Why Are Women Leaving (Landscape) Architecture?

The 2016 WILA Walk in New Orleans during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO last month image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)
The 2016 WILA Walk in New Orleans during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO last month
image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

A response to the article ‘Why Are Women Leaving Architecture?‘ by Beth R. Mosenthal, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Courtesy Building Dialogue, June 2016

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) leadership team thought that this article holds relevance to our field in landscape architecture. Is there gender equity in landscape architecture? I believe that it is much the same as in architecture, though their numbers appear to be more drastic than ours. Take a look at the article, Why Are Women Leaving Architecture?, from the June 2016 issue of Building Dialogue, and know the following stats for landscape architecture:

We continue to try and understand what happens to women in the workplace and the different career paths (or mommy paths) that are taken. What is the percentage of women who own companies or are principals in firms? Our (WILA) gut feeling is that numbers such as these would be low. How many women leave the workforce and never re-enter? And if they re-enter, what is their career path? How do we even track that? We should gather trends from the extensive work of AIA in their Equity by Design initiative and Diversity in the Profession of Architecture Report, and learn from our sister organization.

The WILA PPN has developed a survey that we would like you to take, both men and women—we would like your help in collecting information on the demographics of the field of landscape architecture. Please take 10 minutes to participate in our survey:

WILA PPN Survey

We aim to collect several hundred responses from both MEN and WOMEN all over the country to be statistically representative of the field. We anticipate this survey to be the start a more in depth study of the field akin to the recent study in the field of architecture called The Missing 32%. Folks often assume that landscape architecture fares similarly to architecture or other allied fields in terms of demographics; a study like this will help discover if that is in fact the case.

We hope to have preliminary data by World Landscape Architecture Month 2017. Once complete, an infographic summarizing the information will be developed and shared.

by Emily O’Mahoney, ASLA, WILA PPN Officer and Past Chair, and the WILA PPN Leadership Team

Icons of Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design

Anne's Garden, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, Georgia image: © The Fockele Garden Company / courtesy of Naomi Sachs
Anne’s Garden, Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Gainesville, Georgia
image: © The Fockele Garden Company / courtesy of Naomi Sachs

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Naomi Sachs, ASLA

In starting this series, we are reaching out to landscape architects who have been instrumental in leading the design and development of Healthcare and Therapeutic Gardens. We want readers to get to know the leaders in this field, and also see the relevance of therapeutic design and its connections to other practice areas. The aim of this interview series is to tell the story, through firsthand accounts from key individuals, of recent developments and innovations in healthcare and therapeutic design. With input from a range of professionals, we hope to create a better picture of what landscape architects in therapeutic design are working on, and also get to know the people behind the projects that are being done.

One of the first people we have spoken with is Naomi Sachs, ASLA. Naomi has her Masters from UC Berkeley in Landscape Architecture and is currently pursuing her PhD in Architecture at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX. She has been a tireless advocate for the recognition of the importance of our connection to nature and the benefits that are derived from this interaction. Naomi may be most widely known from her work in developing the Therapeutic Landscapes Network, a tremendous resource for information related to the field of healthcare gardens and landscapes for health. Naomi’s most recent venture has been the publication of the book Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces with Clare Cooper Marcus. (Further information on Naomi’s background can be found at www.naomisachsdesign.com).

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Sensory Gardens

Tactile nourishment for the feet image: Amy Wagenfeld
Tactile nourishment for the feet
image: Amy Wagenfeld

Mention a sensory garden and what often comes to mind is an outdoor space resplendent with aromatic plants and lush plantings abounding with splashes of color. While certainly part of the picture, it is perhaps not the complete one. In this post, we share strategies to create gardens that nurture and enrich all of the sensory systems. Our ideas to create a naturalized outdoor space for sensory exploration and enrichment are general. If you have the opportunity to create specialized sensory gardens for children with complex sensory integrative challenges, we recommend teaming up with occupational therapists with extensive training in sensory integration (it was introduced and the theory was developed by an occupational therapist, A. Jean Ayres), to make it as usable as possible. Because occupational therapists are also well versed in child development, it is a bonus for great sensory garden design.

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Digital Technology at the ASLA Annual Meeting

University of Miami: Medical Campus using Rhino, Sketchup and Lumion image: Ryan Deane, ASLA, Julija Singer, AIA – The SLAM Collaborative
University of Miami: Medical Campus using Rhino, Sketchup and Lumion
image: Ryan Deane, ASLA, Julija Singer, AIA – The SLAM Collaborative

We are very excited to announce that there will be several events for the Digital Technology PPN at the upcoming ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans! This past year we have seen many advances in digital technologies and have discussed many of these new technologies and topics in our various Field posts. This conversation will continue at the annual meeting and we are happy to announce that there will be various education sessions, meetings, and events for the Digital Technology PPN. Below are a few events and meetings to keep an eye out for during your time in New Orleans.

Digital Technology Professional Practice Network (PPN) Meeting
Saturday, October 22, 9:15-10:00 AM
Come meet us at the PPN Lounge located in PPN Live on the EXPO floor for the Digital Technology PPN meeting. We will meet the members of the PPN, discuss our goals for the upcoming year, discuss our plans for Online Learning webinars, and chat about the latest and greatest tools out there. We will also have a discussion regarding new incoming PPN chairs and how to inspire others to join our PPN through various PPN leadership opportunities.

