A Historic Rehab in Old North St. Louis

Mural at Crown Square / image credit: Shawn Balon
Mural at Crown Square / image credit: Shawn Balon

This February, in St. Louis, MO, the New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) conference hosted exciting tours of model projects and neighborhoods throughout the greater St. Louis region and surrounding communities. I chose to attend the tour focusing on Challenges and Successes with Implementing a Comprehensive, Community-Driven Revitalization, including Historic Rehab in Old North St. Louis; focusing on a historical neighborhood in North St. Louis that was once vibrant in the early 1900’s, left as a ghost town by the 1980’s, and soon revitalized in the early 2000’s.

In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the Old North St. Louis Revitalization Initiative as one of five communities to receive a national award for Overall Excellence in Smart Growth Achievement. The award supports communities that use innovation to build stronger local economies. Old North St. Louis exemplified a comprehensive approach to community development and a strong community role in setting the agenda leading to a more robust mix of businesses and organizations since the revitalization. Continue reading

Who Inspires You?

At the Hudson's Edge: Beacon's Long Dock a Resilient Riverfront Park, Beacon, NY, Reed Hilderbrand LLC, 2015 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, General Design Category image: James Ewing Photography
At the Hudson’s Edge: Beacon’s Long Dock a Resilient Riverfront Park, Beacon, NY, Reed Hilderbrand LLC, 2015 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, General Design Category
image: James Ewing Photography

Who inspires you? The brevity of the first question we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members in the 2015 PPN survey belies the breadth, depth, and diversity of the responses received, which ranged from specific individuals to larger groups, and from historical figures to contemporary practitioners.

The most popular answers were family members, artists, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Piet Oudolf. Inspiring landscape architects that appeared among the responses included: Andrea Cochran, FASLA; Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA; Douglas Reed, FASLA, and Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA; Dan Kiley; James Corner, ASLA; James Urban, FASLA; Julie Bargmann, ASLA; Kathryn Gustafson, FASLA; Laurie Olin, FASLA; Martha Schwartz, FASLA; Mia Lehrer, FASLA; Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA; Susannah Drake, FASLA; Signe Nielsen, FASLA; and Walter Hood.

Many members also responded with a broader category, rather than a specific individual:

“Artists of all media”

“Ancient Chinese garden designers”

“Aspirational thinkers”

“People with great vision and free spirit”

“People who put their talents to work to solve problems while putting their ego on the shelf”

“Nature writers”

“Field biologists / conservationists”

“Environmental activists”

“Professionals in public interest design”

“Musicians and chefs”

“I get glints of inspirations from almost everyone at different times.”

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Parklets 5.0 at New Partners for Smart Growth

Experience the Gateway to Trails and Forests!, sponsored by Nature Explore, U.S. Forest Service, Arbor Day Foundation, and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation image: Shawn Balon
Experience the Gateway to Trails and Forests!, sponsored by Nature Explore, U.S. Forest Service, Arbor Day Foundation, and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation
image: Shawn Balon

This February, in St. Louis, MO, the New Partners for Smart Growth (NPSG) conference hosted a unique set of spaces that have become a tradition of the conference. Parklets 5.0 was the fifth annual initiative to bring the urban green space movement indoors.

Parklets are parking space-sized areas used for recreational, community gathering, or beautification purposes that assist in bringing awareness to the quantity of community space that is devoted to parking rather than vibrant urban green space. These small urban parks are created by replacing a parking spot with a variety of elements (planters, trees, benches, children’s play areas, artwork, bicycle parking, and more!). Parklets evolved from an annual event where citizens, artists, and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces. Following the success of the first 2005 intervention, PARK(ing) Day has grown into a global movement. Be on the lookout later this year for information on Celebrating PARK(ing) Day with ASLA!

Led by ASLA and the Local Government Commission (LGC), the Parklets project at NPSG, once again, included interactive spaces showcasing how a parklet can transform an under-utilized parking space (or two) into exciting opportunities for creating more vibrant spaces in communities. This year, six parklet installations covered the area outside conference session rooms. The parklets were sponsored by local organizations and design firms involved in designing and advocating for urban green space and active play throughout the country.

