ASLA’s Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (SDD PPN) is continually seeking to advance sustainable design in ways that are innovative, feasible, and impactful. One specific tool towards achieving this goal is the implementation of the Sustainable SITES Initiative® (SITES®) rating system. The SITES Rating System is a set of comprehensive, voluntary guidelines that inform and asses the sustainable design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes.
As a PPN, we support SITES through education, professional outreach, and the creation of tools to assist landscape architecture practitioners. SITES provides an excellent professional framework for landscape architecture design, but one implementation stumbling block can be getting client buy-in. As more practitioners make the case for SITES, we want to empower you with the tools to advocate for certification. Thus, the SDD PPN leadership team has developed a “SITES in 10” presentation, an elevator pitch slide deck highlighting the reasons why clients should pursue SITES project certification.
Stormwater management approaches in the US are evolving dramatically. For most of the past three decades, the standard approach was to store water and control its rate of runoff into the environment. In the past decade, the treatment of stormwater for urban runoff pollutants has gained traction as the impact of such pollutants has become apparent. Throughout the country, developing green infrastructure to treat stormwater pollution is moving from the fringe of the practice to mainstream acceptance.
New York strongly encourages the adoption of green infrastructure approaches to stormwater management to reduce urban runoff pollutants. The New York State Stormwater Management Design Manual released in 2015 sets as design objectives (1) the capture and treatment the full water quality volume of runoff; ( 2) the capacity to remove 80 percent of total suspended solids (TSS) and 40 percent of total phosphorous (TP); (3) mechanisms for the pre-treatment of stormwater; and (4) an acceptable operational lifespan for stormwater systems.
One issue that New York and other states and municipalities fail to address, however, are regulations that dictate a hodge-podge of small, privately owned and maintained (or not) stormwater management systems. General regulatory practice is that stormwater must be managed and treated on the parcel that generates it. This has resulted in a landscape of single-function detention or retention “craters” in developed areas, with little aesthetic appeal or function beyond stormwater management.
For the annual Ecology & Restoration PPN meeting in October 2018, we were joined by Michael Sprague, President and Founder of Trout Headwaters, Inc., and founding Board Member of the National Environmental Banking Association, as well as Damian Holynskyj, M.C.P., Director of the Eastern Region for Great Ecology. Our discussion covered the big picture of what conservation finance is, how it is situated within the larger economy, and the role landscape architecture fills within the industry.
The conversation that was had between Mr. Sprague, Mr. Holynskyj, and Ecology & Restoration PPN leadership and members is summarized in this document, to serve as a reference for those who were not able to attend, and a jumping-off point for those landscape architects who would like to pursue this topic further.
WHAT IS CONSERVATION FINANCE?
Conservation finance takes many forms, but in the simplest sense it is a way to create economic incentives for conservation and restoration projects. When an economic incentive exists, it opens the door for many different people and organizations to become involved with environmental projects who otherwise might not be. This increases the amount of work that can be done and leverages the specialties of a broad range of professions towards shared goals.
Shared goals; it has become so common to view economy and ecology as two separate entities, related in a fashion which necessitates the degradation of one for the benefit of the other. This is an unfortunate misconception, which Mr. Sprague discussed at length. Looking at the root meanings of ecology and economy, a truer relationship begins to show. Ecology means study of the house and economy means management of the house, so in that sense it can be understood that what is truly good for one ought to be good for the other. In other words, you can’t understand what you don’t study, and you can’t manage what you don’t understand.
The American Society of Landscape Architects publishes the Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series (LATIS) to encourage professionals to share specialized expertise relating to landscape architecture. ASLA considers LATIS papers to be important contributions to a necessary and ongoing dialogue within a large and diverse community of landscape architecture researchers and practitioners. ASLA oversees a rigorous peer review process for all LATIS papers to ensure accuracy of content. Each author offers a unique perspective on the practice area covered, reflecting his or her portfolio of professional experiences
ASLA published the latest LATIS, A Landscape Performance + Metrics Primer for Landscape Architects: Measuring Landscape Performance on the Ground, authored by Emily McCoy, PLA, ASLA, SITES AP with contributions by Marin Braco, ASLA, and Lauren Mandel, PLA, ASLA.
ABSTRACT Landscape architecture is at a pivotal moment in its history as a discipline, where design practice is becoming more reflective, adaptive, and scholarly. As the need for sustainable design grows, it has become imperative that professionals put their work under analytical review and set higher standards for their work to perform environmentally, socially, and economically. The field looks more to the integration of research and scholarly inquiry in design as a solution to this growing need for high-performance landscapes.
