Scenes from the People’s Climate March

The People's Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2017 / image: Alexandra Hay
The People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 2017 / image: Alexandra Hay

This weekend, the People’s Climate March took place in Washington, D.C., with more than 350 satellite events across the country. Despite being the hottest April 29 on record, thousands attended (more than 200,000 people marched, according to organizers’ estimates), including a number of ASLA Chapter Presidents, Trustees, past Presidents, members, and ASLA staff.

Below, we share some photographs from the march—more can be found on ASLA‘s and Landscape Architecture Magazine‘s social media pages—and we look forward to keeping up the momentum on this urgent and vitally important issue.

Continue reading

Favorite Places Unfamiliar to Others, Part 2

Storm King / image: Kevin O’Mara via Flickr

For those looking ahead to spring and summer travel, Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ responses to the question what is your favorite place that may not be familiar to others? might give you a few new spots to explore this year. In the previous post recapping the results of the 2015 PPN survey, we reviewed the most popular responses and international locations mentioned. This time, we’re focusing on places across the United States, from parks and gardens to wilderness areas and mountain passes. Take a look and see if you’ve been to any of these lesser-known spots, and which ones you’ll need to add to your list of places to go.


Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site – Cornish, New Hampshire

The courtyard at the Boston Public Library – Boston, Massachusetts

Halcyon Lake in Mount Auburn Cemetery – Cambridge, Massachusetts

“The Robert Treat Paine Estate, an amazing shingle style home in Waltham with landscape designed by Olmsted.” – Waltham, Massachusetts

Lake Waban – Wellesley, Massachusetts

Truro and Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Storm King Art Center – New Windsor, New York

Continue reading

#iAdvocate: Be an Advocate for Transportation

ASLA 2011 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Portland Mall Revitalization, ZGF Architects LLP / image: ZGF Architects LLP

The future of federal transportation and transit funding has many of us concerned as we hear how legislative priorities are taking shape in the Capitol. With this uncertainty, the need for landscape architects to advocate for less-costly, green infrastructure solutions and stable transportation funding that serves community needs is greater than ever before. In this post, and in tandem with Advocacy Day this week, we’re focusing on ASLA’s advocacy efforts and encouraging our members to bring their voices to the transportation priorities conversation.

ASLA’s 2017 Advocacy Agenda is taking shape. On March 9, ASLA released their top U.S. infrastructure recommendations: Landscape Architects Leading Community Infrastructure Design and Development. The report makes recommendations for supporting active transportation programs, expanding and increasing funding for the TIGER program, and investing in transit and transit-oriented development.

On March 17, ASLA released their statement on President Trump’s proposed budget and called out the dramatic cuts to many of the federal programs and resources that strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and economic development. ASLA will continue to work with legislators as the budget process unfolds and will carry forward a strong advocacy agenda.

How can you as a member advocate for transportation funding and sound infrastructure solutions? If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for the ASLA iAdvocate Network so that you can support the Society’s efforts to impact public policy at national, state and local levels. Once you sign up, email alerts are delivered to your inbox on issues important to landscape architecture that are being debated by lawmakers. With a few clicks, you can send a message to your Senators and Representative and make your voice a part of ASLA’s advocacy efforts.

Continue reading

Pop Up Park Buffalo: Changing the Idea of Play

image: Pop Up Park Buffalo

Changing the Idea of Play Through Personal Empowerment that is Fun & Risky

Pop Up Park Buffalo is a grassroots organization committed to providing community-based “free-play” opportunities for kids in Buffalo and Western New York. In recent decades, opportunities for free-play have been greatly reduced due to parental fears, overscheduling of children, and a general feeling that children should not be on their own. Yet, evidence suggests that free-play is the very best life-lesson tool, and is vital to the growth and development of children into healthy and productive adults.

Being a teacher, an environmental activist, landscape architects, and a planner, we, as founders of Pop Up Buffalo, were specifically interested in creating an experience that fostered the next generation of inventors, philosophers, and designers. As parents, we were also interested in the personal empowerment of risky play and how we could create a free-play experience that parents and communities could be equally empowered in providing. In 2012, we came together to “change the state of play for just one day” and after a very successful event our concept of “Community Based Free-Play” was created. Our one-day experiment was so successful we were urged to continue, and in 2013 we went on to host five more Pop Up Park events in Buffalo and by 2015 we were under the umbrella of The Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo & WNY, Inc., a non-profit incubator organization.

