The Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB) wants to hear what you think about the proposed revisions to its Accreditation Standards.
At its April 2021 meeting, LAAB approved draft revisions to its Accreditation Standards. Before these revisions are finalized and published, LAAB collects input from its communities of interest and determines if the revisions are adequate or if any additional revisions are needed.
LAAB will review comments and vote on final revisions later this year with an expected publish date of January 2022.
The Applied Research Consortium (ARC) is a new program within University of Washington’s College of Built Environments that links graduate students, faculty members, and firms to research a topic collaboratively. Now in my final year of UW’s MLA program, I am leading a year-long research project through an ARC Fellowship. The research is focused on racial equity within built environment design practice. More specifically, I am looking at how perceptions of workplace culture within design practice affect employee retention and goals around equity and inclusion.
To better understand existing perceptions of workplace culture, I have created a short, anonymous survey aimed at design professionals. Through this survey, I hope to learn what aspects of workplace culture need the most improvement and provide a set of recommendations for how workplaces can positively shift their culture.
Your help is needed! The survey closes at the end of March. I am seeking participation from landscape architects to reach the respondent goal. Please feel free to share it widely with your professional networks. All responses are completely anonymous and highly valued.
The research project began in September 2020 with goal setting, a literature review, and scoping process. One of the goals that emerged from this early phase of the project is to widely share the findings, and subsequent recommendations for an industry-scale impact. In the spirit of sharing research, I would like to share a few key takeaways thus far:
The Built Environment is Racist
The built environment is a physical manifestation of our nation’s cultural and political history, and that history is racist. Some well-known examples of racism in the built environment include exclusionary redlining policies, the targeted siting of urban renewal projects, toxic industrial sites, and waste sites within communities of color, oppressive architecture of low-income housing projects, and inequitable urban economic development policies.
During a student visit to the landscape architecture firm OvS in Washington, D.C., one summer day many years ago, the strongest impression came from hundreds upon hundreds of slides from images of van Sweden’s travels in Europe all perfectly organized in a room. Travel is often touted as an educational tool in the profession of landscape architecture, but exactly how to benefit from it is often left unexplained. In a series of essays on The Art of Travel the philosopher Alain de Botton takes a critical eye to these aspects of travel. One essay in particular on “Possessing Beauty” reveals a connection between touring and creative work.
De Botton observes that after experiencing a moment of beauty, inspiration, or truth, it is a naturally human impulse to want to keep it and to give it a sense of respect within our life. One option is to take a photograph with our phone, but such a casual tool often fails to capture the essence of what we found so uniquely inspiring in that moment. Another option is to purchase a postcard, tchotchke, or T-shirt. De Botton draws on the perspective of the nineteenth century British artist and poet John Ruskin, who exhorted the British people to take in beauty through sketches and ‘word-painting’ instead. Through identifying the sources of attraction to a beautiful space, we can own it within ourselves.
With touching vulnerability de Botton shares with us about his quirky adventure in sketching a hotel window and composing a word painting of an office park. He does not share the results except to assure us that they are both quite bad, but that is not the point. Ruskin preferred the thoughtful seeing behind a poorly executed sketch more than the reverse. De Botton presents himself as the average human with a desire to appreciate the beauty around him and demonstrate that we can all do the same.
E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career, and the second installment for Byron’s time at CHNMB and Amphion.
Career in Teaching
In ’79, when I was working on the K Street Mall, still as CHNMB, I had given a presentation up in Sacramento and met Rob Thayer. Probably two or three weeks later, Dave Johnson in our office said they were looking for someone to teach grading and drainage at UC Davis. We were slow at the time and he thought I could probably do that. I had never taught before; I thought, I wouldn’t know what to do! Dave said, “You teach all the time in the office. You know what you’re talking about, students would love it.” I literally had never thought about teaching. I definitely knew how to grade and drain, and a lot of people don’t when they get into an office. I contacted Rob (who founded the landscape architecture program at Davis) and he said, “You’ll be perfect. We’ll give you a great TA who’s already taken the course, and a workbook you can use.” I got Rich Untermann’s book, The Principles of Grading and Drainage. There were an awful lot of generalizations in it; it gets people started, but doesn’t take it very far, so I began to modify and make up my own exercises. One of the hardest things to do is to create exercises or problems. I would do one and think this is going to get exactly what I want; then I’m in the middle of doing it and a student would ask about an element I hadn’t planned on introducing yet.
