Submit a Speed Session Idea for NRPA

New Orleans Riverfront: Reinventing the Crescent, New Orleans, Louisiana, Hargreaves Associates, 2008 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category / image: Hargreaves Associates and TEN Arquitectos, Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple

The 2017 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Annual Conference is coming to New Orleans this September, and NRPA is now accepting applications for Speed Sessions—a great way for new speakers to dip their toe in the water and share their ideas.

These 20-minute Speed Sessions are a great opportunity to speak in front of a group of your peers without having to commit to a lengthy presentation. Whether you are a first time or experienced speaker, NRPA invites enthusiastic professionals to share your stories and experiences at these sessions.

Speed Session proposals are due by March 24, 2017. Visit the NRPA website for more details and to submit your session ideas.

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100 Years of Parks – #NPS100

Yellowstone National Park, the most famous and the first National Park - this photo captures the namesake yellow rock outcroppings and picturesque falls that captivated Thomas Moran and William Henry Jackson in the 1800’s. Left to right: Jana McKenzie, FASLA, Joe McGrane, Ran Ran, Craig Coronato, FASLA, Logan Simpson. image: Craig Coronato, FASLA
Yellowstone National Park, the most famous and the first National Park – this photo captures the namesake yellow rock outcroppings and picturesque falls that captivated Thomas Moran and William Henry Jackson in the 1800’s. Left to right: Jana McKenzie, FASLA, Joe McGrane, Ran Ran, Craig Coronato, FASLA, Logan Simpson.
image: Craig Coronato, FASLA

Happy Birthday, National Parks!

Today, the National Park Service celebrates 100 years since its founding on August 25, 1916. People all across the nation are taking advantage of this birthday year to visit National Park sites to enjoy all that these special places have to offer.

In the photo above are 4 of us landscape architects hamming it up at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, in Yellowstone National Park during a visit in 2014. Craig Coronato, FASLA, and fellow landscape architects were recently invited by the Friends of Yellowstone and the Park Director to look at ways to restore the historic trails and overlooks around the canyon. When asked about the value of this park, Craig states, “Yellowstone has a way of making you feel insignificant, yet overwhelmed to be in it.”

This year, my family and I visited several National Park sites, including Fire Island National Seashore, Governors Island National Monument, and many National Memorials and Sites in Washington, DC. These sites not only offer beautiful views and scenery but also demonstrate the rich history and culture of our nation, offering public places for reflection and remembrance.

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July is Parks and Recreation Month

The Slide Crater in Chicago's Maggie Daley Park image: Alexandra Hay
The Slide Crater in Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park
image: Alexandra Hay

To highlight our members during Parks and Recreation Month, we are taking a look back at the last annual meeting of the ASLA Parks and Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN). At that meeting, the PPN’s co-chairs came up with a few questions to spark conversations and let the attendees get to know one another, including identifying key areas of interest and trends in parks and recreation design and moments of inspiration they’ve had in public spaces. The meeting attendees came from across the country and from all stages of their careers, from students to senior landscape architects and firm principals.

Read on to see some of the key questions, topics of interest, and inspiring places that are on Parks and Recreation PPN members’ minds.

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Kids to Parks Day School Contest

Kid’s free fishing event image: USFWS photo by Larry Jernigan via the Every Kid in a Park media kit
Kid’s free fishing event
image: USFWS photo by Larry Jernigan via the Every Kid in a Park media kit

The National Park Trust Announces an Expanded Kids to Parks Day School Contest

May 21, 2016 is National Kids to Parks Day and to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, now 100 schools will win grants!

This national contest—open to all under-served public, public charter, and private schools across the U.S.—aims to empower students to create and plan their own park experience by inviting them to submit proposals for a Kids to Parks (KTP) event at a park in their community. With help from the National Park Service Centennial Challenge fund and other support, the National Park Trust (NPT) is looking to award 100 schools with park scholarships of up to $1,000. Schools should implement their KTP event during May 2016, but exceptions will be made to accommodate school schedules. This contest also supports the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative to get every 4th grader to a park this school year! The deadline for entries is Friday, March 4. Winners will be announced Friday, March 25 on the NPT website.