While the concept of landscape performance assessment is gaining attention within the field, the availability of time, resources, and technical expertise remains an obstacle for many designers in evaluating built work. More in-depth research investigations are best left to academics and scientists, but methods exist that every landscape architect can use to assess the performance of their own work for use throughout the planning, design, construction, and post-occupancy phases. This paper aims to provide an introduction to these metrics and methods that can be applied in the field.
These peer-reviewed papers are a key vehicle for members to share their expertise. Each LATIS paper enables landscape architects to earn PDH needed to meet state licensure requirements by completing and passing a self-study exam.
ASLA members can download A Landscape Performance + Metrics Primer for Landscape Architects: Measuring Landscape Performance on the Ground for FREE and can purchase and pass a self-study exam to earn 3.0 PDH (LA CES/HSW) / 3.0 SITES-specific GBCI CE hours (GBCI course ID 0920018252).
The ASLA Environmental Justice PPN provides a forum for ASLA members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. Throughout 2018, the Environmental Justice PPN has hosted virtual presentations with live Q&A, focused on issues most important to its members. All Environmental Justice PPN members are invited to participate in these monthly events, allowing members to expand their networks, and hear from design professionals who are playing an important role in addressing environmental justice. On November 8, Christian Rodriguez, Community Associate at Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), joined the conversation on KDI’s work in the Eastern Coachella Valley of southern California.
About KDI is a non-profit design and community development organization with teams in Los Angeles, CA, and Nairobi, Kenya. KDI partners with under-resourced communities to advance equity and activate the unrealized potential in their neighborhoods and cities through advocacy, research, planning, and built works. KDI realizes this mission through advocacy, research, planning, and built works.
Context The Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV), located 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles, CA, is a cluster of unincorporated communities just minutes away from Palm Springs and some of the most expensive zip codes in the country. The ECV is a historically under resourced region and its communities, composed of agricultural workers and a migrant population, face environmental injustices such as poor air quality, substandard housing, lack of clean water, and basic infrastructure. The residents of these communities live along the shoreline of the rapidly drying Salton Sea, California’s largest lake.
For over a century, the Salton Sea water levels were maintained through surrounding agricultural runoff. In 2003, the primary water source for the surrounding agricultural lands was affected by the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), created to reduce California’s over-dependence on Colorado River water while also making more water available for urban use in San Diego County. This diversion of water and reduction of agricultural runoff has caused the Salton Sea waterline to recede. In the coming decades, more of the contaminated lake bed will become exposed, spreading harmful dust and fine particles, and exacerbating the already poor air quality in the region. KDI, in partnership with a larger NGO network, is part of an Environmental Justice Campaign that seeks to inform the government efforts to mitigate these environmental and health impacts with the voices and needs of the immediate community.
The ASLA Education & Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN) exists to promote communication between education and practice. We have developed a philosophy statement: Education and practice mutually need each other and should respect each other. They should reciprocate and participate between themselves and most importantly should communicate regularly. In many cases, these relationships are already in place and functioning. In others, there may be disconnects, real or perceived. The PPN seeks to engage both practitioners and educators on how we can promote and enhance the dialog.
We would like to ask members of the PPN, both academics and practitioners, to provide feedback through the Education & Practice PPN survey on ways in which you are providing some level of reciprocation and participation.
In this issue, we will focus on:
Reciprocation and Participation- The relationships between practice and education occur on many levels. One primary method involves proximity, the interaction between practitioners and academia on a state-by-state or program proximity basis. It may involve a relationship between individual faculty members and practitioners who share a common subject or research interest.
Certainly, the alumni factor comes into play. Many of us take pride in promoting our alma mater and seeing it succeed.
We would like to ask members of the PPN, both academics and practitioners, to provide dialog on ways in which you are providing some level of reciprocation and participation. Toward that end, we will provide a series of questions to fuel the dialog:
On September 12, 2018, San Francisco hosted international leaders of various countries, states, regions, cities, and businesses, celebrities and environmental justice pioneers invited by California Governor Jerry Brown for three days at the Global Climate Action Summit. This group shared Climate Action initiatives to support the Paris Agreement goals and made bold new pledges for a future low carbon economy – specifically to prevent a 1.5 degree Celsius increase and to ensure a climate turning point of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations by 2020.