I taught the course that first time, and Rob asked if I wanted to do it again. He said I got great reviews, and I enjoyed it. I was teaching one half-day, two days a week. The first time I taught I didn’t even get paid; I gave the money back to the office because I didn’t take the time off. In ’81 the department asked me if I wanted to teach two courses. Skip Mezger, ASLA, and I taught together; it was a hands-on thing. We spent an hour talking about theory of construction and then we’d work for a couple hours doing projects on campus, or sometimes we’d just go hammer some nails. It was like taking city people to the country—it was good introductory stuff. When I started teaching halftime I cut my salary from the office. That also started me in the retirement system, which at first I didn’t think too much about. That went on for a couple years, then Skip went on to something else, or collectively we decided to change the course a little bit. It was still half days, but I was now teaching two quarters. Then I had a third course. Grading and drainage, detailing and materials, then construction documents. At one point I introduced a professional practice course as a separate course, but they couldn’t find a way to fit it in, so I worked that into construction documents, which seemed to be the place that it fit the best.
E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career.
The whole time that Lawrence Halprin and Associates (LH&A) existed the office was located at 1620 Montgomery Street, in the waterfront area below Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. In the early 1970s, Larry started an alternative office called Roundhouse, which was located at the train turnaround, just down from Montgomery Street. Roundhouse became what Larry was really interested in, although he was still involved in projects on a request basis. He had written The RSVP Cycles, and was getting more involved in esoteric theories and practices of group dynamics. During this time we began to refine the workshops that we were becoming known for—learning ways to work with groups and help them be more creative, and break down the mindset one came in with. We cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them on the wall; we sketched. We did the “two minute drill” which involved listing five things that are most important to you in one minute—things that first come to mind. Larry did training workshops for those of us who were going to be leading workshops. Larry didn’t lead all the workshops; he led some of the early ones, then several of us took over.
This went on for a couple years, during which time we got the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Larry got that project through Roundhouse and Larry hired LH&A to do it and manage it, but he was the one in charge. I was assigned as the project manager. I had to negotiate the contract and go to Washington a couple times to meet with senators. This was always a strange project to me because FDR very explicitly said, “I do not want a memorial, give me a rock out in front of the library with my name on it.” Until certain members of his family died, that was the situation, but Congress went ahead and appropriated money for it. That project took twenty-five years—it wasn’t built until the late ’90s and it started in ’72.
E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story.
My view of landscape architecture, of course, has evolved over the years. I graduated from high school in 1959. The direction we were given was to be an engineer, and if you were smart enough, to be an aerospace engineer; that was the field to go into. I had decent enough grades; I could have probably gone into it easily enough. In the library—libraries still existed then, with books in them!—there were career pamphlets; “be an engineer,” be this or be that. I pulled out the one on engineers and looked at what you needed to do. It had math, math, math, math. I can do math, but I don’t enjoy math, so I thought I’m not going to do engineering. I enjoyed drawing. I was decent at artwork, so I considered maybe something more in an artistic field. I thought seriously about architecture for a while and looked up their pamphlets. Unfortunately architects have to do calculus.
I had done a lot of gardening around our house. My mom really encouraged me to plant flowers. I didn’t know too much about plants, but I had an interest in it. At the time I found landscape architecture, the little brochure said landscape architects do houses, backyards…they do parks, and other sorts of things, but it was pretty much focused on designing people’s backyards. That’s the impression of landscape architecture that I entered UC Berkeley with—I wanted to do people’s backyards.
When I got to school, in those particular days, landscape architecture education started with architecture. You had a couple of introductory landscape courses, but all of the basic design was done through architecture—spatial manipulation, colors, patterns, textures, working with any kind of design philosophy from a very basic standpoint. It was a whole year of just introductory design courses through the architecture department, and those were good. There was a lot of advanced structure to it—structure in terms of form—and we’d been doing these for years. I think it was a good introduction. It opened my eyes; it was a lot more than I ever thought it was going to be.