If you know a teacher or school that wants to get Kids to Parks, please share this information with them today. Volunteer to help them with their event by talking to students about landscape architecture and how we design great parks like the one they are visiting. This is a great way to interact with future landscape architects and expand understanding of our profession! Don’t forget to post on social media using #KidsinParks, #Landarch, and #NPS100 to show your support and broaden our reach.

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Help Brainstorm the Future of Parks

ASLA 2008 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. The Lurie Garden is prominently sited at the southern edge of Chicago's Millennium Park, adjacent to the Great Lawn with bandshell and trellis designed by Frank O. Gehry & Associates. Chicago's skyline and Lake Michigan are visible on the horizon. image: Linda Oyama Bryan
ASLA 2008 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. The Lurie Garden is prominently sited at the southern edge of Chicago’s Millennium Park, adjacent to the Great Lawn with bandshell and trellis designed by Frank O. Gehry & Associates. Chicago’s skyline and Lake Michigan are visible on the horizon.
image: Linda Oyama Bryan

Help us brainstorm the future of parks and public spaces (we’d really like to know what you know…and what you are thinking about)!

At the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago this November, be sure to attend an engaging gathering of your fellow Parks & Recreation PPN members on Sunday, 11/8 @ 12:45 PM. Given the rare opportunity to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of landscape architects from across the country, we couldn’t resist the idea of facilitating a hands-on session to capture your thoughts about the trends influencing your work, the sites and experiences that are informing your thinking, and the information you need to improve and enrich your practice.

We will be using this networking opportunity to hear the experiences that are influencing your practice; to identify the specific trends, subject matter, and areas of interest that will be most important to in the immediate and far future; and to have your input on a content management plan that we can use to set the specific direction of the PPN in the year ahead.

In addition to facilitating and disseminating the collection of expert ideas on parks and public spaces, we want to offer Parks and Recreation PPN members the opportunity to actively contribute to the PPN community in a meaningful way that will directly influence future PPN activities. The PPN is a resource that is only as strong as we all can make it.

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This July, Celebrate National Parks & Recreation Month

image: NRPA’s Park and Rec Month Toolkit
image: NRPA’s Park and Rec Month Toolkit

Parks and Rec Social Media Challenge

This month, the National Recreation and Park Association is celebrating 30 years of Park and Recreation Month, and we’re inviting you to take part. The mission parks have had since the start—to serve the people, and give them a place to appreciate nature, exercise, socialize, and have fun—is as important as ever. July is a great month to get out and enjoy parks, so the ASLA Parks & Rec Professional Practice Network (PPN) would like to challenge you to show off your favorite park and activities in parks, highlighting what you consider the best feature of that park (or parklet!). Think big or small, tangible or experiential, amenity or observation. Take photos and post to Instagram, Twitter, or your favorite social media platform and include what you value most about the park. Don’t forget to add #JulyPRM30 and #ThisIsLandArch. You can view all posts on the #JulyPRM30 tagboard.

To get you started, here are some guidelines and samples for your posts, courtesy of NRPA:

Official 2015 Park and Recreation Month Hashtags

  • #JulyPRM30
  • #PowerOfParks
  • #JulyTBTChallenge (contest hashtag—you can find more information about this year’s contest at nrpa.org/july and on NRPA’s blog, Open Space)

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Parks & Recreation Annual Meeting Preview

Morning in Denver's City Park image: mclcbooks via Flickr
Morning in Denver’s City Park
image: mclcbooks via Flickr

The ASLA Annual Meeting starts today! This year’s theme, Resilience, could not be more appropriate as cities around the nation are faced with natural disasters and economic struggles over the past few years. Landscape architects are well positioned to lead cities through these challenges and work towards building resilient communities. Parks and Recreation is an invaluable part of the fabric that builds these resilient cities by creating public spaces that foster community building. Please join us for our PPN meeting this year!