Digital Technology PPN EXPO Tour (1.0 PDH LA CES/non-HSW)
Saturday, October 22, 1:00-2:00 PM
This year, the ASLA PPN’s will host EXPO Tours at the annual meeting. We will be meeting with various vendors to discuss new software, products, and technology that is out on the market. We will be visiting the following exhibitors during the tour: ANOVA, Keysoft Solutions, Land F/X, and Vectorworks. Sign up online to attend the Digital Technology PPN EXPO Tour or show up to PPN Live 15 minutes prior to the meeting to check availability! Tours will start from PPN Live on the EXPO floor.

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Campus Planning & Design and Education & Practice at the Annual Meeting

Tulane University image: Paula Burch-Celentano / Tulane University
Tulane University
image: Paula Burch-Celentano / Tulane University

Welcome to our meeting preview for the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans from October 21 to 24. This year two of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) are trying something new: Campus Planning & Design and Education & Practice are partnering for a joint PPN meeting featuring several short presentations and discussion on the topic of: How has technology changed the nature of the university campus?

This will take place on PPN Live’s City Park Stage on the EXPO floor, and will be open to all attendees, giving greater exposure to some of the innovative work being done in the campus landscape. It will also provide an opportunity to network with landscape architect educators and practitioners that use our campus landscapes as a living learning classroom. For those of you that are not able to make it to New Orleans, we will be posting these presentations on the PPN webpage after the meeting.

Check out this list of events at the Annual Meeting that may be of interest to you:

PPN Events

Campus Planning & Design PPN / Education & Practice PPN Joint Meeting
Saturday, October 22, 1:30 – 2:15 PM
City Park Stage, PPN Live area of the EXPO floor

PPN Meeting Agenda:

  • Kick off introductions
  • Presentation 1: The High Efficiency Campus
    Lauren Williams, ASLA
  • Presentation 2: Technology and the 21st Century High-Performance Campus Landscape
    Gregory Tuzzolo, ASLA, and Milee Pradhan, ASLA
  • Presentation 3: Visualizing Campus Activities from 5, 10, and 1000 Feet
    Todd Robinson, ASLA
  • Presentation 4: Campus Constants, Digital Flux
    Katharyn Hurd, Associate ASLA, and Andrew Sullivan, ASLA
  • Q+A

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A Celebration of Place

Oak Alley image: Alexandra Hay
Oak Alley
image: Alexandra Hay

Historic Preservation at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans

As historic preservation professionals, we are especially well versed in ‘a celebration of place,’ the theme of the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting. Our collective work as Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (HP PPN) members is particularly relevant, and at its most inspiring, when we are advocating for, and planning and designing toward, a celebration of the individualistic qualities and character of each place in which we work. Please join colleagues and friends in New Orleans for discussions and dialogue on current issues and ideas related to historic places.

New Orleans is a particularly exciting place to celebrate, and explore. Be sure to join in on the many field sessions and events that reveal the city’s fabulously rich and diverse history. Education sessions offer insight into a range of relevant topics: cultural authenticity, maintenance and funding strategies, past successes that inform future needs, and more.

Special Events: Meet colleagues, connect with old friends, and make new acquaintances at these events. Let’s get the word out—historic landscapes and cultural resources are current and fundamental to landscape architecture and ASLA.

TCLF’s New Orleans Excursion: A Cultural Continuum from Antebellum to Modernist
Daylong Excursion: Friday, October 21, 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
Reception at the Curtis House: Friday, October 21, 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Tickets and waiting list available through TCLF

SITES® Workshop: Navigating the Submittal Process and Trouble-shooting Challenges with the Experts
Friday, October 21, 1:30 to 5:00 pm

Opening General Session: Shared Wisdom: Legacy, Practice and Partnership
Saturday, October 22, 8:00 to 9:00 am

Historic Preservation PPN Meeting
Saturday, October 23, 12:45 to 1:30 pm in the Jackson Square Meeting Room

EXPO Reception featuring the Professional Practice Networks
Sunday, October 23, 4:30 to 6:30 pm

Women in Landscape Architecture Walk
Monday, October 24, 7:00 to 8:30 am

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WILA at the Annual Meeting

The 2015 WILA Walk in Chicago image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)
The 2015 WILA Walk in Chicago
image: Event Photography of North America Corporation (EPNAC)

The ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans is just around the corner, and we can’t wait to see you there!

Women in Landscape Architecture (WILA) events for this year’s meeting include a discussion during our WILA Professional Practice Network (PPN) Meeting about Working Families and Navigating Work Relationships on Behalf of Your Family. Join us on Sunday, October 23 at 9:15 AM in the Garden District Meeting Room on the EXPO floor. Find us again at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs at 4:30 PM Sunday afternoon.

Once again, we are delighted to join the host chapter, ASLA Louisiana, for the Women in Landscape Architecture Walk on Monday morning, 7:00 – 8:30 AM. This is a FREE walking tour led by local landscape architects from the host chapter. Join ASLA Louisiana for a walk along the Mississippi River to visit existing and proposed riverfront projects designed to bring the City of New Orleans back to the River. Walk co-leaders Dana Brown and Gaylan Williams will lead us from the Convention Center to the Riverwalk, through Spanish Plaza and the future Four Seasons Hotel, through the Audubon Aquarium’s riverfront plaza, to Woldenberg Park and on to the cruise ship dock and the Mookwalk in front of the French Quarter. A new Riverfront Master Plan is underway to make walking more seamless, integrated and compelling. Spanish Plaza, a gift to the City in 1976 from Spain, is being re-imagined to commemorate the 300th birthday of the City of New Orleans in 2018.