As COVID-19 cases are surging across several states, many educators are in a state of limbo planning for the coming school year. As an affiliate faculty member and lecturer in the University of Washington’s Department of Landscape Architecture, I too am looking toward the autumn with a mix of uncertainty and optimism. In a recent email from the University describing the planned approach to reopening, it is currently anticipated that some classes will be taught in-person, some taught remotely, and some will be a hybrid of both approaches. In any scenario, I, like many others, am in the process of thinking through my class and how to best serve my students while working within social distancing requirements or remote learning challenges.
To a degree, remote learning is no longer new, and many lessons have been learned through the rapid shift universities were forced into this past spring. While I was not teaching through this transition, I followed it closely with intrigue and I had some experiences as a guest lecturer reviewer throughout the spring quarter. Still, I kept asking myself, how are other instructors adapting and what lessons have they learned in the process that could influence my planning for the fall? There have been several groups within universities and departments that worked together to develop repeatable and effective solutions, and there have been helpful articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine and the “Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching” series in Places Journal.
In addition to these resources, I have spoken to many students and faculty regarding the ups and downs of their experiences. Recently, I spoke with Associate Professor, Ryan Hargrove, PhD, ASLA, from the University of Kentucky, and he shared some interesting and insightful thoughts on his experiences with remote education.
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.
The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) is the official accrediting body for first professional programs in landscape architecture. Every five years, the LAAB conducts a formal, comprehensive review of the accreditation standards. Later this fall, LAAB will host a public comment review period for the 2016 LAAB Accreditation Standards. In preparation, ASLA’s Committee on Education and the Education & Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN) invite you to attend a live webinar on Thursday, August 22, at 3:00 p.m. ET. Kristopher Pritchard, ASLA’s director of accreditation and education programs, will discuss the current LAAB Accreditation Standards and how you can contribute to the review process during the webinar.
LAAB Accreditation Standards – 2019 Public Comment Period Overview
Thursday, August 22, 2019
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET
The LAAB accreditation process evaluates each program based on its stated objectives and compliance to externally mandated minimum standards. The program conducts a self-study to assess how well it is meeting its educational goals. LAAB then provides an independent assessment, which determines if a program meets accreditation requirements. Programs leading to first professional degrees at the bachelor’s or master’s levels in the United States are eligible to apply for accreditation from LAAB. See a list of programs accredited by LAAB.
When did you first hear about landscape architecture? Was it before, during, or after college?
When I asked fellow landscape architects that question, their answer was frequently while in college, often in an architecture program, or after they had graduated with a degree in business, finance, horticulture, art, interior design, or, like me, biomedical science. But their common interests included art, nature, the outdoors, working with their hands, and creating things. So, why didn’t someone suggest landscape architecture before they went to college?
Perhaps because most people don’t understand what a landscape architect is or does: landscaper—yes; but landscape architect—no. Participation in workshops, summer programs, and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Landscape Architecture Merit Badge help spread the word to youth, but what about high school architectural design programs?
Wait…you didn’t know that some school districts offer architecture as part of their high school curriculum? I had no idea either, until flipping through a course catalogue with my son when he entered the ninth grade. He liked architecture and wanted to try the program to be sure.
The four-year program is taught by a registered architect. Students from the district’s five high school campuses are bussed to a central Career Center for a half-day, studio-style class. They learn drafting, hand-lettering, sketching, AutoCAD, Revit, and SketchUp; make cardboard, basswood, and 3D models; and research, design, and learn critical thinking. Projects focus on architecture but each has a landscape design and, sometimes, a planning component.
While the profession of landscape architecture is relatively old in practice, the contemporary network of professionals remains a small group of people with shared links in academic and professional lineages. In the same way that we value our understanding of ourselves relative to our biological heritage, it is equally as important to examine and identify our professional lineage, stemming from our beginnings in academia. This examination lends to reflection on how we, as students and practitioners, decidedly embrace or revoke the design thinking and practices of our predecessors and mentors.