Continue reading

Environmental Justice PPN Student Representatives at LABash

Environmental Justice PPN Student Representative Kari Spiegelhalter speaks with a landscape architecture student at LABash / image: Kari Spiegelhalter and Patricia Noto

ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) has taken on board two student representatives to help them reach out to students of landscape architecture about design for environmental justice. The PPN seeks to provide a forum to help landscape architects pursue the goal of designing spaces that promote the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens regardless of race, income, or other marginal status.

After establishing the PPN in 2015, founding co-chairs Kathleen King, Associate ASLA, and Julie Stevens, ASLA, wanted to educate current students of landscape architecture about environmental justice so they enter the profession with an understanding of how their designs increase or diminish environmental justices. They hope to empower future generations of landscape architects with the understanding to design safe, accessible, and healthy places for all. To do so, they established an Environmental Justice PPN Student Representative position to reach out to students of landscape architecture.

According to PPN Co-Chair Kathleen King, “There has been a great deal of interest in the student community for the EJ PPN and Julie and I wanted to find a way to connect with students. Students today will be in practice tomorrow—we think it’s important that they are engaged with these issues and understand the potential impact landscape architects can have on creating equitable communities. Kari and Patricia have demonstrated a passion for this topic and we’re thrilled that they will be spreading the word about the new PPN.”

Continue reading

Call for Proposals: Student and Emerging Professional Spotlight

Calling All Student and Associate ASLA Members

ASLA is excited to announce the Online Learning Student & Emerging Professional SPOTLIGHT mini-series, giving YOU the opportunity to work with a Professional Practice Network (PPN) mentor in creating a presentation for ASLA’s Online Learning series. Do you have eye-opening research to share with the profession, or an inclination to do a little design exploration over the summer? Here’s your chance!

The Call for Proposals is now open and will close on Thursday, May 25.

To submit a proposal:

  1. Review the SPOTLIGHT mini-series Call for Proposals form.
  2. Review the PPNs listed below that will be serving as hosts and mentors. Which PPN does your topic or research best fit?
    Campus Planning & Design

    Children’s Outdoor Environments
    Ecology & Restoration
    Sustainable Design & Development
    Water Conservation
    Women in Landscape Architecture
  3. Once you have your description, outline, and objectives finalized, complete the Call for Proposals form by May 25.
  4. Selected participants will be notified in June. At this time, you will be introduced to your PPN mentor.
  5. Collaborate with your mentor! Presentations will take place in August.

We look forward to seeing your research, technical analysis, large-scale ideas, or whatever else you may bring to the table to share with your fellow landscape architects!

Continue reading

Favorite Places Unfamiliar to Others, Part 1

Hamilton Cove Preserve, Lubec, Maine / image: VW Beetle via Flickr

Spring temperatures and sunshine have arrived (or are coming soon, depending on where you are), and many can’t wait to enjoy the outdoors again or head out on a spring break trip. Professional Practice Network (PPN) members’ responses to the question what is your favorite place that may not be familiar to others? might give you a few new places to explore.

Given that we were looking for less well-known places, there were very few answers that appeared more than once. Here are the handful of locations that appeared twice:

Charleston, South Carolina and Charleston’s Waterfront Park
JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina
The Bold Coast, Maine
North Germany, on the Baltic Sea (Schleswig-Holstein) – “Everyone goes to South Germany but the North is very beautiful.”

Continue reading

Share Your SITES Highlights

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

ASLA needs your help! Do you have helpful hints or good examples to highlight sections and/or specific topics within the SITES® Rating System? You do?…Great! We’ve created a form for you to share up to three examples that the Sustainable Design and Development Professional Practice Network (SDD PPN) and ASLA can highlight on the SDD PPN webpage and the ASLA SITES webpage.