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Creativity & Inspired Design

The Metro-Forest Project, Prawet, Bangkok, Thailand, Landscape Architects of Bangkok (LAB), 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Rungkit Charoenwat
The Metro-Forest Project, Prawet, Bangkok, Thailand, Landscape Architects of Bangkok (LAB), 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Rungkit Charoenwat

Each year, members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are surveyed on a different theme. In 2013, the focus was favorite spaces, with questions on iconic spaces, cities with the best networks of open spaces, and projects that changed the profession, among others. The 2014 survey focused on the variety career paths in landscape architecture. Members shared essential skills for success, the greatest challenges landscape architects face, what makes their work rewarding, and their advice for emerging professionals.

The results of those surveys have been highlighted here on The Field—now, we are moving on to the 2015 survey, when PPN members were asked to tell us about creativity and what makes for inspired designs in landscape architecture, a profession that blends art and science and requires both technical knowledge and artistry to create beautiful places.

We received responses from a diverse range of individuals in terms of sector, region of work, and level of experience:

  • Every PPN is represented, and Sustainable Design and Development—the largest PPN—had the most respondents.
  • The East, South, and Midwest are all equally represented, but the West had the most respondents.
  • 10% of respondents practice internationally.
  • 73% work in private practice.
  • 43% have 20+ years of experience, and 24% have 5 years or less.
  • 59% work in firms, agencies, or organizations of 25 or fewer employees.

Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND, and we are sharing that information again here on The Field. For updates on the results of the latest PPN survey, see LAND‘s PPN News section.

Below are a few highlights from the 2015 results, which will be explored in greater depth in upcoming posts.

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ASLA at the International Builders’ Show

ASLA's exhibit booth image: Shawn Balon
ASLA’s exhibit booth
image: Shawn Balon

This January, as part of Design & Construction Week® (DCW) in Orlando, FL, NAHB’s International Builders’ Show® (IBS) hosted their annual event that brought together more than 60,000 builders, general contractors, remodelers, designers, flooring professionals, as well as product specifiers from 100 countries. Throughout the three-day event, attendees discovered an expansive universe of products and innovative concepts designed to enhance their businesses, design thinking, and living environments.

For the thirteenth year, ASLA was on hand to exhibit and advocate creating a stronger presence for landscape architecture professionals. Along with our exhibit booth, we had the opportunity to work with local ASLA chapter members in Florida for ASLA’s “Ask a Landscape Architect,” which has been a tradition at the show for many years.

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Making Streets Safer for Pedestrians

South Grand Boulevard "Great Streets Initiative," St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category image: Design Workshop, Inc.
South Grand Boulevard “Great Streets Initiative,” St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category
image: Design Workshop, Inc.

Dangerous by Design 2016 was released today by advocacy group Smart Growth America in collaboration with AARP, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associated.

The new report identifies the most dangerous places in the nation to be a pedestrian, and how state and local policies that address transportation planning and design can help address this critical issue. The 2016 edition includes new Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) numbers for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and an expanded examination of metro areas from 51 to 104 regions around the country.

In addition to the report, which is available to download, Smart Growth America has also released two interactive maps that explore pedestrian fatality data in greater detail, using data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

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Challenges in the Field of Landscape Architecture

Future Hopley: Hutano, Mvura, Miti, 2013 Student ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Leonardo Robleto Costante, Assoc. ASLA, Graduate, University of Pennsylvania
Future Hopley: Hutano, Mvura, Miti, 2013 Student ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Leonardo Robleto Costante, Assoc. ASLA, Graduate, University of Pennsylvania

When Professional Practice Network (PPN) members were asked about the greatest challenges landscape architects face, the most frequent response was described by one member as “the same challenge we have always faced”—defining and communicating what landscape architecture is, both to the public and to other design professionals, to ensure that the value of landscape architects’ work is understood and recognized. Other recurring topics included the economy, finding work, dealing with limited project budgets, competition, climate change, and water scarcity.

Though such challenges can seem insurmountable at times, there is still a great deal of optimism to be found. For some, “There has never been a better time to be a landscape architect.” And as one respondent put it:

“Today we have great opportunities to redefine public spaces, as the value of parks and innovative open space design are in the news and have the eyes of the public. We need to use this momentum and set the standard for excellent open space design; these are exciting times for landscape architects!”

Outlined below are the major themes that appeared among the challenges landscape architects face—food for thought as 2016 comes to a close and we look ahead to what may unfold in the new year.

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Landscape Architecture, in One Word

Citygarden, St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
Citygarden, St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members what one word they would use to describe landscape architecture or a landscape architect, the breadth of the answers given demonstrates the difficulty of defining a profession that is so expansive and varied. Many members couldn’t stick to the one-word limit, offering longer descriptions:

“Landscape architecture is everything but the building: parks, plazas, courtyards, water features, all of the planting plans and stormwater grading for site restoration plans associated with new bridges and roadways. A landscape architect is part environmental scientist, part engineer, and part designer/artist.”

