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Larry Weaner in Meadow 1 at Dumbarton Oaks Park / Jared Green

“We are at the volatile beginning period when all the plants are fighting it out. We have to help the newly planted grasses dominate,” said Larry Weaner, Larry Weaner Landscape Associates, at the kick-off of the restoration of the 9-acre meadow at Dumbarton Oaks Park in Washington, D.C. The first two meadows in a five-meadow necklace have already been seeded with warm season grasses, embedded in a protective layer of grasses that will later die back. In a carefully-sequenced succession, the new warm season grasses will slowly take over, restoring the original vision of landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, who designed the park in the 1920s and 30s, and creating rich wildlife habitat in the process.

Liza Gilbert, ASLA, one of the leaders of the restoration process at Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy and the latest landscape designer to be appointed to the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts, said Farrand meant the 27-acre landscape to be a “wild garden” distinct from the formal gardens of Dumbarton Oaks just up the hill. “There is a progression of spaces, with narrow paths leading to grand vistas. She was a master of creating spatial experiences, moving from dark to light.” The land had been used as a farm for decades; Farrand “created a paradise out land that had been worked.”

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Meadow 1 at Dumbarton Oaks Park / Jared Green

Farrand believed “topography must dictate design. She was a master at reading curves, the sculptural quality of the land, and using plants to highlight those features.” As such, Farrand saw five meadows, divided into rooms by loose hedgerows, interconnected into a necklace. “That’s why we are inexplicably drawn to the next one and the next.” Meadow 5, the final one, is “a broad expanse where I always feel a little lost,” which is perhaps what she wanted us to feel. Weaner echoed these thoughts, adding that “Farrand was sensitive to letting the land express itself.” Like Farrand, “we must follow the place’s natural inclinations,” even with restoring the meadow. “It’s not about what I envision here.”

Since the 1950s, the park has been left to its own devices. The result was the total takeover of the historic design by invasive non-native plants, including Japanese stiltgrass, porcelain berry, wineberry, and others, until the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy started up in earnest a few years ago. Over literally thousands of hours of volunteer labor, the mighty team at the conservancy has turned the tide, enabling Farrand’s design to reappear in many key places. The next phase is recreating the five meadows, all of which had all been overrun except for one.

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Existing native meadow after mowing / Jared Green

Meadows are incredibly complex ecosystems and designing them is as much art as science. In a lecture hosted by the George Washington University landscape design program, Weaner said warm season grasses, which are native, are more desirable than cool season grasses, which were imported from Europe, because they sustain the local ecosystem. Cool season grasses matte when they grow, whereas warm season grasses allow for little pockets of life to more easily live amid individual plants. Warm season grasses are natural homes for solitary, non-hive bees and other insects that birds need on their migratory routes. As Doug Tallamy, one of the world’s foremost wildlife ecologists has explained, birds are “insect specific.” Native birds want to eat native bugs, which feed on native plants. If meadows disappear, so do the insects and then the birds. Restoring the native meadows at Dumbarton Oaks Park is vital to creating the “little rest stops birds need” on their long migratory journeys.

Once you’ve intervened in a landscape and you are trying to turn it into a native meadow, you have to work with existing natural processes. Weaner described a meadow as a “system with early and late stage players.” Succession, which is “the changing nature of plants in a place,” is happening at all times. “If we bulldoze a place, we’ll first see small herbaceous grasses, then pioneer shrubs and trees, and then more mature trees.” Trees will eventually push out most of the ground cover, unless they are stopped. But Weaner explained that a sort of micro-succession also occurs within the meadow stage of succession as well. Given some grasses are annual, others are biannual and still others are perennial, “in a one year time period, the dominant species will completely change.”

In a warm season native meadow, perennial plants dominate. “The problem is they establish themselves slowly. They put their energy into root growth as a long-term investment. Perennials are conservative whereas annuals crash and burn. It’s a relay over time.” Given some perennials take up to 7-10 years to flower, and therefore only then create seeds that can restore the ground’s seed bank, “the first 1-3 years are volatile.” Cool season grasses found in meadows 1 and 2 will continue to co-exist alongside new warm season perennials planted in July — Purple Top, Beaked Panicgrass, Side Oats Gamma, and Little Blue Stem — giving the perennials time to get situated and eventually dominate. The idea is the warm season grasses, if supported with mowing each spring, will eventually take over, as the cool season grasses will not be given the opportunity to grow and will eventually die.

