Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Phipps Conservancy, SITES 4-stars / Phipps Conservancy

Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Phipps Conservancy, SITES 4-stars / Phipps Conservancy

At the GreenBuild 2015 conference in Washington, D.C., Jamie Statter, vice president of strategic partnerships for the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Green Business Certification Inc (GBCI), its credentialing arm, announced that Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) certification is now available for landscape projects worldwide. Also, some form of SITES credential, a “SITES AP,” will become available at some point in the future. Speaking to landscape architects and designers, she said “you will be able to differentiate yourself as a SITES professional in the marketplace.”

SITES was developed over 10 years by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and U.S. Botanic Garden. In the past few years, hundreds of projects sought certification under the SITES pilot program; 46 projects achieved some level of certification. In 2015, GBCI announced that it would acquire SITES and now certify projects under SITES v2. Already more than 15 projects, including two iconic international projects, have registered for certification under SITES, and many more are expected in coming months.

Statter said that “parks and green spaces are now more important than ever,” and they can only be improved through the use of SITES in their design, construction, and operations. She also thinks that SITES will be beneficial with mixed-use developments with a landscape component and parking lots.

SITES has a number of key goals: it will “help create regenerative systems and foster resiliency; mitigate climate change and increase future resource supply; transform the marketplace for landscape-related products and services; and improve human health and well-being.” Jose Alminana, FASLA, a principal at Andropogon Associates and a leader in the development of the SITES rating system, concurred, saying that SITES is a useful tool for helping clients and designers “stitch together systems to improve a landscape’s ability to absorb change.”

SITES is based on a different logic than LEED, GBCI’s rating system for buildings: its approach is based in living systems. He said once a building, which is a static system, has been created it begins to deteriorate. But once a landscape, an ever-evolving living system, has been installed, it only begins to take off. “Landscapes can be regenerative.”

Given landscape architects and designers must not only design for people but also all sorts of other wildlife, a system-based approach is critical. “There are forms of life that have co-developed together. With landscapes, it’s not a set of individual elements. You can’t have plants without soils.”

SITES can also have broader impacts on the design process and marketplace. Statter said “projects will now need integrated design teams from the get-go. SITES is a tool for involving landscape architects and designers much earlier on in the design process.”

Alminana added that SITES will only increase the “transactional power” of landscape architects and designers. With SITES, they will now know the “carbon impact of all the materials they source. They can then demand that things are done in a low-carbon way.”

And once the U.S. and other countries move to a regulatory environment that taxes carbon, “landscapes will become invaluable.” When carbon becomes money, “it will be critical to actually monitor the systems in our landscapes.”

U.S. and international landscape architects and designers are encouraged to seek certification for their projects. SITES v2 uses LEED’s four-level certification system: certified, silver, gold, platinum. The rating system is free and the reference guide is available for a fee. Alminana said the “reference guide took over 10 years to develop. Everyone should get one and have fun with it.”

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Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, a “cosmopolitan canopy” / John Greim, fotolibra

Reading Terminal, Philadelphia, a “cosmopolitan canopy” / John Greim, fotolibra

“In this day and age, is a hybrid approach a panacea, a cure-all?” This question was posed by Paola Antonelli, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s senior curator of architecture and design, who was host of a recent salon at Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD), which brought together an unusual group of professionals, all who engage with hybrid approaches in their work. The event sparked a conversation that was in itself a hybrid of sorts, which I would venture to guess was one of Antonelli’s ambitions.

Unburdened by the limitations of a single disciplinary focus, the speakers were free to engage with each others’ work, asking questions, making suggestions, comparing and contrasting experiences. For the designers in the audience, mostly millennials who are not scandalized by the cross-pollination of disciplines, the conversation was provocative.

Antonelli began with a whirlwind presentation about all things hybrid today and its historical trajectory in both groups and individuals. She discussed its roots in biology, in which it is defined as the offspring of two different species, and then how this concept has been used in fields such as artificial intelligence, art, and industrial design.

She covered hybrid organizations that have corporate profit and public benefit, the inter-disciplinarity of universities, and the liminal space so many of us now inhabit between the physical and digital world. Throughout, she asked us to consider who defines people, projects, or spaces hybrids.

Elijah Anderson, a professor of sociology at Yale, then spoke about his research on cosmopolitan canopies, the “islands of civility in a sea of racial segregation” – hybrid spaces within cities in which people of all races and ethnic groups can intermingle with ease, like Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia (see above).

Next up was Eric de Broche des Combes, architect, graphic designer, and lecturer in landscape architecture at the GSD, who discussed the representation of landscapes in video games, a hybrid between the physical and digital realms. He maintained that “99 percent of the feelings you experience in video games are physiologically the same ones you experience in real life.”

