit.

This year, seventeen landscape architects from across the country participated, representing a wide array of sectors including residential design, education, horticulture, and urban planning. They were chosen to help address challenges in diversifying the profession and build upon recommendations for a path forward. Interested parties apply to participate in the summit, and are chosen by a panel of experts each year.

Today, ASLA released the 2019 Diversity Summit Report, the product of the summit held this spring. The report examines issues that African American, Latinx, Native American, and other underrepresented groups face in the landscape architecture profession.

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The Digital Landscape Architecture Conference is Coming to Cambridge, MA

by Stephen M. Ervin, FASLA

Digital Landscape Architecture Conference attendees
130 landscape architects from 30 countries attended the 20th Digital Landscape Architecture Conference in 2019. / image: DLA

Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) Conference
Abstracts due: November 1, 2019
DLA Conference: June 1-3, 2020 at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
2020.dla-conference.com

Not too many US landscape architects may have heard of the International Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) conference, coming to the US for the first time next year in June 2020. The conference attracts a mix of landscape architecture academics, students, practitioners, allied professionals, technologists, scholars, and interested lay people from all over the world. In 2019, participants represented 30+ countries worldwide!

DLA was started in 1999, at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Bernburg, Germany, a small agricultural town 100 km (62 miles) south of Berlin with a strong international landscape architecture program. In its first years DLA was primarily an academic conference, held in Bernburg. In recent years it has become larger, more international, and multidisciplinary, and has recently been held regularly at the nearby Dessau campus—the home of the famed Bauhaus school from the early 20th century. The architect Walter Gropius was the director of the Bauhaus in its most impactful era, in the 1930s, before he left Germany just before World War II, came to Cambridge, and became the head of the Architecture Department at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University.

The links between Harvard and the DLA conference go back to the beginning, when I co-founded the conference with my German colleague Professor Erich Buhmann. GSD Professor Carl Steinitz, Hon. ASLA, now Emeritus, was among the speakers at the first conference; we have both been regular attendees, speakers, and organizers over the years. In recent years, the DLA conference has grown (in 2019, speakers were from more than 30 countries world-wide); and has traveled further and further afield from its base in Germany (the conference has recently been held in Switzerland and Turkey). Next year for its 21st meeting, DLA2020 will be held for the first time in the US, at the GSD just following Harvard commencement, June 1-3, 2020. The conference theme will be Cybernetic Ground: Information, Imagination, Impact.

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Travel Grants for Students to Attend Dumbarton Oaks’ Garden and Landscape Studies Colloquium

Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks / image: Karl Gercens, DC Gardens

Dumbarton Oaks has announced the Mellon Colloquium Award, a travel grant for students wishing to attend the annual colloquium or symposium in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C. The awards offer reimbursement up to $600 for the cost of travel, local accommodation, and other approved expenses related to symposium or colloquium attendance. Registration fees are waived for holders of the awards.

Travel grant applications for the Fall 2019 Colloquium, Interpreting Landscapes of Enslavement, are due September 16.

Eligibility:

Applicants (and recipients) must be currently-enrolled graduate students or undergraduate juniors or seniors.

To apply:

Candidates should prepare an application consisting of:

  1. A cover letter that provides a brief summary of the candidate’s research interests, plans for future research, and an explanation of why conference attendance is important to the candidate’s intellectual and professional development.
  2. A résumé.
  3. A letter of support from the applicant’s thesis advisor or department chair.

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Share Your Point of View: Urban Wilds and Unclaimed Landscapes

by John Gibbs, ASLA, Jill Desimini, ASLA, and Susan Moffat

Urban wilds
Left to right: Former Beltline Railroad Switching Yard, Alameda, CA, Rivka Weinstock; Mount Sutro, San Francisco, CA, Peter Trio; Former Reading Viaduct, Philadelphia, PA, Joshua Ketchum

In anticipation of the upcoming panel Urban Wild! Making the Case for Our Unclaimed Landscapes with Jill Desimini and Susan Moffat, facilitated by John Gibbs, at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego, we’d like to hear from you about your experiences in urban wilds and unclaimed landscapes.

How can you get involved? Post a photo on Instagram or Twitter of an urban wild that you care about or have spent time in. Tell us about it! What makes it unique? What was it formerly? Is it under threat in any way? Use #UrbanWildASLA and #ASLA2019 and make sure to include the location. (If on Instagram, we will only be able to see the post if your account is public.)

What will happen with this information? Your photos will be mapped and featured at this year’s ASLA conference at the panel on urban wilds.

What do we hope to learn? Since these places tend to go unmapped, by gathering and mapping these, we hope to gain greater insight into geography, patterns of use and typology of urban wilds across the country. What are some commonalities between them? What makes these places unique? Why are they important?

What do we hope to spark? A timely conversation about the place of urban wilds within our larger urban framework. How are these spaces different than parks? What can designers learn from urban wild landscapes and how they function? How should we respond to shifting patterns of abandoned land in our cities?

Wait, what IS an urban wild? You tell us! Sometimes these places are also called ‘vacant’, ‘abandoned’, ‘brownfield’, ‘forgotten’, ‘free’, ‘site taken over by wildlife,’ etc.

Join the conversation!

Follow us on Instagram @urbanwildasla to see what urban wilds others are posting!

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Back to School with Landscape Architecture

Back to School
image: iStock

School bells are ringing and classrooms are buzzing with learning adventures of all kinds. Whether you’re a parent of a child in grades K–12, an active ASLA member, or a retired landscape architect with a passion for the profession, there are many opportunities for you to introduce landscape architecture to young audiences in a school setting. Let us help you get started with ASLA’s Back to School Toolkit!

ASLA has assembled a set of fun and informative back-to-school resources, and the start of a new school year is an excellent opportunity for members and educators to explore ASLA’s new toolkit, which includes a growing collection of downloadable PDFs packed with articles, videos, exciting topics, and other free ASLA resources to help introduce landscape architecture as a fun and engaging profession.

Check out these helpful resources to get students interested in landscape architecture:

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The Wild City

by Sarah Bartosh

The Wild City
image: Sarah Bartosh

Sarah Bartosh is currently a master’s of landscape architecture student at the University of Washington. She received her Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and then went on to work for Growing Up Boulder, Boulder’s child- and youth-friendly city initiative. She also worked with the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program to lead Seattle’s Playful Learning Landscapes Pilot Project.
– Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network Co-Communications Director

With one quarter left of my MLA, I would like to pose this question to our profession: how can we challenge the way that we think about designing for children’s connection with nature in our increasingly urban environments?

Just as we are challenging many other spaces we design, I believe it is time we begin to do the same for nature play. As landscape architects, we are some of the most progressive and game-changing thinkers. We are constantly questioning the role of built environments, how they can address pressing climate issues, and how they can foster relationships between humans and the world around them. Yet, when it comes to children’s environments, we often settle for adding a few logs in a park, and call it “nature play.” I recognize and respect that this is a result of the many legal barriers that prevent us from creating bolder, designated spaces for children to connect to nature. This article suggests a way to think beyond these barriers.

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