Many education sessions this year explore topics relevant in particular to women in landscape architecture. WILA PPN Co-Chair Tanya Olson will be introducing one of these sessions: SAT-A10: Women in Landscape Architecture: Pathways to Success, on Saturday morning. More information on these events and education sessions which might be of interest to WILA members are listed below.

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Environmental Justice at the Annual Meeting

Fallow Ground | Future City, 2015 Student ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category image: Margaret Baldwin, Hannah Barefoot, Alexandra Dimitri, Jennifer Livingston, Mary McCall, Lucy McFadden, Margaret Plumb, Scott Shinton
Fallow Ground | Future City, 2015 Student ASLA Honor Award, Analysis and Planning Category
image: Margaret Baldwin, Hannah Barefoot, Alexandra Dimitri, Jennifer Livingston, Mary McCall, Lucy McFadden, Margaret Plumb, Scott Shinton

PPN Live Session: Saturday, October 22, 9:15 – 10:00am, Jackson Square Meeting Room

Fall is in the air and the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO is just around the corner! Please join us for the second annual Environmental Justice (EJ) PPN meeting on Saturday, October 22 from 9:15 – 10:00am in the Jackson Square meeting room at PPN Live. We have been busy planning and networking since the inception of the EJ PPN less than two years ago and now we are looking forward to tackling some bigger agenda items.

At our first meeting, we created a list of EJ projects and people who are leading the charge to eliminate injustices in landscapes and communities around the world. This year, we invite you to engage in a conversation about environmental justice in landscape architecture. Do you have questions or topics that you’d like to share? If so, send them to Julie Stevens jstevens@iastate.edu. Additionally, we would like to know about your projects, so feel free to bring project profiles to share with the group. Suggested format is 2-4 letter or tabloid sized pages. Project profiles will be available throughout the conference in the PPN Live area.

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Transportation at the Annual Meeting

Canal Street in New Orleans image: Alexandra Hay
Canal Street in New Orleans
image: Alexandra Hay

PPN Live in New Orleans: Network. Learn. Have fun!

The ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO is the place to connect with your Professional Practice Network (PPN) peers in person. If you’re coming to New Orleans, please join us for any or all of our events on the EXPO floor on Sunday, October 23:

PPN Live Session: Sunday, October 23, 9:15-10:00 AM, Jackson Square Meeting Room

The Transportation PPN Leadership Team will share updates on our work and highlight opportunities for you to share your expertise and expand your network through ASLA. In addition, Roxanne Blackwell, ASLA’s Director of Federal Government Affairs, will present the latest news on federal transportation legislation and advocacy. Have an idea for an education session for the 2017 Annual Meeting? We’ll connect PPN members with each other to plan for next year in Los Angeles. For one panel that teamed up last year after meeting in Chicago, it led to a successful education session proposal to present in New Orleans!

Network and Learn at the ASLA EXPO – Transportation Tour: Sunday, October 23, 1:00-2:00 PM, starting from PPN Live

Meet with Transportation PPN members and product exhibitors in a show floor tour that will provide 1.0 PDH (LA CES/non-HSW). The tour will offer the opportunity to learn about new and improved products and services for transportation-related projects. We’ve got a great lineup that includes Victor Stanley, Duo-Gard Industries, HessAmerica, and Custom Rock FormLiner. Sign up online to join us on the tour!

EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs: Sunday, October 23, 4:30 – 6:00 PM

Network with your peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs. It’s now free to all registered annual meeting attendees, and non-PPN members are welcome to attend. Be sure to stop by to get your PPN pin!

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Planting Design Annual Meeting Preview

ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award - Converging Ecologies as a Gateway to Acadiana by CARBO Landscape Architecture image: Alan Karchmer
ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award – Converging Ecologies as a Gateway to Acadiana by CARBO Landscape Architecture
image: Alan Karchmer

Planting Design at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans, October 21-24, 2016

Planting Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) Meeting
Saturday, October 22, 12:45-1:30 PM
Jackson Square Meeting Room, PPN Live on the EXPO floor

At the Planting Design PPN meeting Saturday afternoon during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, we will discuss our PPN’s goals for the upcoming year, meet the members who have been shaping blog posts for The Field and plans for Online Learning webinars, and have an opportunity to sign up and volunteer to join the Planting Design leadership team. The short 45-minute meeting will also give us some time for a discussion about designing for intermingled plant combinations led by David Hopman, landscape architect, associate professor, and chair of the PPN, and Nigel Dunnett, Professor of Planting Design, University of Sheffield, UK. This is intended as a participatory event so bring your toughest concerns and best ideas to share about this important and emerging trend in planting design.

In addition to the Planting Design PPN meeting, there will also be a planting design-focused EXPO tour on Saturday, and the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs on Sunday, 4:30-6:00 PM.

Planting Design PPN EXPO Tour (1.0 PDH LA CES/non-HSW)
Saturday, October 22, 9:45-10:45 AM
Tours will start from PPN Live on the EXPO floor

The Professional Practice Network (PPN) EXPO Tours at the Annual Meeting highlight new and improved products and how these improvements and services can assist in creating a successful design project. This tour of the EXPO floor will include the exhibitors: J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co., Bold Spring Nursery, The Plantium, and Star Roses and Plants. Sign up online to attend the PPN EXPO Tour!