Weaner said the conservancy team will need to keep a close watch over the nascent native meadows as any disturbance can easily “push a meadow back to its early stage of succession. Succession can also go backwards.” Invasive plants are a constant threat; they are a “permanent disturbance.” But if invasive can no longer produce new seeds and add to the seed bank, they can be held at bay indefinitely.

Dumbarton Oaks Park, working with nature’s processes, is like a perennial itself, making a long-term investment in the future. More meadows in the necklace will soon be planted with warm season grasses and shepharded. The results of their labors won’t be seen for many years, but the seeds have been planted.

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11th Street Bridge Park / All images by OLIN and OMA

Landscape architecture firm OLIN and architecture firm OMA were announced as the winners of a national design competition to create a 900-foot-long bridge park spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. According to 11th Street Bridge Park executive director Scott Kratz, the jury unanimously selected this team, and the majority of online public votes came in for their inventive, X-marks-the-spot design. Fundraising for the park, which is expected to cost more than $25 million, begins in earnest; the D.C. government has also committed $14.5 million for the project. Some 800,000 to 1,200,000 people are expected to visit the park each year, bringing in $75-200 million in an anticipated return on investment each year, said Kratz.

Jason Long, a partner with OMA, said the bridge’s X design will be iconic. It brings the Navy Yard’s “entertainment and retail” and Anacostia’s “arts and culture” together in a literal crossing. Also, the hardscape of the Navy Yard will mix with the “pastoral side” of the Anacostia. The X design creates an upper and lower deck so more layers can be added. Long said the upper deck will provide needed shade in D.C.’s blistering summers.

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Hallie Boyce, ASLA, a partner at OLIN, told us: “This is an incredible opportunity to contribute to the fabric of the city and bring everyone together to strengthen the ecological health of the river and the overall health of the surrounding communities.” Indeed, the bridge is the central opportunity to focus all of our attention on the continuously-sorry state of the Anacostia River, which is among the most polluted in the country. As Kratz told us, the park will get more people to engage with the river and do something about the environmental problems. “If you go to our gorgeous bridge park and see a blue heron, but then also see a trash bag, you’ll know which doesn’t belong.” The park will be home to a permanent environmental education system designed to educate locals and spur more aggressive clean-up action.

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Boyce explained their thoughtful plans for helping restore the ecosystems to health. New parks on either side of the bridge park will “enrich through plantings” the Piedmont and coastal plain ecosystems, which meet in D.C. Plantings are designed to be habitat for wildlife first and foremost, but the plants will also offer a “rich, varied experience” for visitors as well. She said, “the city celebrates cherry blossoms each spring;” at the bridge park, “they will celebrate fall foilage.”

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There will be a series of waterfalls on the upper deck and then lower deck, two at each edge of the park. The lower deck waterfalls will recycle river water, aerating it, adding oxygen to the river, in the process. The upper deck waterfalls will serve as introduction to visitors entering on the pedestrian ramps, offering “a lovely gateway, with calming effect.” The design team also proposed using the waterfalls as canvases for moving videos about the history of the nearby communities. Here, again, OLIN and OMA meet both ecological and aesthetic goals through smart design.

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Boyce said the river’s health is expected to soon improve. A new set of stormwater tunnels will come online in a few years, eliminating sewage overflows from the city into the Anacostia. Efforts are underway to deal with the massive amounts of contaminated soils found in industrial sites upstream in Maryland. That state is also looking into a bag tax, which will help reduce the number of plastic bag detritus. Still, so much more needs to be done in Maryland, as it’s responsible for much of the poor condition of the river, if the river is to be safe for swimming by 2025, as Boyce said.

The team behind the bridge park rightfully kept the focus on keeping the park rich with activities year-round. While there is talk of a streetcar going over the bridge, when the park gets built it will still be a big schlep from Metro stations on either the Anacostia or Navy Yard sides. The Anacostia Metro stations are both more than a mile from the bridge. There will be ample access along the waterfront — especially for bicyclists — and the pedestrian pathways through the parks and up the ramps seem pleasant, but the park will really need to be a destination to draw the 800,000 – 1,200,000 people a year they expect.

