ASLA’s Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) invites you to a discussion on novel ecosystems this Friday, October 4, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (Eastern). [The recording is now available.] Join the conversation!
Richard Hobbs defines a novel ecosystem as “an ecosystem that consists of new combinations of species that have not previously coexisted, and/or new configurations of environmental factors such as changed climate or altered soil properties.” The basic premise that such ecosystems exist seems straightforward, yet has been highly contentious and marks a significant shift in perspective.
This webinar panel brings together designers and ecologists to unravel the nuances of “novel ecosystems” as a conceptual framework, and the implications for work in restoration, conservation, and design.
Registration for the 8th annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Campus RainWorks Challenge is open now through Tuesday, October 15, 2019.
The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices. Current undergraduate and graduate students at American colleges and universities are eligible to participate.
Pollution associated with urban stormwater runoff is a problem that is growing in magnitude. The Campus RainWorks Challenge invites the current generation of scholars to lend their creativity and knowledge to the green infrastructure design process and become part of the solution to stormwater pollution by designing an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater pollution while benefitting the campus community and the environment.
ASLA is a proud supporter of the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge. ASLA members participate as jurors during the review process. If you are interested in volunteering as a juror, please contact email@example.com.
Last year, the Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team released a survey to gather information about available technology applications currently used by landscape architects to operate effectively and efficiently. In collaboration with professors Benjamin George, ASLA (Utah State University), and Peter Summerlin, ASLA (Mississippi State University), PPN co-chairs Matt Wilkins, ASLA, Eric Gilbey, ASLA, and officer Nate Qualls, ASLA, collected over 480 responses, capturing the industry’s current state of software usage.
Software and technology are thoroughly entrenched as an essential tool for designers. However, there are many available options vying for designer’s attention and use, and it is often difficult to assess and understand the ramifications of adopting certain software packages. For educators, working to prepare students to become future practitioners, it is important to understand how software is being used in the profession in order to better train their students. For practitioners, these results may inform decisions on software investment or adoption of emerging technologies for your practice.
This data provides a detailed picture of the current state of software use in the profession and enables an analysis of how software usage varies across the discipline. Not unexpectedly, the results of the study indicate that AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, and SketchUp are the most commonly used and most important software packages in the profession. However, when factoring in the type of projects that a firm works on, this ranking changes and other software, such as GIS, Revit, Rhino, and Civil3d, become more prominent. There is also variability in what software is used based on the geographic location of the firm. Larger firms are also more likely to use and value a broader range of software applications. The survey also found that individual emerging technologies are closely related, indicating that some firms are very entrepreneurial in adopting new technologies.
We have all seen that new project or development get constructed, and have initial community impact and luster, only to see it become dilapidated and run-down over time. The truth is a project’s success is not determined by only the initial product or outcome—on-going maintenance and upkeep needs to be adequately addressed by designers and owners alike to ensure a project remains a success into the future.
Proper time and planning is needed to ensure operations and maintenance (O&M) manuals aren’t an afterthought or get thrown together on minimal time at the end of the project. Controlling future maintenance costs, knowing what to replace and when, troubleshooting technical products, and understanding maintenance intervals are a few aspects project owners need to be well-versed in and where O&M manuals are essential. Without adequate O&M manuals and requirements to produce them, project owners are likely set up for failure and not given the tools to make their project a continued success. A tight package of project specifications is often vital to a project’s initial success, and including complete O&M requirements is crucial for understanding perpetual maintenance and the continued success of a given project.
First things first, what is an O&M manual? An O&M (operations and maintenance) manual is generally a series of documents produced by the contractor to help the owner in perpetuity properly maintain, understand, and address key maintenance milestones and other project aspects. It is key for the design professional(s) to ensure steadfast contractor requirements in producing complete and informative O&M manuals for project hand-off.
Over the past few years we’ve been developing a series of high-definition thematic films covering a range of subjects of critical importance to landscape architects. The primary goal of the project is to aid in articulating many of landscape architecture’s collective concerns for friends and family, allied professionals, new and prospective students, policy makers, land developers, and the general public. The films are not directed at experts (or the few), but instead the general public (the many).