NYCVISION rendering / Eric de Broche des Combes

NYCVISION rendering / Eric de Broche des Combes

Jane Fulton Suri, partner and chief creative officer at IDEO, a multi-disciplinary design firm, another practitioner of hybrid approaches, discussed how she has learned to manage hybrid teams. Her team recently made a machine that emits a single perfect bubble when your calendar says it’s time for a meeting. To get this team to work together, Suri used a variety of strategies, including nurturing mutually-admiring relationships, finding common ground through leveling activities, and iterating forms early in development to spark productive conversations.

Lastly, Alexa Clay, researcher, author of The Misfit Economy, defined her research interest as “where worlds collide.” As a personal experiment with hybrid approaches, she employs an alter-ego of an Amish woman who goes to tech conferences and asks the participants simple questions to raise consciousness about the rapid adoption of needless technologies.

Antonelli believes that “it’s the spaces that provoke and engender hybridity that are the most interesting.” Ultimately, in a time in which so many of the world’s problems — from climate change to geopolitical unrest — are issues that cross disciplinary boundaries, hybrid approaches used wisely can be indispensable.

This guest post is by Chella Strong, Student ASLA, master’s of landscape architecture candidate, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

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Black in Design / Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union

Black in Design / Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union

This year’s ASLA graduating student survey shows that for the third continuous year only 1 percent of graduates are African American or Native American. So Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD)’s first Black in Design (BiD) conference, which sold out, is a particularly important event.

The student organizers argued that addressing social injustice through design starts with two steps: revealing “the histories of under-represented groups in design,” and acknowledging that designers have a responsibility to “repair our broken built environment.” Four hundred designers, including landscape architects, architects, and planners, met to discuss these ideas in panels focused on changing design education and how we design buildings, neighborhoods, cities, and regions.

Sara Zewde, a 2014 National Olmsted Scholar and designer at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, and Dr. Sonja Dümpelmann, associate professor of landscape architecture at GSD and senior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks, spoke about race and landscape architecture.

Zewde presented her work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which combines drawn and animated interpretations of cultural events with neighborhood feedback. Her goal is to translate black experiences into designed spaces.

In response to an audience member’s concern that she is designing as an outsider to the community, Zewde asserted, “my design process is about re-establishing trust with black communities, because the system has failed them so many times before.” This resonated, and the audience of emerging and established designers loudly applauded.

Meditating on the conference’s meaning, Zewde observed that “the chasm between the words ‘black’ and ‘design’” is related to the treatment of “black and urban” as synonyms. The contributions of black people to the built urban environment are too often “unrecognized.”

Dümpelmann spoke of the need to revise landscape history to include African-Americans and women, and topics like segregation, emancipation, and multi-racial landscapes. “Survey classes,” she stated, “need to address race.” She cited just a few topics worthy of study, including Frederick Law Olmsted’s “Negro Parks” in Birmingham, Alabama; park as tools of racial segregation; and the spatial layout of plantations.

Expanding the definition of designer while revising history can also help undo the marginalization of blacks’ role in the built environment, Dümpelmann asserted.

For example, she showed a children’s book illustration depicting a Brooklyn grandmother, who while white, organized a multi-racial coalition to protect a rare Magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora) in the face of a 1970s’ federal urban renewal project. This is the true story of Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Hattie Carthan, who coordinated a grassroots movement that convinced developers to preserve the tree and three brownstone apartments.

Hattie Carthan Community Food Circle / Hattie Carthan Community Food Market

Hattie Carthan Community Food Circle / Hattie Carthan Community Food Market

Revising history also allows black designers to expand their knowledge of what is possible when designing future landscapes.

After graduating this summer from Cornell University’s masters of landscape architecture program, I worked on reforestation planning in Cleveland. I thought about what it means to practice in the United States as a white American landscape architect. The parallel realities of racial segregation in Cleveland and the lack of diversity in the profession of landscape architecture were inescapable.

The Racial Dot Map: One Dot Per Person for the Entire U.S. Colored Dots represent 2010 Census Block Data, where blue, green, orange, red, and brown represent White, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American/Other/Multi-Racial, respectively / Cable, Dustin A. University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The Racial Dot Map: One Dot Per Person for the Entire U.S. Colored Dots represent 2010 Census Block Data, where blue, green, orange, red, and brown represent White, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American/Other/Multi-Racial, respectively / Cable, Dustin A. University of Virginia, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

ASLA’s graduating student survey provides a quantitative benchmark from which the landscape architecture field can work towards a more balanced reflection of American society. While African American and Native American students remain at 1 percent of the landscape architecture student body and the share of Hispanic students dropped to 8 percent, these populations make up 32 percent of the general population, according to recent census estimates.