Parks and Recreation PPN Meeting
Sunday, November 23, 1:40-2:15 pm
PPN Room 2 on the EXPO floor

At the Parks and Recreation PPN Meeting Sunday afternoon, we will discuss our PPN’s goals for the upcoming year. We will discuss how the PPN can better support your practice and identify topics and issues that are important to you as well as identify topics for Online Learning webinars and posts for The Field. Bring recent success stories to share! We are also looking for a few volunteers to serve as a PPN Co-Chairs and/or Officers starting after this year’s Annual Meeting. Please attend the PPN Meeting in Denver if you are interested to learn more about serving as a chair or officer.

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Park and Recreation Month is Almost Here

MainImages_ParksandRecMonth
image: NRPA’s Park and Rec Month Toolkit

July is Park and Recreation Month, and this year’s theme is: OUT is IN. Agencies can register as official participants to have their Park and Recreation Month events added to the main listing, which includes activities across the United States ranging from outdoor dance and exercise classes to kickball, white water rafting, volleyball tournaments, garden tours, and family hikes.

Park and Recreation Month this year also comes with a social media challenge: participants are asked to share their photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #JulyOUTisIN. Prizes will be awarded to the best photos of an indoor activity being done outside.

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Heading to the Beach this Weekend?

The boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park image: Alexandra Hay
The boardwalk at Jones Beach State Park
image: Alexandra Hay

With Memorial Day weekend comes the unofficial start of summer, and though the water may still be chilly at this time of year, many people will be heading to the closest beach for some start-of-summer celebrations.

For those in New York, and especially on Long Island, Jones Beach State Park is a destination that epitomizes summer. Though only 20 miles from New York City, Jones Beach could not feel further removed from the suburbs nearby, only a few causeways away. And, like Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Jones Beach is a site that has been dramatically transformed to create the iconic space we enjoy today.

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The Future of Recreational Lands

Anaheim Coves at Burris Basin image: Pamela Galera
Anaheim Coves at Burris Basin
image: Pamela Galera

Almost all older, heavily urbanized cities are facing a shortage of parkland and open space. As density and property values increase, cities are less likely to purchase large parcels of land for recreation. As a result, urban populations have fewer opportunities to exercise and socialize outside, which exacerbates chronic health issues such as asthma and obesity. The solution may lie in the creative strategy of utilizing lands owned by utility companies within the urban core.

Anaheim, California, like most cities, is growing in density. Anaheim’s 820-acre Platinum Triangle is emerging as a high-density, mixed-use area that is replacing older industrial developments. The area is nestled between the SR-57 and I-5 freeways and surrounds Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, two of Orange County’s most prominent sports and entertainment venues. However, this high-density development has few opportunities for large scale recreation or nature parks.

In the early 2000s, it was apparent that the City of Anaheim needed to find open space near the high-density Platinum Triangle that would provide a connection to nature and give residents and visitors a place for exercise. The City of Anaheim forged a creative partnership with the Orange County Water District (OCWD), the largest landowner in Anaheim and owner of Burris Basin, a 116-acre ground water replenishment facility on the west bank of the Santa Ana River only half a mile north of the Platinum Triangle.

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A Commitment to Parks: Kirkwood, MO

image: Robbie Walters
image: Robbie Walters

Is it possible for a small community to breathe new life into an aging but much used and loved “Central” Community Park? Can new improvements be successfully implemented over time with minimal disruption to thousands of annual visitors? The answer for one community was resoundingly yes. The article “A Commitment to Parks: Kirkwood, Missouri,” published on LandscapeOnline.com, provides an overview of Kirkwood’s efforts to achieve the goals of its park master plan while still meeting the recreational needs of the community.

