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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Getting Outside Has Never Been So Meaningful

by the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN leadership team

A family visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden, pre-COVID-19. The Garden is currently closed through June 30, 2020, but is offering virtual tours and other activities for families. / image: Amy Wagenfeld

Hello from the entire Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team! Now, more than ever, people are discovering (or re-discovering) what we all know so well: that being outside is healthful, restorative, joyful, and, hopefully, just makes you feel better about life. With that said, during this time of COVID-19 and the need to practice social distancing, we decided to work together on a post with information and resources about various outdoor activities for adults to do with children. Some of the activities are more passive, like viewing nature; others are nature craft-focused; and some are more active, getting everyone outside and movement-oriented.

Please feel free to share these resources widely and, even better, share your favorite outdoor family or inter-generational “quaranteam” activity with our PPN LinkedIn group. Let’s keep this conversation going and make time to experience all that nature offers us and the young people in our lives, in a safe and responsible way.

Resources for Outdoor Activities with Your Children

The Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Book for Children from ASLA is a free, downloadable publication full of hands-on ideas that introduce children to four of the building blocks that landscape architects apply to designing outdoor spaces. ASLA’s Tools for Teachers page offers additional educational resources and activities.

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Sherry Frear Appointed Chief of the National Register of Historic Places & National Historic Landmarks Program

by Barbara Wyatt, ASLA

Sherry Frear, ASLA, RLA

The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the appointment of Sherry Frear, ASLA, RLA, as the new chief of the National Register of Historic Places / National Historic Landmarks Program. Supported by credentials in landscape architecture, historic preservation, project management, and sustainable practices, her experience encompasses programming, planning, compliance, design and construction, operations and maintenance, interpretation and outreach, and policy development.

She spent her formative professional years with a large Washington, D.C., law firm with a specialty in construction litigation. Volunteer work at the National Building Museum led her to Cornell University, where she earned her MA (Historic Preservation) and MLA. Sherry has worked at the city, county, and federal levels. Most recently, she worked with the General Services Administration in the Office of Design and Construction—part of the Public Buildings Service. In that position she focused on program-level responses to documentation efforts, sustainability issues, and compliance challenges.

Sherry Frear is the first landscape architect to lead the nation’s flagship historic designation programs. The National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program has long been a designation program for historic properties of exceptional national significance. It evolved from the Historic Sites Act of 1935, which gave the NPS the responsibility of conducting surveys to identify properties that “possess exceptional value as commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States.” Today, there are nearly 2,600 National Historic Landmarks—both privately and publicly owned—but all of exceptional historical, architectural, or archeological significance.

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Urban Villages, Town Design, New Urbanism: Where Does Landscape Architecture Stand?

by Thomas Schurch, ASLA, PLA

The GRID is a mixed-use redevelopment project planned for the former Texas Instruments campus in Stafford. / image: TBG Partners (courtesy of Gensler)

Introduction

Landscape architecture has remarkable bona fides in the practice of urban design, and practitioners and students of landscape architecture continuously embrace this important dimension of the profession. Recognition of this fact is reflected in the ASLA’s recent adoption of urban design as a separate category in the national awards program for practitioners and students. Of course, urban design is a competitive endeavor in the greater environmental planning and design community, and landscape architecture—while offering much regarding urban form in the twenty-first century—is a relatively small profession.

However, a compelling case can be made that of the three professions sharing urban design “ownership,” landscape architecture has the most to offer in our emerging “green century.” In this respect, the range of urban design the profession engages in is enormous and can be the subject of a separate article. Nevertheless, one significant example of this range is the focus of this post, and comes under different and somewhat synonymous headings, e.g., urban villages, neighborhood design, new towns, community design, and what Kevin Lynch referred to as “city design.”

New Urbanism

This discussion would be incomplete without considering New Urbanism. With its emergence 35 years ago, and subsequent growth and development, landscape architecture’s longstanding contributions predating New Urbanism are diminished and underappreciated. Moreover, recent history demonstrates that design of communities is often being relinquished to others, particularly our colleagues in architecture.

New Urbanism deserves credit for fostering a discourse at a critical juncture of human settlement. Questions of urban quality of life vis-a-vis numerous post-World War II developments are at the heart of this conversation, including attention to sprawl, monotonous and homogeneous housing developments, outmoded zoning ordinances, automobile dependence and problems associated with traffic engineering, loss of a sense of community, tower housing, “big box” retail, etc.