Below, we highlight sessions with an emphasis on planting design.

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Making a Case for Divergent Thinking

image: Brian LaHaie
image: Brian LaHaie

Creative thinking is the foundation of our profession. Of all the skill sets that a landscape architect must possess, the ability to imagine, create and evaluate unique solutions to complex social and environmental challenges is our most valuable asset.

Creative thinkers possess the ability to identify multiple possibilities when confronted with challenging problems. This type of thinking is found among people with personality traits such as non-conformity, curiosity, risk taking, and persistence. It is also found naturally in children. This ability to generate multiple solutions and to think outside a set of linear constraints is called “divergent thinking” or “lateral thinking.”

The term divergent thinking was first introduced by psychologist J.P. Guilford in 1967 (nearly 50 years ago). Together with convergent thinking, these terms represent opposing thinking styles.

Convergent thinkers quickly seek a solution by reducing options and limiting choices to arrive at an appropriate answer. Convergent thinking is what you use to answer a multiple choice question or calculate a simple mathematical equation. You are seeking “the one right answer.” The process is systematic and linear.

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Children’s Outdoor Environments at the Annual Meeting

image: Gary Smith
image: Gary Smith

Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (COE PPN) Meeting
Sunday, October 23, 10:00 – 10:45 AM, City Park Stage in PPN Live

Join the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans for our annual PPN meeting, this year in the new PPN Live format! Our meeting will include a keynote presentation by Lolly Tai, FASLA, Professor of Landscape Architecture at Temple University. She is the lead author of the award-winning book Designing Outdoor Environments for Children, published by McGraw-Hill. Her second book, The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design, is in publication by Temple University Press and will be available in spring 2017. Lolly is the recipient of the 2004 Bradford Williams Medal. She holds a BSLA from Cornell University, a MLA from Harvard University, and a PhD from Heriot Watt University. Her keynote address at the COE PPN Meeting will cover:

Children’s Gardens: Design Features and Goals

A recent examination of twenty case studies of public children’s gardens reveals essential design features and key goals. Two case studies are selected to illustrate how key design elements are coherently integrated in creating children’s gardens.

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International Practice at the ASLA Annual Meeting

ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award Winner - Eco-Corridor Resurrects Former Brownfield by SWA image: courtesy of David Lloyd
ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award Winner – Eco-Corridor Resurrects Former Brownfield by SWA
image: courtesy of David Lloyd

The 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO will take place October 21-24 in New Orleans. We encourage all current and potential future members of the International Practice Professional Practice Network (IP-PPN) to attend and take advantage of all networking opportunities and education sessions. The world has become increasingly globalized in nature rather than being centered in North America—whether it’s a global challenge, or a localized solution, we invite you to participate, learn, and maybe contribute to a better environment without borders.

The following events at the Annual Meeting offer rare opportunities for us to meet to share our knowledge and make valuable connections—between experienced and emerging professionals as well as students. These connections may lead to friendships and future collaboration. Let’s meet up in New Orleans!

International Practice PPN Co-Chairs:
Chih-Wei G.V. Chang, ASLA, SWA Group, Sausalito, California
Jack Ahern, FASLA, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Special Events:

PPN Live: International Practice PPN Meeting
Sunday, October 23
1:30 – 2:15 PM, City Park Stage on the EXPO floor

Agenda

  • Meet and Greet + Introduction
  • IFLA updates: past and upcoming world agenda
  • Education session overview, and 2016 award-winning project presentations
  • Brainstorm: ASLA’s worldwide leadership
  • Member Networking/Socializing

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Will the ‘Real Urban Designer’ Please Stand Up! Part II

Figure.1 Main Street District, Houston, TX image: Taner R. Ozdil, 2007
Figure.1 Main Street District, Houston, TX
image: Taner R. Ozdil, 2007

PART II: Seeking Future Identity
In Part I, we focused on the history, the precedent, and the nomenclature that seems to have shaped the ground for UD as an academic field and area of practice. Part II will concentrate on the evolving definition along with the current and anticipated future practices of urban design.

Evolving Definition
For as many concerns that developed in the second half of the 20th century, there are at least as many debates about the definition of Urban Design (UD) as well as the issues covered within the framework of UD. A concise definition is hard to come across from the literature, nor is it realistic to set the scope of the UD field. However, Madanipour’s summary of these “ambiguities” of UD “…the scale of urban fabric which UD addresses; visual or spatial emphases; spatial or social emphases; the relationship in between process and product in city design; the relationship between different professionals and their activities; public or private sector affiliations and design as an objective-rational or subjective-irrational processes” (Madanipour, 1997) sets the perimeters of the issues that define the scope of UD as we become familiar as landscape architecture professionals.

In its most basic form, UD is interrelated but also a distinct academic field and area of practice. It is concerned with the architectural form, the relationship between the buildings and the spaces created within, as well as the social, economic, environmental, and practical issues inherent to these spaces. The field encompasses landscape architecture, architecture, and city planning, (Lynch in Banerjee and Soutworth, ed., 1990; Lang, 2005). UD is viewed as a specialization within the field of architecture (Lang, 1994), as something to be practiced by an architect or landscape architect (Lang 2005; Lynch in Banerjee and Soutworth, ed., 1990), or as integral part of urban planning (Moughtin, 2003; Gosling and Gosling, 2003; Sternberg, 2000).