The under-representation of black designers is apparent, but for two days, BiD created a unique and necessary platform — it invited designers of all races to the table, rather than designers of color alone.

This guest post is by Petra Marar, Student ASLA.

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ASLA 2015 Student collaboration Honor Award. Reverse Engineering: Reconfiguring the Creek-Campus Interface. Pongsakorn Suppakittpaisarn, Student ASLA; John Whalen, Student ASLA; Qiran Zhang, Student ASLA; Fernanda Maciel, Tianyu He; Mari Mensa; Sarah Grajdura | Graduate | Faculty Advisor: Tawab Hlimi | University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

ASLA 2015 Student collaboration Honor Award. Reverse Engineering: Reconfiguring the Creek-Campus Interface. Pongsakorn Suppakittpaisarn, Student ASLA; John Whalen, Student ASLA; Qiran Zhang, Student ASLA; Fernanda Maciel, Tianyu He; Mari Mensa; Sarah Grajdura | Graduate | Faculty Advisor: Tawab Hlimi | University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

ASLA recently released its annual graduating student survey. This survey was completed by graduating students from 38 accredited undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture programs, a total of 323 students, up 32 percent over last year. The purpose of this survey is to gather information on post-graduation plans.

While the average age for undergraduates and graduates remained consistent with previous years, 25 and 29 respectively, and the male to female ratio also remained consistent, there was a considerable change in the race of respondents. 68 percent indicated they are Caucasian. This number continued trending down from 70 percent in 2014 and 84 percent in 2013. The percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander students increased to 20 percent, up from 15 percent in 2014. The number of Hispanic students decreased to 8 percent from 14 percent in 2014, but remained well above 2012’s 4 percent. The number of African American and Native American students remained consistent with previous years at just 1 percent.

Students enter graduate landscape architecture programs with diverse educational backgrounds. Those mentioned by two or more respondents include: architecture; art history; communications; environmental design and biology; environmental planning; environmental science; fine arts; geography; graphic design; horticulture; journalism; landscape architecture; philosophy; and urban studies. There has been no significant change in this over the last three surveys.

For the second year, the survey asked respondents about how they were funding their education and any education-related debt. 70 percent of undergraduates indicated their parents or grandparents paid or contributed to their education. Graduate students indicated scholarships and federal loan programs as the top funding sources. The average amount of debt carried by undergraduates dropped from $23,400 to $19,800 but rose from $35,100 to $36,600 for graduate students. The percentage of students with more than $20,000 or more in debt dropped slighting to 47 percent from 49 percent in 2014. The percentage of students owing $50,000 or more remained consistent with last year.

For students researching assistance with loan forgiveness, there are several federal loan assistance and forgiveness programs already in place, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which would provide forgiveness if a landscape architect is working in the government or not-for-profit, like a community design center.

Some 89 percent of respondents indicated they plan to seek employment in the profession, which is consistent with the previous two years, while the number of respondents planning on pursuing additional education increased from 3 to 5 percent. Of those looking for a job, 65 percent plan to seek employment in a private sector landscape architecture firm.

Respondents were asked to rank a variety of attributes, based on their importance to them in selecting job. The top two rated factors by respondents were geographic location and type of organization, which is consistent with previous years, and the third most important factor, indicated by respondents, is reputation of the organization, up from number 5 in 2014.

More than half of all respondents had been on one or more interviews during their final semester. Respondents expected starting salary decreased by $1,000 to $46,600 in 2015. However, the number of respondents that had one or more job offers increased to 50 percent, from 43 percent in 2014. The average starting salary also increased by $3,000 to $42,900.

The number of respondents who have already started a job increased to 50 percent, up from 41 percent in 2014 and 34 percent in 2013. Two-thirds of respondents who have accepted a job offer indicated that the position is with their preferred type of employer.

On benefits: the percentage of respondents reporting that they will receive major medical insurance was down to 82 percent, down from 95 percent in 2014. The percentage of respondents who will receive 401K retirement benefits also decreased to 72 percent from 83 percent in 2014. However, this number is still up from 63 in 2013. The percentage of respondents who have employers who pay their professional dues has held steady at about 25 percent since 2013. The percentage of “other benefits” reported by respondents was 27 percent, up from 19 in 2014. Other benefits listed include a continuing education stipend, Landscape Architecture Registration Board Exam (LARE) reimbursement, and bonuses.

And how did the survey respondents get hooked on landscape architecture? They were most likely to have first learned about the field from talking to a landscape architect or from reading about the field online or in a book, newspaper, or magazine. The number of respondents reporting that a landscape architect visited their school to talk about the profession increased, every so slighting, to 2 percent. Of the visits made to a school, 67 percent were to a high school, 20 percent to a middle school, and 26 percent to an elementary school.

