In 1971, architect and artist Simon Nicholson introduced the concept of loose parts in his article “The Theory of Loose Parts: How NOT to Cheat Children.” In the article, Mr. Nicholson described loose parts as materials, natural or manmade, that can be used in different ways for children to manipulate, experiment with, create and invent with, and generally do whatever they want with them. Further described, there are no set directions that accompany loose parts play, so they are limited only by safety and any existing environmental constraints and the far reaches of childrens’ imagination (Neill, 2013).
Loose parts are well suited for solitary and social play. The bottom line is, while further research is needed, what we do know is that loose parts play appears to enhance active and unstructured play (Houser, et al., 2016). Take a look at some of the images that our Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team compiled of children engaging in loose play in the woods, on the playground, at the shore, and some of the projects they have left behind for others to enjoy. Please feel free to share some of your favorite images with us, in the comments below or by email.
by Ryan Ives, RLA, and Michael Ledbetter, RLA, ASLA
This post provides two perspectives from two landscape architects—Ryan Ives and Michael Ledbetter, who are adapting their planting design, implementation, and post-construction plant management strategies to the new norms: climate change, reduced biodiversity, shrinking budgets, and clients’ expectations for new methodologies. We hope to see more posts like this from them and others who are trying out new sustainable design techniques and strategies.
Ryan Ives, RLA
Living and working out of Durham, NC
Stepping into your Post-Wild World
My own journey into a post-wild world began in 2016, when I saw Claudia West speak at the New Directions in the American Landscape conference at Connecticut College. I was blown away by West’s presentation of the then recently published Planting in a Post-Wild World, co-authored with Thomas Rainer, ASLA. West and Rainer synthesized decades of sophisticated European and American planting methods with contemporary views and experience (West comes from the post-Cold War East German landscape perspective and Rainer from the wilderness lost legacy of the U.S.). Their arguments seem particularly well-suited to our current moment of climate change and urbanization. The book they produced is a guide that gives the rest of us a methodology and conceptual framework to build upon. If you spend any time on landscape architecture Instagram, you will see that I am not the only person who has been inspired by this book.
Even after reading the book twice, it took me several years to get to the point where I was ready to jump in and start applying West and Rainer’s methodology to projects. Prior to becoming a landscape architect, I worked in landscape maintenance and I was anxious about taking risks with planting design. No one wants to develop an inspiring planting concept that includes claims of low maintenance after establishment (I mean management!), only to see it fail. There is also the issue that many clients, whether because of negative past experiences or word of mouth, believe that plantings will be expensive and difficult to maintain. Essentially, there are a lot of incentives to avoid taking risks, particularly if you are not entirely sure which risks you should take. The concepts expressed in Planting in a Post-Wild World felt like the missing piece that I needed to give me the freedom and guidance to create meaningful, beneficial, and manageable plant designs.
Today marks the start of World Landscape Architecture Month! Given the 2021 WLAM theme of healthy, beautiful, and resilient places for all communities, ASLA’s Community Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team put together a set of thought-provoking, community-focused questions for the PPN’s leaders to address to celebrate the launch of WLAM. Below, we share answers from the Community Design PPN team on a range of topics, from reimagining brownfield sites to what the future of community design may look like post-COVID:
Scott Redding, ASLA, PPN Co-Chair – Sacramento, California
Oliver Penny, ASLA, PPN Officer – Fort Worth, Texas
Bob Smith, ASLA, PPN Officer and past Chair – Watkinsville, Georgia
Stacey Weaks, ASLA
Principal, Norris Design
How do you deal with brownfield sites and other types of sites that require remediation for new development? How do you make these reimagined sites an addition to the community fabric and an enhancement of the community environment?
Redevelopment remediation projects require a significant commitment from the lead developer and the teaming partners, including public and private entities. Norris Design has been collaborating on Miller’s Landing in Castle Rock, Colorado, a centrally located property in the Downtown Castle Rock area which historically served as the town’s former landfill. The property recently completed an extensive remediation process. Our team, in collaboration with the Town of Castle Rock and an extensive team of subconsultants, has been guiding the planning, design, and entitlement process to redevelop the 80-acre property, which required complete remediation prior to any redevelopment.
