A Call for Landscape Architects to Assist Schools in Creating Outdoor Classrooms

by Jennifer Nitzky, PLA, ASLA, ISA

Nueva School
ASLA 2010 Professional Honor Award in General Design. Nueva School. Hillsborough, CA. Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture. / image: Marion Brenner

Green Schoolyards America (GSA) and their partners are organizing a national COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative around the idea of using outdoor school space, parks, and other outdoor areas as assets as schools make plans to re-open in the fall.

The initiative, led by Sharon Danks, MLA-MCP, CEO of Green Schoolyards America, has created several working groups to develop strategies, ideas, and frameworks to assist schools across the country. This initiative was launched with an online public forum titled “Outdoor Spaces as Essential Assets for School Districts’ COVID-19 Response,” held on June 4, 2020, and co-hosted by Green Schoolyards America, The Lawrence Hall of Science, San Mateo County Office of Education, and Ten Strands.

Among the working groups developed through this initiative, a new pro bono landscape design assistance program called COVID-19 Emergency Schoolyard Design Volunteers is matching schools with landscape architects and design students.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

The Halprin Gang
The Halprin Gang, late 1960s. Byron is in the striped shirt, center, below a waving Larry Halprin. / image: courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story.

Introduction: Education

My view of landscape architecture, of course, has evolved over the years. I graduated from high school in 1959. The direction we were given was to be an engineer, and if you were smart enough, to be an aerospace engineer; that was the field to go into. I had decent enough grades; I could have probably gone into it easily enough. In the library—libraries still existed then, with books in them!—there were career pamphlets; “be an engineer,” be this or be that. I pulled out the one on engineers and looked at what you needed to do. It had math, math, math, math. I can do math, but I don’t enjoy math, so I thought I’m not going to do engineering. I enjoyed drawing. I was decent at artwork, so I considered maybe something more in an artistic field. I thought seriously about architecture for a while and looked up their pamphlets. Unfortunately architects have to do calculus.

I had done a lot of gardening around our house. My mom really encouraged me to plant flowers. I didn’t know too much about plants, but I had an interest in it. At the time I found landscape architecture, the little brochure said landscape architects do houses, backyards…they do parks, and other sorts of things, but it was pretty much focused on designing people’s backyards. That’s the impression of landscape architecture that I entered UC Berkeley with—I wanted to do people’s backyards.

When I got to school, in those particular days, landscape architecture education started with architecture. You had a couple of introductory landscape courses, but all of the basic design was done through architecture—spatial manipulation, colors, patterns, textures, working with any kind of design philosophy from a very basic standpoint. It was a whole year of just introductory design courses through the architecture department, and those were good. There was a lot of advanced structure to it—structure in terms of form—and we’d been doing these for years. I think it was a good introduction. It opened my eyes; it was a lot more than I ever thought it was going to be.

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Measuring Performance: Findings and Insights from LAF’s 2020 CSI Program

by Megan Barnes, Associate ASLA

Arizona State University
Arizona State University Orange Mall Green Infrastructure Project / image: Chingwen Cheng

No matter how sustainability is defined—carbon neutral, net zero water, biodiversity, quality of life—it cannot be achieved without considering landscape.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program is a unique research collaboration and training program for faculty, students, and practitioners. Through CSI, LAF-funded faculty-student research teams work with leading practitioners to document the impacts of exemplary, high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify the environmental, social, and economic benefits of built projects and produce Case Study Briefs for LAF’s Landscape Performance Series. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Landscape Performance Series, which provides critical information to build capacity to achieve sustainability and transform the way landscape is considered in the design and development process. The Landscape Performance Series’ collection of over 160 Case Study Briefs created through CSI is an essential resource for educators, students, and practitioners seeking to assess progress toward environmental, social, and economic goals based on measurable outcomes.

The projects selected for the 2020 Case Study Investigation program represent a diverse geography and project types. Several projects have been recognized and awarded for their excellence in sustainable design and performance outcomes. Among the selected projects for the 2020 program are many that incorporate significant diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and address pressing challenges associated with climate change. Project types include an affordable housing project, a freshwater research lab, an adaptive use stadium converted partially into green roofs, and a series of fog collection and other interventions created in partnership with an informal settlement in Peru. The geographically diverse projects also include a rooftop garden in Sydney designed by and for indigenous users, a resilient university campus project in the Arizona desert, and two stormwater management and water conservation infrastructure projects that provide multiple layers of benefits.

Please join LAF’s 2020 Case Study Investigation Research Fellows and Research Assistants for a finale webinar in which they will present their process and most compelling findings from their efforts to quantify environmental, social, and economic benefits of exemplary landscape projects.