The series, titled ‘Constructing Landscape,’ is now available for viewing on our website. The individual five-minute shorts are edited interviews with 18 landscape architects. The films are titled “Material and Perspective” to help distinguish the world-view and concerns of landscape architects, “Designing with Time” to address the very unique temporal issues associated with landscape materiality, “Ecological Infrastructures” to address natural systems and the concerns of scale, “Site as Security” to address the deployment of security features within our public landscapes, and finally “Preservation and Design Evolution” to address both the process of landscape evaluation and the re-purposing of sites.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Action: Supporting Emerging Professionals – Inspiring the Next Generation of Landscape Architects – Connecting Design to Real-World Solutions
In 2013, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) convened its first Diversity Summit with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of why landscape architecture as a profession doesn’t attract a more diverse profile. Each summit brings together a group of experienced and emerging landscape architects who identify as African American or Latinx to develop strategies that address diversity issues in the field. These strategies are compiled into Diversity Summit summaries and reports, which are implemented throughout the year and reexamined at the following year’s summit.
This year, seventeen landscape architects from across the country participated, representing a wide array of sectors including residential design, education, horticulture, and urban planning. They were chosen to help address challenges in diversifying the profession and build upon recommendations for a path forward. Interested parties apply to participate in the summit, and are chosen by a panel of experts each year.
Today, ASLA released the 2019 Diversity Summit Report, the product of the summit held this spring. The report examines issues that African American, Latinx, Native American, and other underrepresented groups face in the landscape architecture profession.
Not too many US landscape architects may have heard of the International Digital Landscape Architecture (DLA) conference, coming to the US for the first time next year in June 2020. The conference attracts a mix of landscape architecture academics, students, practitioners, allied professionals, technologists, scholars, and interested lay people from all over the world. In 2019, participants represented 30+ countries worldwide!
DLA was started in 1999, at the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Bernburg, Germany, a small agricultural town 100 km (62 miles) south of Berlin with a strong international landscape architecture program. In its first years DLA was primarily an academic conference, held in Bernburg. In recent years it has become larger, more international, and multidisciplinary, and has recently been held regularly at the nearby Dessau campus—the home of the famed Bauhaus school from the early 20th century. The architect Walter Gropius was the director of the Bauhaus in its most impactful era, in the 1930s, before he left Germany just before World War II, came to Cambridge, and became the head of the Architecture Department at the Graduate School of Design (GSD) at Harvard University.
The links between Harvard and the DLA conference go back to the beginning, when I co-founded the conference with my German colleague Professor Erich Buhmann. GSD Professor Carl Steinitz, Hon. ASLA, now Emeritus, was among the speakers at the first conference; we have both been regular attendees, speakers, and organizers over the years. In recent years, the DLA conference has grown (in 2019, speakers were from more than 30 countries world-wide); and has traveled further and further afield from its base in Germany (the conference has recently been held in Switzerland and Turkey). Next year for its 21st meeting, DLA2020 will be held for the first time in the US, at the GSD just following Harvard commencement, June 1-3, 2020. The conference theme will be Cybernetic Ground: Information, Imagination, Impact.
Dumbarton Oaks has announced the Mellon Colloquium Award, a travel grant for students wishing to attend the annual colloquium or symposium in Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C. The awards offer reimbursement up to $600 for the cost of travel, local accommodation, and other approved expenses related to symposium or colloquium attendance. Registration fees are waived for holders of the awards.
Applicants (and recipients) must be currently-enrolled graduate students or undergraduate juniors or seniors.
Candidates should prepare an application consisting of:
A cover letter that provides a brief summary of the candidate’s research interests, plans for future research, and an explanation of why conference attendance is important to the candidate’s intellectual and professional development.
A letter of support from the applicant’s thesis advisor or department chair.
How can you get involved?Post a photo on Instagram or Twitter of an urban wild that you care about or have spent time in. Tell us about it! What makes it unique? What was it formerly? Is it under threat in any way? Use #UrbanWildASLA and #ASLA2019 and make sure to include the location. (If on Instagram, we will only be able to see the post if your account is public.)
What will happen with this information? Your photos will be mapped and featured at this year’s ASLA conference at the panel on urban wilds.
What do we hope to learn? Since these places tend to go unmapped, by gathering and mapping these, we hope to gain greater insight into geography, patterns of use and typology of urban wilds across the country. What are some commonalities between them? What makes these places unique? Why are they important?
What do we hope to spark? A timely conversation about the place of urban wilds within our larger urban framework. How are these spaces different than parks? What can designers learn from urban wild landscapes and how they function? How should we respond to shifting patterns of abandoned land in our cities?