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Healing from Harvest: Community Gardens as Healing Gardens

by Siyi He, Associate ASLA

Harvest celery, rainbow chard, and ginger. / image: Siyi He

Every spring in early April, some residents who live in the South End neighborhood of Boston go to Berkeley Garden to sow seeds on a plot they rent. They expect to harvest some greens, such as peas, broccoli, yin tsai, taro, or bitter melon, in the later days of summer. As one of the largest community gardens in the city, this forty-year-old garden, as well as so many other community gardens in the city, brings the joy and healing of harvest to people.

Living in an urban area isolates people from nature. We rarely get to smell or touch the texture of the soil. Getting vegetables from the grocery store is the easiest and most convenient way for us, leading to city dwellers who would never know where those vegetables come from or when would be the best time to plant certain vegetables. Not to mention, every city has food deserts. Vulnerable people, such as lower income residents, might have a difficult time obtaining healthy foods grown without pesticides. A community garden could help people to add organic vegetables to their diet in an affordable way.

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COVID-19 Impressions from the Historic Preservation PPN

images, clockwise from top left: John Giganti, Marilyn Wyatt, Jessica Baumert, and David Driapsa

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of life, from personal interactions to business to learning to recreation. As we all continue to adjust to life and work during the pandemic, we will be sharing insights, observations, and impressions from ASLA members based around the country. Today, we share brief updates from a few of the volunteer members of ASLA’s Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN)’s leadership team and the PPN’s Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) subcommittee:

  • David Driapsa, FASLA – Naples, Florida
  • Rebecca W. Flemer, Affiliate ASLA – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Ann Mullins, FASLA – Aspen, Colorado
  • Douglas Nelson, ASLA – Mill Valley, California
  • Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA – Rhode Island
  • Barbara Wyatt, ASLA – New York

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Community Engagement in Times of Quarantine

by Allysha Lorber, ASLA, and Elisabeth McCollum

image: photo by Sue Zeng on Unsplash

Just a few weeks ago, we didn’t anticipate being told to “stay-at-home” in quarantine while a global health pandemic ravaged public health and the economy. For those of us who work in the transportation industry, we’re used to projects lasting for years with a schedule of milestones set in place, one leading to the next. Spring is a time when many projects reach that critical milestone of a public meeting. Community engagement is part of the critical path, and project decisions can’t be made, allowing the project to advance, without meaningful opportunities to hear public input. How can we engage with communities when we must be “socially distant”?

Projects across the country are being put on hold, unable to reach that critical milestone of a public meeting while our constituents are safely staying home, busy working overtime performing an essential service, or worse—battling sickness themselves. However, public engagement can still occur—even if it’s in a different form than we originally planned.

Virtual public meetings aren’t new, but now more than ever, they are being embraced as an effective tool to engage with community members and project stakeholders. Meetings can be hosted on a variety of platforms allowing presenters to share presentations and discuss ideas with small groups of community members. These meetings can be advertised in all the same ways that traditional in-person meetings are publicized—on websites, through the press and social media, and by mail. Paid advertisements can also be effective at getting the word out and directing people to a website where they can connect.

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Therapeutic Garden Design in Chile

by Kat Shiffler, Student ASLA

Watercolor sketch of a hospital's therapeutic garden
The Jacarandá Garden at San Borja Arriarán, a public hospital in Santiago. / image: Kat Shiffler

I was drawn to landscape architecture out of a specific desire to create healthcare environments that help people heal. As I finish my second year of graduate school at the University of Michigan, I find myself working from an improvised home office instead of the design studio. My desk looks out upon a modest park, where I see record numbers of people walking, running, and sitting—absorbing the benefits of urban greenspace in these anxious times. Today, the universal importance of therapeutic design is thrown into high relief as the whole world is transformed into one big waiting room.

In December, I traveled to Chile to check out some inspirational healthcare gardens and meet with staff from Fundación Cosmos, a Santiago-based NGO that focuses on the ecological and socially sustainable development of parks. I interviewed the foundation’s principals on their work, philosophy, and the state of the landscape architecture profession in Chile, and am sharing the conversation, with my translation into English, here on The Field.

What inspires you to do this work?

We are inspired to live in harmony with the environment, conscious of our interdependence with all living beings and our responsibility for the protection of ecological integrity which sustains life on earth. This is our vision as a foundation.