“A landscape architect is the liaison between the public, engineers, architects, and planners.”

From the responses that did stick to one word, here are the top answers, in order of popularity:

  1. Creative
  2. Design
  3. Diverse
  4. Stewardship
  5. Multifaceted
  6. Versatile
  7. Adaptable
  8. Integrative
  9. Holistic
  10. Synthesizer
  11. Visionary
  12. Generalist

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Keeping Up with Design Trends

What’s Out There® Guidebooks, 2016 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, Communications Category image: Charles Birnbaum; Barrett Doherty; Mark Oviatt, Oviatt Media
TCLF’s What’s Out There® Guidebooks, 2016 Professional ASLA Award of Excellence, Communications Category
image: Charles Birnbaum; Barrett Doherty; Mark Oviatt, Oviatt Media

In response to the question What one characteristic or skill is most essential for success in landscape architecture? many of ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members said that staying up to date, being a life-long learner, and keeping an open mind to new design ideas and technologies are critically important. So, how do our members keep up with current design trends and ideas?

When asked what websites, publications, and other sources were the most important, the top answer was Landscape Architecture Magazine, followed by the ASLA website and other ASLA resources, including The Dirt, LAND, and local ASLA chapters.

Other popular sources of information include travel and site visits—“I’m not so interested in current trends as I am in successful places”—attending conferences, and talking to other landscape architects. And, as one member put it, it is also important to take “time out of each day to walk outside and see what is going on and how people use environment around them.”

Listed below are a few other sources of design news that appeared among the responses.

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Required Reading for Landscape Architects

Activating Land Stewardship and Participation in Detroit: A Field Guide to Working With Lots, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Communications Category image: Andrew Potter
Activating Land Stewardship and Participation in Detroit: A Field Guide to Working With Lots, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Communications Category
image: Andrew Potter

With the holidays and end-of-year break nearly upon us, you may be looking for a few new books, whether to give as gifts or to read yourself. In addition to the Best Books of 2016 highlighted on The Dirt, we also asked ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) for books that should be required reading for all landscape architects. Though many of these are classics you may have already read, we hope you find a few titles to add to your must-read (or must re-read) list.

The top 5 books selected by PPN members were:

  1. Design with Nature, by Ian McHarg
  2. A Sand County Almanac, by Aldo Leopold
  3. Landscape Architecture, by John Simonds
  4. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
  5. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, by Michael Dirr, Hon. ASLA

A few authors were mentioned for multiple works, including Kevin Lynch for three different books (The Image of the City, Site Planning, and What Time is This Place?) and Julie Moir Messervy for two (The Inward Garden and Contemplative Gardens). Other popular choices, each selected by four or more respondents, were:

Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv

A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander

The Image of the City, by Kevin Lynch

The Landscape of Man, by Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe and Susan Jellicoe

Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas Tallamy and Rick Darke

Design on the Land, by Norman Newton

Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards, by Leonard Hopper, FASLA

Site Engineering for Landscape Architects, by Steven Strom, Kurt Nathan, and Jake Woland

Time-Saver Standards for Landscape Architecture, by Charles Harris, FASLA, and Nicholas Dines, FASLA

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

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If You Could Change Your Career Path

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Terry Moore, 2008
The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, 2009 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Terry Moore, 2008

As a corollary to the previous question covered from a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?—PPN members were also asked: If you could change one thing about your job or career path, what would it be?

On a heartening note, around 10 percent of respondents said they would change nothing:

“50 years have flown by and my career path, which has evolved in several paths over the period, is still fun.”

“I’ve done the types of projects that I’ve wanted to, I founded a successful firm. We do great work for good clients.”

“The eight years I spent in the private sector helped me succeed in the public sector where I am today.”

“I actually did just change the ‘one thing.’ I just started my own studio.”

Almost anyone can relate to many of the other answers given, including requests to “add more time” and “I wish I didn’t have to worry about making money.” However, many responses were specific to landscape architecture, and a few recurring ideas are highlighted below.

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Ask a Landscape Architect

At the ASLA Annual Meeting's EXPO in New Orleans this October, attendees had a chance to sound off on what they’d like to find out from their PPN peers. image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)
At the ASLA Annual Meeting’s EXPO in New Orleans this October, attendees had a chance to sound off on what they’d like to find out from their PPN peers.
image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

Each year, a survey is sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), asking them to sound off on a variety of topics. Past survey themes have included favorite spaces, career paths and work issues, creativity and inspired design, and more. For 2017, we’re asking our members what questions they’d like PPN members to answer.