The vision for Miller’s Landing establishes a mixed-use district that diversifies the community fabric to serve the growing Castle Rock area and expand the economic opportunities in the area. A key aspect of the master plan is the establishment of a central Main Street with connections to a restored greenway, linking a critical segment of the trail network between downtown and the regional park and resulting in a healthier environment that would not be possible without the extensive remediation process.
The Venice Biennale is a large art exhibition that started in 1895. Since then, it has become one of the world’s most famous art festivals, and other cities have started similar large international art festivals. Reports show more than 300 art festivals globally, according to the Biennial Foundation. These art festivals integrate with community, tourism, and regeneration. As a result, they serve as a vehicle for city planning. This post asserts that art biennales are a modality of local regeneration, with my experience at Japan’s Biwako Biennale as a case study.
The Biwako Biennale is an international contemporary art festival that occurs every two years in Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture. Omihachiman is a small town located on the east shore of Lake Biwa. The daimyo Hidetsugu Toyotomi established a castle town south of Mt. Hachiman in 1585 and brought merchants and artisans from the adjacent town. The city thrived as a merchant town, relying on the Lake Biwa and land routes for trade. Merchants built gorgeous houses along the street and castle canal. As a result, the town used to be lively with locals and visitors.
As we cross the year-threshold of a topsy-turvy life-changing event, recreation and parks have continued to persist and provide for our communities in ways not ever explored before. When people were told to isolate themselves in California, our recreation and park districts asked our communities to come outside and play in our open space safely. Our parks have experienced increased foot traffic even while our agency wasn’t able to offer our typical sports and recreation programming. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case nationwide. We’ve continued to evolve recreation programming away from team sports, camps, and gatherings to virtual 5ks, grab-and-go activities, park scavenger hunts, and online recreation. As one can imagine, after recreating recreation for 365+ days, creativity wanes, and new ideas are becoming sparse.
Enter World Landscape Architecture Month. Our profession’s month-long international celebration is a perfect time to increase awareness about our profession, the environment, and spaces many people hold dearly. Parks have always been a place of celebration, reflection, activity, learning, reverence, and so many other feelings, nouns, and verbs that one blog post cannot contain. Still, few grasp what goes into the design and development of these and other landscapes. North of the River Recreation and Park District (NOR) is hosting a month-long virtual series honoring landscape architecture within the world around us.
Tennessee racked up the most designations, including two All-American Roads and three National Scenic Byways. New Jersey added four new National Byways, and Massachusetts, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, and Wisconsin all had three byways designated as either All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways.
Several multi-state byways were among those receiving new or upgraded federal designations. The longest, the Great River Road National Scenic Byway, follows the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The Lincoln Highway now has three National Scenic Byways along the corridor: Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois (designated a NSB in 2000). Historic Route 66 in Missouri became an AAR—the only portion of the famous route to achieve this prestigious designation. Other segments of Route 66 (Oklahoma, New Mexico, Illinois, and Arizona) are National Scenic Byways. New Mexico joined Colorado and Utah as a National Scenic Byway along the Trail of the Ancients. North Carolina and Tennessee received AAR designation for their Newfound Gap Road Byway, and the Palisades Scenic Byway became a NSB in New York and New Jersey. To see a complete list of America’s Byways, check out FHWA’s website.
The Applied Research Consortium (ARC) is a new program within University of Washington’s College of Built Environments that links graduate students, faculty members, and firms to research a topic collaboratively. Now in my final year of UW’s MLA program, I am leading a year-long research project through an ARC Fellowship. The research is focused on racial equity within built environment design practice. More specifically, I am looking at how perceptions of workplace culture within design practice affect employee retention and goals around equity and inclusion.
To better understand existing perceptions of workplace culture, I have created a short, anonymous survey aimed at design professionals. Through this survey, I hope to learn what aspects of workplace culture need the most improvement and provide a set of recommendations for how workplaces can positively shift their culture.