As part of the Summit, CMG Landscape Architecture hosted an event titled “Climate Positive City Design” – a multidisciplinary panel discussion and salon bringing together over one hundred people to discuss how thinkers, academics, innovators, and designers can work together to strive beyond neutrality, and bring about positive change to our climate. The group of nationally recognized leaders in environmental design and policy included Ryan Allard – Senior Fellow at Project Drawdown, Claire Maxfield – Director at Atelier Ten, Lisa Fisher – Sustainability City Team Lead, San Francisco Planning Department, and myself with panel moderation by Chris Guillard, ASLA – Partner at CMG.
The conversation ranged from how designers can implement solutions from Project Drawdown to how we can collaborate with City agencies to make policy adjustments towards a lower carbon urban environment – but unanimously across the panel and around the room, the message was clear – we all need and want to take action.
The climate is changing. Temperatures are rising along with sea level, and the IPCC recently produced an updated report on the urgency of the situation. It is clear that we have a critical role to play in adapting to the effects of climate warming along coastlines, but is there anything we can do as a profession to mitigate the causes of climate change?
Editor’s Note: This post was updated on May 14, 2019.
James Sottilo passed away on April 23, 2019. James contributed his expertise and his passion to making soils better for landscapes, and the world as a whole. This was his last entry for The Field.
Here’s looking at you, Sustainability.
Today more than ever sustainability is used in our line of work; designing and managing green spaces that reflect the value of the word. It only makes sense that nature remain, as she always has, sustainable.
Over the past several years our team has worked on projects across the United States. These national experiences have exposed us to a variety of natural soils and fauna such as the gumbo clays and wildflower meadows of Southeast Texas, the high silt soils along the Mississippi River, the clay loams of the West Coast, and the forests of the Northeast.
Nature by herself always seems to have the answers to the questions we are asking when designing and building new landscapes. It is our job to dissect the ecological behaviors of the landscape, explain them, and apply them in our work.
There are times when we believe we have unlocked certain secrets of the Earth and developed efforts unparalleled, but eventually science and/or technology deem these efforts linear or one dimensional when compared to her.
Our efforts are stretching beyond the industrial landscape plane and asking the critical questions to scientists and academics that are not part of the main stream landscape franchise. Foresters for example have a different perspective on certain ecologies, scientists in the management of human microbiology have in-depth knowledge on bacteria and how they grow and respond. Agronomists, who manage thousands of acres of farm land, may look at soil completely differently than you and I—yet all of these individuals have insight into the same problems our industry faces such as soil compaction, pH, lack of nutrients, etc.
Soils are the foundation of the landscape and plants are the engineers of the ecosystem. One cannot survive without the other. Questions that we are often faced with include, where does the plant end and the soil begin? Is it realistic to have a specification on soil and second specification on planting? Should both be combined into one specification as a system?
As of now we are still figuring out the answers to those questions but perhaps as we adapt changing paradigms, our soils and plants will shift into performance specifications and eliminate the constant finger pointing when a problem arises with the health of the landscape.
The ASLA Environmental Justice PPN provides a forum for ASLA members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. Throughout 2018, the Environmental Justice PPN has hosted virtual presentations with live Q&A, focused on issues most important to its members. All Environmental Justice PPN members are invited to participate in these monthly events, allowing members to expand their networks, and hear from design professionals who are playing an important role in addressing environmental justice. On August 16, Elaine Morales, Design Manager at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP [bc] joined the conversation on public interest design and equity.
buildingcommunityWORKSHOP ([bc]) is a Texas based nonprofit community design center seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making. We enrich the lives of citizens by bringing design thinking to areas of our cities where resources are most scarce. To do so, [bc] recognizes that it must first understand the social, economic, and environmental issues facing a community before beginning work.
Our diverse team employs public interest design methodologies to address these issues with an equity lens. Our practice leverages the diverse skill set of our team—encompassing architects, planners, urban designers, geographers, and policy specialists—to steward initiatives that engage communities, create platforms to discuss challenges, set priorities, and envision the future, whilst elevating underheard voices to celebrate and concretize community identity and building capacity for residents to drive decision-making in the sphere of design and planning. We organize our work around six core methods: analyzing, mapping, activating, informing, storytelling, and making.
By Kurt Culbertson, FASLA, and Lake Douglas, FASLA
From the practitioner’s perspective
In 1998, I had the opportunity to participate in Design Week at my alma mater, Louisiana State University. Design Week, an LSU invention, was conceived as a one-week vertical studio engaging first year students through graduate students in a team project under the leadership of a practicing professional. As conceived, the professional would assign the student a site and problem for which they had prepared a design. The students then have the opportunity to compare their efforts to that of the practitioner.