So, if you had a chance to ask a fellow landscape architect anything, what would it be? Responses are welcome in the comments section below, or by email to propractice@asla.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

Shaped by your responses, the survey will be sent to all PPN members in early 2017, and summaries of the survey results will be shared in LAND’s PPN News section and here on The Field.

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Network and Learn at New Partners for Smart Growth

Citygarden, St. Louis, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
Citygarden, St. Louis, MO, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Registration is now open for the 16th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Practical Tools and Innovative Strategies for Creating Great Communities Conference, held February 2-4, 2017 in St. Louis, MO. The conference will explore practical strategies for identifying and overcoming barriers to more sustainable development in the St.Louis region and the rest of the nation and will feature tools, strategies, focused training, and new technologies that will help communities now.

Early-bird rates are available now through November 30, 2016. This year’s conference will feature 80+ conference sessions – plenaries, breakouts, implementation workshops, focused training – and much more over three full days. Visit www.newpartners.org to register today!

ASLA, along with the Local Government Commission (LGC) will once again be leading the effort for Parklets 5.0 at the conference. Planning is underway to create several interactive spaces showcasing how a parklet can transform an under-utilized parking space (or two) into exciting opportunities for creating more vibrant spaces in communities. For additional information, check out Parklets 4.0 from the 15th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Portland, OR.

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Advice for Emerging Professionals

The Power Station, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Adolfo Cantu-Villareal
The Power Station, 2016 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Adolfo Cantu-Villareal

Given the question What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? in a 2014 survey,  members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) responded with a wealth of insights into the profession and sound advice for emerging professionals. Among the topics mentioned most frequently were the importance of business management and marketing skills, and also being an effective communicator. In addition, several other key themes emerged, highlighting both the highs and lows of a career in landscape architecture.

Skills to Focus On

“How important communications are to being a good professional.”

“The best idea in the world is worthless unless it can be communicated to an audience.”

“How important/beneficial sketching can be and to take more art classes to hone that skill.”

“How to draw really well and how to take top-notch photographs.”

“The importance of collaboration with other trades (architects, engineers, sociologists, developers) and how to communicate better in multidisciplinary teams.”

“The importance of marketing skills for personal success in the profession.”

“The importance of public speaking and professional writing.”

“Artistic expression and creativity aren’t the only things you need. Writing, organization, and management skills are just as important.”

“It is very important to have good people skills and business skills. Our whole profession is based on selling ideas to people and managing people.”

“The business aspect of running a firm. So much of our work is trying to win new work.”

“I wish I had a better understanding of the business side of things, accounting, proposal writing, fee estimation, client coordination, etc.”

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Design Tools: Sketching vs. Digital

Left: Michigan Avenue Streetscape: 20 Years of Magnificent Mile Blooms, 2016 Landmark Award / Right: The Digital & The Wild: Mitigating Wildfire Risk Through Landscape Adaptations, 2016 Student ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Hoerr Schaudt / Jordan Duke, Student ASLA
Left: Michigan Avenue Streetscape: 20 Years of Magnificent Mile Blooms, 2016 Landmark Award / Right: The Digital & The Wild: Mitigating Wildfire Risk Through Landscape Adaptations, 2016 Student ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Hoerr Schaudt / Jordan Duke, Student ASLA

In addition to where landscape architects spend most of their time—in the office or out on site—the primary media used to create and carry out designs, perform research, and manage projects also vary from one practitioner to the next. In a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), members were asked how they prefer to work: on a computer or sketching ideas out by hand.

Overall, sketching proved to be the more popular choice: 46 percent of respondents love to sketch, 31 percent prefer to work on a computer, and 23 percent favor a “hybrid approach,” using the “computer for efficiency” and the “hand for creativity,” as one respondent put it. Several key themes highlighting the pros and cons of each emerged in respondents’ comments.

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Announcing the New ASLA Online Learning Website

mainimages_onlinelearningtopicareas

ASLA’s new online learning website continues to provide information on new and evolving practices and products, offering a convenient and affordable way to earn the Professional Development Hours (PDH) needed to meet state licensure requirements. PDH are approved by the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES) and can be earned after viewing a presentation by completing and passing a self-study exam. Your online learning profile will keep a record of webinars purchased and PDH certificates received, giving you the opportunity to view at your own pace, on your schedule.