During my time at North Carolina State University (NCSU), I often heard brief stories about faculty that collaborated with notable professionals, or of an individual that studied under particularly admirable instructors. As the number of stories and names grew, I realized that other people might benefit from making this information accessible, and I decided to document this information in a singular place. This project ultimately stems from a selfish endeavor to understand the extent of experience housed within our department, and to understand how my perspectives in landscape architecture are shaped through generations of education and practice.
When I initially mentioned this project to faculty, I emailed to ask them if they were willing to share and to identify their academic institutions with meaningful mentors from their academic and professional experiences. I had several faculty members enthusiastically respond, and some asked for a meeting to better understand the objective of the document. I tried not to put any parameters on what defines a mentor, and let their own interpretations shape the document. In the end, the graphic feels like a celebration of our faculty, recognizing the wealth of experience and exposure we have at NCSU.
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:
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
Gray Hair Matters: Developing a custom MLA Curriculum for seasoned professionals to enter academia
Design professionals with substantial practice experience have usually amassed a wealth of acquired knowledge and lessons learned over their career. Moreover, they have the gray hair to prove it. There could be a benefit to having those professionals impart that experience onto the next generation of designers as instructors in university landscape architecture programs.
For professionals with a Bachelor’s degree who may be interested in this pursuit, how does one prepare to make the transition from practice to teaching? Most positions for teaching landscape architecture begin with a minimum requirement of an MLA. However, what about having this qualification prepares one to be an effective teacher?
I asked myself this question when I decided to enroll in an MLA degree program at the University of Georgia (UGA), with the express desire of transitioning from practice into a teaching career. The question became the focus of my thesis as I worked toward proposing a custom MLA curriculum designed to prepare seasoned practitioners to enter academia and teach landscape architecture. Continue reading →
This will take place on PPN Live’s City Park Stage on the EXPO floor, and will be open to all attendees, giving greater exposure to some of the innovative work being done in the campus landscape. It will also provide an opportunity to network with landscape architect educators and practitioners that use our campus landscapes as a living learning classroom. For those of you that are not able to make it to New Orleans, we will be posting these presentations on the PPN webpage after the meeting.
Check out this list of events at the Annual Meeting that may be of interest to you:
Campus Planning & Design PPN / Education & Practice PPN Joint Meeting
Saturday, October 22, 1:30 – 2:15 PM
City Park Stage, PPN Live area of the EXPO floor
PPN Meeting Agenda:
Kick off introductions
Presentation 1: The High Efficiency Campus
Lauren Williams, ASLA
Presentation 2: Technology and the 21st Century High-Performance Campus Landscape
Gregory Tuzzolo, ASLA, and Milee Pradhan, ASLA
Presentation 3: Visualizing Campus Activities from 5, 10, and 1000 Feet
Todd Robinson, ASLA
Presentation 4: Campus Constants, Digital Flux
Katharyn Hurd, Associate ASLA, and Andrew Sullivan, ASLA
Creative thinking is the foundation of our profession. Of all the skill sets that a landscape architect must possess, the ability to imagine, create and evaluate unique solutions to complex social and environmental challenges is our most valuable asset.
Creative thinkers possess the ability to identify multiple possibilities when confronted with challenging problems. This type of thinking is found among people with personality traits such as non-conformity, curiosity, risk taking, and persistence. It is also found naturally in children. This ability to generate multiple solutions and to think outside a set of linear constraints is called “divergent thinking” or “lateral thinking.”
The term divergent thinking was first introduced by psychologist J.P. Guilford in 1967 (nearly 50 years ago). Together with convergent thinking, these terms represent opposing thinking styles.
Convergent thinkers quickly seek a solution by reducing options and limiting choices to arrive at an appropriate answer. Convergent thinking is what you use to answer a multiple choice question or calculate a simple mathematical equation. You are seeking “the one right answer.” The process is systematic and linear.
Now that summer has officially ended for most academics (although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the thermometer outside my office here in Delaware), many folks are busy running design studios for various courses. I was all set to run a studio using a community redevelopment project I have been working on when a colleague who works for a state department emailed an interesting design challenge that piqued my interest – and I hope it comes as news to some of you. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its fifth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge offering a green infrastructure challenge for colleges and universities.