Upcoming LAF Webinar: Measuring Landscape Performance: Findings & Insights from LAF’s 2020 CSI Program (recording now available)
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern)
1.5 PDH (LA CES/HSW)

Registration is required and space is limited. A recording of the webinar will be made available on the LAF website.

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ICYMI: A Virtual Forum on the Future of Parks and Play

Social distancing circles in a park
Circles in a London park mark appropriate social distance. / image: Winniepix licensed under CC BY 2.0

On July 15, right in the middle of Park and Recreation Month, three of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—Children’s Outdoor Environments, Environmental Justice, and Parks & Recreation—collaborated to host an open dialogue on the future of parks and play.

ASLA members were invited to take part in this virtual forum as an opportunity to converse with peers about their observations and experiences, new developments being planned or currently underway, and what they are seeing locally in terms of park and play space usage or changes in use.

PPN leaders and members came together for small-group discussions within Zoom breakout rooms focused on what’s happening in parks and playspaces, and what landscape architects are hearing from clients and stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forum Facilitators:

  • Ilisa Goldman, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair
  • Ken Hurst, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair
  • Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer and past Co-Chair
  • Heidi Cohen, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer
  • Missy Benson, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer
  • Chad Kennedy, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments and past Co-Chair
  • Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
  • Tom Martin, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
  • Bronwen Mastro, ASLA, Parks and Recreation PPN Officer
  • Matt Boehner, ASLA, Parks and Recreation PPN Officer

Four discussion topics and prompts were provided to spark discussion and input from attendees, who ranged from students to firm principals who came from across the U.S., along with a few based internationally. Below, we recap key points, recurring trends, and takeaways from the conversation.

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Getting Started with Participatory Placemaking

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Teachers and students interacting
An effective strategy for participatory design is to go where children are, working with them alongside teachers and out-of-school program leaders as core partners. / image: Darcy Varney Kitching

We are honored to share the third of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (please see part one, Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening, and part two, The Benefits of Including Children in Participatory Placemaking, published here on The Field earlier this month). The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

If you were to create a dream team to facilitate a placemaking process with children, who would be on this team, and why?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Start with a few enthusiastic people who represent different types of organizations. You need to have people who work with children and youth, such as teachers who want to do project-based learning, or education staff in nonprofit organizations. You will also want someone who can influence decisions. One or two people need to be willing to take charge of the project. For a small initial venture, they can be volunteers, but to sustain a culture of participatory practice, coordinators require funding.

In the Growing Up Boulder program that we have worked on together, a team typically includes schools or child- and youth-serving organizations, city planning and design staff, and university students. Specific partners vary depending on how a project lines up with organization aims and who will be impacted. We are fortunate to have committed city leadership, but in some cities, a nonprofit organization with a sustainability mission may be the critical catalyst and serve as facilitator. The single most important element of a “dream team” is that it reflects the community and pays close attention to people whose perspectives might otherwise not be heard.

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ASLA to Host Virtual Listening Event: Introducing BlackLAN

Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA

Upcoming Listening Event: Introducing BlackLAN Podcast
Monday, July 27, 2020 New date TBA

On July 27, ASLA will air the Everything but the Building podcast episode featuring the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN), interviewed by Stacey Brochtrup. Attendees will learn about the organization and then have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, BlackLAN Founder and President and first black landscape architect awarded the Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Everything but the Building is a podcast about the people, places, and history behind the profession of landscape architecture. It can be found on eight different platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher.

BlackLAN was established in 2012 as an online communications network. The network was established by Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, as Manager and Kofi Boone, ASLA, as Co-Manager. BlackLAN is an organization for landscape architects of African heritage in the United States and internationally. The goal of the network is to foster mentorship, facilitate black diaspora conversations, disseminate news items, and provide resources and other information. In addition to the online network, the BlackLAN is currently moving to an open-source website platform to expand the work and mission of the network. To learn more about this vital community of landscape architecture professionals or sign up to receive the BlackLAN newsletter, contact BlackLAN.

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The Benefits of Including Children in Participatory Placemaking

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

A third grade student exploring an outdoor space with peers
When third graders explored opportunities to redesign the Civic Area, they wanted to honor the wildlife that lived there. This boy signals to his peers, “Shh, don’t scare the ducks!” / image: Stephen Cardinale

We are honored to share the second of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (please see part one: Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening, published last week). The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

What are the advantages for everyone of including children on a design team?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Children bring a playfulness that lightens the work and energizes creativity. They literally see the world from different perspectives, given their different heights and their love of climbing and running over, around, and through the landscape. Children bring freedom from preconceived expectations. We find that children tend to think about all groups in their community—including other species! When the City of Boulder gathered input from all ages in preparation for redeveloping the downtown Civic Area, preschoolers and elementary school students were the voices for biodiversity. They wanted to make sure that changes would accommodate ducks, other birds, squirrels, and butterflies.