Wait, what IS an urban wild? You tell us! Sometimes these places are also called ‘vacant’, ‘abandoned’, ‘brownfield’, ‘forgotten’, ‘free’, ‘site taken over by wildlife,’ etc.
Join the conversation!
Follow us on Instagram @urbanwildasla to see what urban wilds others are posting!
School bells are ringing and classrooms are buzzing with learning adventures of all kinds. Whether you’re a parent of a child in grades K–12, an active ASLA member, or a retired landscape architect with a passion for the profession, there are many opportunities for you to introduce landscape architecture to young audiences in a school setting. Let us help you get started with ASLA’s Back to School Toolkit!
ASLA has assembled a set of fun and informative back-to-school resources, and the start of a new school year is an excellent opportunity for members and educators to explore ASLA’s new toolkit, which includes a growing collection of downloadable PDFs packed with articles, videos, exciting topics, and other free ASLA resources to help introduce landscape architecture as a fun and engaging profession.
Check out these helpful resources to get students interested in landscape architecture:
Sarah Bartosh is currently a master’s of landscape architecture student at the University of Washington. She received her Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and then went on to work for Growing Up Boulder, Boulder’s child- and youth-friendly city initiative. She also worked with the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School program to lead Seattle’s Playful Learning Landscapes Pilot Project. – Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network Co-Communications Director
With one quarter left of my MLA, I would like to pose this question to our profession: how can we challenge the way that we think about designing for children’s connection with nature in our increasingly urban environments?
Just as we are challenging many other spaces we design, I believe it is time we begin to do the same for nature play. As landscape architects, we are some of the most progressive and game-changing thinkers. We are constantly questioning the role of built environments, how they can address pressing climate issues, and how they can foster relationships between humans and the world around them. Yet, when it comes to children’s environments, we often settle for adding a few logs in a park, and call it “nature play.” I recognize and respect that this is a result of the many legal barriers that prevent us from creating bolder, designated spaces for children to connect to nature. This article suggests a way to think beyond these barriers.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has published a new guide to universal design, the latest in a series of guides that include hundreds of freely-available case studies, research studies, articles, and resources from non-profit organizations around the world.
Everyone navigates the built environment differently, with abilities changing across a person’s lifespan. Universal design means that everyone, regardless of ability or age, can access and participate in public life.
ASLA’s guide provides a comprehensive view of which communities are underserved by the built environment. It also offers a set of new universal design principles that address the needs of deaf or hard of hearing, blind or low vision, autistic, neurodevelopmentally and/or intellectually disabled, and mobility-disabled adults and children, as well as concerns for older adults.
The new design principles identified ensure that public spaces are:
Walkable / Traversable
Universal design projects and solutions in the guide are organized around different types of public space that landscape architects and planners design:
Public Comments on the Point Reyes National Seashore Plan
The public review and comment period is open until September 23, 2019. To learn more or comment, visit parkplanning.nps.gov or write to:
GMP Amendment, c/o Superintendent Point Reyes National Seashore, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
The National Park Service will host two public meetings to share information and gather public feedback:
Tuesday, August 27, 2019, 5 to 7 p.m., at the West Marin School, 11550 Shoreline Highway, Point Reyes Station.
Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 5 to 7 p.m., at the Bay Model Visitor Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito.
A multi-year battle for the future of Point Reyes National Seashore may soon be coming to a head—however, the controversy is likely to persist into the park’s future. The future of historic ranches and their cultural landscapes within the park is at stake. The National Park Service (NPS) has recently released an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the future management of the ranches. The public review and comment period is open until September 23.
The 71,000-acre national seashore is located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in California’s Marin County, north of San Francisco. The park was established in 1962 and is administered by the National Park Service. Starting in 1970, existing dairy and cattle ranches within the park’s legislative boundary were purchased from willing families by the National Park Service with a guarantee to lease-back the lands to the families to continue dairy and ranching operations for at least 25 years. The ranches were established beginning in the 1850s and the early settlers found areas of rolling grasslands that were likely the result of thousands of years of landscape management by Native Americans using fire to keep lands open. Without the use of fire, and now grazing, the lands would quickly revert to the densely-vegetated coastal scrub plant community. In 2018, the 17 ranch properties were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, collectively as the Point Reyes Peninsula Dairy Ranches Historic District.
starting new discussions, or contributing to existing ones, through your PPN’s LinkedIn group,
attending an in-person PPN meeting during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture,
or joining your PPN’s leadership team!