According to the EPA Challenge website, “Student teams design an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater runoff while benefiting the campus community and the environment.” There are two design categories – Master Plan and Demonstration Project, and this year teams will be asked to incorporate climate resiliency and consider community engagement in stormwater management designs.
At the ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Denver last year, I attended several “Inside the LA Studio” education sessions where I was at once intrigued and captivated by the unique journey each leader took to establishing a successful landscape architecture firm. How does an emerging professional make the transition from education to practice? In particular, what are the critical elements that intersect in the formation of a successful landscape architecture firm?
To learn more, the same four questions about organization, culture, vision, roots, and process were put to the leaders of successful landscape architecture firms that differed in size, structure, and culture. The responses showed a pattern of critical elements essential to building and maintaining a vibrant practice.
We chose to profile two firms and the unique journeys each firm’s leader took to their present success. In Part I, we asked Keith Bowers, FASLA, Principal of Biohabitats those four questions. In Part II, we will profile the journey of LLG.
At the ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO in Denver last year, I attended several “Inside the LA Studio” education sessions were I was at once intrigued and captivated by the unique journey each leader took to establishing a successful landscape architecture firm. How does an emerging professional make the transition from education to practice? In particular, what are the critical elements intersecting the formation of a successful landscape architecture firm?
To learn more, the same four questions about organization, culture, vision, roots, and process was put to the leaders of successful landscape architecture firms that differed in size, structure, and culture. The responses showed a pattern of critical elements essential to building and maintaining a vibrant practice.
In general, the best firms we interviewed had a vision, refined within an area of expertise that resonated with their core values. Most developed the type of projects they wanted to work on, based on their central philosophy and didn’t stray from it, while each leader knew the limits of their expertise and actively sought to fill any void in knowledge to create a diverse team of professionals. Using a vision and passion expressed as the core theology of a firm to drive all business decisions, from client selection and project management to employee structure and affiliated professionals, was the most important element to developing a successful firm.
The three critical elements you must have to build a vibrant practice which emerged from our interviews with successful firms:
Education and Practice Professional Practice Network (PPN) Meeting Sunday, November 8, 4:15-5:45pm in PPN Room 1 on the EXPO floor
All members and non-PPN members are welcome to attend
This year, the Education and Practice PPN has planned a World Café style PPN meeting, and we hope you will join the conversation. The major theme of our session is the education of a young professional; an eight to ten year process in which academia takes the first 4-5 years and practice takes the second 4-5 years. How do we create conditions between both players that allows us to fully share our collective resources and strengths? At the meeting we will also share the results of our recent Education and Practice PPN Survey. In addition to the PPN meeting, the following includes a brief list of educational sessions that may be of interest to you: Continue reading →
Who In my experience teaching undergraduate and graduate students, students do not find much help in their programs/departments creating a portfolio for job applications, whether it’s for a summer job, internship, or for “the job” upon graduation. The portfolio is, of course, just one part of the application process. The cover letter, resume, and list of references are also items that many students do not understand how to organize, outline, and write in a professional manner.
Most universities have a career services office but I have found that they cannot attend to the unique aspects that design job applications demand. Some design schools offer portfolio courses (1-3 credit), workshops run by renowned portfolio gurus, and portfolio review sessions. All of these are terrific opportunities for students, yet many of them are typically “one offs.” Over the years I have been involved in these offerings in various ways but am always looking for ways to improve the means by which we educate our students about creating successful and meaningful portfolios, as well as the other components of the job application. Continue reading →
For the past year, I have been working with a committee and group of advisors to bring the first Landscape Architecture (LA) baccalaureate degree program to the University of Delaware (UD). I spend my free time looking at focus-group data, the LA Body of Knowledge Study Report, accreditation standards, university requirements, and curriculum maps. As I study this information, I realize how well landscape architecture programs support 21st century university goals, such as community engagement through the use of active studio projects. During this review, I have also began to ponder how educators keep GenerationZ students interested and engaged in the classroom – especially in the support courses that are still offered as traditional lecture classes.