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Leveraging Community Voices for an Inclusive Future

by Alicia Adams, ASLA, and Lori Singleton, ASLA

Community engagement in Detroit
image: Alicia Adams and Lori Singleton

Shared Dialogue and Community-Driven Authorship in the Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan

“We Hope for Better Things”

Detroit’s history has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. As a burgeoning auto industry attracted workers at the turn of the twentieth century and sustained them and their families into the 1950s, Detroit became the birthplace of the American middle class. In many ways, the city came to exemplify the American dream and, at the same time, the intrinsic characteristics which made it so elusive to communities of color.

Over the following decades, Detroit, like so many Rust Belt cities, was subject to the extreme consequences of economic decline and collapse. With industrial shutdowns came loss of jobs and residents. This, compounded with the effects of corrupt political, policing, and planning systems, served to only exacerbate the issues of preexisting racial inequalities. The impacts are still very evident in the city today.

Although Detroit’s story has become one of the most iconic, the city is not alone in the scars it bears. Inflicted by centuries of discriminatory policies and pervasive racial injustices in our systems that persist today, these wounds run deep in our American cities. Now, more than ever, we see evidence of this across the nation, brought into sharper focus by the Black Lives Matter movement—with collective voices that are speaking out against violence and systemic injustice against people of color. As Detroit works to rebuild itself, it must do so with a dedicated focus on equity and racial justice, and a commitment to creating more inclusive social and physical infrastructure.

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Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Middle school students documenting a site with photos
Middle school youth photo-document open space adjacent to their school prior to an intergenerational neighborhood park redesign. / image: Lynn M. Lickteig

We are honored to share the first of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer. The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

For readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of placemaking, would you please share a bit about it?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Placemaking involves bringing people together to plan, design, construct, and inhabit settings of daily life: the local region, city, town, neighborhood, and everywhere people live, learn, work, and play. It is an art and a science, as people contribute their insights, creativity, and knowledge to co-construct places of meaning and memory.

The last two years have seen a wave of youth activism—first climate strikes, and more recently, demonstrations that Black Lives Matter. The climate strikers are rallying for a better future built on renewable energy, social and intergenerational justice, and the protection of biodiversity and the living world. Their scale is global. As one of their slogans says, “There is no Planet B.” Placemaking brings ideas like these down to the local level. By including young people in placemaking, we invite them to participate in creating the world they want to live in. They are telling us that they want a world where people live in harmony with nature.

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Higher Education Reflections and Planning for Fall 2020

by Bill Estes, ASLA, Robert Hewitt, FASLA, and Ryan A. Hargrove, ASLA

Prior to the shift to online instruction, University of Kentucky Landscape Architecture students were utilizing a digital platform to create and share work. The image shows a lesson on perspective drawing. / image: Ryan Hargrove

Webinar: Higher Education Reflections and Planning for Fall 2020 (recording now available)
Thursday, July 23, 2020
3:00 – 4:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Hosted by ASLA’s Education & Practice PPN

As COVID-19 cases are surging across several states, many educators are in a state of limbo planning for the coming school year. As an affiliate faculty member and lecturer in the University of Washington’s Department of Landscape Architecture, I too am looking toward the autumn with a mix of uncertainty and optimism. In a recent email from the University describing the planned approach to reopening, it is currently anticipated that some classes will be taught in-person, some taught remotely, and some will be a hybrid of both approaches. In any scenario, I, like many others, am in the process of thinking through my class and how to best serve my students while working within social distancing requirements or remote learning challenges.

To a degree, remote learning is no longer new, and many lessons have been learned through the rapid shift universities were forced into this past spring. While I was not teaching through this transition, I followed it closely with intrigue and I had some experiences as a guest lecturer reviewer throughout the spring quarter. Still, I kept asking myself, how are other instructors adapting and what lessons have they learned in the process that could influence my planning for the fall? There have been several groups within universities and departments that worked together to develop repeatable and effective solutions, and there have been helpful articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine and the “Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching” series in Places Journal.

In addition to these resources, I have spoken to many students and faculty regarding the ups and downs of their experiences. Recently, I spoke with Associate Professor, Ryan Hargrove, PhD, ASLA, from the University of Kentucky, and he shared some interesting and insightful thoughts on his experiences with remote education.

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The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration

Landscape architects at work in a design office

Webinar: The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration and Experiences in the Time of COVID-19 (recording and additional resources now available)
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Construction contract administration is an important part of the profession of landscape architecture. When properly orchestrated, this phase allows the landscape architect to take a decisive path to help ensure successful implementation of the design and materials they have specified for a project.