In addition to a chair or co-chairs, many PPNs have larger leadership teams that include PPN officers and past chairs. Most teams hold monthly calls to keep track of progress on PPN activities, and all PPN members are welcome to join their PPN’s leadership team.
If you are passionate about your practice area within landscape architecture and want to increase your participation and expand your professional network, volunteering for PPN leadership is a great place to start. The commitment would be a short monthly call with like-minded professionals and volunteering to support one of the PPN’s resources.
Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities through the Design of Innovative and Inclusive Urban Landscapes: a summary of the panel discussion at the 10th Global Forum on Urban Resilience
Bonn, Germany | June 26-28, 2019
For a decade, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability has been providing a global forum on urban resilience where local governments, researchers, businesses, NGOs and citizens could meet as equals, contributing and sharing with their first-hand experiences and know-how. Past years’ themes have included disaster risk reduction, insurance financing, urban food systems, refugee reception, and digitalization. To mark 10 years of experience and expertise-building in supporting cities to thrive in the face of challenges, this year the Resilient Cities Conference aimed to present a comprehensive view on delivering urban resilience: pathways towards implementing resilience; innovation in the realm of urban resilience; and building cohesive, healthy, and resilient communities. With the above goals in mind, for the first time the congress curated a special panel, “Building Sustainable and Resilient Cities through the Design of Innovative and Inclusive Urban Landscapes,” focusing on landscape architecture and how the profession delivers nature-based solutions in urban resilience building.
Why landscape architecture? At the forefront of shaping resilient urban environments, landscape architects are often challenged to translate complex site-specific risks into tangible transformation. This unique position requires deep an understanding of urban ecology, place-making, and stakeholder engagement to deliver impactful solutions. For many local governments and inter-governmental institutions, landscape architects’ trans-disciplinary working process could be an excellent model to inspire innovative pathways and holistic approaches.
To cover the theme from different perspectives, the congress invited two landscape practitioners, one city representative, and two landscape researchers to participate. They are: Michael Grove, ASLA, from Sasaki; Kotch Voraakhom, ASLA, from Porous City Network; Lee-Shing Fang from Kaohsiung City; Chih-Wei G.V. Chang from Gravity Praxis University of Cologne; and Antje Stokman from HafenCity University. The panel was moderated by Daniela Rizzi, Officer of Green Infrastructure and Nature-Based Solutions at the ICLEI European Secretariat.
The panelists shared their first-hand experience in resilience building in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. By engaging with the panelists and their processes of design thinking, the panel highlights insights on collaborative, design-driven problem-solving as a means of finding solutions for complex urban challenges and building more resilient cities.
This spring, the Environmental Justice PPN conducted a survey in order to learn about landscape architects’ understanding of and interests in environmental justice. Input from ASLA members is critical in shaping the EJ PPN and moving our profession forward. Landscape architects also have the opportunity to serve as a community-focused linchpin on multidisciplinary project teams, crafting designs in response to community input and inviting all stakeholders to the table to engage in the planning and design process. With allied professions and organizations, including the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Architects, updating their codes of ethics and professional conduct to reflect stronger support for environmental justice, we wanted to hear from landscape architects for their perspective.
The survey responses will aid in future communications with local ASLA chapters, projects such as a practitioner’s guide to environmental justice, and establishing a platform for EJ dialogue and resource sharing. As we continue working on those initiatives, we wanted to share a recap of the survey results and a few highlights and insights from the more than 170 responses received.
We are currently finalizing a course around ASLA’s latest Landscape Architecture Technical Information Series (LATIS) report, A Landscape Performance + Metrics Primer for Landscape Architects: Measuring Landscape Performance on the Ground, authored by Emily McCoy, ASLA. This session will present methods that every landscape architect or design firm can use to assess multiple aspects of site performance. Specifically, starting with data sampling basics and including metrics used towards attaining select pre-requisites and credits from the SITES Rating System.
To ensure the most successful learning outcomes and inform discussions during the group breakouts, we are seeking input from our members to help fine-tune the presentation talking points and inform discussions during the group breakouts, including which performance metrics and tools are most relevant and useful to the potential audience:
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.