In 2015, UD was one of 240 U.S. colleges and universities to attain first time, or reclassified status as a Carnegie Foundation Engaged University. During the process, I was frequently tapped to share stories of the community-based projects I run each semester. When speaking to professional educators and interested community members from diverse fields, they often point to my subject matter – landscape architecture and design – as an easy topic to embed community engagement projects and support active learning. I will admit, at first glance, it may seem easier than many subjects, like history, philosophy, or knowledge-based subjects like plant materials, but community-based active learning can become the focus of any classroom.
According to the Carnegie Foundation, “community engagement describes collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” Landscape architecture programs easily lead the way in community engagement with a long-standing tradition of community outreach and projects that lend themselves to real world problems. But, as I rewrite curriculum for the new LA program I can’t help but think – what more can we do to engage the community and benefit our students?
I was excited when I opened the February issue of LAM and saw an article on soil biology from James Sottilo (“Life in the Dirt,” Landscape Architecture Magazine, February 2015, p. 58) where he describes what is needed in terms of healthy soil biology for projects to be ultimately healthy and successful. As a designer I have been guiding my clients on the importance of good soil biology. As a contractor, I have been custom blending and using Liquid Biological Amendments (LBAs) for the last year; I’ve been amazed by their efficacy. I have talked to a lot of people about what I’m doing, but there it was in LAM from a qualified person with serious experience and credentials to speak on the topic.
One of my essential network contacts, Leighton Morrison of Kingdom Aquaponics, had pointed me toward the article. Morrison had told me about the work Sottilo was doing on a field test for biomass. He also told me about a class on using the new field test equipment at Bergen County Community College (BCCC) in New Jersey; I wanted to know what the connection was between Sottilo and the school where the class would be held. After all, one of the important issues for us in the Education and Practice PPN is facilitating the connections between schools and practitioners and I wanted to discover how this connection happened.
Have you ever read a book so compelling and inspirational it becomes your go-to holiday gift? This past year I shared with many colleagues and loved ones a book I found both captivating and insightful, with the hope that they would not only enjoy the eloquent prose and educational essays, but it would also cause them to reconsider the way they perceive the world outside.
For me, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell, has actually achieved a status well beyond that of a holiday gift by becoming the basis for my spring Field Sketching course at the University of Delaware. The course focuses on the power of observation to develop design-thinking habits of mind, and on freehand sketching techniques used to portray objects and landscape subjects. In addition to fine arts-based studio techniques, students have an opportunity to demonstrate their sketching and observational skills each week as they hike to the woods to sit quietly and reflect on the forest details. Insights from The Forest Unseen and instructor prompts will lead the student explorations of their own personal one square meter of space in the nearby White Clay Creek nature preserve.
In Haskell’s book, the area of observation is referred to as a mandala. In their personal mandala, students will sit quietly for 2 hours/week observing and documenting the space. In doing so, they will help me answer the questions: How might extended observation of one place change a student’s awareness, perception, or appreciation of the place? How might doing so change their perception of living and non-living things that periodically occupy the space? How might this translate to more environmentally thoughtful behavior and designs?
A new Professional Practice Network has been established: Education & Practice, ASLA’s nineteenth PPN. Co-Chairs Jules Bruck, Affiliate ASLA, and Hilary Noonan, Associate ASLA, will lead the new group. The inaugural meeting of the PPN will take place during the Annual Meeting in Denver on Sunday, November 23 from 12:45-1:20 PM.
The Education & Practice PPN promotes collaboration and the sharing of ideas, issues, and trends that advance the profession, while informing undergraduate and graduate education. Building upon the significant research, innovations, and challenges happening in academic, public, and private practice, it seeks to promote a two-way dialogue that identifies needs and opportunities within education and practice. To read the PPN’s full mission statement, visit www.asla.org/education.
All ASLA members may join one PPN for free, and each additional PPN for only $15 per year. To join the Education & Practice PPN, email email@example.com, or call 888-999-ASLA.
In addition, there is an Education & Practice LinkedIn group that is open to all interested individuals.
A Message from the Education & Practice PPN Co-Chairs:
For this year’s Annual Meeting, we have highlighted a few sessions and events that we believe are right on target to connect academic, public, and private practitioners to better prepare students to succeed in the profession.