Over 150 years ago, the nascent profession of landscape architecture was championing the intersection of public health and the design of our cities and landscapes. Frederick Law Olmsted argued convincingly for the necessity of large urban parks where residents of all social classes could connect with nature, breathe fresh air, and engage in recreation. However, it’s only been over the last couple decades that the effects of spending time in nature have been examined in a more rigorous manner, and the benefits have begun to be analyzed and quantified. Particularly in the area of mental health, the myriad of ways that contact with nature contributes to our health and well-being has been validated by numerous scientific investigations.
In the article from Stanford University re-posted below, researchers describe the Stanford Natural Capital Project and their plans to create a new software platform called InVEST that will help designers incorporate mental health considerations into the development and design of public parks.
Those landscape architects in the field of campus planning and design are probably familiar with the growing evidence that there is a mental health crisis among students on our college campuses. “A 2015 National Collegiate health assessment found that 37 percent of college students they surveyed felt so depressed within the last 12 months that they had difficulty functioning,” says Don Rakow of Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science. “It also found that 59 percent felt overwhelming anxiety.”
In this article from Cornell University, Don and his colleagues at Cornell are piloting a Nature Rx (prescription) program to use the renowned natural beauty of the campus landscape and surrounding open spaces to “somehow mitigate the prevalence of psychological problems among the large and diverse student body.” The initial success of this initiative has led to a book highlighting the value of Nature Rx programs and profiling four different programs in American colleges.
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:
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
For those of you able to attend the ASLA Annual Meeting in Chicago this fall, I hope you took advantage of the many opportunities to learn about, discuss and experience great campus planning and design, and network with colleagues. The first day of the conference featured a field session to the University of Chicago. Richard Bumstead, FASLA, and his colleagues led a mix of classroom and on-site discussions that showcased both techniques and results of their sustainable campus management and innovative site design.
Over the next couple of days there were a number of excellent education sessions addressing campus design and planning issues including “Resiliency in University Planning: Risks and Opportunities,” “Collaboration, Preservation, and Pedagogy: Planning and Designing Today’s Academic Campus,” and “A Dynamic Legacy: The University of Washington Campus Landscape Framework Plan.” The ASLA Professional and Student Awards Ceremony recognized one new campus landscape this year: an Honor Award in the Residential Design category for MassArt Residence Hall by Ground Inc. at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Situated along Boston’s “Avenue of the Arts,” the landscape builds on public street life to reshape its public identity, create a new center for student life, and reflect the school’s design focus.
This year’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago is almost here and we look forward to seeing many of you there. The meeting is full of social and educational opportunities for those of us involved in campus planning and design. In addition to the events listed below, there are two additional opportunities we have created for those interested in campus planning and design:
Anyone (PPN member or not) is invited to an informal gathering for drinks, conversation, and networking on Saturday, November 7 starting around 6:15 PM (immediately after the Alumni Tailgate) in the M/X Lounge/POI Bar of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place (2233 South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive).
Northwestern University Campus Tour: on Tuesday, November 10 from 9:30 AM to noon, Ann Ziegelmaier, landscape architect for Northwestern University, will lead an informal tour of the main Northwestern campus for all who are interested. The Northwestern campus is about a 45 minute trip via public transit from the downtown hotels. Although reservations are not required, please RSVP if you think you may attend for additional details.