While I loved the concept of Design Week, it struck me that a lot of time was being spent by the students on a theoretical exercise. Couldn’t all of this energy be put to a useful outcome for the public good as well as a learning exercise? I found a sixty-acre site on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River which was a gravel storage facility for barges that had traveled south to Louisiana right across the street from the state capitol complex in Baton Rouge. The property owner graciously agreed to let the student utilize their property as the subject of the study and the students set to work preparing a master plan for mixed use development of the site. As a result of the student’s work, the property was developed much as the students envisioned.
To simulate the practice environment, a jury was assembled of the city/parish planning director, a state senator, and the property owner. Even the university chancellor dropped by the observe the progress of the work. The teams were judged on three categories: the quality of their design, the quality of their team work, and the quality of their presentation. Awards were given in of these categories and for best overall effort.
Urban waterfronts throughout the world are transforming from industrial centers and transportation hubs to mixed-use destinations. As population growth shifts to urban centers, greater pressure to redevelop underutilized land at the water’s edge is requiring cities to address complex challenges. The most holistic solutions require a thoughtful approach at an urban scale that melds many disciplines. These waterfront projects involve a variety of stakeholders with diverse needs, and require complex, time consuming processes and significant investments in capital resources.
Landscape architects can and should play an expanded role in these significant opportunities to shape the future of cities. To do so, L.A.s must adapt and develop skillsets beyond their traditional focus to lead integrated, resilient design solutions.
My firm, SmithGroup, hosted a roundtable discussion with clients and colleagues from Rust Belt communities throughout the Great Lakes to discuss the challenges and opportunities for their urban waterfronts. Attendees included representatives from municipal planning departments, regional watershed districts, redevelopment authorities, regulatory agencies, private developers, nonprofits, and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
While each of the participants represented a unique vantage point, they painted a striking similar picture of the issues; shifts in markets and policy have resulted in economically challenged neighborhoods next to underutilized, often contaminated industrial property near the core of their cities. Many of these properties are located on or near water. The problems involve a tangled web of owners, users, regulators and policies that cannot be addressed solely though site-specific solutions but must be approached at a larger scale to be effective.
Performance, partnerships and equity emerged as key themes and design drivers during our discussion, pointing to the more integrated and resilient solutions required to return our urban waterfronts to the right balance of public use, environmental integrity, and prosperity.
As a landscape architect who focusses on residential design, one of my biggest challenges is guiding clients through the plant selection process. Each client comes to the project with different levels of knowledge and interest. I have had clients who are totally involved with the plants and have given me a list of specific plants that they want in their yard with placement ideas. On the other side, I have had clients proclaim that they know nothing about plants and just want something that “looks good and is low-maintenance … and by the way, I love the color purple.” Over the years, I have tried various methods with various degrees of success. Here, I describe some methods I have tried, and list the pros and cons of each. I would be very interested in feedback on this as I am always looking for new ideas.
Take client to a nursery to pick out plants.
Client gets to see plant for themselves.
We can see what plants are available at the nursery and in what quantity and condition.
Client feels good about plant selection, because he/she has seen the plants for themselves.
The plant is immature and in a pot. It’s hard to picture what it will look like installed and in a few years. I find myself motioning a lot to say, “Imagine this plant to be this high.”
Contractor may not be purchasing plants from that particular nusery.
If it’s winter, the plant selection is thin and the quality of the plants is often poor.
The nursery doesn’t have the plants that you were thinking of using in the design.
I have tried this method a few times. One time, I took a client to the nursery and they didn’t have what we were looking for. The nursery was large and one where you drive around to different areas for the various plants. The client got frustrated because we couldn’t’ find the plants that I had in mind, it was getting hot, and she was getting tired. I almost lost the client that day. I suppose, if I had called ahead and had the nursery pull the plants ahead of time, then we could have gone to one place and seen the plants.
“Take an umbrella- it might rain!” How many times have we heard that?
These days it seems to be happening more and more. Is it really raining more? Or is it raining heavily more often? In the coastal plain of the east coast, that question keeps coming up. The City of Virginia Beach has been conducting an analysis to develop a plan to protect against the impacts of sea level rise. But, as we worried and fretted as to whether or not we were on the right curve or projection from the myriad of possibilities and probabilities associated with sea level rise, portions of the City were getting flooded by rainfall in ways and in locations that we have not experienced in the past.