Click on the link below to view an example, fill out the form, and find out how to get involved:

SITES Highlights Survey

Please complete the form by Friday, April 14. For questions, please email

Continue reading

Landscape Architecture’s Best Unknown Firms

The Restoration of Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park, CA, National Park Service, 2007 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: National Park Service

In a previous post, we reviewed the landscape architects and firms that Professional Practice Network (PPN) members admire most, and the list was clearly dominated by familiar names—the key figures of the field since the nineteenth century, from Frederick Law Olmsted to the most celebrated firms working today. The next question we asked members sought to highlight names that may be less familiar: the greatest unknown landscape architect or firm.

Several PPN members gave very self-assured answers along the lines of: “Me, LOL!” Others highlighted a few of the many smaller, local firms that do excellent work but often “don’t have time or money for award submittals so they don’t get recognition on that level.” Some members identified general categories of practice that often go under-recognized, such as “the nameless public realm landscape architect” and the educators and mentors who shape and encourage up-and-coming landscape architects: “The greatest unknown (or unheralded) landscape architect is the one who reaches out and has a positive impact upon educating the next generation.”

Continue reading

Who Do You Admire?

Peninsula Residence, Hillsborough, CA, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, 2011 Professional ASLA Honor Award, Residential Design Category / image: Marion Brenner

When we asked ASLA’s Professional Practice Network (PPN) members whose work (an individual landscape architect or a firm) they most admire in a 2015 survey, one response basically sums up the results: “too many to list.” Another member emphasized how their answer is constantly changing: “Today…Andrea Cochran…tomorrow MVVA…depends what I’m working on and how I feel!” Clearly, there are many landscape architects out there doing exceptional work, and highlighted below are both some familiar names and hopefully a few new ones to check out when you need a new source of inspiration.

Here are the most admired landscape architects, designers, and firms, each coming up four times or more:

  1. Laurie Olin, FASLA – OLIN
  2. Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA – Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
  3. Douglas Reed, FASLA, and Gary Hilderbrand, FASLA – Reed Hilderbrand
  4. Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA – Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
  5. Piet Oudolf
  6. Frederick Law Olmsted
  7. Dan Kiley
  8. Nelson Byrd Woltz
  9. Oehme, Van Sweden
  10. Peter Walker, FASLA – PWP Landscape Architecture
  11. James Corner, ASLA – James Corner Field Operations
  12. Thomas Church

Continue reading

Victory on the Mississippi and the Role of Landscape Architects

The Mississippi River along New Madrid, MO

Before obtaining my Master of Landscape Architecture last spring at the University of Maryland, I worked for the National Wildlife Federation as coordinator of the Water Protection Network, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs from around the country working to modernize US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water resources policies. The USACE has been leading the federal government’s approach to water resource management for navigable rivers since the late 1920s.

Familiarity with a whole host of water resource professionals, environmental activists, and scientists who play an active role in helping to shape the federal government’s role in water resources management enables me to share details about the controversial New Madrid Levee Project.

A resolution from the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) provides an overview of the St. John’s Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project (New Madrid Levee project for short), a proposed quarter-mile levee in southeast Missouri. This resolution was the result of a deal CEQ brokered between the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and USACE, who disagreed on whether mitigation the USACE proposed was adequate to replace the wetland and floodplain functions the New Madrid Levee would eliminate.

One might conclude that this case study is a poster child for how to (or how not to) manage our big river systems in the US. With the resolution, CEQ stopped the pending USACE project in its tracks while it was under final stage review to construct the New Madrid Levee. The New Madrid Levee would have severed the Mississippi River from the last place in all of Missouri where the river can flow into the floodplain to create backwater habitat that is vital for flood attenuation and fish and wildlife habitat. Approximately 50,000 acres of wetlands (comparable in size to Washington, DC) with valuable water conservation and critical fish and wildlife functions would be eliminated should the proposed levee ever be built.

Continue reading

Learning in the Garden, Part 1

image: Kasey Wooten

The learning garden is a designed outdoor space meant to help children engage with and learn about the natural world, as well as provide opportunities for physical, mental, and social growth. Spaces that serve this purpose can vary hugely in form, size, and design, as well as programming, funding, and intended users. We are excited to present a three-part series of learning garden case studies to better understand how these spaces come to be, how they function now, and what we can learn from them for future projects.