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Will the ‘Real Urban Designer’ Please Stand Up! Part I

Figure.1 Chicago, IL image: Taner R. Ozdil, 2014
Figure.1 Chicago, IL
image: Taner R. Ozdil, 2014

Introduction:
As we are approaching ASLA’s 2016 Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans and coming to the end of another term with ASLA’s Urban Design (UD) Professional Practice Network (PPN) annual activities, once again, I come to realize that what we call urban design is not the same for all landscape architecture professionals (nor to architects, planners, and/or engineers). Calling one’s self an urban designer without clarity may also not do justice to the field and practice of urban design. For the 1,686 active members of the PPN and nearly 2,500 active UD PPN Linkedin Group members (as of September 2016), it seems like we may have almost as many definitions as the number of professionals who are following our UD PPN voluntary activities.

It is difficult for the urban design field and practice to make progress, if it fails to be conceptually clear about its nature, purpose, methods (Lang, 2005). Therefore, I decided to use this post as an opportunity to reflect upon “what is urban design;” the precedent, definition, features, area of practices, and professional domain with the intention that we can find a common thread among landscape architecture professionals (and other professionals) within the comprehensive domain of “urban design.”

Part I: Tracing the Roots
Part I focuses on the history, the precedent, and the nomenclature that seems to have shaped the ground for UD as an academic field and area of practice. Part II concentrates on the evolving definition along with the current and anticipated future practices of urban design.

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Join us for PPN Live in New Orleans

Several ways to tap into the Professional Practice Networks
Several ways to tap into the Professional Practice Networks

There will be many opportunities to learn, network, and celebrate during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans this October, just over a month away. In addition to the 140+ education sessions, field sessions, workshops, and special events, be sure to add the new PPN Live to your annual meeting plans, and remember to register before the Advanced Rate deadline this Friday, September 16 to save $150. If you are already registered, book your hotel and purchase special event tickets before September 16 to take advantage of the best rates.

Through PPN Live, you can network with colleagues from all 20 Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) throughout the annual meeting weekend. This is all part of the new PPN Live:

  • Participate in a PPN Live session – PPN meetings take place on the EXPO floor throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, and include a variety of formats: invited speakers, fast-paced PechaKucha-style presentations, speed-mentoring, networking sessions, and more.
  • Attend a PPN exhibitor product tour (1.0 PDH LA CES/NON-HSW)
  • Network with your PPN peers at the EXPO Reception featuring the PPNs on Sunday from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. It’s now free to all registered annual meeting attendees, and non-PPN members are welcome to attend.

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When Did Scenic Quality Stop Mattering?

Figure 1: Broadway Boulevard and Wilmot Road in a busy commercial area of central Tucson, AZ. View to Rincon Mountains. image: Ellen Alster
Figure 1: Broadway Boulevard and Wilmot Road in a busy commercial area of Tucson, AZ. View to Rincon Mountains.
image: Ellen Alster

The Sonoran Desert area in and surrounding Tucson, Arizona has stunningly unique scenery: vivid bright blue skies, mountains that continually change hue depending on the light, and forests of saguaros that punctuate the horizon. Four mountain ranges surround the city: the Santa Catalinas to the north, the Tucson Mountains to the west, the Santa Ritas to the South, and the Rincon Mountains to the east. Even on Tucson’s most mundane streets, the mountains embrace the city, framing it on all sides. The spectacular native landscape should elicit the highest aspirations for the built environment. Yet it seems as if both leadership and citizenry have become numb to the beauty enveloping them, feeling powerless to take action against the changes occurring.

Southern Arizona’s signature skyline of saguaro cacti silhouettes is rapidly being usurped by the dark rusted steel poles newly dominating the horizon. They loom over urban, suburban, and rural landscapes as the electrical grid is replaced and upgraded (see figure 2).

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Playing with Topography

Lafayette Park, San Francisco image: Miller Company Landscape Architects
Lafayette Park, San Francisco
image: Miller Company Landscape Architects

One way we can avoid the effect of a cookie-cutter playground and invite children into the landscape is to integrate the play space with the contours of the site, whether by taking advantage of existing grade changes or by introducing topography to an otherwise flat space. However, the technical challenges and safety concerns associated with hillside play have, in recent years, been a barrier to the design and installation of embankment slides and other play features that integrate with topography. Bridget Muck and Tracey Adams of Miracle Play Systems share knowledge and expertise gained by working on several successful hillside play installations.
-Brenna Castro, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer

There are all sorts of new and exciting playground equipment on the market these days, but one familiar piece from decades ago has made a major comeback—the embankment slide.

Joe DiMaggio Park, San Francisco image: Miracle Play Systems
Joe DiMaggio Park, San Francisco
image: Miracle Play Systems

The embankment slide is not a new concept. However, with safety codes and regulations such as ASTM, CPSC, ADA, and CBC, they are a little trickier than they were for the designers of the past. In this article, we will define embankment slides versus elevated hillslides, provide design methods and approaches, offer material recommendations, and share a few success stories along the way. We will also show other play features that can be incorporated into a site with topography.

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SITES® at the ASLA Annual Meeting

Shoemaker Green, 2014 ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon
Shoemaker Green, 2014 ASLA Honor Award, General Design Category
image: Barrett Doherty and Andropogon

A comprehensive SITES® workshop will take place on Friday, October 21, from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. at this year’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans. Last year, this session was rated 4.6 of a possible 5, which put it on the list of top 20 rated sessions. This year promises to match or better that performance!