Graduating student surveys dating back to 2002 are posted at ASLA’s Career Discovery web site. Also learn more about ASLA’s diversity efforts.

This guest post is by Susan Apollonio, ASLA Director of Education Programs.

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Rainforest epiphyte leaf formation / Reforestation.me

Rainforest epiphyte leaf formation / Reforestation.me

“Biomimicry is about learning from nature to inspire design solutions for human problems,” said Gretchen Hooker with the Biomimicry Institute at SXSW Eco in Austin, Texas. To enable the spread of these exciting solutions, Hooker, along with Cas Smith, Terrapin Bright Green, and Marjan Eggermont, Zygote Quarterly (ZQ), gave a tour of some of the best resources available for designers and engineers of all stripes:


Hooker walked us through AskNature.org, a web site with thousands of biomimicry strategies, set up by the Biomimicry Institute. The site organizes biological information by function. “Everything nature does fits into a function. And these functions enable us to connect biology to design.”

AskNature first organizes strategies into broad functions and then zooms down into the specific. For example, a user could click on the broad function group, “Get / Store / Distribute Resources,” and then navigate to “Capture, Absorb, and Filter,” and then select “Liquids,” which has 52 strategies. One such strategy describes how the nasal surfaces of camels help these desert animals retain water. Another looks at how the horny devil, a desert lizard, uses its grooves to gather water from the atmosphere. There are just as many plant-derived strategies as there are animal ones. One such strategy looks at how the arrangement of epiphytes’ leaves aids in water collection (see image above).

All of these strategies are written in a non-technical way for a general audience. Hooker said they have selected the most “salient examples, backed with credible research citations.” Users can then go explore the citations and pull out excerpts.

Tapping into Nature

Terrapin Bright Green, a sustainable design consultancy, produced Tapping into Nature, a comprehensive online report covering the world of biomimetic design, which includes an amazing interactive graph. Cas Smith, a biological engineer, explained that the report and graph seek to “uncover the landscape of biomimetic innovation, with a roadmap that shows designs and their their stage of development: concept, prototype, development, or in the marketplace.”

“Biomimetic design is now found in almost all industries — power generation, electronics, buildings.” But to make things easier, Terrapin organizes the design strategies into the following sections: water, materials, energy conservation and storage, optics & photonics, thermal regulation, fluid dynamics, data & computing, and systems.

Tapping into Nature / Terrapin Bright Green

Using the graph, Smith picked out one story: the firm Blue Planet, which is mimicking the bio-mineralization processes of coral reefs, which pull carbon dioxide out of the water to create their unique structures, to create a new type of carbon-based building material. The firm is also creating pigments and powders. Another highlight: early exploration of termite humidity damping devices. Termites create massive mounds, mostly underground, which are equal in scale to a skyscraper for us. Within the mound, temperature and humidity levels are tightly controlled so they can grow the fungi they live on. In some of the mound’s subterranean rooms and chambers are bright yellow objects about the size of a fist. These structures are termite-created sponges that actually pull water from the air. Smith related to this to HVAC systems in human buildings, and how new systems could be created to remove humidity with giant sponges in a more energy efficient way.

Smith said the process of creating biomimetic innovations is similar to that of a typical innovation development process. “There’s just the added layer up front.” While there are risks in any process, biomimetic designs, he argued, will be the source of “breakthrough products for solving our problems.” If the designers and engineers creating these new products and processes follow nature, “they can embed sustainability throughout.”

Zygote Quarterly 

Marjan Eggermont, an instructor at the Schulich school of engineering at the University of Calgary, is the co-editor of Zygote Quarterly (ZQ), which biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus called as “ecstatic as nature.” The magazine uses compelling imagery, interviews, and case studies to provide a historical record of the growing biomimetic design movement.

One issue explored Issus, a backyard bug, that has gears in its nymphal form. “We thought we invented gears but it turns out we were wrong. Nature already got there first.”

Issus gears / Zygote Quarterly

Issus gears / Zygote Quarterly

The gears, which Eggermont’s engineer husband modeled and then 3-D printed, were passed around so we could check them out. According to Eggermont, the gears are “remarkably self aligning, backlash free, with a one-directional timing mechanism that sweeps through a subtle 3D path.” They could potentially be applied to our world as “evolved mechanisms, ad hoc hinges, for seldom-used orchestrated movements — precise movements.” Eggermont thinks they could one day be used in space crafts.

But thinking more broadly, Eggermont sees the magazine as an educational tool. In the future, she wants each case study in the magazine to have a link to a 3D file that can be downloaded and printed. Real models could then be passed around in classrooms or design firms for inspiration.

Benyus, who was also in the session, went even further, calling on fans of biomimetic design to go to natural history museums, scan the collections and create a worldwide library of digital files that could be widely accessed as design models. “We can have a scan jam.”