Your help is needed! The survey closes at the end of March. I am seeking participation from landscape architects to reach the respondent goal. Please feel free to share it widely with your professional networks. All responses are completely anonymous and highly valued.
The research project began in September 2020 with goal setting, a literature review, and scoping process. One of the goals that emerged from this early phase of the project is to widely share the findings, and subsequent recommendations for an industry-scale impact. In the spirit of sharing research, I would like to share a few key takeaways thus far:
The Built Environment is Racist
The built environment is a physical manifestation of our nation’s cultural and political history, and that history is racist. Some well-known examples of racism in the built environment include exclusionary redlining policies, the targeted siting of urban renewal projects, toxic industrial sites, and waste sites within communities of color, oppressive architecture of low-income housing projects, and inequitable urban economic development policies.
The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.
Allensworth, HALS CA-68
In 2015 while returning home from a vacation in Tucson, Arizona, I decided to visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park in Tulare County, California. I learned about this unique historic park from the database of cultural landscapes that the Northern California HALS Chapter maintains. It is a resource I check regularly when traveling to find interesting places to explore.
We arrived at the state park campground late, so I waited until morning to explore the site, when everything was shrouded in fog. Allensworth State Park is what remains of what was once a thriving town built by and for African Americans. It was founded by five men—Allen Allensworth, a former slave, Union Army nurse, Baptist Minister, lecturer, and politician; William Payne, a school teacher; William Peck, an American Methodist Episcopal Church minister; J.W. Palmer, a Nevada miner; and Harvey Mitchel, a realtor from Los Angeles. They filed plans for a new township on August 3, 1908.
by Sarah Kwon, Affil. ASLA, and Michelle Lin-Luse, ASLA
Help Build the ASLA Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (EJ PPN)’s Case Studies Database
One of the most frequently requested resources amongst landscape architects working on environmental justice is a database of precedent projects to reference. Since 2019, the EJ PPN has been collecting case studies in order to build a robust database of precedents. This database will share examples of how to integrate environmental justice into our field of practice.
You may submit your case study by completing this online form, which has a series of questions to collect information about engagement techniques, resources used, project outcomes, and lessons learned. We are interested in featuring your projects that demonstrate how environmental justice principles can be applied to design processes and outcomes.
Examples of incorporating environmental justice into your projects may include (but are not limited to) the following:
design processes that center on community voices;
projects that address disproportionate environmental burdens; and
outcomes that honor the cultural integrity of all communities.
How advocates for landscape architecture have shaped and are continuing to shape the waterfront of Duluth, Minnesota
Landscape architects are uniquely equipped to take on the challenges of the 21st century, but these challenges won’t always fall on our desks. We can easily point out problems in the built environment of our cities; we care about these issues and are trained to solve them; but more often than not, it takes somebody with a check to get us moving in any meaningful way. As problems in our cities continue mounting, we as landscape architects and designers can show the public our capabilities and commitment to the health of our communities by becoming landscape advocates, something which has proven successful in my city of Duluth, Minnesota.
A Bad Idea
The city of Duluth lies where the Great Lakes begin. Lake Superior stretches out from its shores towards an infinite horizon, while the city’s downtown straddles steep hills abutting the waterfront, creating a sort of urban amphitheater with the lake taking center stage. In spite of this visual relationship, the city and the waterfront have been historically disconnected from each other in the physical capacity. Industrialists were quick to develop the city into the world’s farthest inland port, and with this development came the privatization, and then pollution, of much of the city’s waterfront. Eventually economic tides turned and the port began to retract into the harbor, leaving a shoreline of scrapyards and dirty water, the perfect place to build an interstate highway—perfect according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) planners, at least.
By 1971, Interstate 35 had blasted its way through the western portion of Duluth, demolishing hundreds of homes and businesses before ending at the far edge of downtown, but the route’s planners weren’t finished yet. Plans were released showing the freeway continuing through downtown, across the east side of the city, and up the shore of the lake. While the idea of any extension of I-35 was itself controversial, the plans they released to the public created an uproar within the community that would last for decades.