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Preview of Anatomy Of A Park: Edition IV

Anatomy of a Park, 3rd Edition image: Waveland Press
Anatomy of a Park, 3rd Edition
image: Waveland Press

Anatomy of a Park (AOAP) has had a long and successful career. First published in 1971, it was originally a series of lectures by Albert Rutledge to Parks and Recreation students aiming at careers in Park Management and Administration.  I was the illustrator and case study developer of the first edition.  I’ve continued as the illustrator and became the author for the subsequent editions (1986, 2003).

The purpose of those original lectures and the resulting book was to build a bridge between the designers of parks and the users of parks.  Our goal was to explain our profession as landscape architects to people who would represent park users, administer park systems, and who would hire the design professionals who would bring the parks to life.  This new update, Edition IV, provides new information as a supplement to the timeless resource.  What follows is a sneak peak at the updates and plans for the new edition.

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Dog Parks

image: Deborah Steinberg
image: Deborah Steinberg

You may have heard the phrase a tired dog is a happy dog. This may or may not be true, but it is true that most dogs need physical activity and social interaction to make good pets. Dog parks are a great venue to provide both of these in a safe, contained environment and have become very popular.

However, with popularity comes use, over-use, and risk. The following site outlines common challenges with dog parks and provides suggestions for those thinking of providing one.

Dog Bites and Liability for Dog Bites by Kenneth M. Phillips

National Kids to Parks Day

image: National Park Trust
image: National Park Trust

With National Kids to Parks Day, May 18th, looming right around the corner it would be great for our members to organize activities that bring even more children into the parks we design and love. This article gives you some great options for high profile partners to make your “Kids to Parks Day” a success.

National Park Trust Announces ‘National Kids to Parks Day’ to Take Place Saturday May 18, 2013

by Kathleen Benedict, Co-chair of the Parks and Recreation PPN

Outdoor Gyms

Fitness Zone™: Belvedere Park, Los Angelesimage: Trust for Public Land
Fitness Zone™: Belvedere Park, Los Angeles
image: Trust for Public Land

Over the years our municipality has taken out outdoor fitness courses or seen them severely underutilized. Could it be because of our weather here in Colorado? Perhaps, but maybe this new effort to design attractive and unique fitness solutions specific to outdoor parks will reopen opportunities to provide this sort of service in our parks. I am particularly intrigued by the City Art Gym information posted in this article.

‘Fitness parks’ catch on in cities
by Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY, December 14, 2012

City Art Gym

HORIZONS: On the move with Fitness Zones
Trust for Public Lands, February 12, 2012

Playground Sun Safety

Waterpark Ranch, Los Angeles California, SuperSpan Multi-Level Pyramid
Waterpark Ranch, Los Angeles California, SuperSpan Multi-Level Pyramid
image: USA Shade & Fabric Structures, Inc

Landscape architects and designers are constantly faced with the challenge of designing safe and attractive play areas. One particularly important aspect is the need for shade and weather protection. The importance of adding shade to playgrounds has come to the forefront as daycare owners and playground designers realize the importance of sun protection, especially for children who are particularly susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.

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New Resources for Inviting Nature Back into Play

A play stream at the Nature Play Area and Discovery Garden at Minnesota’s Tamarack Nature Center
A play stream at the Nature Play Area and Discovery Garden at Minnesota’s Tamarack Nature Center
image: MIG, Inc

Climbing into the arms of a sweet smelling southern magnolia tree, splashing in the miniature waterfalls of a limestone lined creek, and sifting through a playground of pea gravel in search of ancient sea fossils are a few of my treasured memories of enjoying the freedom to explore the natural world that surrounded me as a child.

Due to shifting societal priorities, children today have fewer opportunities to engage in these types of open-ended activities than their parents did just a generation ago. In his 2005 book, “Last Child in the Woods”, Richard Louv draws on decades of research from various disciplines and summarizes that, due to this trend, kids in the U.S. are suffering from what he terms “nature-deficit disorder.”

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