Entitled “WS-003 SITES: Navigating the Submittal Process and Trouble-shooting Challenges with the Experts,” the workshop’s presenters include José Almiñana, FASLA, LEED AP, and Jason Curtis of Andropogon Associates; David Yocca, FASLA, Conservation Design Forum; Micah Silvey, Green Business Certification Inc.; and James Moyer of Grand Valley State University.

Expect a definitive overview of the SITES rating system and certification process. We’ll explore the SITES prerequisite checklist used early in the planning phase, then walk through the submittal process with real examples by SITES experts. We’ll also examine some of the actual challenges faced with the certified pilot projects and how to navigate solving them, including how to engage clients in the process.

Register by the advance deadline on September 16 and save $50, a 20 percent discount. Then join us in New Orleans to learn all you need to know about getting your project certified!

See you there!

EPA Green Infrastructure Design Challenge

Philadelphia University image: Jules Bruck
Philadelphia University
image: Jules Bruck

Now that summer has officially ended for most academics (although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the thermometer outside my office here in Delaware), many folks are busy running design studios for various courses. I was all set to run a studio using a community redevelopment project I have been working on when a colleague who works for a state department emailed an interesting design challenge that piqued my interest – and I hope it comes as news to some of you. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its fifth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge offering a green infrastructure challenge for colleges and universities.

According to the EPA Challenge website, “Student teams design an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater runoff while benefiting the campus community and the environment.” There are two design categories – Master Plan and Demonstration Project, and this year teams will be asked to incorporate climate resiliency and consider community engagement in stormwater management designs.

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HALS Heroes Success Story

Potter's Field, Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery, Martinez, CA image: UC Berkeley students Annalise Chapa, David Koo, Yang Liu, and Mark Wessels
Potter’s Field, Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery, Martinez, CA
image: UC Berkeley students Annalise Chapa, David Koo, Yang Liu, and Mark Wessels

In 2011, the ASLA Northern California Chapter’s Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) subcommittee started the HALS Heroes initiative. Their objective was to encourage more members to create HALS drawings of culturally significant landscapes in Northern California.

The HALS program was created in 2000 through a tripartite agreement between ASLA, the National Park Service, and the Library of Congress. The program is modeled on the Historic American Buildings Survey, which began in 1933, and the Historic American Engineering Record, which began in 1969. Northern California has had an active HALS group since November 2004 and since that time they have held quarterly meetings, given talks to educate people about the program, organized numerous tours to historic landscape sites, and directly or indirectly been responsible for creating documentation for at least 65 California sites.

The HALS Heroes program offers a $1,000 stipend to anyone who produces a minimum one sheet drawing of a cultural landscape in California. The selected site must be approved by the chapter leadership and the drawing must conform to the HALS Measured Drawings Guidelines. Fred Rachman, a HALS chapter member who is trained as an architect, was the first recipient of a HALS Heroes stipend for completing a measured drawing of Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach.

In June 2015, I was asked to give an annual report of the committee’s activities at a chapter board meeting. I brought prints of the HALS drawings that the committee members had created the previous year to the meeting. After my short presentation, I was taken aback when then-chapter president David Nelson, ASLA, proposed that the chapter provide up to five $1,000 stipends to support the program. The board members were enthusiastic and asked me to submit a formal proposal outlining how the program would work. David also stressed that the program seemed ideal for students and encouraged me to seek opportunities to engage students to participate.

I left the meeting both elated and anxious. While thrilled by the unexpected exuberant response to my report, I felt daunted by this new challenge. How would I find a group of students to engage in the program and how much effort would it take on my part to oversee their work?

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100 Years of Parks – #NPS100

Yellowstone National Park, the most famous and the first National Park - this photo captures the namesake yellow rock outcroppings and picturesque falls that captivated Thomas Moran and William Henry Jackson in the 1800’s. Left to right: Jana McKenzie, FASLA, Joe McGrane, Ran Ran, Craig Coronato, FASLA, Logan Simpson. image: Craig Coronato, FASLA
Yellowstone National Park, the most famous and the first National Park – this photo captures the namesake yellow rock outcroppings and picturesque falls that captivated Thomas Moran and William Henry Jackson in the 1800’s. Left to right: Jana McKenzie, FASLA, Joe McGrane, Ran Ran, Craig Coronato, FASLA, Logan Simpson.
image: Craig Coronato, FASLA

Happy Birthday, National Parks!

Today, the National Park Service celebrates 100 years since its founding on August 25, 1916. People all across the nation are taking advantage of this birthday year to visit National Park sites to enjoy all that these special places have to offer.

In the photo above are 4 of us landscape architects hamming it up at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, in Yellowstone National Park during a visit in 2014. Craig Coronato, FASLA, and fellow landscape architects were recently invited by the Friends of Yellowstone and the Park Director to look at ways to restore the historic trails and overlooks around the canyon. When asked about the value of this park, Craig states, “Yellowstone has a way of making you feel insignificant, yet overwhelmed to be in it.”

This year, my family and I visited several National Park sites, including Fire Island National Seashore, Governors Island National Monument, and many National Memorials and Sites in Washington, DC. These sites not only offer beautiful views and scenery but also demonstrate the rich history and culture of our nation, offering public places for reflection and remembrance.