Women’s History Month is a great time to reflect on a survey conducted last year as part of the WxLA proposal for “Female Forward: Three Generations of Womxn Leaders Talk Life, Work, and Legacy,” by Andrea Cochran, FASLA, Cinda Gilliland, ASLA, Emily Greenwood, Rebecca Leonard, and myself for the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. The data presented in this post comes from that survey, distributed last year with support from WxLA and ASLA. The survey’s aim was to collect information on emerging professionals’—those just entering the field—experiences, challenges, and opportunities in landscape architecture.
Survey Characteristics and Participant Demographics
The survey was open for 45 days, beginning on July 1, 2020. We asked respondents 21 questions in three categories:
Demographic Information (9 questions),
Workplace Culture (6 questions), and
Career Advancement & Self Development (6 questions).
The survey was completed by 71% of the 159 participants.
1992 was a year in which the world shifted gears on development, particularly within the sustainable realm. Not only because of Rio’s Earth Summit or Beijing’s Green Plan  and their third economic reform , but 1992 was also the year that the US lifted sanctions against China, the Cold War formally ended, and Barcelona had just hosted their Olympic Games, transforming the city while astonishing the world by transforming a large-scale media event into a project for the future of their citizens.
Barcelona overcame the challenge of being denied a seafront for recreation purposes for many years. Instead, they masterfully linked their urban fabric to the sea by establishing an urban connectivity between four strategic areas. This allowed them to gain more than 600 hectares of new green area, plazas, and parks  and further enabled the city of Barcelona to formally embrace the environmental concerns as a third pillar of Olympism . During this process, Barcelona was able to build what became one of the most valuable city brands in the world .
Stream restoration has become a necessary and timely tool in the effort to combat environmental issues like flooding and erosion, especially as they are accelerated by more frequent storm events associated with climate change. The author, Lisa Cutshaw, is the Principal Landscape Architect for Summit Design and Engineering and collaborates with colleagues to understand and implement emerging best practices to promote a more resilient approach to the built environment.
Is it ever a good idea to pour concrete in a stream bed? What about riprap and other common erosion control measures? To dig into the specifics, we spoke with Paxton Ramsdell of Ecosystem Planning and Restoration (EPR) in Raleigh, NC. Paxton has many years of experience with stream restoration, recently with Environmental Defense Fund and now with EPR.
Engineered solutions have fallen out of favor in recent years among sustainability advocates, but back in the day, it was common to create concrete channels to try to control streams. The idea was this would stop erosion and direct the water where people wanted it to go. The design professions learned the hard way that channelization actually compounded erosion and flooding problems, but riprap, etc., are still commonly used.
What are the biggest pros to using vegetated solutions rather than engineered solutions?
To be clear, a vegetated solution essentially means restoring the stream with a functional flood plain, allowing the plant root systems to stabilize the soil while also allowing the stream to overflow onto the flood plain when the water rises after rainfall. Research has found that in addition to soil stabilization, vegetated solutions have other benefits, such as slowing down runoff, reducing particulates and excess nutrients in the water, moderating stream temperature, and promoting groundwater recharge.
Paxton Ramsdell: “Vegetated stream restoration projects can reduce erosion and flooding problems, and they tend to last longer than engineered solutions. When streams are able to flood naturally onto the flood plain along the length of the stream, the severity of flooding downstream is reduced, and the stream bed itself has less scour to contend with. When they are properly designed and protected from encroachment, vegetated stream restoration projects should last for generations.”
Last November, reVISION ASLA 2020 shined a spotlight on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion—examining not only the profession itself, but also issues of racial justice and equitable access in practice and society.
Discussions reflected on the past of landscape architecture, examining issues of systemic racial inequity in the profession, lack of access to open space for Black communities and other communities of color, and the current state of practice. They also looked toward the future, focusing on not only the importance of recognizing and correcting the bad practices of the past, but also ways in which we can move the profession and the world to a more diverse and equitable future.