Seasoned landscape architects often have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform construction contract administration services, simply based on their real-world experience. However, even they can have specific questions about their role and processes—perhaps being unfamiliar or unsure of certain aspects. Beginning and emerging landscape architects may feel overwhelmed or insecure regarding this phase. It is also important that landscape architecture students have a preliminary awareness of this subject.

Therefore, the ASLA Professional Practice Committee created The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration with the intent of providing information, knowledge, and guidance to a sometimes unfamiliar and misunderstood facet of the profession. The document serves as a reference to assist landscape architects in the construction contract administration of landscape architecture construction projects.

ASLA members may access the guidelines for free—just add the document to your cart and check out, using your ASLA member username and password.

To learn more about construction contract administration, please join us on Tuesday, July 21 for an overview of ASLA’s Construction Contract Administration Guidelines, plus discussion of current events and how COVID-19 is affecting construction contract administration, presented by Wm. Dwayne Adams, FASLA, Emily M. O’Mahoney, FASLA, Joy Kuebler, ASLA, and Keven Graham, FASLA.

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Documenting Vanishing or Lost Landscapes

Pine Ranch
Pine Ranch, HALS AZ-4-5, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

2020 HALS Challenge: Vanishing or Lost Landscapes
Deadline: July 31, 2020

For the 11th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document vanishing or lost landscapes. Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect, and climate change. By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, you may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past.

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2020. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure, and digital template may be downloaded from the National Park Service’s HALS website.

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The Providence Preservation Society: Advocating for the Preservation of Urban Neighborhoods and Landscapes

by Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

State House, Providence, RI
State House, Providence, RI. This aerial image of the Rhode Island State House is from 1920 and shows the original landscaped grounds. A transportation hub was proposed for the area on the right side of the grounds between the State House and the road. In the 1990s some of the lawn area immediately to the right of the building was made into a parking lot for state legislators. / image: Rhode Island Photograph Collection, Providence Public Library

Many historic preservation organizations are founded to preserve a specific building or landscape. The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) was established in 1956 by leading citizens of College Hill in response to the threatened demolition of a number of early eighteenth and nineteenth century houses in Providence’s historic East Side/College Hill neighborhood. Had this demolition occurred, the entire character of this historic neighborhood would have changed and Providence would have lost a significant historic urban landscape.

The society’s mission is clearly stated on their website:

Our mission is to improve Providence by advocating for historic preservation and the enhancement of the city’s unique character through thoughtful design and planning.

The Providence Preservation Society was then and continues to be an advocate for the revitalization of neighborhoods. And within the past seven years, under the leadership of their current executive director, Brent Runyon, the PPS has led the charge for the preservation and revitalization of a number of threatened neighborhoods and significant landscapes within the City of Providence.

As the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) liaison for Rhode Island, I follow the advocacy work of PPS very closely, particularly with regard to threatened landscapes. The PPS was a strong partner with the Rhode Island Chapter of ASLA in 2017 when the RIASLA nominated the Rhode Island State House and its surrounding landscape for The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s annual Landslide program. This nomination was spurred by a plan for the placement of a transit hub on the east side of the state house landscape. The continued advocacy efforts of the PPS, along with other partners and the national recognition from TCLF’s Landslide feature, helped to stop the transit hub plan and preserve the context for Providence’s state capitol building, designed by McKim, Mead & White.

Providence’s riverfront is currently under threat from a number of development proposals. I contacted Brent Runyon by phone to inquire further about the PPS’ advocacy program and what he considers to be the key areas of focus for their organization.

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An Interview with Virginia Burt, FCSLA, FASLA

by Siyi He, Associate ASLA, and Lisa Bailey, ASLA

Virginia Burt on site at a residential project by Virginia Burt Designs in Shaker Heights, OH. / image: © 2015 Richard Mandelkorn

Virginia Burt, FCSLA, FASLA, creates landscapes and gardens of meaning for residential clients, healthcare facilities, and academic and governmental organizations. For more than 30 years, Virginia’s design philosophy has reflected these roots, enabling her to create gardens and landscapes that reveal their natural context and sensitively reflect and support those who use them.

Virginia’s international work has been widely recognized. These awards include CSLA National Awards in 2015, 2016, 2017 (two), 2018, and 2019; awards from the Ohio Chapter of ASLA in 2006, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; a National ASLA Award of Merit in 1999; and a Palladio Award in 2014. Virginia is one of seven women in the world honored to be designated a Fellow of both the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The following interview with Virginia Burt was conducted and edited by Lisa Bailey, ASLA, and Siyi He, Associate ASLA.

ASLA’s Healthcare & Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) also invites you to continue this conversation with Virginia on Thursday, July 16, 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Eastern). (The recording is now available.)

What inspires you to do this work?

I grew up on an apple farm, and being this close to nature literally wove and wrote it into my DNA. It is such a blessing.