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Future Viable Plant Palettes for Metropolitan Areas, Part 10

Figure 1: BRIT bioswale 2 polyculture in July 2016 after weeding and mulching have brought the planting back closer to the original design intent shown in lead image from part 8. The bioswale is now ready for hundreds of additional specified plants that will be installed in the fall once the weather cools down. image: design and photo by David Hopman
Figure 1: BRIT bioswale 2 polyculture in July 2016 after weeding and mulching have brought the planting back closer to the original design intent shown in lead image from part 8. The bioswale is now ready for hundreds of additional specified plants that will be installed in the fall once the weather cools down.
image: design and photo by David Hopman

Polyculture Maintenance and Plant Palettes

This post is about the maintenance decisions that can have a profound effect on the range of plants useful for an aesthetically qualified urban polyculture. Some of the issues are addressed in the spreadsheet that was presented in part 8 of this series. For example, relative aggressiveness will help determine if plants play well together or if one plant is almost sure to dominate. However, the discussion that follows is on factors affecting plant palette decisions that go beyond the intrinsic characteristics of each plant that is considered.

Pruning

Polycultures of herbaceous perennial plants and grasses are low maintenance but will frequently be more useful for aesthetically qualified native urban polycultures if they are pruned two or three times a year. Just because a plant is native does not mean that it must be allowed to express only its non-maintained form. This is especially true when soil amendments and irrigation are used. Water, fertilizer, and soils that are richer than what the plant would normally grow in without human intervention tend to make the plants taller, fuller, and more aggressive than otherwise, and may even cause them to flop over, particularly when they are blooming. Selective pruning may actually bring their appearance and stature back closer to a “natural” state.

Another big advantage to selective pruning is that it broadens the range of plants that can fit the aesthetic criteria of a particular polyculture. For example, one of the best native plants we have for shade conditions in North Texas is Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). It is tolerant of both drought and seasonal inundation, stays attractive throughout the year, and establishes and spreads very easily. However, with irrigation it can easily get 3-4 feet tall, which may not be a desirable trait in an urban polyculture where other lower plants could have a seasonal focus. By cutting Sea Oats in half early in the season, it can easily be maintained at 18 inches tall. Some of the plants can also be left taller as “scatter plants,” which is how we are maintaining the UT-Arlington polyculture featured in part 7 of this series.

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‘It Takes a Community’

Living Deanwood is a living building design Washington, DC’s historic Deanwood neighborhood. The project features 10 affordable homes, a community garden, a pocket park, and a community center. image: Christopher Winnike, AIA, Brittany Williams, AIA, and Eric Hull / courtesy of the American Institute of Architects
Living Deanwood is a living building design Washington, DC’s historic Deanwood neighborhood. The project features 10 affordable homes, a community garden, a pocket park, and a community center.
image: Christopher Winnike, AIA, Brittany Williams, AIA, and Eric Hull / courtesy of the American Institute of Architects

With the theme ‘It Takes a Community,’ the 2016 exhibit from the American Institute of Architects’ Center for Emerging Professionals showcases the work of architecture students, recent graduates, and emerging professionals that offer a well-rounded approach, encompassing much more than structures alone when looking at community design. The selected projects focus on community impact and engagement as well, ranging from applying adaptive design principles to address homelessness to housing that responds to resource scarcity.

The Emerging Professionals exhibit includes 30 projects, from across the country and the globe, and here we highlight a few that incorporate the surrounding landscape and well-designed outdoor spaces, from community gardens to pocket parks, as integral to the overall design.

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A Day in the Life of a Landscape Architect

Case Study Investigation (CSI): Measuring the Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts of Exemplary Landscapes - 2015 Honor Award Winner, Research Category image: Landscape Architecture Foundation
Case Study Investigation (CSI): Measuring the Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts of Exemplary Landscapes – 2015 Honor Award Winner, Research Category
image: Landscape Architecture Foundation

Given how many of our waking hours are dedicated to work, where we work matters. Whether an expansive open office, a maze of cubicles, in a home office, or out on site, our workplaces influence how well we perform and how much we enjoy the work we do every day. To get an idea of what a typical day looks like and where landscape architects spend most of their time while at work, in a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members: How much time do you spend outdoors / on site vs. in an office?

Though the answer to that question necessarily varies depending on the season, the weather, the types of projects being worked on, and what stage those projects are at—as one respondent put it, there is “no such thing as a typical day” for some landscape architects—there were some clear trends that emerged. Ninety percent of respondents spend more than half their time in an office, compared to only 4 percent that spend more time outdoors. Only 6 percent reported splitting their time evenly between the office and being on site.

Survey takers were also asked if they preferred one work environment to another. While many respondents said they spend “way too much” time in the office, the most frequent response highlighted the need for balance, with some time spent in both kinds of work environments. Though most survey respondents spend more time in an office than anywhere else, many agreed that having a good balance between office and outdoor time is key.

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Making the Most Impact with Your “Build” Relationships

image: LandWorks, Inc., Chris Miracle, PLA, ASLA
image: LandWorks, Inc., Chris Miracle, ASLA

Whether in the residential or commercial design-build landscape sectors, there are some great ways that landscape architects can enhance and bring more value to our working relationships with architects, builders, and clients – especially in the “build” process of our projects. The following are a few suggestions that may help you, and as always, feel free to share any comments and suggestions that you might have with fellow landscape architecture professionals.

Here is a list of tasks that are in no particular order – some are big and some are rather minor – but keeping these in mind in your project management will show your design-build team partners that you care a lot about the details!
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Designing Equity Part II: What’s next in community engagement?