24 education sessions from reVISION ASLA 2020 are now available through ASLA Online Learning for Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™)-approved professional development hours (PDH). These may be purchased as individual recordings or as packages, organized by track. Log in using your ASLA username and password for member discounts. ASLA Online Learning content, except for a few of the LARE Prep webinars, is free for Student ASLA members!
By popular demand, all three keynote discussions from reVISION ASLA 2020 have also been made available for free on Vimeo:
An Expression of Hope Panel, which features diverse practitioners sharing their collective acknowledgement of what it is like to navigate the profession as people of color and their expressions of hope for change and growth.
A Call to Action, highlighting commitments by practitioners and educators taking meaningful action towards centering equity and calling our community to expand actions towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive profession.
ASLA’s Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (SDD PPN) is continually seeking to advance sustainable design in ways that are innovative, feasible, and impactful. One specific tool towards achieving this goal is the implementation of the Sustainable SITES Initiative® (SITES®) rating system. The SITES Rating System is a set of comprehensive, voluntary guidelines that inform and asses the sustainable design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes.
As a PPN, we support SITES through education, professional outreach, and the creation of tools to assist landscape architecture practitioners. SITES provides an excellent professional framework for landscape architecture design, but one implementation stumbling block can be getting client buy-in. As more practitioners make the case for SITES, we want to empower you with the tools to advocate for certification. Thus, the SDD PPN leadership team has developed a “SITES in 10” presentation, an elevator pitch slide deck highlighting the reasons why clients should pursue SITES project certification.
Since the start of the new year, ASLA’s Government Affairs team has been abuzz, welcoming the Biden-Harris administration with a petition to have the United States rejoin the Paris Agreement, a comprehensive set of policy recommendations, and many other actions to ensure ASLA members are heard loud and clear. But you may wonder how ASLA sets advocacy priorities and focus areas in the first place. The answer: by listening to all of you, our ASLA members.
Through a nearly year-long process, ASLA’s Government Affairs team determines the Society’s federal priorities for the next two years. In April 2020, they surveyed the entire ASLA membership on federal and state issues ASLA members believed the Society should include in its upcoming agendas. ASLA received 2,372 responses to the survey, the largest number since the survey began and more than double the previous survey in 2018.
The Government Affairs team and the Government Affairs Advisory Committee (GAAC) then review, vet, and analyze the results to formulate a set of recommended legislative issues for the upcoming legislative session. The recommendations are presented to ASLA’s Executive Committee. Based on input from the Executive Committee and the GAAC, the Government Affairs team then presents this set of federal priorities for discussion with the Board of Trustees, before moving to the Executive Committee for the final review process.
ASLA’s Executive Committee endorsed the final Federal Priorities Agenda for the 117th Congress during their December 2020 meeting. With a new theme of Climate Change and Resilience and a focus on Equity and Environmental Justice, the following four issues underlie federal legislative priority areas:
The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.
Smokey Hollow was someone’s home. It was a community of someone’s homes—until it was destroyed through urban renewal in the guise of slum clearance.
Remembered affectionately as a vibrant community in urban Tallahassee, Smokey Hollow was located only steps away from the historic Florida State Capitol. Once a slave state, Florida was at one time racially segregated. Descendants of former slaves were required to live in Black communities segregated from white society under the cruel restrictions of white prejudices, Jim Crow laws, and Black codes. Smokey Hollow, an approximately 85-acre African American community, was shaped under these harsh conditions.
Albert Davis Taylor (1883-1951) of Ohio, a prominent landscape architect, past president and fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, produced the 1947 Florida Capitol Center: A Report on the Proposed Development that served as the State master plan with principles of European landscape design that forecast the 1957 construction of the Apalachee Parkway cutting a straight path through the center of Smokey Hollow to the front of the Florida State Capitol Building. Construction of the State Road Department office in 1965 further enlarged the footprint of government that mostly obliterated Smokey Hollow and dispersed its residents.
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) periodically publishes reports and guides focused on key aspects of professional practice, many of which are free for ASLA members to access or available to members at a discounted rate. These include new resources added to ASLA’s Business Toolkit and more technical and in-depth Research Reports.