The first of these case studies is the school garden A.P. Giannini Middle School in San Francisco. We asked Kasey Wooten, the school’s Outdoor Science and Garden Consultant, some questions about the facility and her role in its daily operations. Kasey is an educator with a background in farming, and she brings these skills, along with a personal interest in sustainability and in how young people relate to the food they eat, to enrich the education and growth of her students.

-Brenna Castro, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair

Where is your garden located? Is it a public or private facility?

The garden is located in the Outer Sunset in San Francisco, just 10 blocks from Ocean Beach. It sits in the middle of the school, protected by buildings on three sides. A.P. Giannini (APG) is a public school and the schoolyard, including the garden, is open to the public on Sundays 9am-4pm through the Shared Schoolyard Project.

Continue reading

Effective Communication in the Architecture & Design Industry

image: iStock

In today’s world, we are bombarded by media for communication. Technology has provided us a wide array of communication tools, from desk lines to cell phones, texting to instant messaging and email, and more. But how do we know when to use the appropriate form of communication? With so many choices, often we choose the most convenient method, when it is not always the best choice for the project, company, or ourselves.

  1. Think about your reason for communication. Is it a quick discussion with a peer to move forward with your work? A simple graphic question? Do you need confirmation on utility routing from a Civil consultant? Do you need approval from a manager before proceeding on to the next step in design?
  2. Know your audience. Do you have a software question for a Millennial? Or perhaps performance praise for a peer? Are you dealing with a Discipline Director? Inside the company, or external to the company? What are the personality traits of your audience? Do they prefer detailed information or are they quick and to the point? Does a little small talk help engage the listener?
  3. Know the situation. Is time a factor? Are you requesting information or dispensing it? Is there a need to document the conversation?

Continue reading

Submit a Speed Session Idea for NRPA

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

Welcome to the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture

The inaugural LAM Lecture on March 9, 2017 featured Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, in conversation with Bradford McKee, Editor, LAM / image: Alexandra Hay

Last Thursday, Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) presented the first public event held in the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. The inaugural LAM Lecture, featuring Elizabeth Meyer, FASLA, the Merrill D. Peterson Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia School of Architecture, was just the start of a new phase for ASLA as a year of construction wraps up and we settle into our new space, designed by architecture firm Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden.

Below, we recap how the transformative renovation of ASLA headquarters in Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood has progressed in recent months, giving ASLA a bright new home that embodies the mission, vision, and values of the Society and is also a showcase for sustainable design excellence.

Continue reading

Where To Go To Feel Inspired

On the Soapstone Valley Trail to Rock Creek Park / image: Alexandra Hay

Landscape architects consider places in terms of their sustainability, aesthetics, design, ecological soundness, accessibility, and plant palettes, among many other facets and factors. But how often do you think about places as sources of inspiration? When we asked Professional Practice Network (PPN) members where they go to feel inspired, responses ranged from the general to super-specific spots that spark their creativity.

For many, the key to finding inspiration is simply going outside. A walk in the woods was one of the most popular responses, and being near water—whether by a river or on the beach—was another frequent answer. Here are the key themes that members touched on:

Inspired by Nature

“A quiet place in nature, whether man-made or natural.”

“Any vantage point with a panoramic view of undisturbed land.”

“Bike ride in a rural roadway.”

“A walk outside in a park, forest, or prairie.”

“Public lands, parks—great spaces open to the public.”

“I take a walk (unfortunately it’s often here in the ‘burbs but even the most boring landscapes provoke ideas and thoughts).”

Continue reading

Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing Promises Freedom for LA Mountain Lions

Proposed design for a wildlife overpass in Agoura Hills, CA / image: Clark Stevens, Architect, and Raymond Garcia, illustrator for Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains

In the modest town of Agoura Hills, CA, plans are underway to construct the largest wildlife overpass in the world. Crossing over 10 lanes of the 101 Freeway, the Liberty Canyon overpass will be approximately 165 feet wide and 200 feet long. The project aims to connect severely isolated wildlife populations within the Santa Monica Mountains to those in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains. Without such a connection, there is a significant risk that the local mountain lion population will go extinct in the next 50 years.