Online Learning Opportunities

Over 100 recorded presentations are available for on-demand viewing, including:

  • ASLA annual meeting education session recordings,
  • The Professional Practice Network (PPN) Online Learning series,
  • The Student & Emerging Professionals SPOTLIGHT mini-series,
  • Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES®) Education, and
  • Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE) Prep.

Browsing among these presentations is now easier than ever, with 22 Topic Areas to choose from, including: Accessibility/ADA, Ecology and Restoration, International Practice, Project Management, Resilient Design, Transportation/Complete streets, and more!

Live Presentations

The ASLA Online Learning series also provides the opportunity to tune in live to ask experts questions, while earning PDH.

The next live presentation is coming up on Wednesday, November 16. Hosted by ASLA’s Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN), Integrating and Planning for Children with Sensory Processing Disorders in Outdoor Play Environments (1.0 PDH LA CES / HSW) will be presented by PPN Co-Chairs Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, CAPS, FAOTA, Affiliate ASLA, co-author of Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces and Assistant Professor at Western Michigan University, and Chad Kennedy, P.L.A., CPSI, LEED®AP BD+C, ISA, ASLA, Principal Landscape Architect at O’Dell Engineering.

NEW! Associate and Student Member Pricing

ASLA members, Associate ASLA members, and Student ASLA members are discounted at least 75% below non-member prices.

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The 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting in Review: PPN Live in New Orleans

Nancy Buley, Hon. ASLA, of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., speaks to Planting Design PPN EXPO Tour attendees on October 22, 2016 in New Orleans. image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)
Nancy Buley, Hon. ASLA, of J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., speaks to Planting Design PPN EXPO Tour attendees on October 22, 2016 in New Orleans.
image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

With the action-packed ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans this October now behind us, we can take a look at all the events and gatherings that took place throughout the meeting weekend through the new PPN Live format. Meeting attendees had numerous opportunities to network with colleagues from all 20 of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) by:

  • participating in the PPN meetings that took place in PPN Live,
  • attending a PPN-themed exhibitor tour of the EXPO floor,
  • and networking with PPN peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs.

Meetings in PPN Live

PPN meetings took place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, October 22-23, and were open to all attendees, giving them the chance to meet fellow PPN members and explore different practice areas (all ASLA members receive one PPN membership for free, and additional PPNs for $15).

The EXPO’s new PPN Live space offered meeting rooms, the PPN Lounge area for networking, and a larger presentation space called City Park Stage, which hosted our largest PPN meeting to date: the joint meeting of the Campus Planning & Design and Education & Practice PPNs, which featured a series of short presentations on the theme How has technology changed the nature of the university campus?

During the PPN meetings that took place, new PPN leadership volunteers were identified for the Children’s Outdoor Environments, Design-Build, Ecology & Restoration, Environmental Justice, Historic Preservation, International Practice, Parks & Recreation, Planting Design, Transportation, Urban Design, and Women in Landscape Architecture PPNs. Interested in learning more about getting actively involved in a PPN? Check out the leadership positions to consider and send an email to propractice@asla.org if anything strikes you, or if you have any questions about the PPNs. We look forward to continuing to grow the PPN leadership teams, building on the momentum of the PPN meetings in New Orleans!

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Join us for PPN Live in New Orleans

Several ways to tap into the Professional Practice Networks
Several ways to tap into the Professional Practice Networks

There will be many opportunities to learn, network, and celebrate during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans this October, just over a month away. In addition to the 140+ education sessions, field sessions, workshops, and special events, be sure to add the new PPN Live to your annual meeting plans, and remember to register before the Advanced Rate deadline this Friday, September 16 to save $150. If you are already registered, book your hotel and purchase special event tickets before September 16 to take advantage of the best rates.

Through PPN Live, you can network with colleagues from all 20 Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) throughout the annual meeting weekend. This is all part of the new PPN Live:

  • Participate in a PPN Live session – PPN meetings take place on the EXPO floor throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, and include a variety of formats: invited speakers, fast-paced PechaKucha-style presentations, speed-mentoring, networking sessions, and more.
  • Attend a PPN exhibitor product tour (1.0 PDH LA CES/NON-HSW)
  • Network with your PPN peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. It’s now free to all registered annual meeting attendees, and non-PPN members are welcome to attend.