So to make the park a destination, the design team has added a sunken amphitheater — recessed to hide the noise of the cars passing on other 11th street bridge, a cafe and urban agriculture garden, and a grand, central plaza that may make the walk worth it. The plaza, situated near the cafe, will also provide spaces for wedding and events. In the winter, it can turn into an ice rink. Again, creating must-attend events on these spaces, and buzz about the park, will be critical.

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Coming next is a feasibility study, including a structural analysis for the bridge foundation, as well as an environmental impact study, right-of-way analysis, and more conversations with the Coast Guard and Navy. At the press conference, some community activists expressed concerns about what the park would mean for neighboring property values — and whether it would advance gentrification, the displacement of existing communities. Kratz said their number-one concern was no displacement, and the bridge park team will be doing an audit of all the housing around the park before the project even gets constructed. “That way we’ll have real data to see what the impact of the bridge park is” and help the city government find a solution.

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All photos courtesy of Line Ramstad

“Do no harm.” These are the words echoed again and again by Line Ramstad, the Norwegian-born designer who since 2009 has lived and worked in a refugee camp in a disputed zone near the border of Thailand and Burma. She sees her unique position as Norwegian woman living and working with the Karen migrants as a strength, explaining, “it is nice to travel in between, to be the bridge.” Ramstad spoke at the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture.

Ramstad studied anthropology and geography before eventually receiving a master of landscape architecture. After five years of traditional practice, Ramstad traveled with two other Norwegians to the border with the intention of using their design background to aid in development work, eventually designing and building an orphanage. When her partners returned to Norway, Ramstad stayed and founded her current design/build architecture practice, Gyaw Gyaw, with three Karen migrants.

Ramstad describes the current situation of the Karen migrants as one with few options. Possessing no official papers, the Karen have few job prospects and live largely in refugee camps. We learn about their history on Gyaw Gyaw’s website: “the Karen people are the second biggest ethnic group in Burma. Exactly how many are unknown. After World War II, Burma was granted independence from the British invasion that had lasted for 62 years. The Karen people had been loyal to the British and fought with the alliance during the war. Among other minorities, they were now promised their own state, and Kaw Thoo Lei (The Land without Evil) was founded, but the Karen people never got sovereignty of the area.”

Gyaw Gyaw, which means “slowly, step by step,” designs and builds with an ethic of sustainability. Their built work consists largely of dormitories, schools, wells and playgrounds, and frequently incorporates partnerships with local NGOs and design firms. Ramstad thinks their work creates opportunities to promote democracy and encourage self-governance, both within the organization in the camps at large. Karens learn how to design and construct buildings together and this knowledge will remain with their people.

While the organization does not accept volunteers, they do offer an annual workshop in which visitors are encouraged to participate. They only accept funds that allow them to do the work in a way that is consistent with their small-scale and specific mission; their annual budget is only $60,000.

Gyaw Gyaw builds using “traditional materials and techniques used in more innovative and sustainable ways.” Ramstad emphasizes the importance of function above all else. She speaks eloquently about the constraints of cost and material that allow the work to be driven largely by climate and environment. “It’s very liberating to not have such choice of materials.” The organization rarely works with maps or drawings, a rarity in today’s highly technical architectural world. But Gyaw Gyaw also pays attention to the details, as Ramstad takes pride in her colleague Phillipa’s innovation in crafting elegant bamboo screens. Gyaw Gyaw also carefully observes how people use these spaces: Ramstad and her colleagues live close to these buildings and as a result their design process extends to a post-occupancy analysis of the daily life of their work.

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When asked about her landscape background and her current architecture work, Ramstad readily admits her weakness in construction knowledge, for which she relies heavily on her Karen colleagues. She describes her strength in “cultural and landscape adaptation,” explaining that “to be an architect is to have an open approach to the physical space around us.”

Through events like UVA’s lecture and international design conferences, Ramstad has begun to articulate and share Gyaw Gyaw’s ethos. Ramstad co-authored In Search of a Process: Laufen Manifesto for a Humane Design Culture, which states: “We speak out to define an alternative position. We must produce spaces that counter exploitation, control and alienation, whether in urban or rural landscapes. With all our expertise, creativity and power, we need to contribute more dynamically and consequentially to the global quest for equality.”

