As landscape architects, we are highly in tune with the principles and practices of land use planning and, for most of us, it is part of our everyday professional life. Although we are often commissioned to design a single site, we know better than anyone the tangible implications to the surrounding areas, the community, and the regional context our designs may impact. So where does site-specific design stop and land use planning in a broader context begin? How do we best steward the resources and demographics in a global and holistic context? To answer these questions we may need to take a look at the connectivity between land uses. And to do that, we are going to tap into the fields of transportation planning and engineering, and analyze how they overlap with our contributions as landscape architects to the modern world of land use planning.
For this article, we have asked for the perspective of a seasoned transportation planner with over 25 years of experience in analyzing, managing and directing statewide projects and programs in transportation operations, safety and future-ready transportation. John D. Hendrickson, AICP, an Assistant Vice President at WSP and is the director of a traffic engineering and transportation planning group for clients throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mr. Hendrickson is also currently the President of the Virginia Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (VASITE). One of his goals as a transportation planner is to improve communities by blending sustainable transportation systems with sustainable land uses. The result is the creation of complete and efficient roadway networks that allow for multi-modal opportunities that analyze existing operational and safety challenges and develop solutions. Below are John’s perspectives on transportation and land use planning, and the critical importance of each.
The Leadership in Community Development Conference, open to the University and professional communities, was established by Professor Geoffrey J. Booth, former director of the Master of Land and Property Development program at Texas A&M to improve relationships between students and the leaders of the planning, design, and development fields. In addition to presentations by Dr. Mulder, attendees heard reports from his former interns from the Department, now established professional practitioners, who described the importance of their own experiences in working at CMAI during their student years, and for some, for an extended period of employment. Mulder established a long-standing tradition of mentoring student interns during the firm’s early years of the 1980s and he has continued in this role up to the present.
by Kari Spiegelhalter, Tess Ruswick, and Patricia Noto, ASLA Environmental Justice PPN Student Representatives
What is environmental justice? How does it relate to social justice, environmental racism, community health, and equitable design? As designers of places and cities, what is our responsibility to work towards greater equity? As students of landscape architecture, and the student representatives of the Environmental Justice PPN, we found that these questions that weren’t always being addressed in our coursework or studio projects in school. We had a hunch that other students felt the same way, so in spring of 2017, we attended LABash at the University of Maryland, the annual gathering of landscape architecture students from all over the country. Through surveys and conversations with students, we found that many students were concerned, if a bit confused, about environmental justice. Read more about our experiences at LABash in The Field article “Environmental Justice PPN Student Representatives At LABash.”
Students frequently interpreted design for environmental justice as ecological design rather than design that addresses the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on minorities and marginalized groups and the unequal distribution of and access to environmental benefits.
TheEnvironmental Justice PPN has kicked off 2018 by leading virtual conversations for members involved in, inspired by, and interested in pursuing environmental justice through education, research, and practice. In early February, the PPN hosted a virtual presentation and conversation on the Environmental Justice + Landscape Architecture: A Student’s Guide, developed by three MLA students from Cornell and RISD. Look for Tuesday’s Field post with more information on the first draft and how you can help shape the resources, case studies, and activities included in the guide!
On March 8, Viviana Franco, Executive Director of From Lot to Spot (FLTS), will be joining the PPN conversation on equitable community engagement. FLTS, based in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA, is a 501(c)(3) non-proﬁt organization founded in 2007 as a direct result of the relationship between lack of accessible green space and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods. FLTS’ unique approach involves grassroot, community engagement to ensure disadvantaged communities contribute their voice in developing healthy spaces in their neighborhoods. Viviana will be discussing her organization’s approach to providing equitable community engagement as well as some case studies where those principles have been applied.
In February, the New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) conference, the nation’s largest smart growth and sustainability event, was held in San Francisco, CA. As a promotional sponsor, ASLA led the sixth annual Parklets Initiative along with the Local Government Commission (LGC). The interactive installations were created by design and planning firms as well as local non-profit organizations. The parklets were located adjacent to the conference session rooms, and provided an opportunity for attendees to carry over the dynamic interactive sessions into the common space, where they could network with colleagues and engage in dialogue around smart growth implementation. The programming elements of the parklets included urban forest products, creative placemaking though public transit stops, complete street design components, and participation-based urban planning tools.
Modifications to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Headquarters building, now known as the Center for Landscape Architecture (CLA), are nearing completion for higher performance in water conservation. The exterior improvements are of particular interest to landscape architects and others who are sustainably-minded, as part of their ongoing Energy-Starinitiatives. In addition to interior upgrades and hardscape improvements outside, the primary improvements of high interest to ASLA’s Water Conservation PPN include the water-harvesting system and the WaterSmart approach to irrigation for the greenroof, the new courtyard (east of the building) and the planted canopy overhanging the front windows and entry on the north side.
Across the country, parks professionals, planners and community organizations have been using arts and culture as a means to address important community development goals in a practice known as creative placemaking.
City Parks Alliance (CPA) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) are partnering to bring placemaking skills and strategies to you through a PARKXCHANGE City Workshop on Creative Placemaking, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2017, CPA and TPL released The Field Guide for Creative Placemaking and Parks, a book that serves as a ‘how-to’ for implementing park-based creative placemaking and highlights successful park placemaking case studies.