Below, we highlight a few of the more recent publications, from ASLA and ASLA partnerships, that you may have missed.
Digital Guide for Plant Appraisal
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), on behalf of the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers (CTLA), has released the Digital Guide for Plant Appraisal, 10th Edition, Revised, available for purchase via ISA’s webstore.
The CTLA member organizations are: AmericanHort, the American Society of Consulting Arborists, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the Association of Consulting Foresters of America, the International Society of Arboriculture, and the Tree Care Industry Association.
In preparing the tenth edition of the Guide, the overarching goal of the seven CTLA organizations was to provide the appraiser with a systematic process for defining the appraisal problem, identifying appraisal approach(es), and developing a credible conclusion.
relationships between physical activity/trail use and features of transportation systems and/or built environment and land use destinations,
benefits associated with trail use, and
barriers to trail use.
What We Found: The paper reviewed existing literature to identify, abstract, and evaluate studies related to programs to promote trail use among youth and youth from under-resourced communities. Eight studies used longitudinal or quasi-experimental designs to evaluate physical activity and neighborhood characteristics prospectively among adolescent girls, the effects of the path or trail development on physical activity behaviors of children, youth, and adults, marketing or media campaigns, and wayfinding and incremental distance signage to promote increased trail use.
No studies were located that evaluated programs designed to promote and increase trail use among youth, including youth from under-resourced communities. Few intervention studies using trails to increase physical activity among under-resourced youth were identified in this review. More studies need to be conducted using access to trails as interventions to promote trail-use among youth.
Many barriers to trail use are practical, such as costs, crime, lack of transportation. Others are psycho-social in nature—what trusted role models are introducing trail use? Is the “culture of the trail” welcoming to people from my background? How does being outdoors connect to my cultural identity, and through what activities? These are all challenges that impact youth and youth leaders’ decisions as much as institutional discrimination and its impact on recreation planning.
We may be only one month in to 2021, but the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) already has several deadlines coming up. Help to ensure your voice is heard, that you and your colleagues are recognized for your work and leadership, and that your landscape architecture practice area is represented by taking part in one or more of these open calls—for presentations, nominations, and exemplary projects:
Below, we take a closer look at the ASLA Honors, including the honor introduced most recently to recognize the outstanding and innovative contributions of emerging leaders in the field. These prestigious awards recognize individuals and organizations for their lifetime achievements and notable contributions to the profession of landscape architecture.
Food policy councils (FPCs), fresh food alliances, food and farm networks, food coalitions—there are dozens of types of food-related groups that shape food policy nationwide. Most have one thing in common: they are diverse groups of stakeholders with goals related to improving food access and nutrition. Because food policy is such a complex, interdisciplinary field, oftentimes one sector or one level of government alone cannot tackle issues like hunger, obesity, and food safety. It takes a concerted effort by federal, state, and local governments, businesses, nonprofits, and passionate community members to keep our food system running smoothly and adapting to changes like a pandemic.
The biggest federal piece of food legislation is the farm bill, which has its origins in the Great Depression era. New machinery during WWI had boosted food production drastically. American farmers initially benefited by simply exporting their surpluses to Europe, but by the late 1920s, Europe had recovered its production and US farmers were still overproducing. The federal government stepped in and began to pay landowners directly with checks to reduce output.
The federal government provided similar relief a few years ago when tariffs on exports caused farmers to overproduce (China stopped buying commodities like soybeans). Then, in the early months of the 2020 pandemic, large amounts of food were being thrown out again, but this time neither due to overproduction nor lack of demand. Instead, food was being discarded because farmers were unable to sell their output due to the closing of restaurants, schools, and hotels (New York Times). The established supply chains were too rigid and could not adapt quickly enough to increased demand at grocery stores and food pantries. With two rounds of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program as well as the more recent December 2020 relief package, government payments to farmers added up to nearly $46.5 billion in 2020 (including farm bill subsidies).