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ASLA 2015 Student General Design Award of Excellence. Imagine the Barracks of Pion: Developing the edge of the Park of Versailles. Zheming (Taro) Cai, Student ASLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design / Zheming (Taro) Cai, Student ASLA

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is excited to announce its 23 student award recipients. Selected from 327 entries representing 84 schools, the 2015 ASLA Student Awards honor the top work of landscape architecture students in the U.S. and around the world. The winners will receive their awards at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago on Monday, November 9 at McCormick Place – Lakeside Center, Arie Crown Theater.

The October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) features the winning projects and is available online for free viewing.

Here is a complete list of the 2015 student award winners:

General Design Category

Award of Excellence
Imagine the Barracks of Pion: Developing the Edge of the Park of Versailles
by Zheming Cai, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (see image above)

Honor Awards
Walk into the Sea
by Zhi Wang, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design

Deconstructing Hydrologies: Reviving the Memory of Water in Dumbarton Oaks Park
by Elizabeth Anderson, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Washington

Borderless Landscapes of Control
by Rui Felix, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto

For the Rest
by Maria Landoni De Rose, Associate ASLA, an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley

Residential Design Category

Honor Awards
Within the Frame: The Countryside as a City
by a graduate student team from the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Valley Families: Between Fog and Flood
by a graduate student team from the University of Pennsylvania

Analysis and Planning Category

ASLA 2015 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. Rethinking Taj Heritage Corridor: A River as Historic Connection. Peichin Hao, Student ASLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design / Peichin Hao, Student ASLA

ASLA 2015 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. Rethinking Taj Heritage Corridor: A River as Historic Connection. Peichin Hao, Student ASLA, Harvard Graduate School of Design / Peichin Hao, Student ASLA

Award of Excellence

Rethinking Taj Heritage Corridor: A River as Historic Connection
by Peichen Hao, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Honor Awards
Confronting the Present: Towards a Civic Realm on Beirut’s Urban Fringe
by Logan Littlefield, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto

by a graduate student team from the Harvard Graduate School of Design

After Steel – Toward an Industrial Evolution
by Robert McIntosh, Student ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Toronto

Fallow Ground | Future City
by a graduate student team from the University of Virginia

Productive Conservation: Utilizing Landscape Ecology and Precision Agriculture Towards Land-Water Conservation
by a graduate student team from the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Communications Category

ASLA 2015 Student Communications Award of Excellence. Landscapes of Longevity. Asa Eslocker, Assoc. ASLA; Harriett Jameson, Assoc. ASLA. University of Virginia / Asa Eslocker

ASLA 2015 Student Communications Award of Excellence. Landscapes of Longevity. Asa Eslocker, Assoc. ASLA; Harriett Jameson, Assoc. ASLA. University of Virginia / Asa Eslocker

Award of Excellence

Landscapes of Longevity
by a graduate student team from the University of Virginia

Honor Award
PLOT: A Student-edited Journal of Landscape Architecture
by a graduate student team from the City College of New York

Research Category

Honor Awards
Counterordinance: a Manifesto on Maintenance
by Cali Pfaff, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design

Grounding Root System Architecture
by Gwendolyn McGinn, Associate ASLA, a graduate student at the University of Virginia

Student Collaboration Category

Honor Awards
Reverse Engineering: Reconfiguring the Creek-Campus Interface
by a graduate student team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Fire Circle and Stargazing Platform at Goose Island State Park
by a graduate student team from the University of Texas at Austin

Community Service Category

ASLA 2015 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Landscapes of Justice: Redefining the Prison Environment. Students at Iowa State University / Julie Stevens, ASLA

ASLA 2015 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Landscapes of Justice: Redefining the Prison Environment. Students at Iowa State University / Julie Stevens, ASLA

Award of Excellence

Landscapes of Justice: Redefining the Prison Environment
by an undergraduate student team from Iowa State University

Honor Awards
Ghana International Design Studio: Playtime in Africa
by a graduate student team from North Carolina State University

Starkville Public Library ‘Read’ Garden
by Travis Crabtree, Student ASLA, an undergraduate student from Mississippi State University

Kintsugi Garden: The Meaning of Mending
by an undergraduate student team from the University of Washington

The student awards jury included:

•    Kona Gray, ASLA, EDSA, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jury Chair
•    Richard Bumstead, ASLA, University of Chicago, Chicago
•    Maurice Cox, Affiliate ASLA, Detroit Department of Planning and Development
•    Katya Crawford,  ASLA, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
•    Lisa Gimmy, ASLA, Lisa Gimmy Landscape Architecture, Los Angeles
•    David Hill, ASLA, D.I.R.T. Studio, Auburn, Alabama
•    Fernando Magallanes, ASLA, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
•    Katherine Orff, ASLA, Scape / Landscape Architecture PLLC, New York City
•    Laura Solano, ASLA, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts

Explore all the award-winning projects.