Landscape architecture is an ideal educational foundation for a wide range of creative career opportunities. Increasingly, landscape architects are discovering and pursuing alternative career paths outside of traditional studio professional roles. The ASLA Public Practice Advisory Committee wants to hear about your professional practice needs and interests. This information helps us create valuable resources for public practitioners and those members interested in alternative practice areas.
Your responses will assist with:
Outreach efforts spotlighting the important roles landscape architects play in public policy and design of public space.
Sharing successes and challenges of pursuing alternative career options for landscape architects.
Developing tools necessary to pursue work effectively in government and non-profit roles.
Increasing the public’s knowledge of public sector landscape architects.
Providing students and emerging professionals with pertinent career development information.
The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Thank you very much for your time and feedback:
Call for Posters: 99th TRB Annual Meeting
January 12-16, 2020
AFB40 abstract submission deadline: September 16, 2019
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Landscape and Environmental Design (AFB40) invites submissions of your work as part of a landscape and environmental design poster session at TRB’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2020.
Please submit your abstract for consideration for presentation at the TRB Annual Meeting’s Landscape and Environmental Design (AFB40) poster session. Topics that emphasize the following as they relate to transportation and environmental design are a priority for AFB40:
Energy and sustainability—design, policies, and practices to protect the planet.
Policy needs related to the built environment that should be developed prior to full adoption of autonomous vehicle technology.
Resilience and security—preparing for floods, fires, storms, and sea level rise.
Transformational technologies that will change how transportation environments should be retrofitted or rebuilt.
Design to serve growing and shifting populations.
AFB40 also welcomes completed and on-going projects from broad landscape and environmental design areas such as Green Streets, roadsides for pollinators, Complete Streets, transportation design impacts on Main Streets, landscape design to safeguard the public, and art in transportation, as they relate to the scope of this committee. More information on AFB40 can be found on the committee’s website.
One of the best parts of my morning routine is to take a brisk-paced walk with my wife through our leafy suburban neighborhood in Arlington, Texas. It is a great chance to catch up on events, enjoy the changeable weather patterns in North Texas, greet and (occasionally) get caught up with our neighbors, enjoy the mature vegetation, and get the blood moving before a busy day. The neighborhood has very low non-arterial traffic flow that allows people and cars to comfortably coexist on the asphalt streets that are without sidewalks. However, at several points along our route, it invariably happens—the rise of the machines! Our morning reverie is interrupted with deafening sounds and billows of pollution and dust from gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment (GPLGE).
These “machines in the garden” are ever with us, as was recently confirmed by a visit to Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island near Seattle. Bloedel is one of my favorite places to return to and I always take the opportunity when I am in Seattle. Unfortunately, my aesthetic reverie at Bloedel was impacted by power equipment during my visit this summer and then became one of the incitements for this post.
As landscape architects, we are often responsible for designing the landscapes that are maintained by these environmentally and aesthetically abusive machines. Many people have written over the years about lower-maintenance alternatives to lawns and hedges, but adoption has been painfully slow. There is also surprisingly little emphasis on the effects of GPLGE on environmental quality by ASLA and by regulators. In Texas, the primary regulator for emissions is The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Their website has many suggestions for improving air and water quality. Drilling down to Voluntary Tips for Citizens and Businesses to improve air quality will eventually lead to a webpage devoted to lawn and garden care. On this page there are tips for harvesting and saving water, organic gardening, native plants, using trees to save energy, using less pesticides and herbicides, etc. GPLGE is very conspicuously absent.
Orange Coast College Recycling Center becomes first project in the world to earn SITES, LEED, and TRUE Zero Waste certifications
The Orange Coast College (OCC) Recycling Center—already a LEED Gold certified building—has taken sustainability initiatives to a new level by recently achieving SITES Gold and TRUE Zero Waste Platinum certification. The center is also the first project in California to earn SITES v2 certification. Over the past 5 years, a team of sustainability experts has been working on plans to develop the outside space at the recycling center, which has served the OCC and its surrounding community for over 45 years.
The resulting project was truly a collaborative community effort. To prepare for the design, the local community was polled and asked about what types of programs and amenities they wanted the recycling center to include. They shared an interest in use of native plants, public art, interpretive signage, community opportunities and tours, as well as a desire for information on how to be more sustainable and make living spaces greener, organic gardening, and native plant programs.