These organizations are now partnering to bring those skills and innovative strategies to you through our PARKXCHANGE City Workshops. CPA and TPL will be selecting two U.S. cities to host a creative placemaking workshop, a day-long workshop with guest speakers, interactive case studies, and creative placemaking skill-building. Submissions are due February 28, 2018.
In early January, ASLA participated in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show®(IBS) as part of Design & Construction Week® (DCW) in Orlando, FL. Working with local members to increase awareness of the landscape architecture profession among an audience of large national builders, small local builders, architects, and designers, ASLA exhibited on the trade show floor among more than 80,000 attendees and 1,500 exhibitors. Todd Bonnett, ASLA, and Dean Hill, ASLA, along with ASLA staff, fielded questions by conference attendees regarding professional services provided by landscape architects. Todd also promoted the importance of working with a landscape architect through the Plan Review Session, during which attendees had the opportunity to sign up for a review with landscape architects, architects, planners, and interior designers to study housing plans and discuss creative ideas to better meet the needs of today’s home buyers and builders. Continue reading →
A Recap of Last Year’s Annual Meeting and Blast Off into 2018
Another year is in the books, and as we look back it was a very fun and successful year. At theASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles, there were several digital technology sessions covering some of the leading tools and tech including BIM, augmented and virtual reality, innovative prototyping, demystifying technology and more. Thank you to all who supported these sessions and to the panelists for sharing their tools, techniques, and passion.
The Digital Technology PPN EXPO tour was also very informative as we learned in-depth information from the presenting vendors about their tools to assist our profession. We were also able to gather for our annual PPN meeting and meet with each other in person, share our knowledge, and come up with ideas for 2018. A major thank you to all who participated in these various events. Continue reading →
ASLA and the Local Government Commission (LGC) will lead the sixth annualParklets Initiativeat the2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. ASLA is looking for local organizations and design firms to participate in the design and installation of the parklets, advocating for urban green space and activated public space throughout our cities. Planning for Parklets 6.0 will begin in late September, gearing up for the conference on February 1-3, 2018.
ASLA and the Local Government Commission (LGC) will lead the sixth annual Parklets Initiative at the 2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. ASLA is looking for local organizations and design firms to participate in the design and installation of the parklets, advocating for urban green space and activated public space throughout our cities. Planning for Parklets 6.0 will begin in late September, gearing up for the conference on February 1-3, 2018. The Parklets Initiative is modeled after the PARK(ing) Day movement, which inspires the transformation of vehicular parking spaces into temporary urban parks. We bring this urban green space movement indoors, with installations located adjacent to the conference session rooms easily accessible by conference attendees. See The Field recap of the 2017 Parklets 5.0 initiative.
Participate in planning calls
Provide materials and design for a 10’x20’ parklet space
Share potential resources and ideas with other parklet participants
Provide a title and description for their parklet, which will be included on the website and printed program booklet
Parklet participants receive:
One (1) full conference registration
Name/logo on website and printed program booklet
Name/logo on Parklet 6.0 poster, located prominently throughout conference space
Special thanks in the printed program booklet
Mention in event summary in ASLA’s online blog, The Field
Today’s landscapes are asked to perform much more than functional or aesthetic services: they filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve human health, and more. As projects become more complex, and clients aim higher to meet today’s climate challenges, the use of performance metrics is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Why use data?
While the design of green space and lush plantings seems inherently ecologically beneficial, quantifying the actual value of those benefits is a little more complex. This barrier makes it challenging as we advocate for high-performing landscapes. Meanwhile, the drawbacks of initial cost and maintenance are seen as barriers to the development of more green space. This is where landscape performance metrics are valuable; using data to estimate the positive benefits of design elements and ensuring a landscape performs to the anticipated standards. Data allows us to quantify the benefits of a designed landscape, and provides hard evidence for a client trying to balance a project’s budget, schedule, and demands.
A trend is emerging within the profession that expands our approach to planting design and the role of vegetation. Designers are backing away from the role of curator of gardens where plant species are selected and placed according to a theme in a created setting, without regard to how that species may be predisposed to behave in the setting. Instead, they are adopting the role of steward to a set of naturally occurring processes that govern the development of plant communities. An understanding of ecological principles to guide the design, planting and maintenance of landscapes, and reliance on an adaptive management process based on observation and recalibration will result in landscapes that will take less energy and resources to maintain and provide the greatest environmental benefits.
The study of landscape ecology has had a significant impact on the way landscape designers and planners think about open space and connectivity at the regional scale, and has led to the promotion and implementation of green infrastructure to provide cost-effective systems that protect and restore natural resources. Green infrastructure is crucial to combating climate change, creating healthy built environments, and improving our quality of life. The shift towards green infrastructure in the design and implementation of the built environment has opened a window through which landscape designers can employ ecologically-based strategies. It will be necessary for landscape designers to build a body of knowledge based on the principles of ecology. The revelatory book by Travis Beck, The Principles of Ecological Landscape Design, is one of the foundations of this expanding body of knowledge.