We know that sea level rise is a major concern for coastal Virginia and particularly for the Hampton Roads region. The five long-term water level observation stations in southeast Virginia, highlighted in green in the table below, are in the top 10% of the highest relative sea level rise rates in the nation.
In June, the ASLA Ecology & Restoration PPN invited Jen Lyndall, Certification Program Coordinator with the Society for Ecological Restoration, to present SER’s Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner program (CERP) via a virtual meeting. All PPN members were invited to participate. The CERP program encourages a high professional standard for those who are designing, implementing, overseeing, and monitoring restoration projects throughout the world.
Investment and support for ecological restoration is growing rapidly all across the globe, but standards are minimal. SER’s certification program provides numerous benefits to the field. Most importantly, the SER certification program is designed to improve the quality of ecological restoration projects on the ground. Two levels of certification are offered:
Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioners (CERPs) are senior level practitioners who have achieved the knowledge requirements and have greater than 5 years of full time experience with restoration.
Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioners-in-Training (CERPITs) are recent graduates and those practitioners who do not yet have more than 5 years of full time experience with restoration – OR- those practitioners with sufficient experience who are still working on the educational criteria.
The application window is now open through October 12, 2018. Of the current 219 certified professionals, 17 identify as landscape architects. For a list of approved CERPs and CERPITs, see the directory.
More information on the Ecology & Restoration PPN’s goals, research, leadership, and upcoming events can be found here. If you know someone else who is interested in joining our PPN, they can contact ASLA Member Services at 888-999-ASLA or email@example.com.
Words matter! And being mindful of the words and terms we use professionally can only help demonstrate landscape architects’ expertise and leadership on these complex topics: sustainability and resiliency.
This is worth reading several times and it might possibly change how you think and discuss sustainability and resiliency in your practice.
Lisa Cowan and Kevin Burke, Sustainable Design & Development Field Editors
In our field, resilience and sustainability should mean the same thing, but this means that we need to correct how we talk about sustainability. Perhaps the most striking similarity between our current use of the terms “sustainability” and “resilience” is their frequent application across a wide variety of practices and projects that too often are neither sustainable nor resilient. This is the way of terms of art—they burst onto the scene, meaning something important and specific, but over time their power becomes diluted as they get misused or applied loosely. I argue that if we use the term sustainability correctly, all sustainable projects would also be resilient, i.e. able to accommodate change and recover quickly. But to see why this is the case, we need to examine the concept of “sustainability” within the design profession and see why the term is frequently misapplied.
Please help ASLA national ensure that we develop continuing education content that supports your individual interests and needs by completing a short survey. ASLA is interested in hearing from licensed and non-licensed professionals. Please share your feedback by Tuesday, July 17.ASLA provides a number of ways for landscape architects to earn professional development hours (PDH) through the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™). Professional development hours (PDH) is the term that ASLA and LA CES use to describe how much credit a course carries.
Visitors to Auburn University will now have an opportunity to experience campus green infrastructure using two newly designed interactive board games. The board games, AubieGo and GI Builder were created by Landscape Architecture graduate students for the Office of Sustainability to invite visitors, students, faculty, and beyond to learn about the green infrastructure stormwater control measures that are integrated into the campus landscape. The games provide a novel way to introduce and communicate the benefits of campus green infrastructure practices to both young and old.
The graduate students are members of the LAND 7900 Interpretive Design—Redesigning the Visitor Experience class, a three (3) hour directed elective taught by Charlene M. LeBleu, FASLA, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture. “I was asked by the Office of Sustainability and Campus Stormwater Committee to have my students create a brochure for a campus green infrastructure tour,” said LeBleu. “We did design a brochure, but I wanted my students to reimagine green infrastructure education in a different way. Designing and crafting a board game, the playing pieces, and a container to hold all pieces provided a fun and interesting creative challenge!”
Enrich your summer with the SITES® Accredited Professional exam: Now through September 3, 2018, ASLA is offering a $100 discount off the SITES AP Exam for the first 150 registrants to use the promo code 2018ASLAPROMO.
Registrants must be an ASLA member to use the code, and will be required to provide an ASLA member number. Questions? Emailsites@asla.org.
An ASLA prepared webinar series to help you study for the exam is available at a discounted rate to members.
The SITES accredited professional exam provides landscape architects with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise, and commitment to the profession. It also establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development.