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LA + cover / LA +

LA+ (Landscape Architecture Plus) is a new interdisciplinary journal of landscape architecture from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Published biannually, the journal explores contemporary design issues from the perspective of multiple disciplines, promoting collaboration and offering thoughtful insights and innovative ideas on each issue’s theme.

The journal’s provocative first issue, LA+ WILD, explores the shifting concept of “wild.” In the midst of the 21st century’s global environmental crisis, what is truly wild? For Tatum Hands, editor in chief of LA+, “wild is fundamental.” This idea resonates in the issue’s essays and graphic depictions, which speculate on conservation initiatives that fall under the rubric of “rewilding.”

Contributors of the issue’s 20-plus features aim to make “wild re-imagined, re-situated, and re-constituted.” Explorations into the interconnections of living things confound our preexisting notions. For example, artist Sonja Bäumel, in a project entitled Expanded Self, makes visible the bacteria on her own skin, depicting her body as an extension of the landscape.


Expanded Self by Sonja Bäumel / Sonja Bäumel

Artist and designer Orkan Telhan observes in The Taste of the New Wild that “nature ‘as is’ is now competing with better (and wilder) alternatives.” Consumer products like bio-synthesized sandalwood and lab-grown meat are potentially more resilient, sustainable, diverse, but also more unpredictable than the sources from which they originate.

Timothy Morton’s theory on “agri-logistics” in Where the Wild Things Are and Julian Raxworthy’s appropriation of thermodynamics in Born to Be Wild: Heat Leaks, and the Wrong Sort of Rewilding challenge distinctions between humans and non-humans. Biologists Timothy Mousseau and Anders Møller reveal the darker implications of this interconnectedness in Landscape-scale Consequences of Nuclear Disasters. Findings reported from expeditions to Chernobyl, Russia, and Fukushima, Japan, demonstrate the considerable cascading biological impacts of radiation from nuclear power plant failures on ecosystems. Continued study is necessary to determine if these sites will ever be appropriate for habitation.


Chernobyl Birds: Deformities, Albinism, and Tumors / Timothy Mousseau

So what are the implications of conservation initiatives based on “rewilding”? The movement today, as Adela Park, a landscape architecture graduate student at UPenn, reports in Re:Wilding, is entering into the province of genetic engineering that is “beguiling and frightening” and raises ethical questions regarding the invention and reinvention of life forms. Projects at Oostvaarderplassen outside Amsterdam and Pleistocene Park in northern Siberia attempt to recreate Pleistocene ecosystems to support the reintroduction of extant species like the aurochs and the de-extinction of species like the wooly mammoth. Humans are conspicuously absent from these landscapes.

But there are opportunities to encourage a meaningful and productive conversation on how to intervene in the wild. Landscape architects are positioned to redefine and reengage with the wild through initiatives that facilitate the integration and coexistence of humans and non-humans. New agencies of design and forms of practice that reach beyond traditional efforts to protect wilderness could result in novel ecosystems that both embrace and engender biological and cultural diversity.

In Tracking Wildnerness: The Architecture of Inscapes, Paul Carter, professor of design at RMIT University, shares observations on how the Shipibo people are shaping the Lupunaluz project, a cultural and biodiversity initiative in the Peruvian rainforest. From the Shipibo people’s belief that human consciousness derives from plant consciousness, contributors to the project have inferred that design is a collective endeavor shared by humans and nonhumans. Nature is not automatically arranged according to human preferences.

In Practices of the Wild: A Rewilding of Landscape Architecture, Mick Abbott, landscape architecture professor at New Zealand’s Lincoln University, explains how the Landscope DesignLab at the university is developing new technologies to engage public conservation lands. Tools like Plant-it, a mobile application that crowd-sources the replanting of forests, aim to spur the development of landscapes that value, rather than discourage, interaction between people and ecology.


Plant-it Mobile App by Tim Reed / Tim Reed

Claire Fellman, a director at Snøhetta, argues in Watching Wild against the removal of 90 kilometers of roads within Norway’s Dovrefjell-Sundalsfjella National Park, home to a large herd of endangered wild reindeer. This conservation initiative, which prevents people from reaching the park’s interior, inhibits the creation of spaces where “blurred and overlapping boundaries can create a productive gray zone in which the rights of multiple species are actively negotiated, promoting respect, interdependence, and community.”