The results were integrated into the design of the landscape, which focused on incorporating environmentally friendly elements while also increasing public environmental education and active demonstrations of sustainability. The project boasts a wide variety of environmental education opportunities and serves as a great example for how sustainable landscapes can enhance learning and the world around us.
Visit any hospital or healthcare facility in North America and you are likely to find a “healing garden.” This may be a revamped courtyard or a purposely composed landscape designed to benefit patients and their caregivers. Preliminary plans are underway in the Dell area of Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia for a healing garden and green burial site. At first glance, a healing garden in a cemetery may appear to be counterintuitive. However, the institution’s founders and early patrons believed in the therapeutic influence of nature and current plans build on those ideals. Close to the city and multiple healthcare facilities, the garden will serve as a place to learn, heal, and reflect. Aaron Wunsch, Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jessica Baumert, Executive Director, have been discussing this plan with Cherie Eichholz, PhD, a social worker at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. Outlines for such a scheme also appear in the cemetery’s 2015 master plan.
The Woodlands, a 54-acre historic cemetery and estate, is located near the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA Hospital (The Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center). The surrounding neighborhood is a mixture of students and professors, with a daily influx of patients and visitors to the nearby medical complexes.
At just under an acre, the ruggedly overgrown north-eastern corner of the Woodlands is known as “The Dell.” Steep sloping ground—20 feet in depth—discouraged burials here. A stream, Middle Run, ran through the area and held a water collection tank which fed an early irrigation line. The area is part of a buffer around the cemetery protecting the grounds from the surrounding commotion of city traffic and noise.
City Hall in Colleyville, Texas, looks out on a 140-by-140-foot flat area of lawn with no trees or distinguishing features. But not for long.
City leaders envisioned turning that unadorned lawn into a dynamic public space with a critical linkage to City Hall and the Public Library. The goals included creating a signature gathering place for residents of this city of 25,000 residents near Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and making retail/office/residential development adjacent to City Hall an even more enticing location.
The new Colleyville Plaza is set to break ground this year. When the project is completed, it will provide a welcoming community centerpiece with amenities that include a covered stage for small concerts and events, string lighting to brighten a new pedestrian corridor, benches and tiered seating for casual or formal use, attractive plantings, a signature fountain and an open area for gatherings such as the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration. During events, food trucks will be able to set up on the new pedestrian corridor in front of City Hall.
Our experience in working closely with the City to design the plaza underscored valuable lessons for meeting a client’s strategic goals with a plan that embraces and reflects local character.
I recently attended lunch recess at a local elementary school. With a bright orange measuring tape and a can of white marking paint in hand, I made my way to the far corner of the playground. It was a typical elementary school setting: lots of grass, a few trees, pavement play, and manufactured play structures. There was not much else, including shade, and it was pretty warm already. Before I knew it, though, a small cluster of kids trailed behind me, asking the classic, “Whatcha doing?” When I said I was marking the location for their new Butterfly, Sensory, and Strawberry Garden, they told me they were going to help. And as we talked, I gave them the BIG PICTURE of what we wanted to change on their campus. I shared with them the campus Master Plan.
Greening of Schoolyards (GOSY) projects can involve many things, but central to them all are access for everyone and user safety. Of course, in a world of sanitized “play structures” and manufactured authenticity, adding natural areas can come with concerns, many of which stem from lack of experience on the part of stakeholders. They aren’t uncreative…they just haven’t redesigned large, open spaces. When it comes to schools, thoughtful master planning encompasses two main objectives: enhancing the campus and building buy-in among numerous constituent groups.
Beatrix Farrand studied the art and science of landscape before any formal academic programs existed. In the late 1800s women were excluded from public projects, but that didn’t stop Beatrix from gaining prominence. She began her career designing private residential gardens, but her later work is likely better known to you. It includes the National Cathedral, White House gardens, Princeton, and Yale.
She was the first. Since then, woman have come to serve a broad range of roles in the landscape industry. But we are still outnumbered by men. That’s why BrightView—the nation’s largest landscape company—founded GROW (Growth in Relationships + Opportunities for Women), the company’s first Employee Resource Group (ERG), with the goal to attract, retain, and promote women in the company.