Landscape Architects Make the Case
“For me and the firm, incorporating the principles of SITES into our work is something that we have done for years. What the initiative provides is a logical and structured methodology to accomplish a rich diversity of improvements that can be shared with clients and the community. The more thorough a team is with embracing the credits the better the project can be for the public or private users. The structure allows us as designers to do a better job explaining the complexity of what it is we do and the certification allows the team and client to celebrate good work.”
Hunter Beckham, FASLA
SWT Design Novus International Headquarters Campus, St. Louis, Missouri – Three-star Certified Pilot Project
“SITES is the single best crash-course in real landscape sustainability. Certification requires tangible, quantifiable standards and that rigorous challenge both educated and inspired me. Sustainable practices and client education is now an integral part of all my landscape work.”
CeCe Haydock, ASLA, LEED AP
Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center, Garden City, New York – Two-star Certified Pilot Project
In our April 2018 Urban Design PPN Field post, we learned about Detroit’s approach to urban transit. Continuing with this theme of rust belt cities, we’ll now explore Cleveland’s challenges and achievements in connecting people to place.
Whereas Detroit’s Woodward plan launched a framework extending far from the city center, Charles Burnham’s Group Plan for the City of Clevelandestablished only an immediate civic core. This was due mainly to the downtown’s unique geography, as the Cuyahoga River Valley isolated it from the more residential areas pushed to neighboring bluffs. Development in these areas loosely followed what translated in Iroquois to “the crooked river,” and could be best characterized as piecemeal; not following any distinct pattern, and often, the law.
The Auburn University Green Infrastructure Team is studying thermal inputs to stormwater systems. The team includes faculty researchers Amy Wright, Horticulture, Mark Dougherty, Biosystems Engineering, Keith Rahn, Building Science, and Charlene LeBleu, FASLA, Landscape Architecture. Graduate Research Assistants include MLA students Andres Orjuela, Student ASLA; Britton Garrett; Rui Wang, Student ASLA; and Ryan Bowen, MLA & Master of Building Science. The research is conducted in the Green Infrastructure Laboratory at the Mike Hubbard Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce (CASIC) Building. The laboratory provides a controlled environment, and is designed for both wet and dry research. The center was built with funding provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station. The main purpose of this research is to develop design models for standard stormwater control measures that can be used to meet specific effluent temperature standards and to maintain the required thermal regime in a receiving stream. This project hypothesizes that pervious surfaces, turfgrass and rain gardens can be used to mitigate ground level thermal loads in stormwater runoff.
In this second of the two-part interview with Principal Landscape Architect Kevin Burke, ASLA, Kevin addresses facets of the BeltLine’s construction, funding and construction costs, social impacts, and public participation that he has been involved with. As stated in Part I, this urban design project is remarkable for its ultimate transformation of Atlanta that includes 22 miles of pedestrian friendly rail transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, 5,600 units of affordable housing, public art, historic preservation $10-20 billion in economic development, 30,000 permanent jobs, and, of course, sustainability.
What is your role in “post construction oversight”?
We believe that the upkeep of public funds investment is a basic parameter of our responsibility. However, a significant level of our funding comes from a Tax Allocation District (a.k.a. Tax Increment Financing) tied to local real estate values on commercial/industrial/multi-family properties. This source was legislatively created to spur economic development and specifically precludes utilization of these funds for O&M. As such, we are somewhat hampered in our ability to do what most landscape architects would consider basic maintenance needs. The Parks and Recreation Department assists us, especially with graffiti removal, as resources permit.
To aid our efforts, we established a “Fixit Line” that facilitates the public letting us know matters needing attention.
The Atlanta BeltLine is one of the most comprehensive urban design efforts in the current era and rivals others today such as San Francisco’s Mission Bay, Manhattan’s Battery Park City, New York’s Fresh Kills, Boston’s Big Dig, and the Orange County Great Park. As such, it is transformative for Atlanta, a city known for poor land use practices over the past quarter century. The BeltLine will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods through 11 nodes within a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails, light rail transit, and parks – all based on abandoned railroad corridors that encircle Atlanta. As an engine of economic development, it is demonstrating remarkable outcomes in adjoining areas comprising infill, compatible mixed land use, including urban housing, and thereby exemplifying transit oriented development.
As with all urban design projects of this scale, identifying one firm or one individual to credit for the achievement is impossible. With regard to urban design and landscape architecture, however, a key individual who has guided the BeltlIne’s unfolding is its Principal Landscape Architect, Kevin Burke, ASLA. The following is the first of a two-part interview in which Kevin shares his experiences and insights concerning this remarkable achievement. Part I provides a general project overview and design considerations. Part II addresses construction, funding and construction costs, social impacts, and public participation.