Gardening is an analogy for working with existing ecological processes that are both managed and adaptive. Washington University in St. Louis landscape architecture professor Rod Barnett advocates in Unpremeditated Art for conservation initiatives that are based on “an open system that creates novelty through its encounter with indeterminate conditions.” In England, farmers are being paid to create and maintain nesting plots for the Eurasian Skylark within their acreage by turning off their seeding machines for stretches of five to ten meters. This simple but innovative agricultural practice is as regulated as it is experimental.


Unpremeditated art / Kate Rodgers

Additional opportunities emerge to experiment. UPenn planning graduate student Billy Fleming considers the efficacy of the recovery-through-competition model to create resilient cities in Can We Rebuild By Design? In Firescaping, Arizona State University environmental historian Steve Pyne discusses the potential for sculpting landscapes to control fire in conservation lands. In Xing: New Infrastructures for Landscape Connectivity, Nina-Marie Lister, Hon. ASLA, a professor at Ryerson University, presents the opportunity to design flexible, adaptive, and context-specific infrastructures for wildlife crossings that could influence the way we live and move through a landscape shared with other species.


Hypar-Nature by HNTB and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates / Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Physicist and climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf advocates in Wild Ocean for the design of multi-use platforms combining renewable-energy generation, aquaculture, transport services, and leisure activities in the oceans. Writer Emma Marris‘s Simian City proposes a unique conservation strategy for the Golden Lion Tamarin, a rare species that Marris suggests could — with community support — “introduce surprise and beauty to urban life” while finding refuge in the city.

In World P-ark, UPenn landscape architecture department chair Richard Weller, ASLA, considers how landscape architecture “might now go to work on a scale commensurate with that of biodiversity’s otherwise inexorable decline.” He proposes linking the world’s most biodiverse and threatened landscapes into one contiguous World Park with two continuous routes: one north-south from Alaska to Patagonia, and another east-west from Indonesia to Morocco.

The landscape architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania is engaged in an exercise to map ecological networks for the 425 ecoregions that make up the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots. Weller is confident that landscape architects are best positioned to negotiate how these networks, once connected, would interact with the landscape.


World Park by Claire Hoch and Richard Weller / Richard Weller

These essays demonstrate that “to be wild is to exist in a condition of extreme openness – instability, uncertainty, and continual perturbation.” LA+ WILD sparks a dialogue that could itself run wild, potentially never reaching a conclusion, but perhaps proving as dynamic as the medium in which landscape architects work. A quote by land artist Robert Smithson paired with an image of his Spiral Jetty reminds us that “nature is never finished.”


Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty by Adela Park / Adela Park

Purchase the issue. And look for the next issue on pleasure, which comes out in September.

 This guest post is by Shannon Leahy, Associate ASLA, recent master’s of landscape architecture graduate, University of Pennsylvania and former ASLA communications intern.

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World Landscape Architecture Month

World Landscape Architecture Month

This past month, the American Society of Landscape Architects joined World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), a global effort to raise awareness of the profession. During this time, our members took nearly 4,000 pictures of landscape architect-designed spaces with our “Designed by a Landscape Architect” card and posted them to social media using #WLAM2015.

These posts reached nearly 3 million people and showed how landscape architects can effectively use social media, harnessing its inherently visual nature.

The pictures featured some instantly recognizable, iconic landscapes.

Central Park / Jennifer Nitzky

Central Park / Jennifer Nitzky

But also some favorite local projects, too.

Artivio Guerrero Park / Dalton LaVoie

Artivio Guerrero Park, Sacramento, California / Dalton LaVoie

WLAM was also an opportunity to show all stages of design.

Plans /  American Society of Landscape Architects - Minnesota Chapter

Landscape plan / American Society of Landscape Architects Minnesota Chapter

Americans weren’t the only ones involved: Landscape architects from more than 30 countries participated in the campaign, often using the cards we created in 13 languages.

Turkish / URMIA Land Art

Turkish Version of the Card / URMIA Land Art

Place Design Group's China team celebrates World Landscape Architecture Month / Place Design Group

Place Design Group’s China team celebrates World Landscape Architecture Month / Place Design Group

Both future and veteran landscape architects were involved in the campaign, connecting multiple generations.

Landscape Architecture Students/ American Society of Landscape Architects - Minnesota Chapter

Landscape Architecture Students/ American Society of Landscape Architects Minnesota Chapter

John Gollings with Australian Garden Completion by Taylor Cullity Lethlean + Paul Thompson / Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

John Gollings at Australian Garden Competition / Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

World Landscape Architecture Month helped raise the visibility of landscape architecture on a global level. The “Designed by a Landscape Architect” cards helps the public understand many of the places they use and love everyday are actually designed by someone. The campaign was so successful ASLA is continuing it past April in order to continually promote the work of its members and landscape architecture around the world.