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A Day in the Life of a Landscape Architect

Case Study Investigation (CSI): Measuring the Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts of Exemplary Landscapes - 2015 Honor Award Winner, Research Category image: Landscape Architecture Foundation
Case Study Investigation (CSI): Measuring the Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts of Exemplary Landscapes – 2015 Honor Award Winner, Research Category
image: Landscape Architecture Foundation

Given how many of our waking hours are dedicated to work, where we work matters. Whether an expansive open office, a maze of cubicles, in a home office, or out on site, our workplaces influence how well we perform and how much we enjoy the work we do every day. To get an idea of what a typical day looks like and where landscape architects spend most of their time while at work, in a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members: How much time do you spend outdoors / on site vs. in an office?

Though the answer to that question necessarily varies depending on the season, the weather, the types of projects being worked on, and what stage those projects are at—as one respondent put it, there is “no such thing as a typical day” for some landscape architects—there were some clear trends that emerged. Ninety percent of respondents spend more than half their time in an office, compared to only 4 percent that spend more time outdoors. Only 6 percent reported splitting their time evenly between the office and being on site.

Survey takers were also asked if they preferred one work environment to another. While many respondents said they spend “way too much” time in the office, the most frequent response highlighted the need for balance, with some time spent in both kinds of work environments. Though most survey respondents spend more time in an office than anywhere else, many agreed that having a good balance between office and outdoor time is key.

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Finding Rewarding Work in Landscape Architecture

Village of Yorkville Park, 2012 Landmark Award Winner image: © Peter Mauss/Esto
Village of Yorkville Park, 2012 Landmark Award Winner
image: © Peter Mauss/Esto

In a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members: Which sector do you find most rewarding to work in? To simplify responses, we gave members three choices: the public sector, the private sector, or academia. Looking at the results, working in the public sector was deemed to be the most rewarding, selected by 42% of survey takers. The private sector was a close second, with 38%, and academia came in third with 11%.

Among our survey takers, there were 25 respondents who stated that they have worked in all three sectors. This select group, with the greatest breadth of experience, might be the most qualified to pick which sector is most satisfying to work in. Within this subset of the results, 13 chose the public sector, 4 chose private, and 5 picked academia as the most rewarding kind of work.

“Other” was also a possible answer, and a handful of people wrote in either “all of the above” or a different answer. Those in favor of multi-sector experience wrote:

“The mix of sectors is most appealing—you don’t get bored.”

“Rewards from each are incomparable.”

“As of now, all are vital to my development.”

“I strive to help people realize their dreams whether that be through design or teaching. It’s all rewarding.”

“I’ve worked in both public and private sectors. Public is embroiled in politics and limits opportunity and creativity. Good to see both sides though!”

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Where Landscape Architects Love to Work, Part 2

Charleston, SC - Charleston Waterfront Park, 2007 Landmark Award image: Craig Kuhner
Charleston, SC – Charleston Waterfront Park, 2007 Landmark Award
image: Craig Kuhner

In a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members about their favorite cities and regions for practicing landscape architecture. Not surprisingly, there was no single answer that dominated the responses, which reflected the regional diversity of those who took the survey—the largest segment of respondents hailed from the West (30%), with roughly 20% each from the East, South, and Midwest, and 6% of respondents practice internationally.

In Part I, we focused on the top choices for favorite cities and regions to work in, which covered much of the U.S.: the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Bay Area, the Midwest, New York City, and New England. In Part II, we’ll focus on a few less frequent picks, ranging from international locations to regions in the U.S. you might not have considered landscape architecture hotspots before. Below, we highlight some of the most popular responses.

Southeast

“Culturally rich and the general public has knowledge of and respects the profession.”

“Things grow fast so you can see (relatively immediate) results in a few years versus a decade.”

“The Southeast has a great planting palette and the right amount of regulation to provide plenty of landscape, but not over regulated to tie the designer’s hands too much to do anything fun.”

“The Delta—anywhere between Memphis and New Orleans. It’s mostly emotional and nostalgic for me, but also the rich culture, the range of economies, the beauty of the land, the potential I see.”

“Hilton Head, South Carolina and the Virginia Tidewater area—the sense and respect for the protection and importance of nature and our environmental surroundings.”

“Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry—the culture, the urbanism, the history, and the passion for the landscape.”