The 2018 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference (CELA) was held in Blacksburg, Virginia March 21-24, 2018 at Virginia Tech University. Given my involvement in four educational sessions (including two green roof panel discussions) I was not able to attend as many presentations as I wanted to. However, what I listened to was informative. One 3/22 session I attended was highly relevant to ecological design and included a presentation by Reid Coffman, Ph.D, Associate Professor and Director of the Novel Ecology Design Lab (NEDLab) at Kent State University. He addressed the role of living architecture in providing a suite of ecosystem services—getting us to think about “ecosystem signatures” and the bundling of and interactions among ecosystem services. He emphasized the trade-offs that must be considered regarding biodiversity, productivity, energy dynamics, hydrologic cycling, and many different human dimensions (including visual order, health and wellness, equity issues, economics, and policy).
In the same session, Paul Coseo, Ph.D., PLA, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, discussed designing experiments to improve green infrastructure performance from both ecological and socio-cultural perspectives. Paul emphasized the need to get beyond anecdotal evidence of performance by taking scientifically sound measurements. He noted the need to recognize and overcome barriers to effective, ongoing green infrastructure maintenance and management. This comment paralleled ideas discussed by Katie Kingery-Page, ASLA, PLA, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional & Community Planning at Kansas State University, and myself as we highlighted lessons learned from two green infrastructure projects that we have helped implement and manage on the Kansas State University campus. Our three presentations led to a vibrant conversation about the role of university faculty and students in societally-relevant impacts of implemented green infrastructure experiments and demonstration projects—where inputs are transformed into tangible goods and services that support human and broader ecological needs, functions, and dynamics.
The softly lit room bubbles with energy as individuals fill the space. Another annual reunion of landscape architecture students and professionals in Oregon has commenced. The atmosphere swirls with inspiration and reflection from the day as both students and professionals share how valuable it is to have an opportunity for mentorship. How amazing it is to witness a room of a hundred people share how much they love and appreciate an experience, and to consider it once never existed.
In 1994, a small group of students at the University of Oregon had an idea to connect students like themselves with landscape architects. At the time, there was no avenue between professionals in the Pacific Northwest and students of landscape architecture. With the support of the faculty and collaboration with the Oregon Chapter of ASLA, students visited landscape architecture offices to “shadow” a mentor for a day. They also managed to successfully start a tradition that has continued for 25 years.
by Caitlin Glagola, Associate ASLA; Tim Linehan, Associate ASLA; and Rachel Streit
ThePhiladelphia Water Department (PWD) has one of the most progressive stormwater management plans in the country to address the city’s combined sewer infrastructure. PWD’s Green City, Clean Waters program, which begins its 7th year this July, has constructed more than 600 stormwater management practices (SMPs) in the city, including rain gardens, tree trenches, stormwater planters, and stormwater bumpouts. These stormwater landscapes, collectively known as green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), slow, filter, and infiltrate rainfall to help prevent polluted runoff from entering the city’s sewers and waterways. GSI is versatile and fits into the urban fabric of Philadelphia to not only manage stormwater but also to mitigate urban heat, improve air quality, provide habitat, improve human health, increase land value, and improve quality of life for city residents.
The past ten years have brought no shortage of conversation surrounding the current state of America’s rust-belt cities and the endless number of impacts the 2007 economic crisis had on these important cultural hubs. There has been an on-going fascination with both the collapse and rebuilding of these struggling urban centers from economists, politicians, city planners, and residents alike. Almost five years since the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in Detroit, we are just starting to see glimpses of rebirth, and the majority of Detroiters are still questioning when they will feel the effects of this economic rebound. For urban centers, density promotes efficiency, and Detroit’s tremendous sprawl has created many challenges for the city. More specifically, a lack of reliable public transit has ailed the city for more than half a century.
Detroit’s significant transportation problems began when the city was designed for complete car dependency, resulting in spatially separated land uses, wide roadways, expansive parking lots and a lack of pedestrian friendly urban spaces (Talen). Detroit cannot afford to delay improvements in its public transit system any longer. The successful future of Detroit is dependent on many economic, political and social factors, but the first step towards revitalization is reconnecting the city through an updated and expanded public transit system. There are many systematic problems that got Detroit to where it is today, but refocusing efforts on a regional transit master plan will allow the city’s residents to engage with and contribute to their city, and will attract new business and development to the Motor City.