I learned something from having watched plants blossom, literally blossom to fruit, and then being able to eat that fruit. You realize that something out there is greater than we are. So for me there is a richness, and I would say a spirituality, that infuses my world.

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Be a Professional Practice Network Leader

The call for Professional Practice Network leadership volunteers is open now.

Call for Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership Volunteers
Deadline: Friday, July 24, 2020

If you are passionate about your landscape architecture practice area, whether it is ecological restoration, planting design, urban design, or any one of ASLA’s 20 PPNs, please consider volunteering to join your PPN’s leadership team.

PPN leaders provide member input on specific practice area needs and ASLA programs and services, including webinar and blog post development and PPN Live event planning for the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. Appointments are for one year, and all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer. Each leadership team conducts work via email and by conference call. The full PPN Council, composed of all PPNs’ chairs, meets quarterly by conference call. Individual PPN leadership teams typically have a monthly conference call.

To volunteer for service as a PPN leader:

  • Answer “yes” to question two on the committee appointment form, “Are you interested in Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership?”
  • You’ll then be prompted to confirm which PPN leadership team you are interested in joining, and which PPN activity interests you most.

Visit asla.org/ppn for the full list of PPNs and review the leadership toolkit for additional information.

Please note: all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer to be a PPN leader, but you must be a member of the PPN whose leadership team you would like to join. If you’re not sure which PPN(s) you are currently a member of, please log in to asla.org. ASLA members’ PPNs are listed on the Activities / Orders tab in your member profile. Members may request to change or add a PPN at any time via this form or by contacting ASLA Member Services.

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Micromobility & Multimodal Transportation Assimilation

by Nate Lowry, ASLA

Bicycles locked to road sign
image: Héctor López on Unsplash

Demand for flexible urban transportation options is on the rise and becoming even more vital these days. Bike, scooter, and other options have reshaped how people access, mobilize, and interact with urban spaces. Many large cities have been slow to adjust to these quickly shifting trends and the need for alternative solutions. Shifts from traditional automobiles and associated infrastructure to more micro-scale transportation uses will continue to test local government’s ability to provide adequate planning approaches.

Micromobility devices offer flexibility and freedom that traditional passenger vehicles cannot and cost less, emit little to no emissions, and are much easier to park/store. Micromobility is defined by Wikipedia as a range of small, lightweight devices operating at speeds typically below 15 mph for trips up to 6 miles. Micromobility devices include bicycles, Ebikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles, and electric pedal-assisted (pedelec) bicycles.

As you can imagine, transitional passenger vehicle infrastructure does not adequately provide for micromobility device use. The City of Seattle has recently taken a different approach to traditional transportation, permanently closing down 20 miles of streets to most vehicles and making them for public access only. In Portland, Oregon, building codes recently changed to require additional micromobility storage in new structures to meet increasing demand while trying to avoid safety concerns about them littering the sidewalk. The City of Atlanta’s Department of Transportation recently approved more than $200 million in funding for transportation improvements focused on pedestrians, bikes, scooters, and other micromobility devices.

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Western Water Use Regulation: Diverse Approaches

by Glen Dake, FASLA

Imperial Dam on the Colorado River near Yuma, AZ, where Colorado River water is diverted to the Imperial Irrigation District. / image: Glen Dake

Western states face new struggles to match water use with water supply. Landscape architects are finding a wide range of regulations and incentives to drive landscape water use down and support a growing population.

The 2019 Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan committed each of the Colorado Basin states to reduce the amount of water they take from the Colorado River during drought conditions. The junior water rights holder, Arizona, committed to a 7% reduction in annual water use starting in 2020. That state is home to the second-fastest growing city in the U.S., with a 56.6% increase in population since the last census: Buckeye, AZ. This is one of several dynamics that are impacting water policies in the Colorado Basin states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.

To reduce water use states are turning to the remaining area of conservation potential: water that is consumed in urban landscapes. In past years, urban water use per capita was reduced through promotion of low-flow bathroom fixtures and water-wise clothes washers that have been replacing old models. A sampling of many approaches that Western cities and counties are applying to meet their water conservation goals follows.

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Dispatches from the Planting Design PPN

The Meadow at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, designed by Richard Haag, Thomas Church, Koichi Kawana, Fujitaro Kubota, and Iain Robertson, in 2019. / image: David Hopman, ASLA, PLA

Amidst gradual reopening in parts on the world, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect nearly every aspect of life, from personal interactions to business to learning to recreation. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is sharing insights, observations, and impressions from ASLA members based around the country here on The Field. In recent weeks, we’ve shared updates and resources curated by the Community Design, Historic Preservation, and Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Networks’ leadership teams. Today, we share dispatches from the Planting Design PPN team:

  • Mark Dennis, ASLA – Washington, D.C.
  • Anne Spafford, ASLA, MLA – Raleigh, North Carolina
  • David Hopman, ASLA, PLA – Arlington, Texas

Mark Dennis, ASLA
Senior Landscape Architect, Knot Design
Washington, D.C.