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Where Landscape Architects Love to Work, Part 1

Seattle, WA - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, 2014 Award of Excellence Winner, General Design Category image: Timothy Hursley
Seattle, WA – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, 2014 Award of Excellence Winner, General Design Category
image: Timothy Hursley

In a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members about their favorite cities and regions for practicing landscape architecture. Not surprisingly, there was no single answer that dominated the responses, which reflected the regional diversity of those who took the survey—the largest segment of respondents hailed from the West (30%), with roughly 20% each from the East, South, and Midwest, and 6% of respondents practice internationally. Responses were similarly distributed, and though the answers themselves might not have been surprising, the reasons why certain areas are popular places to work are still enlightening, and it might be food for thought should you find yourself considering a move.

There were many shared characteristics among the top choices, including:

  • Variety and number of opportunities available
  • Level of growth in the area
  • Being part of a large, active community of fellow landscape architects
  • Availability of good clients to work with—clients who appreciate the work of landscape architects
  • Places where landscape architects’ work is valued
  • Relative abundance of water
  • Wherever home is—being able to change the place where you grew up for the better

A good number of respondents also argued that no single city or region has any special appeal or strength over any another:

“Location does not matter. Excited clients matter.”

“Anywhere with a fun/challenging project”

“There is usually something unique about every location’s mix of physical, cultural and political environments.”

“Every place in the world has its physical and cultural differences, and interesting people, resulting in creative design opportunities.”

“Any area with a strong appreciation for architectural form and tradition—typically that means there is an appreciation for built form and how art can add value to living environments.”

“Any town/city that is responsible on permitting”

“Anywhere with a Mediterranean climate”

Below, we highlight some of the most popular responses.

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Skills for Success in Landscape Architecture

Peritoneum computer model – 2012 Award of Excellence Winner for Student Collaboration image: Tim Trumble and Anna Christy
Peritoneum computer model – 2012 Award of Excellence Winner for Student Collaboration
image: Tim Trumble and Anna Christy

In a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members: What one characteristic or skill is most essential for success in landscape architecture? Though there is no single skill or ability that guarantees success, there are many that are certainly helpful to have and continue to sharpen. Perhaps surprisingly, only a handful of respondents mentioned extensive knowledge of plants, horticulture, or the more technical, scientific side of landscape architecture as critical to success. Instead, being an effective communicator and other soft skills appeared far more frequently.

The most popular answers were:

Communication
Creativity and creative problem solving
Flexibility
Adaptability
Listening skills
Passion for design
Curiosity
Attention to detail
Critical thinking

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New for the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting: PPN Live!

Several ways to tap into the Professional Practice Networks
Several ways to tap into the Professional Practice Networks

Save up to $150 by registering for the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO by this Friday, June 17!

There will be many opportunities to learn, network, and celebrate during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans this October. In addition to the 130+ education sessions, field sessions, workshops, and special events, make sure to add the new PPN Live to your annual meeting plans!

Through PPN Live, you will get a chance to network with colleagues from all 20 Professional Practice Networks throughout the annual meeting weekend. Make the most of your PPN experience at the annual meeting by setting your own agenda. This is all part of the new PPN Live:

  • Participate in a PPN Live Stage session – PPN meetings take place on the EXPO floor throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, and include a variety of formats: invited speakers, fast-paced PechaKucha-style presentations, speed-mentoring, networking sessions, and more.
  • Attend a PPN exhibitor product tour – NEW!
  • Network with your PPN peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. It’s now free to all registered annual meeting attendees, and non-PPN members are welcome to attend.

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What Was Your Favorite Subject in School?

Manassas Park Elementary School Landscape – 2011 General Design Honor Award Winner image: Siteworks
Manassas Park Elementary School Landscape – 2011 General Design Honor Award Winner
image: Siteworks

The opening question of the 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) asked members to think back to their time in school to tell us about their favorite subjects to study. Though most respondents did not discover landscape architecture until later—either during college or afterwards—in many cases, their academic preferences earlier on foreshadowed their subsequent inclination to the field.

Here is the breakdown of responses, in order of popularity:

  1. Art – selected by 32.8% of respondents
  2. Science – 23.5%
  3. Social Studies – 15.7%
  4. Math – 14.6%
  5. English – 9.5%
  6. Music – 3.9%

It seems appropriate that art and science came out on top in a survey of landscape architects, whose practice deftly combines the two.

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A Global Commitment to Sustainable Urban Development

Quito, Ecuador, where Habitat III will take place in October 2016 image: ashokboghani via Flickr
Quito, Ecuador, where Habitat III will take place in October 2016
image: ashokboghani via Flickr

Last year, ASLA endorsed the sustainable development goals that were launched during the U.N. General Assembly on September 25, 2015. The 17 goals—including climate action, biodiversity, sustainable cities and communities, and clean water—address the interconnected elements of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection in all countries to be achieved over the next 15 years.