The design will include tunnels to accommodate more reclusive wildlife, a corridor of riparian vegetation, and sound walls to dampen the noise and headlights of the freeway. According to Clark Stevens, the architect and habitat restorationist behind the design of the overpass, a wildlife crossing is more successful when you provide multiple ways for wildlife to utilize it. For example, deer are more likely to cross over the top of the bridge, while predators such as bobcats are more likely to cross through the tunnels. The riparian corridor will restore familiar scent-paths for animals, helping to draw them through the crossing. In order to accommodate mountain lion behavior, the crossing will be sloped on both sides to provide high vantage points with a wide view.

Continue reading

SITES AP Exam Chapter Contest: Will Your Chapter Take the Lead?

Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA, Andropogon Associates Ltd., 2014 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon
Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA, Andropogon Associates Ltd., 2014 Professional ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category / image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon

The SITES® AP Chapter Contest is well on its way and the three chapters in the lead are:


California Southern, California San Diego, Florida, and Minnesota are all neck and neck right behind Texas and there’s still a chance to catch up and take the lead. All participants that register and take the exam by March 31 will also have 90 days to retake the exam, at no additional cost, if needed.

Contest Rules and Awards

Two chapters will be awarded: the chapter with the most people and the chapter with the greatest percentage of their membership that register and take the exam by March 31, 2017, will be awarded a half-day SITES workshop! Those members who have already taken the exam since the launch of the exam (including those who took it at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting) are also included in the contest.

Be sure to send a tally of your members who have already taken the exam or who are registered and plan to take it by March 31 to

Register for the exam here!

Continue reading

The Children & Nature Network Conference

2016 C&NN Conference participants gather to learn about a park’s “pop-up adventure play” area. / image: Julie Johnson, ASLA
2016 C&NN Conference participants gather to learn about a park’s “pop-up adventure play” area. / image: Julie Johnson, ASLA

The Children & Nature Network Conference Brings Diverse Perspectives to Shared Goals

As architects of landscapes, we know that what we design impacts children’s lives and their well-being—how they may learn, play, and make sense of their world. And we’re not alone. The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) is an organization seeking to engage children with the natural world, and the C&NN International Conference brings together people of myriad professions, including landscape architects, to learn from each other.

While an exploration of the C&NN website offers valuable research and precedents for practice, along with relevant news articles, taking part in a C&NN International Conference makes those resources tangible. I have attended two prior C&NN Conferences and was inspired by informative and interactive sessions. I also appreciated the deliberate time set aside to meet people effecting change across scales and disciplines.

The 2016 C&NN International Conference in St. Paul, MN, featured a number of design-focused sessions, including a field trip to a “pop-up adventure play” area in a city park, and a presentation on “Green Schoolyards” with speakers presenting different models. Other sessions and plenary talks brought into focus such issues as health, diversity, and learning opportunities. To see highlights of last year’s conference, check out videos and session descriptions on C&NN’s website.

This year’s conference will be held April 18-21, 2017 in Vancouver, BC. The conference schedule, posted online, illustrates the thematic sessions and tours addressing such topics as play, learning, and health from a range of perspectives. Members of the ASLA Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN will be taking part, as they present through the Conference’s poster sessions.

by Julie Johnson, ASLA, Officer and Past Co-Chair of the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN

Call for Papers & Posters

The Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada / image: Eric MacDonald
The Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada / image: Eric MacDonald

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation 39th Annual Meeting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

May 25-27, 2017

Conference theme: “Big Sky, Big Landscape, Big Ideas”

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2017 annual meeting theme of “Big Sky, Big Landscape, Big Ideas,” to be held in Calgary, Alberta. The Program Committee invites proposals for papers and summaries of works in progress that will promote lively and thoughtful discussions about cultural landscape conservation. In particular, submissions that deal with the subjects of tourism, agriculture, and natural resource extraction are encouraged, as these themes will be reinforced by our visits to the cultural landscapes of recreation and industry in Calgary, Canada’s third largest city; Drumheller Valley, a landscape of former coal mines and agriculture in Alberta’s badlands; and Banff, the scenic birthplace of Canada’s national park system. We also encourage proposals on the wide the range of topics present in the Alberta landscape, such as:

  • Aboriginal, First Nations and Native American perspectives, interpretations and understandings of the power of place and the larger landscape.
  • Explorations of the cultural concept of “The North,” including notions and concepts of Canadian identity.
  • Topics concerning the preservation, adaptation and reuse of vernacular architecture, structures and landscapes.
  • Issues associated with the reclamation, restoration and renewal of post-industrial sites and landscapes.
  • Topics relating to the establishment, experience, influence, impact, and management of national parks. (Such topics could include: issues of resource management, conflicts between preservation and development, ecological and habitat pressures associated with global climate change, etc.).

Continue reading

A Historic Rehab in Old North St. Louis

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

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

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

Developing Curriculum for Seasoned Professionals to Enter Academia

image: Shawn Balon
image: Shawn Balon

Gray Hair Matters: Developing a custom MLA Curriculum for seasoned professionals to enter academia

Design professionals with substantial practice experience have usually amassed a wealth of acquired knowledge and lessons learned over their career. Moreover, they have the gray hair to prove it. There could be a benefit to having those professionals impart that experience onto the next generation of designers as instructors in university landscape architecture programs.

For professionals with a Bachelor’s degree who may be interested in this pursuit, how does one prepare to make the transition from practice to teaching? Most positions for teaching landscape architecture begin with a minimum requirement of an MLA. However, what about having this qualification prepares one to be an effective teacher?

I asked myself this question when I decided to enroll in an MLA degree program at the University of Georgia (UGA), with the express desire of transitioning from practice into a teaching career. The question became the focus of my thesis as I worked toward proposing a custom MLA curriculum designed to prepare seasoned practitioners to enter academia and teach landscape architecture.
Continue reading

Who Inspires You?

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

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

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

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

“Artists of all media”

“Ancient Chinese garden designers”

“Aspirational thinkers”

“People with great vision and free spirit”

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

“Nature writers”

“Field biologists / conservationists”

“Environmental activists”

“Professionals in public interest design”

“Musicians and chefs”

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

Continue reading

Parklets 5.0 at New Partners for Smart Growth

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

This Year’s Technology Forecast

The tech cloud image: Matthew Wilkins
The tech cloud
image: Matthew Wilkins

It’s a new year, which is typically the time we speculate about various things, including what’s on the horizon of the ever-changing technology front. As we continue to see advances in the way that new technologies are evolving and aiding in the design of healthier, safer, and more prosperous landscapes, one thing that’s certain is that there’s likely to be a downpour of new technology that will continue to aid the field this coming year. As we at the Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) seek to forecast some of the trends and stats as witnessed from our various weather stations, stay tuned!


It is necessary for the modern landscape architect to familiarize themselves with useful applications and knowledge on the latest technology (tech) in the digital atmosphere. As tech rapidly evolves, so does our need to adjust our techniques and ability to utilize these new tools to stay relevant among our AE counterparts—this has become the new adaptation cycle for the modern-day practitioner.

There’s much discussion in the tech world revolving around the latest gadgets and technology, including the cosmic explosion of the IoT (internet of things), the increasing availability of open source data, the ever-present use of drones and other sensors, super computing and remote cloud virtualization, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing, information modeling, and many other technologies that influence our industry. It almost requires a full time tech meteorologist to report the forecast for our profession. Fortunately, we’ve done just that.

Continue reading

Net Zero Rights of Way?!

Lincoln Street MAX Station, with photovoltaic cells on shelter roofs image: ©2015 Bruce Forster Photography / Trimet
Lincoln Street MAX Station, with photovoltaic cells on shelter roofs
image: ©2015 Bruce Forster Photography / Trimet

Landscape Architects Can Break New Policy Ground with Our Legislators

Roxanne Blackwell, ASLA’s Director of Federal Government Affairs, presented a dynamite national legislative update to the ASLA Transportation Professional Practice Network (PPN) at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. She reinforced that the input the profession provides to legislators is relevant, robust, broad, and has tremendous policy impact.