The ASLA 2018 Online Learning Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series call for proposals is now open! This initiative gives YOU the opportunity to work with a Professional Practice Network (PPN) mentor in creating a presentation for ASLA’s Online Learning series. Do you have eye-opening research to share with the profession, or an inclination to do a little design exploration over the summer? Here’s your chance!
Provide a presentation description – including title, short description (150 words), outline, and three learning objectives for the presentation.
Submit a portfolio giving ASLA and PPN mentors the opportunity to get to know you and your work (maximum five sheets at 8.5”x11”).
Selected participants will be notified in June. At this time, you will be introduced to your PPN mentor and the collaboration begins! Presentations will take place in August.
Check out the 2017 SPOTLIGHT presentations for inspiration!
Transitional Landscapes presented by Elyana Javaheri, Associate ASLA Tactical Myceliumpresented by Bridget Ayers Looby, Associate ASLA, SITES AP
David Cutter, ASLA, Campus Planning & Design PPN
Laura Tenny, ASLA, Campus Planning & Design PPN
Kenneth Hurst, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN
Tropical TalkStory: Hardwood Hammocks presented by Tricia Keffer, Student ASLA Aloha Art presented by Rachel Katzman, Associate ASLA
Emily O’Mahoney, ASLA, Women in Landscape Architecture PPN
Kristina Snyder, ASLA, Women in Landscape Architecture PPN
by James Sottilo, Ecologist/Arborist; Dr. Efren Cazares, Mycologist; Ted Hartsig, Soil Scientist
Our team began the day reviewing the landscape of Expedia’s anticipated waterfront campus with Michal Kapitulnik, Tim Kirby and Heath House of Surfacedesign, Inc. Our mission – find the potential of current site soil for repurposing. Reusing native soil profiles in future blends can have a tremendous impact on future plant acclimation and site maturity. The campus presented a contrasting ecology. Certain areas of vegetation were lush and dense while other areas displayed brown, drying turf; it was clear to the team where our attention would be needed – right?
Exploring the vibrant sections of vegetation, soil was dark, rich and moist to a depth of 14-inches. Its observable characteristics were rated as productive and ideas for soil reuse and logistics were already being explored.
Taking a few steps into neighboring areas, the look of the landscape began to change. A particular section of grassland was going dormant due to irrigation having been turned off as the site was pending demo and construction. Rooting in this area was measured at 4-inches and the soil profile was a fine sand and clay mix. Another section of land, deemed the Rectangle of Death, had dying to dead grass cover; the soil was a sandy gavel mix with obvious signs of compaction.
For the past few years, the Local Government Commission (LGC) has partnered with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and other organizations to showcase the great potential of parklets as public spaces during annual New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) Conferences. This year, during the conference in San Francisco, various organizations participated in the Parklet program. Our team, representing Riverside University Health System-Public Health (RUHS-PH) and Alta Planning+Design (AP+D), collaborated on the design and creation of a public space we called CommUNITY Station.
Our aim was to raise awareness about the potential application of parklets as transit stops in areas where bus stops lack basic amenities like seating, shade, and lighting, inspired by a group of high school students from rural eastern Coachella Valley who identifiedbus stopsas opportunities to improve the pedestrian and transit environments. The commUNITY station was an opportunity to think beyond the traditional transit stop design. Innovation in materials, cost effectiveness, design and feel while maintaining the basic standards that protect the health, safety and welfare of transit users were some of the points of conversation and potential for future collaboration among the NPSG conference attendees.
Around the world, an estimated 80 percent of all flowering plant species and over one-third of our food is dependent upon or benefited by animal pollinators. However, many of these pollinator species are in decline, threatening the productivity of both global food production and ecological communities. What is causing this decline? How are we contributing, and what can be done to reverse this trend?
With reports of dramatic bee kills from acute exposure to neonicotinoids, the wide-spread prevalence of pesticides is frequently implicated in the decline of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. But upon further inquiry, pesticides are only one component of more complex and interrelated challenges facing pollinators. Loss of habitat for feeding, nesting, and overwintering is often equally, if not more, detrimental than pesticides alone. Fragmented foraging sites require many pollinators to travel further distances in search of resources, thus increasing their exposure to pesticides, pollution, and extreme weather events. Together, the compounding effects of habitat loss and climate variability can reduce the seasonal reliability and abundance of floral resources—impacting nutrition and reproductive success, leaving pollinators stressed, and making declining populations more susceptible to disease, parasites, and poisoning.