While this money provided immediate relief to farmers, it didn’t magically revive or restructure our food system. That happened as the result of the community-based response from business owners, nonprofits, local governments, and other players. The federal government’s authority is limited to regulating food that travels in interstate commerce; states and municipalities have more authority regulating restaurants, food retail establishments, and other food businesses. Local governments and health agencies shaped their own regulations to adapt the food service industry to the pandemic: temporary patio permits, sidewalks extended into vehicular lanes, to-go alcohol containers, etc.
This post is based on a class project for the fall 2019 course “Land Development Principles” at West Virginia University; it received the third place prize (course project category: landscape architecture) at the 11th Yuanye Award International Competition. The story of Pittsburgh’s Hill District and the struggles of the people living there have mostly remained untold. Through my design, I want to give them a voice and raise awareness about the existing problems of this historic African-American neighborhood.
The Hill District is one of Pittsburgh’s oldest residential neighborhoods. It is a significant African-American neighborhood in the country, famous for its contributions to music (jazz in particular), literature, and sports. During the late 1950s, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh declared the historic Lower Hill blighted and cleared 95 acres of the Hill District neighborhood as part of Pittsburgh’s urban renewal efforts. An entire neighborhood of the lower Hill District was uprooted and forced to move. The remaining Hill District is still cut off from the downtown by enormous expanses of parking lots and an old highway.
The primary goal of this project is to connect the Hill District to the surrounding areas. To align with the target of making Pittsburgh a biophilic city, an urban food forest and community parks are proposed to create a green network. The project addresses the existing problems faced by the people living in the Hill District and proposes an integrated planning and design strategy that includes housing proposals, improved transportation networks, and street design to revive this once-thriving neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Landscape architecture students and faculty across the country, and further afield, are currently tackling the important task of putting together tangible proposals according to the tenets of the Green New Deal resolution (GND). The resolution, published by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey around two years ago, sets forth an economic stimulus and mobilization framework for decarbonization and social equity. This forms the central charge for the Green New Deal Superstudio launched last summer under the joint auspices of ASLA, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the Landscape Architecture Foundation, the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (at Columbia University), and the McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology (at the University of Pennsylvania).
Of course, design studios are quite different from practice work, even if projects—as encouraged by the Superstudio brief, for instance—occur in collaboration with practitioners. Studio allows time and space to experiment with technique, ideas, and representation, while drawing on the field’s shared vocabulary of written and built works. It is one particular challenge in my own GND Superstudio that I want to briefly focus upon here: the practice of drawing sites as a way of understanding landscape in addition to the more normative methods of site evaluation, data collection, and speculation. This discussion might have broader currency for other educators and practitioners involved in progressive projects, but may also have wider poignancy as we all contemplate reconnecting with our somewhat estranged landscapes in the time of COVID.
As a little background, I offer these brief comparative remarks about the Roosevelt administration’s New Deal of the 1930s; after all, the very name of the new GND resolution invites such comparisons. The original New Deal was the roll-out of dozens of programs over a relatively short amount of time, addressing the devastation of the Great Depression and leaving a notable legacy of building, conservation, and infrastructural works. Likewise, the Green New Deal looks to stimulate an ailing economy, while weaving together social and environmental objectives with broad implications. However, unlike its eponym, the GND—still in its infancy as a political project—is yet to emerge with a strong visual language and consistent graphic messaging to help translate broad rhetoric into local, relatable action. While still in the earliest phases of its formulation, the Green New Deal has merely offered nostalgic imitations of bold New Deal imagery.
Of course, properly considered, nostalgia—with its strong associations with place and home—could yet prove a persuasive graphic strategy for communicating and winning local favor for a Green New Deal, just as regionally distinct forms and traditions could inform the design and planning approaches to landscapes of decarbonization.
The properties currently proposed for the U.S. World Heritage Tentative List include: Serpent Mound in Ohio, Central Park in New York, and Civil Rights Movement Sites in Alabama among the cultural sites, and Big Bend National Park in Texas, multiple sites in Central California, and White Sands National Monument in New Mexico among the natural sites.