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Each year at the ASLA Annual Meeting, some of the world’s top landscape architects and designers explain themselves in front of an audience of hundreds. These designers give in-depth presentations, explaining the logic behind their designs and their latest projects. Now, ASLA has made these presentations available online for free. From the ASLA 2014 Annual Meeting in Denver, you can watch more than 6 hours of videos by:

Balmori Associates (see above)

This New York-based practice is recognized internationally for designing sustainable master plans, waterfront parks, public spaces, and gardens. The firm’s approach is rooted in the exploration of the boundaries between nature and structure through landscape. BAL / LAB, the incubator office, focuses on green roofs, floating islands, temporary landscapes, forms of representation, and zero-waste cities.

Watch Diana Balmori, FASLA, Javier Campana, Noemie Lafaurie-Debany, and Theodore Hoerr, ASLA, Balmori Associates; moderated by Mario Nievera, ASLA, Nievera Williams Design.


Landscape architects hold more power than ever to foster biodiversity and resilience and tell a compelling story of the landscape and our place in it. By embracing scientific principles and allowing them to inform our work, Biohabitats aims to create robust, dynamic landscapes that go beyond improving quality of life.

Watch Keith Bowers, FASLA, Claudia Browne, Jennifer Dowdell, ASLA, and Chris Streb, Biohabitats; moderated by Susan Jacobson, FASLA, Morton Arboretum.


Since their founding in 1998, Confluence has become one of the largest landscape architecture and planning firms in the Midwest. Principals gave an overview of the firm, its leadership approach, and their strategies behind design-service delivery and client-type diversification. They discuss “Midwest Nice” and the associated challenges.

Watch Brian Clark, ASLA, Lyle Pudwill, ASLA, and Jill Boetger, ASLA, Confluence; moderated by Patrick Coughey, FASLA, Wimmer Yamada and Caughey.


!melk is a dynamic, internationally-recognized landscape architecture and urban design firm specializing in the creation of highly experiential public spaces as well as large-scale urban interventions. Founder Jerry van Eyck, ASLA, addresses his firm’s growing reputation for a refined focus on context, identity, strong narrative, pragmatism, and detail.

Watch Jerry van Eyck, ASLA, Emily Bauer, Assoc. ASLA, and Ian Hampson, ASLA, !melk; moderated by Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Mia Lehrer + Associates.

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Design Intelligence

DesignIntelligence recently announced its 2015 landscape architecture graduate and undergraduate program rankings. Once again, Louisiana State University came in at the top of undergraduate landscape architecture programs. And for the 11th year, Harvard University came in as the best graduate program in the annual survey conducted by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council.

Detailed rankings are available in the 15th edition of America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, which assesses program rankings and education trends in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and industrial design.

Respondents from nearly 1,400 “professional practice” organizations answered questions about how well prepared graduates are from different undergraduate and graduate programs. The number of respondents grew by 75 percent over last year, making the survey results even more credible.

Satisfaction with landscape architecture graduates among employers has been dropping the past few years. Some 71 percent said they “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the state of landscape architecture education in the U.S., down from 74 percent last year and 80 percent the year before.

Among employers, some 75 percent found that graduating students had an “adequate understanding” or “more than adequate understanding” of biology, biodiversity, and environmental degradation. Some 68 percent thought their firms benefited from the new ideas about sustainability that recent graduates brought with them, up from 60 percent last year.

This year, the top five emerging concerns by practitioners are:

    Sustainability / Climate Change (55 percent)
    Maintaining Design Quality (54 percent)
    Integrated Design (40 percent)
    Speed of Technological Change (33 percent)
    Urbanization (32 percent)

The set of concerns is virtually unchanged from last year, except speed of technological change is now a top concern.

DesignIntelligence asks us to only list the top five schools for each program. To see the top fifteen rankings for each category, purchase the report.

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings:

1) Louisiana State University
2) Pennsylvania State University
3) Cornell University
4) California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
5) University of Georgia

Master of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings:

1) Harvard University
2) University of Pennsylvania
3) Cornell University
4) University of California at Berkeley
5) Louisiana State University

An additional deans and chairs survey asked leaders of 42 landscape architecture academic programs about the issues they find significant. According to 80 percent of the professors surveyed, their biggest concern is climate change and sustainability, while another 68 percent said urbanization and 36 percent said globalization. This is unchanged from last year.

Among the biggest changes to curricula in the last 5 years: some 58 percent thought it was “more emphasis on sustainable design,” while 48 percent saw an increased focus on “community engagement.”

For the fourth year, DesignIntelligence surveyed 317 landscape architecture students to gauge their satisfaction with the programs covered. On average, just 58 percent thought their program was “excellent.” The greatest number of students thought their program was excellent at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by those at the University of Virginia and then Iowa State University.

To see the full responses from professors and students, purchase the report.

Check out the 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009 rankings.

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