Like all work-at-home, school-at-home, everything-at-home families these days, our own needs for outdoor connections are more persistent and unyielding than ever. We are here in Capitol Hill just a few doors down from Lincoln Park, a key element of the L’Enfant plan and among the oldest parks in Washington. The surging activity at Lincoln Park during the pandemic provides proof of just how crucial even the most fundamental aspects of amenity planning are in our society, while simultaneously highlighting the profound, persistent lack of funding for preservation and maintenance.

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COVID-19 Business Impact Snapshot

image: Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

Which factors are having the greatest impact on ASLA members’ business operations?

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) forces changes to business practices globally, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) aims to provide an objective assessment of the impact that COVID-19 is having on members’ businesses. An online survey was conducted among ASLA members who have been identified as firm principals or as holding a leadership position within their organization. Survey data was collected between May 7–17, 2020.

The survey was designed to identify factors that are currently having the greatest impact on the business operations of ASLA members and to provide insight into how businesses are responding to the crisis.

View the survey results >

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Black Lives Matter. Black Communities Matter.

Indianapolis storefront
A storefront in Indianapolis features the names of African Americans who have lost their lives to police violence. / AP Photo. Michael Conroy

After hearing feedback from our membership and after much reflection, the American Society of Landscape Architects issues the following statement regarding the killing of George Floyd:

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) joins millions of people around the world in mourning the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered by a police officer.

ASLA recognizes that the brutal systems of slavery and Jim Crowism have dehumanized black people and weakened their communities. We also acknowledge that the planning and design of the built environment, including landscape architecture, has often had a disproportionate adverse impact on black communities. Systemic racism in the built environment has taken many forms, including redlining, urban renewal, and disinvestment. Environmental injustices, including lack of equitable access to clean air and water and greater concentrations of pollution, continue to plague these communities. Further, gentrification and displacement make it impossible for black communities to continue to exist. The landscape architecture profession can play a critical role in reversing these trends.

Public spaces have always been a critically important platform for the protest movement and democratic change. They have also become sites of violent confrontation and oppression against the black community. It is important that ASLA and others amplify the black narrative of these spaces.

ASLA stands in solidarity with black communities in the fight against racial injustice and police violence against black people. Moving forward, ASLA will deepen our partnership with the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN) to create a meaningful, sustainable plan of action to help guide the profession in addressing the wants and needs of black communities—no matter how much work and time it takes. Black Lives Matter.

Rebuilding Small-Scale Community

by Oliver Penny, Student ASLA

A proposed design for a cottage court development in Athens, Georgia, featuring a community garden in the foreground. / image: Oliver Penny

Although the coronavirus pandemic is currently the most pressing public health issue in the United States, there is another health crisis that has possibly been worsened by our recent shelter-in-place actions. This crisis concerns the rising rates of loneliness and isolation in the developed world, which, even prior to the pandemic, presented a growing public health concern. As one illustration of the problem, a 2019 survey by Cigna found that 61% of respondents reported feeling lonely, representing a 7% increase over their 2018 survey.

It is concerning that rates of loneliness could be rising and are now so prevalent since there is substantial evidence showing that social isolation and loneliness are associated with an increased risk of early death. Research has shown loneliness and isolation can be as damaging to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness and isolation are especially problematic for older populations—among those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. One study found that 27% of Americans over sixty now live alone, compared with 16% of adults in other countries.

This rising health risk has undoubtedly become more pronounced with the “social distancing” measures required to stem the spread of the virus. The term “social distancing” has rightly been criticized as a misnomer, with the phrase “physical distancing” offered as a more accurate description of the prescribed behavior. Nonetheless, the widespread adoption of the term social distancing perhaps shows how our perception of social connection is intimately tied to physical space. Zoom meetings and other digital tools might be vital for maintaining connections with others in the current climate, but they are still a poor substitute for in-person interactions.

One way to combat the rising rates of loneliness while also providing the vital sustenance of face-to-face interaction is by fostering more connections with neighbors. Such connections are one of the few available sources for meaningful in-person interaction during the lockdown. Even as restrictions on public gatherings are lifted, it could be a slow and fitful process before public spaces regain their former conviviality.

