Campus Planning & Design and Education & Practice at the Annual Meeting

Tulane University image: Paula Burch-Celentano / Tulane University

Tulane University
image: Paula Burch-Celentano / Tulane University

Welcome to our meeting preview for the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans from October 21 to 24. This year two of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are trying something new: Campus Planning & Design and Education & Practice are partnering for a joint PPN meeting featuring several short presentations and discussion on the topic of: How has technology changed the nature of the university campus?

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:

PPN Events

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
  • Q+A

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Making a Case for Divergent Thinking

image: Brian LaHaie

image: Brian LaHaie

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.

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EPA Green Infrastructure Design Challenge

Philadelphia University image: Jules Bruck

Philadelphia University
image: Jules Bruck

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.

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Building a Vibrant Practice Part II

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Research Support Facility Golden, CO image: LLG

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Research Support Facility
Golden, CO
image: LLG

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.

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Building a Vibrant Practice Part I

image: Biohabitats

image: Biohabitats

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:

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Education and Practice at the Annual Meeting

image: Jules Bruck

image: Jules Bruck

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:
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Portfolio Workshops for Landscape Architecture Students

Portfolio Workshop:  Kathleen King (Design Workshop) and Adam Carreau (CU-Boulder ENVD, Senior) image: joni m. palmer

Portfolio Workshop: Kathleen King (Design Workshop) and Adam Carreau (CU-Boulder ENVD, Senior)
image: joni m. palmer

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.
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