One of the most exciting parts of Roxanne’s report was what legislators asked of us: can we, as landscape architects, shape a federal policy for net zero roadways?

Many of us are familiar with the concept of net zero, especially in relation to buildings. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) continues to collaboratively advance net zero building, campus and neighborhood policy, standards, and resources and has defined a net zero energy building as follows: An energy-efficient building where, on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy. Put another way, this means a building that produces as much energy as it uses on an annual basis from renewable sources. Further details are available in a September 16, 2015 article available on the DOE website.

This same Net Zero approach appears to be highly adaptable to public rights-of-way, and we as a profession can help make the case.

Continue reading

Creativity & Inspired Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading

ASLA at the International Builders’ Show

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

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

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

Continue reading

Campus Constants, Digital Flux

In campus planning, technology offers new ways to gather and interpret data. The Page discovery tool is an online survey tool developed by our office that allows students, faculty, and staff to share their favorite places to eat, study, and play as well as their preferred routes through campus. It also helps to flag areas that aren’t working for the campus and should be addressed in future planning. image: Katharyn Hurd, Andrew Sullivan
In campus planning, technology offers new ways to gather and interpret data. The Page discovery tool is an online survey tool developed by our office that allows students, faculty, and staff to share their favorite places to eat, study, and play as well as their preferred routes through campus. It also helps to flag areas that aren’t working for the campus and should be addressed in future planning.
image: Katharyn Hurd, Andrew Sullivan

Technology has without a doubt transformed many of the methods and practices planners and designers use when approaching any project. This is particularly true on college campuses, as the field of education embraces technology to better serve and engage with students. However, there are some negative impacts from immersion in technology. The campus landscape provides an increasingly essential antidote to today’s tech-overload with its ability to facilitate social connection and provide restoration.

Technology in Campus Planning and Design

In addition to functioning as repositories for history and tradition, campuses are typically places that value innovation and creativity. Thus, technology is often embraced and incorporated into campuses more quickly than many environments. Experimentation, learning, and engagement drive the integration of technology into the built environment to test how it might best serve the campus community.

We are also increasingly seeing studies that indicate that excessive technology device use can have detrimental physical and mental health effects such as fatigue, stress, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, and others. See the Illinois News Bureau, Academic Earth, Time, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Harvard Health Publications, and Psychology Today for a few examples. Studies have also suggested that spending time engaging with the natural environment provides an array of benefits that may counteract the negative impacts of technology use, including improved physical fitness, vision, concentration, critical thinking, creativity, academic performance, mood, immunity, and social behavior.

Continue reading

Where Design Meets Play

Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play image: US Play Coalition
Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play
image: US Play Coalition

A couple of years ago I attended this conference as a speaker to discuss the developmental needs of children in play environments. I went into the conference as an instructor but quickly became the pupil. All of the attendees were professionals dedicated to play and children’s outdoor environments, who have, and are, doing great things. This three-day conference is a great experience for anyone involved with design and management of outdoor play environments.
– Chad Kennedy, ASLA, Officer and Past Co-Chair of the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN

The US Play Coalition invites you to attend the 2017 Conference on the Value of Play: Where Design Meets Play, April 2-5 at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina.

The annual Conference on the Value of Play brings together leading play researchers, park and recreation professionals, educators, health scientists, landscape architects, designers, planners, business and community leaders, psychologists, physicians and parents from across the country.

The three-day event includes keynote and featured speakers, play institutes, PLAYtalks, research symposium, educational sessions, roundtables, grant opportunities, networking, and opportunities for play. LA CES credits also available!

We have already announced some incredible headliners for 2017 Conference on the Value of Play. Innovative Play Space Designer Matthew Urbanski, ASLA, will be a keynote speaker, sharing his lessons learned from designing play spaces. James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM!, and Kimberly S. Clay, Founder & Executive Director, Play Like A Girl!®, are among our PLAYtalk presenters (our version of TED talks). There are more speaker announcements to come…not to mention the dozens of educational session and research symposium presenters!

Continue reading