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Esri Geodesign Summit 2020

by Daniel Martin, ASLA, MLA

Interest in geodesign has grown since the first summit was held in 2010. / image: Esri

Esri’s yearly Geodesign Summit is a nexus for cutting edge practice, research, networking, and collaboration around some of today’s toughest problems. Held February 24 – 27, 2020, this year marked the eleventh summit. The theme “seeing clearly” speaks to geodesign workflows which cut through the noise to the signal and allows for the effects of different alternatives to be derived through digital testing before breaking ground. Under that overarching theme, this year also focused on the AEC space through an emphasis on speakers in the practice realm who leverage geodesign in real-world projects.

Esri president Jack Dangermond giving a talk entitled “Geospatial Infrastructure—A Foundation for Geodesign.” He shared Esri’s vision of how rapidly evolving technology will help catalyze the future of geodesign and better enable us to see what others can’t. / image: Esri

If landscape architecture design workflows and geodesign workflows were laid out in a Venn diagram, the overlap would be substantial. Similarities include thorough inventory and analysis of project context and underlying environmental variables, creation of multiple concepts and iterations, leveraging input from stakeholders (client, public, and regulatory), and the graphic communication of all these elements. Given all those similarities, geodesign can be summarized as data, evaluation, and impact-driven design. Using software (such as GIS) to model design alternatives and project their effects into quantitative results, mistakes are made virtually while the optimum scenario is chosen, thereby saving time, money, and the social and environmental costs of failed projects or unintended results.

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Far From Business as Usual: Resources to Help You Adapt

image: Austin Distel on Unsplash

Before this year’s stay-at-home orders, temporary business closures, work stop orders, and other disruptions to life and work came into effect, landscape architects tended to seek out business advice and answers to practice-related questions from an array of sources, from colleagues to mentors to certain key books. To ensure members can locate all of ASLA’s business-related offerings in one place, our Professional Practice Committee developed the Business Toolkit last year. Since then, new content has been added—including recorded webinars on QuickBooks for small business owners and the recently released Construction Contract Administration Guidelines—and the Business Toolkit, along with ASLA’s COVID-19 Resources page, with its dedicated Business Resources section, will continue to grow and evolve as additional resources are developed.

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Be Heard: Requests for Input Closing Soon

Attendees participate in an education session at the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. / image: EPNAC

There are several calls for comments, questions, and input closing soon—please take a moment to ensure that your voice is heard as the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board seek input on several issues:

COVID-19 and Contract Performance
Submit questions for the speakers by May 26
Register for the May 28 webinar

Join us for an upcoming webinar to discuss how COVID-19 may be affecting current projects for landscape architects working under existing contracts. Professional services contracts might take many forms; the speakers will specifically address the 2020 ASLA Standard Form Contract for Professional Services between Landscape Architect and Client, addressing key issues that have emerged during the crisis and that parties need to consider in light of COVID-19.

Before the webinar, download and review the recently published advisory guide COVID-19 Contract Provisions: Protective and Proactive. This guide illustrates how some contract provisions provide full or partial relief from impracticable/impossible-to-meet obligations/liability, while others are more proactive and could help the landscape architect make a valid claim for additional compensation for additional services. This information may be important to any business facing issues related to contract performance.

We also ask that you pose questions to the speakers—Charles Heuer, FAIA, Esq., The Heuer Law Group, and Frank Musica, Esq., Victor Insurance Managers Inc., with moderator Vaughn Rinner, FASLA—in advance of the webinar, so that we can address attendees’ most pressing needs and questions.

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America’s Chinatowns: Identity, Belonging, and the Future of Place

Cyclists and park visitors on a bridge in Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago. site design group, ltd. / image: Andrew Bruah for site design group, ltd.

ASLA, in coordination with members of the ASLA Diversity Summit community, has crafted activities and resources for our celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, including a four-part webinar series on the past, present, and future of Chinatown, drawing analogies to other neighborhoods like them that are subject to ongoing forces of gentrification driving neighborhood change. We encourage all those interested to register for the next two presentations in the series:

Portsmouth Square Renovation
Tuesday, May 19 | 2:00 p.m. ET
Speakers: Jim Lee, FASLA, and Yu-Chung Li, ASLA

The Future of American Chinatowns
Tuesday, May 26 | 2:00 p.m. ET
Speakers: Ernie Wong, FASLA, Jenn Low, PLA, and other special guests

All presentations are being recorded and will be posted to ASLA’s website, including the first two webinars that took place earlier in May: Chinatowns of America, presented by Ernie Wong, FASLA, and Dear Chinatown, D.C., presented by Jenn Low, PLA.

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Event Formats Evolve in Response to COVID-19

image: Justin Buisson on Unsplash

With businesses and organizations closely monitoring the evolving situation related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, numerous events have been canceled, postponed, or transformed, with often astonishing speed, into virtual gatherings. With protecting the health and safety of all involved as the top priority, more changes are likely to come as circumstances continue to change. With everything from national conventions to local events quickly shifting dates or formats, we are all exploring new ways to stay connected. We’ll be tracking event changes on ASLA’s Conferences for Landscape Architects page as we become aware of them, and are recapping a few event updates below to help keep you informed.