For the 12th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Examining these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future. From plantations to segregated cities, the nation’s landscapes retain the physical manifestations of our racist history. Yet historic Black landscapes also represent creative achievements and reflect Black culture, as seen in residential gardens, parks, and college campuses across this country. Documenting historic Black landscapes will reveal patterns of community that have been built over the course of four hundred years.
Below, we highlight a sampling of the business opportunities, design competitions, and events listed currently. And, anyone looking to share an opportunity with landscape architects may do so at any time through the online submission form.
The Call for Presentations for the 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville is now open. We are looking for education proposals that will help drive change in landscape architecture and provide solutions to everyday challenges that are informed by practice and research.
The 2021 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture is scheduled to take place in November in Nashville, Tennessee. Of course, we don’t know what will happen with the COVID-19 pandemic by then—and ASLA will be monitoring the situation carefully as we plan a conference that is safe for everyone. But there’s one thing we do know—whatever form our conference takes this year, we will not compromise our standards for delivering the high-quality, well-rounded educational experience that everyone has come to expect. Your submissions make that possible.
All education session proposals are reviewed by the Annual Conference Education Advisory Committee. Sessions will be organized into topics most relevant to the practice of landscape architecture and cross-sector collaborations. Please visit the submission site to learn more about the 2021 education tracks, submission criteria, review process, and key dates.
The Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) is very pleased to share this blog post about the concept of inclusion and its connection with landscape architecture. A giant thank you to Natalie Mackay, Executive Director of Unlimited Play, for contributing this thought provoking and deeply compelling article. We invite you all to share your thoughts and ideas on this important topic.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA
June 21, 2000. I received the invitation. No one else I had known or knew at that time received this invitation—just me. Membership in this ‘group’ required countless sleepless nights, endless appointments, and patience as I learned a new language. Tired and heartbroken, I found the determination to move forward in hopes of creating something better out of this life-changing circumstance.
My invitation to join the special needs community arrived the day my son Zachary was born and diagnosed with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease. Now, 20 years later, this disease has taken almost everything from Zach, except for his love for life and community. Throughout the last 20 years, I have learned that each one of you has more than likely received, or will receive, a similar invitation. Through family members, close friends, or serendipitous circumstances, you have also been invited to join this close community.
Unlimited Play is a nonprofit I founded in 2003 that is focused on the need to build inclusive playgrounds. More than simply giving children the chance to play was my germ of an idea of building a community focused on inclusion. I dreamed of a place where children would not just see a little boy in a wheelchair, but a new friend. I like to imagine that children who play on the playgrounds we have built grow up to become landscape architects with memories of friendships developed on a playground designed for all children, regardless of situation or circumstance. Those early friendships formed on the playground (that proverbial ‘sandbox’) then become the professional inspiration behind using inclusion as the foundation of each design, no matter what it is, because inclusion is everything and everyone.
With the conclusion of this year of tumult now tantalizingly within reach, The Field is rounding up a few end-of-year, landscape architecture-centric recaps, in case you’ve already finished reading up on the Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)’ Year in Review. We hope you enjoy perusing them, and best wishes for a brighter and healthy new year!
The Times’ Climate Desk shares some of their best reporting from 2020, on wildfires in Australia, California, and beyond, this year’s relentless hurricane season, the inequality of climate change impacts, and more.
This year-end summary from The Cultural Landscape Foundation includes Landslide 2020: Women Take the Lead and the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize. You can also learn more about “Race and Space,” the unifying theme for TCLF’s 2021 programming.
Even during this wild rollercoaster ride of a year, ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) leaders and members continued to share their experiences and expertise as authors for The Field blog and as presenters for ASLA’s Online Learning webinars.
We would like to thank all of you who contributed to this shared body of knowledge in 2020. We hope that you have found new ways to stay connected, learned to adapt to rapid changes in practice, and felt inspired by your peers in landscape architecture.
Check out the PPNs’ 2020 in Review to see what the PPNs have accomplished this year. Below, we highlight the top 10 Field posts of the year, PPN-hosted Online Learning presentations, and the PPN leaders who took part in reVISION ASLA 2020.