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April is World Landscape Architecture Month

The Platte to Park Hill: Stormwater Systems project, featured in ASLA’s Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities conversation guide, “A Stormwater Problem Becomes a Health Equity Opportunity.” / image: Livable Cities Studio

Landscape architects and allied professionals have kicked off World Landscape Architecture Month 2020 and the Life Grows Here campaign with great energy, engaging through social media and virtual interactions to keep this annual international celebration of landscape architecture and designed public and private spaces going strong, despite the current circumstances. All are invited to participate in WLAM2020, from wherever you are, in celebration and recognition of the spaces landscape architects create.

What’s happening this April for WLAM:

Keep an eye on ASLA’s social media feeds on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and the hashtags #WLAM2020 and #LifeGrowsHere for notable projects, practitioners, and progress in the field.

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In Case You Missed It: Environmental Justice PPN at ASLA San Diego

by Tom Martin, Associate ASLA, and Chingwen Cheng, PhD, ASLA

The 2019 Environmental Justice PPN Meeting
Tom Martin and Chingwen Cheng present at the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture / image: ASLA

With the arrival of spring comes an opportunity for reflection, and four months have already passed since the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego.

The theme of landscape architecture and equity, inclusion, justice, and diversity was front and center in San Diego. As education sessions addressed these topics through the lens of profession demographics, engagement strategies, and the implications of past decisions, attendees were challenged to reconsider what the profession of landscape architecture can look like.

Within the Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN), we spent the year leading up to the conference contemplating how environmental justice is understood within our profession, and how we might be able to develop and communicate frameworks that promote environmental justice as a tool for positive change. During our PPN Live session, we addressed our findings and action plan moving forward. Separated into three categories, below is a summary of what was presented.

Investigate!

In March 2019 we distributed a survey with the intent to understand landscape architects’ grasp of and level of interest in environmental justice. We saw this as being a vital first step toward enacting initiatives aimed at better integrating environmental justice into the profession of landscape architecture.

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Resources for Distance Learning: Grow Your Ability to Adapt

image: Slava Keyzman on Unsplash

Keep learning, wherever you are.

In ASLA’s 2017 Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) member survey, one question asked members to share one key piece of business advice on how to do well in landscape architecture. Among the top responses: cultivating a lifelong love of learning and adaptability. In times of disruption, those two characteristics may be more important than ever. Speculation is rampant, but no one knows how the next few weeks and months will unfold. Now is the time to expand your knowledge base and diversify what’s in your toolkit in order to make yourself more resilient when confronted with extreme uncertainty.

Sharpening existing skills and adding new ones can help make you a more valuable team member and give you the flexibility to best respond to whatever may come your way. Landscape architects are used to dealing with change—it is an integral part of practice. Given the disruptions currently taking place, now is the time to build on that existing versatility and grow your ability to adapt to whatever we may find going forward.

The Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System

Landscape architects and other design professionals can access information on continuing education courses from more than 250 approved providers through the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™).

Check the “Search for Distance Education courses only” box under For Professionals: Find a Course for webinars and other online offerings you can do from home. You can also sign up to receive email alerts about new courses.

As a LA CES education provider, ASLA provides a number of ways to earn LA CES-approved professional development hours (PDH) online: by participating in a live webinar (all of the upcoming April webinars are FREE for ASLA members!), watching a recorded presentation, or reading a peer-reviewed technical paper, you can earn PDH online, wherever you are and whenever you can.

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Greenways and Climate Change Resilience: A Call to Action at the Ecology & Restoration PPN Meeting

by Ingrid Morken, ASLA, and Sohyun Park, ASLA

Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, speaking at the Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) meeting during the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego. / image: Sohyun Park

Greenways to “Gene-ways”

Designing and planning for climate change resilience occurs at many scales, and at the 2019 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, the Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) meeting focused on how greenways can provide both ecological and recreational benefits at a landscape, regional, and even national scale.

Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, Director of VRLA, Chuck Flink, FASLA, founder of Greenways, Inc., and Keith Bowers, FASLA, President of Biohabitats, gave a presentation titled “Greenways to Gene-ways: A Call to Action” at the PPN meeting, building off their education session on the topic. The three speakers addressed the historical context of greenways and the increasingly important ecological role they play in the context of climate change. Greenways function as “gene-ways” by providing a connected landscape network to support the movement and migration of plants and animals to places where they can continue to evolve and adapt to new conditions. Given this important ecological function, the presenters put out a “call to action” to landscape architecture practitioners to implement design strategies and support policy initiatives that promote the protection and expansion of greenway networks throughout the nation.