Virtual Events:

Urbanism Next Virtual Forum
May 14, 2020

ASLA Potomac Chapter Awards Gala
May 14, 2020, Facebook Live

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Spring Meeting Webinar Series
May 11-June 19, 2020

Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Virtual Conference: Roundtables and Workshops
May 19-28, 2020

Epidemic Urbanism: Reflections on History Online Symposium
May 28-29, 2020

New Directions in the American Landscape (NDAL)
Ecology and the Residential Landscape: webinar series May 28-June 24, 2020
Ecology, Culture, and the Designed Landscape: webinar dates TBA

Digital Landscape Architecture Virtual Conference DLA2020
June 3-4, 2020

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ASLA Student Awards Call for Entries: A Reminder for Students to Submit Your Best Work

ASLA 2019 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Cultivating the Future: Designing and Constructing a Didactic Garden. Mississippi State University. / image: John-Taylor Corley, Associate ASLA

ASLA 2020 Student Awards:

  • Friday, May 15: entry fees due
  • Sunday, May 31, 11:59 p.m. PT: submissions due

The American Society of Landscape Architects has extended the registration and submission deadlines for the 2020 Student Awards to provide extra time to registrants and submitters who are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants must pay the required entry fee(s) before proceeding to the next step of the submission process.

Each year, the ASLA Student Awards give us a glimpse into the future of the profession. Award recipients receive featured coverage in Landscape Architecture Magazine, and ASLA will honor the award recipients, their clients, and advisors at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami Beach.

Entries for the Student Awards are completed through the online submission platform. To log in, current ASLA members should enter their ASLA member ID as their username along with the same password used to log in to asla.org. Watch the entrant video for an overview on submitting your application.

Entries are being accepted in eight categories:

  • General Design
  • Residential Design
  • Analysis and Planning
  • Urban Design (new!)
  • Communications
  • Research
  • Community Service Award
  • Student Collaboration

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Naturescape: A Vision for Open Space at the University of California, Irvine

by Dawn Dyer, RLA, ASLA, Kaleen Juarez, and Mia Lehrer, FASLA

Fig. 1. The UCI Naturescape Vision Plan aims to leverage and engage with the surrounding community to facilitate connectivity between the campus and regional, human, and natural, landscapes. Click here to view plan at a larger size. / image: Studio-MLA

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has embarked on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to holistically re-imagine the campus’ open space resources, collectively referred to as Naturescape. The UCI Naturescape Vision was completed in 2018 to optimize the interconnected open spaces on the 1,500-acre campus to serve and enhance research, teaching, community engagement, wellness, and sustainability, and to reflect and capitalize on the region’s unique human and biological heritage.

In 2019, Studio-MLA led a six-month multi-disciplinary design effort to generate a Vision Plan to guide future development of campus connections and transform the campus’ central open space, Aldrich Park, into a thriving botanical garden. The design team included Grimshaw and Sherwood Engineers. Through a collaboration with the UCI Naturescape Advisory Committee, the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and the Physical & Environmental Planning Department, the Naturescape Vision Plan defines an innovative landscape-led approach to campus growth and development. The Plan builds the campus’ unique sense of place by completing “missing links”, extending the ecological spokes of the historic radial campus design into the surrounding protected natural areas, and works with community partners to create thoughtful connections to regional trails (Figure 1).

The central idea of the Vision Plan characterizes the campus as arboretum and living laboratory. With more than 24,000 trees on the 1,500-acre campus, UCI has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA since 2010. The Vision Plan builds upon this legacy by looking at succession to encourage diversity of species, increase canopy for shade, and reduce the heat island effect. The campus as arboretum becomes a pillar for the campus as living laboratory. The Vision Plan creates a framework for the campus to provide new opportunities for health and wellness, research, teaching, and interdisciplinary cross-pollination of the arts, engineering, and sciences.

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Dispatches from the Community Design PPN

Apartment residents in the Washington, D.C. area gather on their balconies every Friday to applaud, cheer, and bang pots and pans for healthcare workers and first responders. / image: Alexandra Hay

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reshape nearly every aspect of life, from personal interactions to business to learning to recreation, ASLA will be sharing insights, observations, and impressions from ASLA members based around the country here on The Field. In recent weeks, we’ve shared updates and resources curated by the Historic Preservation and Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Networks’ leadership teams. Today, we share dispatches from the Community Design PPN team:

  • Bob Smith, ASLA – Watkinsville, Georgia
  • William Aultman, ASLA – Washington, D.C. Metro
  • David Jordan, ASLA – Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
  • Regan Pence, ASLA – Omaha, Nebraska

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