Ramstad’s visit instigated a broader discussion within the classrooms and studios at UVA. Some students and professors raised questions about the relevance of her work, as it’s particular to a region in Southeast Asia. However, Gyaw Gyaw’s process resonated with many students who are interested in participatory design.

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As design students, we often conduct site research from afar, making our best attempt at understanding place through online research and limited site-visits. Ramstad’s work shows us another type of design model, one that relies on an intimate understanding of place, and the people who inhabit it, as essential drivers of the design process. Ramstad’s approach came across as both refreshingly personal and intentionally limited. For her, community engagement is paramount in the design process.

In every stage of this process, Ramstad and Gyaw Gyaw call for “small steps” and making absolutely sure that if one’s intention is to do good work, that one truly does “no harm.”
 
This guest post by Jenna Harris, Master of Landscape Architecture Candidate, University of Virginia

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Pioneer Courthouse Square / Kenneth Helphand, FASLA

Portland, Oregon, is more than a trendy place to visit—it has long been ahead of the curve on urban design and sustainability, thanks to smart leadership and a willingness to experiment and innovate. The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Portland, a project by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), explains Portland’s cutting-edge approach to sustainable urban design.

The guide provides both Portlanders and the millions of tourists who visit Portland annually a deeper understanding of why Portland is one of the most livable and sustainable cities in the world. The guide is also meant to educate city leaders, urban planners, and designers across the U.S. and around the globe.

According to Mark A. Focht, FASLA, president of ASLA and first deputy commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Portland’s landscape architects have played a crucial role in making the city a better place to live. Their contributions trace back to the early 20th century, when the Olmsted Brothers laid out many of the critical urban plans and park system, and continue with today’s generation of landscape architects, who are creating waterfront parks, beloved urban plazas, and cutting-edge bicycle infrastructure.

“Portland’s designed landscapes are integral to its urban fabric,” says Focht. “Landscape architects have long played a major role in designing the city’s public realm, and the key spaces between buildings that serve as the connective tissue for communities. These spaces include parks, plazas, streets, and transportation infrastructure.”

Topical tours offer both printable bike maps and Google maps. The guide also includes tours by district. People will be able to view the guide on their smartphones, tablets or desktop computers.

The website was created by ASLA in partnership with its Oregon Chapter and 11 local landscape architects, who are designers of our public realm and leaders in sustainable design.

The guides are:

Brian Bainnson, ASLA, Quatrefoil Inc.
Bennett Burns, ASLA, independent landscape architect
Mike Faha, ASLA, GreenWorks, PC
Kenneth Helphand, FASLA, University of Oregon
Rachel Hill, ASLA, AECOM
Lloyd Lindley, FASLA, independent landscape architect
Carol Mayer-Reed, FASLA, Mayer/Reed Inc.
Jeff Schnabel, ASLA, Portland State University
Jean Senechal Biggs, ASLA, Portland Bureau of Transportation
Rebecca Wahlstrom, ASLA, Olson Engineering Inc.
Robin Wilcox, ASLA, Alta Planning + Design

The guide is organized by the facets of the sustainable city, with sections on:

  • The Built Environment – how building and landscape work together to enhance sustainability.
  • Food – how the city’s local food system works, from urban farms to “food cart pods.”
  • Energy – how Portland has among the highest renewable energy use in the U.S.
  • “Grand Parks” – how the original Olmstedian park system is still key to livability.
  • Health – how parks are designed for users with all kinds of disabilities, even Alzheimer’s.
  • “People Spaces” – how the city creates a sense of civic pride through its plazas.
  • Social Equity – how the city helps the homeless and addresses the impacts of gentrification.
  • Transportation – how Portland created one of the best-integrated, most people-friendly transportation systems.
  • Waste – how the city achieved one of the highest recycling rates in the country.
  • Water – how it led the country on green infrastructure.
  • Wildlife – how its park system also serves other species.

This is the third in a series of guides focused on sustainable American cities. The first, The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Washington, D.C., was launched in 2012, and The Landscape Architect’s Guide to Boston, was launched in 2013. They have been viewed more than 150,000 times to date.