Later this year, another U.N. General Assembly conference will be taking place: Habitat III. This bi-decennial event has taken place previously in 1976 and 1996, and this year the third U.N. Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development will be held in Quito, Ecuador, October 17-20.

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How Did You Discover Landscape Architecture?

Scott Outdoor Amphitheater, Swarthmore College image: Simon via Flickr
Scott Outdoor Amphitheater, Swarthmore College
image: Simon via Flickr

One of the opening questions of the 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—and a good opening question for any talk with a landscape architect, as the answer is usually surprising—was: How did you discover landscape architecture? One member’s answer can serve as a concise summary of the results: “In a round-about sort of way.”

Many of the landscape architects who completed the survey did indeed take the scenic route to their current profession, and a large number said they had never heard of landscape architecture until college or later. One of the most popular answers for how they discovered the field was “by accident.”

Several other trends did emerge, however, with the most popular answer—nearly half of the responses—involving some key experience during college. Other responses focused on the impact of family and friends (approximately 20% of responses) and career research during high school (about 12% of responses).

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Career Paths in Landscape Architecture

300 Ivy – 2015 Residential Design Honor Award Winner image: Bruce Damonte
300 Ivy – 2015 Residential Design Honor Award Winner
image: Bruce Damonte

Each year, members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are surveyed on a different theme. In 2013, the focus was favorite spaces, and the results of that survey have been highlighted here on The Field. Now, we are moving on to the 2014 survey—the theme: career paths in landscape architecture. As you can imagine, the responses were as varied as the different trajectories taken by all those in the landscape architecture field, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND, and we are now re-posting this information on The Field. For  updates on the results of the latest PPN survey, see LAND‘s PPN News section.

We received an impressive number of responses (395) to the 2014 survey from a diverse range of individuals in terms of sector, region of work, and level of experience:

  • Every PPN is represented, and Sustainable Design and Development—the largest PPN—had the most respondents.
  • The East, South, and Midwest are all equally represented, but the West had the most respondents.
  • 7% of respondents practice internationally.
  • 70% work in private practice.
  • 50% have 20+ years of experience.
  • 56% work in firms, agencies, or organizations of 25 or fewer employees.

Below are a few highlights from the results, which will be explored in greater depth in upcoming posts.

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Calling Student & Emerging Professionals

image: ASLA
image: ASLA

ASLA is excited to introduce the Online Learning Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series giving Student and Associate ASLA members the opportunity to work with a Professional Practice Network (PPN) Mentor in creating a presentation for ASLA’s Online Learning series. This is a great opportunity for students and emerging professionals to share eye-opening research, or dive into a little design exploration over the summer.

The mini-series Call for Proposals is now open and will close on Monday, May 16.

To submit a proposal:

1.  Check out the SPOTLIGHT mini-series Call for Proposals form.
2.  Review the PPNs that will be serving as hosts and mentors (Children’s Outdoor Environments, International Practice, Land Use Planning, & Women in Landscape Architecture). Which PPN does your topic or research best fit?
3.  Once you have your description and objectives finalized, fill out the form with all the necessary information and submit!
4.  Selected participants will be notified in early June. At this time, you will be introduced to your PPN Mentor.
5.  Collaborate with your mentor! Presentations will take place in August.

We look forward to seeing your research, technical analysis, large scale ideas, or whatever else you may bring to the table to share with your fellow landscape architecture professionals! For questions or comments, please email professionalpractice@asla.org.

Favorite Places on Campus

Part of the crowd at the Memorial Union on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on graduation weekend, 2012 image: Richard Hurd via Flickr
Part of the crowd at the Memorial Union on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on graduation weekend, 2012
image: Richard Hurd via Flickr

In a 2013 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), the questions focused on the theme of favorite spaces. Throughout the survey, there were a number of universities and colleges mentioned in nearly every category, from great spaces to linger to technically innovative projects. Whether you’re currently a student or faculty member, or if you just feel nostalgic for when you were in school from time to time, let’s take a look at PPN members’ favorite spots on campus. Did your alma mater get mentioned?

Favorite iconic space

  • The University of Pennsylvania’s Locust Walk and College Green
    “It’s a great place for socializing in terms of scale and space. Walking into the area always feels like coming home.”

Great space to move through

  • Louisiana State University’s Quadrangle
  • Michigan State University’s campus
  • The University of Washington’s Botanic Gardens and Arboretum

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