Greenways as an Ecological Imperative

In her introduction, Ms. Rinner emphasized the urgency of responding to climate change due to impacts to biological communities and ecological functioning. Given the influential role of human activities on the planet, we may be entering an unprecedented Anthropocene era, a time when animals and plants are struggling to adapt to accelerated changes in temperature. Changes in phenological events like the timing of flowering and animal migration are among the most sensitive biological responses to climate change. Phenology refers to the timing of seasonal biological events, such as when trees flower in the spring, when a robin builds its nest, or when leaves turn color in the fall. Across the world, many spring events are occurring earlier and fall events are happening later than they did in the past. However, not all species are changing at the same rate or direction, leading to mismatches. By facilitating movement of plant and animal species across the landscape, greenway corridors can increase their resilience to a changing climate and changing phenologies.

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Out of Office: Remote Work 101

Home office
image: Domenico Loia on Unsplash

For many, remote work is the new reality for the foreseeable future. For some landscape architects, this is a whole new world; for others, the past few weeks have been a time of rapidly ramping up existing offerings to allow staff to work from home full-time. While staying as safe and healthy as possible takes priority over most more workaday concerns, a host of questions related to the sudden shift to remote work are also top of mind for many:

  • How to ensure your clients that you can seamlessly communicate with them.
  • How to maintain lines of communication amongst staff and project teams to continue design and planning work.
  • How to adjust to the “new normal.”

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and Landscape Architecture Magazine is pulling together tips and resources as we all work together to find our footing in this new terrain. We’ll continue to reach out to our committees, members, and leaders from across the profession to gather additional ideas to share. Stay tuned for updates going forward.

To hear directly from your peers in the profession, join us on March 31 for Out of Office: Tools, Team, and Togetherness for WFH, a webinar with three practitioners in conversation around the new urgency for setting up your team for success while working remotely. [The webinar recording, along with the presentation slides and a summary, are now available on ASLA’s COVID-19 Resources page.]

IT tools to maintain productivity when working remotely

While the IT tools you select and use will vary depending on your needs and setting, ASLA is offering general guidance below. It is ultimately up to our members and landscape architecture and design firms to implement what they are able to do in each case for themselves and their offices to help keep business going in this very challenging situation.

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A Brief History of Playground Design, Part 2

by Naomi Heller

ASLA 2012 Professional Honor Award in Communications. Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation. Sharon Danks, Bay Tree Design, Inc. / image: © 2010 by Sharon Danks

We are very pleased to share the second part of this highly informative article about the history of play, written by Naomi Heller.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network

The first part of this brief history of playground design concluded with the shift from more standardized “model playgrounds” to the more open-ended, imagination-focused play of “novel playgrounds.” Beginning in the 1960s, in response to the Cold War, these novelty playgrounds took on space ship-themed structures. Described in a 1963 issue of Life Magazine, these satellite, rocket, and submarine playgrounds could be seen popping up around the world (here’s just one example: Scott Carpenter Park in Boulder, CO).

During this period, the manufacturing process for playground equipment also advanced. Originally constructed by hand or assembled from kits, novelty playgrounds shifted to more elaborate and standardized pieces. In addition, large firms specializing in designing, building, and maintaining playground equipment began to emerge (Verni, 2015).

In 1978, a one-year-old boy was climbing a 12-foot tall “tornado slide” in Chicago’s Hamlin Park when he slipped between the railings and the steps and fell on his head on the asphalt below. On January 14, 1985 a judge awarded him a minimum of $9.5 million for severe head injuries (Mount, 1985). Similar lawsuits created a need for playground safety regulation. Thus began the era of the “standardized playground,” with the codification of safety regulations and a re-design of manufactured playground equipment.

In 1981, the Consumer Product Safety Commission published the Handbook for Public Playground Safety, which has since been adopted across the US. The new regulations led to the shrinking size and height of new equipment, fewer climbing opportunities, and more guardrails installed on playgrounds. The regulations also addressed safety materials and specified hard plastic or splinter-free wood equipment, vinyl coating, rounded edges, and rubber safety surfaces.

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Resources for Building Equity in the Workplace

by the WILA PPN Leadership Team

image: You X Ventures on Unsplash

This article is part of a guide the Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Leadership Team is releasing this month titled How To Reach Gender Equity in Your Workplace: A Guide for Landscape Architects. For more information about the guide and why we developed it, check out our first article, Introducing the WILA PPN’s Gender Equity Guide: A Toolkit for Landscape Architects.