A dynamic panel used efforts in East Harlem NYC as a case study for scaling up equitable process image: Kofi Boone
A dynamic panel used efforts in East Harlem NYC as a case study for scaling up equitable process
image: Kofi Boone

Designing Equity was a recent forum facilitated by Toni L. Griffin. Convened jointly by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Surdna Foundation, over 100 participants including architects, landscape architects, urban planners, community leaders, and funding agencies from across the country met for a day-long workshop in Washington, DC. The workshop combined case study presentations, large group discussions, and small-group activities all created to stimulate dialogue and bubble up unique opportunities moving forward. The following is Part II of the two-part series detailing presentations and dialogue during the forum. Part I was published on August 2, 2016.

Design at the Scale of Systemic Change

The final session attempted to offer lessons on scaling up our definitions of community to the City. Focusing on a case study in New York, Jerry Maldonado from the Ford Foundation moderated a panel consisting of participants engaged in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. The plan emerged as an opportunity to engage in Mayor DeBlassio’s borough-wide up-zoning process. Given the rate of growth and displacement across the city, a key community decision was to engage the process instead of resist through protest; this was a key decision point credited by all as a reason for successful engagement.

Sandra Youdelman from Community Voices Heard laid out in great detail the need for politically savvy actors to navigate the complex relationships within the community and between the community and the city. By introducing the language of “Power,” “Players,” and “Campaigns” (i.e. borrowing strategies for getting people engaged in political campaigns for a planning process), Ms. Youdelman illustrated the value of engaging a wide range of allies in the process. This was especially important to communicate because another participant was George Sarkissian from NYC Council ‘s Economic Development Division. Mr. Sarkissian made plain the political and economic risks and rewards for engaging a community in a contentious process, and praised the political savvy of the group.

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Finding Rewarding Work in Landscape Architecture

Village of Yorkville Park, 2012 Landmark Award Winner image: © Peter Mauss/Esto
Village of Yorkville Park, 2012 Landmark Award Winner
image: © Peter Mauss/Esto

In a 2014 survey of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs), we asked members: Which sector do you find most rewarding to work in? To simplify responses, we gave members three choices: the public sector, the private sector, or academia. Looking at the results, working in the public sector was deemed to be the most rewarding, selected by 42% of survey takers. The private sector was a close second, with 38%, and academia came in third with 11%.

Among our survey takers, there were 25 respondents who stated that they have worked in all three sectors. This select group, with the greatest breadth of experience, might be the most qualified to pick which sector is most satisfying to work in. Within this subset of the results, 13 chose the public sector, 4 chose private, and 5 picked academia as the most rewarding kind of work.

“Other” was also a possible answer, and a handful of people wrote in either “all of the above” or a different answer. Those in favor of multi-sector experience wrote:

“The mix of sectors is most appealing—you don’t get bored.”

“Rewards from each are incomparable.”

“As of now, all are vital to my development.”

“I strive to help people realize their dreams whether that be through design or teaching. It’s all rewarding.”

“I’ve worked in both public and private sectors. Public is embroiled in politics and limits opportunity and creativity. Good to see both sides though!”

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Designing Equity Part I: What’s next in community engagement?

Working session involving small groups of diverse participants image: Kofi Boone
Working session involving small groups of diverse participants
image: Kofi Boone

Rapid change in diverse communities across the nation has prompted many to take stock of the roles designers and planners have played and could play in this period.  Academically and professionally, many of us were drawn to our fields because of a shared passion for the power of design (and design thinking) to make positive transformations in the environments around us. However, with increasing diversity, we are often challenged with the need to better understand and more effectively work with people very different from ourselves.  And concurrent with this has been the demand by diverse communities for designers and planners to acknowledge and address the inequitable gaps between different communities based on racial, class, and gender disparities. For decades, designers and planners have worked with communities to address these issues. But in the current social, political, and economic climate, what are best practices in community engaged design?

Designing Equity was a recent forum facilitated by Toni L. Griffin to tackle this and many other issues. Convened jointly by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Surdna Foundation, over 100 participants including architects, landscape architects, urban planners, community leaders, and funding agencies from across the country met for a day-long workshop in Washington, DC. The workshop combined case study presentations, large group discussions, and small-group activities all created to stimulate dialogue and bubble up unique opportunities moving forward.

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Smart City, Safe City

image: David Wogan via Flickr
image: David Wogan via Flickr

Cities across the world share one similar struggle: keeping citizens safe. Each city has unique and complex challenges; however, above all, the health, safety, and welfare of a city’s citizens is a top priority. The Smart City movement has gained momentum over the past decade as cities have begun to develop place-based strategies using information and communication technologies and the Internet to solve their specific problems. The beauty of these technologies is that they are accessible and dynamic. Smart cities can develop not only through government agencies, but also grassroots campaigns and private enterprises. It takes a village, as they say, to build a smart city.

Smart cities are able to adapt to their changing needs by incorporating real-time data and citizen feedback. The smart city becomes a sort of artificial intelligence—responding to its environment and making decisions based on input. This new type of city has the ability to help keep us safe by managing resources, preventing crime, enhancing public services, and simply helping us find our way. As a designer, this is a fascinating realm for me. As a woman, even more so. What would make me feel safer in my city? How can we use these technologies to design better public spaces that feel safer (and are safer) for women?

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