Caring for our people is part of BrightView’s culture. The new corporate reality since BrightView went public is that shareholders have certain expectations and cultivating diversity is among them. “Being the largest landscape company in the country carries certain obligations as a leader in the industry,” said CEO Andrew Masterman. “The GROW initiative is just one way we can achieve that.” He added, “the women of BrightView are making history, changing the way landscaping is delivered, and leading the design, development, maintenance, and enhancements of some of the country’s most recognizable environments.”
The mission of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) is to document historic landscapes of the United States. Since 2010, landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts have been challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to increase awareness of particular cultural landscapes through the annual HALS Challenge competition. Past themes have been: Cultural Landscapes of Childhood, Cultural Landscapes of Diversity, the American Latino Landscape, Cultural Landscapes of Women, Landscapes of the New Deal, Modernist Landscapes, National Register-Listed Landscapes, City and Town Parks, and Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War.
For the tenth annual HALS Challenge, the National Park Service invites you to document a historic streetscape—either an individual street or a contiguous network or grid of streets. The deadline to enter is July 31, 2019.
What makes your favorite historic street(s) unique? Does your local Historic Preservation Commission protect the streetscape characteristics and features of historic districts along with the contributing buildings? You may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by documenting historic streetscapes for HALS and illuminating these significant pieces of America’s circulatory system.
Beginning in the late nineteenth and extending into the mid-twentieth century, many American cities found themselves embroiled on either side of a hot-button issue that had an immense impact on American life. Urban renewal strategies employed by cities all over the country endeavored to make cities more livable, yet the rebuttal was sharp: “More livable for whom?”
In China, similar urban regeneration experiments have played out rapidly as China’s development took off during the last few decades—with similar regrets and lessons learned following in kind. The greatest difference, however, is that urban renewal in China has been interwoven with its unprecedentedly swift urbanization over the past forty years. With these two complex development patterns happening simultaneously, there have been few moments along the way to hit pause and reflect on these changes until fairly recently.
What Now? Learning From Our Mistakes
In both China and the United States, once communities and city leaders reflected on the impacts of their urban renewal projects, the picture was not always rosy. On both sides of the globe, city-led and developer-fueled overhauls of urban districts received vocal criticism from impacted communities. They frequently disrupted communities with strong ties to the existing urban fabric—with immigrant, the poor, minorities, and other disadvantaged communities bearing the brunt of sacrifice and upheaval. Entire histories were razed to make way for other populations ready to write new stories in their place. Much was lost in social, cultural, historical, and ecological terms in the zealous march toward modernity.
Vision is Green in Urban Design: Reclaiming Land for Downtown Parks in Dallas
21st century cities are being challenged by significant land and resource allocation and optimization issues requiring balance between the natural and built environment especially in high-density urban areas. Concerns such as population growth, rapid urbanization, climate change, natural resource depletion, extraneous consumption behaviors, and hasty ecological and environmental degradation are increasing new urbanites’ appreciation of the value of nature, land, and open and green space within cities. Recent population trends show that cities now house more than 82% of the population in the United States (The World Bank, 2017). Integrating parks in 21st century downtowns, as part of urban design practice, has become highly desirable, but is often contested by stakeholders. However, it is perhaps the most valuable strategy for reshaping the built environment in urban areas.
Since the turn of the century, increasing environmental awareness coupled with social and economic trends has dramatically affected where people choose to live, work, and play in United States. Downtowns, after half a century of neglect, have become more attractive to members of the aging Baby-Boomers, Gen X, and Millennial generations and young families. There is a growing interest (at least for some segments of the population) and need to return to the traditional centers with smaller housing units and compact environments that have architectural character, pedestrian friendly walkable streets, and the essential elements of a livable community. More importantly, today’s urbanites seem to want both “access to nature” and a “room with a view” within walking distance of employment, housing, and essential services such as parks, grocery stores, schools, and “third places” like restaurants and coffee houses (Reconnecting America, 2017; Florida, 2002).
Even cities like Dallas, the fifth best economically performing large city in US (Jackson et.al., 2019), are not immune to these changes and challenges as available land to provide such amenities and services for future residents is rapidly becoming a scarce commodity. Indeed, the City of Dallas is ranked a dismal 49th out of 100 in the US for park availability/access (Trust for Public Land, 2018). Up until 2013, its downtown has offered only about 8.3 acres of park land per 1,000 residents, whereas the greater city of Dallas offers 22.6 acres of park land for every 1,000 residents (EPS, 2015; Hargreaves Associates, 2013).
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