The American Society of Landscape Architects’ Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Leadership Team, led by PPN Co-Chair TJ Marston, has curated a list of resources to help businesses and individuals tackle four important workplace issues that affect gender equity in landscape architecture: flexibility, caregiving, pay inequity, and discrimination:

Startup Pregnant is a five star-rated podcast about reinventing work and parenthood, looking at deep human questions around what it means to become a parent, grow a business, deal with success, and learn from failure.

  • Why we love it: You don’t have to run a start-up or be pregnant to find this podcast helpful. Regular listeners will find the stories from entrepreneurial women and leaders cut to the core of issues facing parents and women in today’s workforce.
  • Fun fact: The founder, Sarah Peck, is a former landscape designer who received her MLA from the University of Pennsylvania. While she keeps the focus on her new business ventures, she knows our industry and the demands it takes. Plus, she has a great radio voice that you’ll find easy to listen to on your commute or in your free time!

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A Brief History of Playground Design, Part 1

by Naomi Heller

N.Y. Playground, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915 / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

We are so pleased to share this informative two-part article about the history of play, written by Naomi Heller. Naomi is a playground designer focused on creating spaces and objects that provide children the freedom to think, act, and play in creative ways. Naomi received her Master of Science in Architecture from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and her Bachelor of Architecture from the Boston Architectural College. She is employed at StudioMLA in Brookline, MA.
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network

The concept of play as a vital part of human development is newer than we may imagine, emerging only towards the end of the nineteenth century. Before that time, children were required to work in fields or factories and were not given designated time for play. Public playgrounds did not exist (O’Shea, 2013).

The first public play space was introduced in Germany by Friedrich Froebel, founder of the kindergarten. Building on the work of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and educator Johann Pestalozzi, Froebel recognized the importance of a stimulating environment and how it could positively impact children (Pound, 2011). Promoting the value of free and nature play, he emphasized the need for contact with natural materials such as sand and water.

Motivated by Froebel’s ideas, sand bergs (piles of sand) were placed in Berlin’s public parks in the 1850s. A more designed sand play was popularized in 1889 when Froebel published plans for building a sandbox (Levine, 2003). The article prompted the use of sandboxes across Germany, in schools and homes.

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Tools to Tackle Gender Inequity in the Workplace

by TJ Marston, ASLA, and the WILA PPN Leadership Team

2017 Women in Landscape Architecture Walk attendees in Los Angeles’ Grand Park. / image: EPNAC

This article is part of a guide the Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Leadership Team is releasing this month titled How To Reach Gender Equity in Your Workplace: A Guide for Landscape Architects. For more information about the guide and why we developed it, check out our first article, Introducing the WILA PPN’s Gender Equity Guide: A Toolkit for Landscape Architects.

What can you DO to support women in the workplace?

The American Society of Landscape Architects’ Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Leadership Team, led by PPN Co-Chair TJ Marston, has curated a list of tools and tips to help businesses and individuals tackle four important workplace issues that affect gender equity in landscape architecture: flexibility, caregiving, pay inequity, and discrimination.

Tools:

  • EDGE Certification is the leading global assessment methodology and business certification standard for gender equality. The methodology was designed for medium to large organizations with a minimum of 200 employees, but they do accept inquiries from smaller companies.
  • The JUST program is a voluntary disclosure tool which helps organizations optimize policies that improve social equity and enhance employee engagement. Organizations can use the label on their website or marketing to demonstrate their commitments to these issues. While larger firms like Mithun and Sasaki have used this program with great success, the JUST program also has a sliding scale for pricing based on the size of your business. Anyone can do it, no matter the size!

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Share Your Game-Changing Ideas

Miami Beach Soundscape
Miami Beach Soundscape by West 8. / image: photo by Robin Hill ©

The American Society of Landscape Architects is accepting proposals for Game Changer sessions for the 2020 Conference on Landscape Architecture through March 23.

Do you have an idea that will change the field of landscape architecture? Here’s your opportunity to share it at the 2020 ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami Beach.

We’re seeking presentations for game-changing ideas that can move the profession forward—ideas from different perspectives, voices, and backgrounds. Those big ideas could come from you.

Game Changer sessions are designed to be fast-paced, innovative talks. Presenters will have just 20 slides that advance automatically every 20 seconds to share their game-changing idea. The deadline for presentation proposals is 12:00 p.m. PT on Monday, March 23.

Submit your proposal >

No matter your speaking experience, this is a great opportunity to share ideas and concepts under development that will drive innovation. Submissions from first-time presenters, students, emerging professionals, and allied professionals are strongly encouraged.

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