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High Line Phase 3 / All photos by Allan Pollok-Morris

Getting to know the High Line in New York City over the last year, it has been lovely to discover the back story: the heroic efforts involved in saving the rail yard structure; the development of the park, with its effective design and the accomplishments of the construction; the involvement of the local community; and the raised aspirations of planners everywhere for what a small area of park might achieve in a big city. As someone from the UK, the use of the American word “yard” instead of “garden” never sits entirely comfortably, as it has a more industrial meaning, but we understand each other very clearly here in the High Line’s third phase in the Rail Yards.

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Any lover of naturalistic planting and contemporary hard landscaping can marvel at how literally millions of people are being funneled through an exquisite experience. However, leaving aside the overwhelming praise for the existing sections, the first reaction on seeing the new section is the makers, James Corner Field Operations and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, have clearly taken on board the park’s more functional deficits and have expanded the park in new directions.

I’ll always remember landscape architect Charles Jencks’ words that the motivation for his Garden of Cosmic Speculation began by wanting somewhere for the family to swim, and that good design always begins with a function. The third section of the High Line capitalizes on its role as a latter-day addition in the life of the project by offering more practical functionality. In terms of usability, new features include tables, see saws, xylophones, a children’s play area, and a wheelchair/buggy-accessible area of track.

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For those wanting the authentic High Line experience, there are areas of the original rail tracks left to self-seed with wild plantings. A fence that acts as a stark barrier between the asphalt and area of nature is very noticeable, but I’m told it will come down eventually, although it leaves you with the suspicion there may be more development to come. This area is not lit at night and will be closed earlier than the rest. It builds on the experience of the place by providing more themed nostalgia for the abandoned aesthetic of the rail track prior to the redevelopment. Does this represent affectionate nostalgia, or a sense of loss?

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Being there for the opening, I got to hear the High Line experiences of people from all walks of life. There was something very special in talking to someone, now in their 60s, who has supported the project the whole way but used to come and play here as a kid. This was the story I heard most: tales of what it was like to sneak in and mess about when it was still a rail yard, what it looked like in its derelict state. The sense of discovery and adventure in these experiences was visceral. There was something people valued in having a space not laid out by planning convention, but a raw experience.

I met Mitchell J. Silver, the new commissioner for New York’s parks, a week earlier and discussed the further development of the open areas around the High Line. The rail yards that the new phase circles will all be covered and developed over a 5-10 year period. The city is planning a number of significant new high rises the length of the park, and another ground-level green corridor of wider parks will lead north from there.

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The success story for the city isn’t so much one of recreation, but the wider regeneration of the area and increase in property values to the point where the world’s best-known architects are now seeking permissions, which can only further exaggerate the High Line as an oasis in city life. This park has also created new opportunities for people with similar infrastructure around the world.

This guest post is by Allan Pollok-Morris, a landscape photographer. His most recent book is Close: Landscape Design and Land Art in Scotland.

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Metro’s Union Station / Metro via The Los Angeles Times.

Homeless Welcome in San Jose’s Latest St. James Park Reboot San Jose Mercury News (CA), 9/24/14
“Designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, St. James Park hosted the best and worst of San Jose history in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

An Alliance of Dance and DesignThe New York Times, 9/25/14
“In 1966, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and the dance pioneer Anna Halprin invited 40 young people to Northern California to participate in a roving summer workshop.”

Metro’s Union Station Master Plan a Significant Shift Los Angeles Times, 9/26/14
“With landscape architect Mia Lehrer, the architects have proposed a new civic plaza—what they call a ‘forecourt’—at the foot of the building, filling the area between the building and Alameda Street and replacing a surface parking lot.”

Inside North America’s First Islamic Art MuseumAl Jazeera, 9/26/14
“Rows of serviceberry trees lead visitors into a garden quartered by water channels, five reflecting pools, long walkways, and pebbled paths—the work of Lebanese-Serbian landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic.”

Gender Studies: These Five Anonymous Women Helped Build New York City Curbed National, 9/29/14
“As NYC’s Chief of Tree Plantings, a position she nabbed in 1936, landscape architect Clara Coffey brought greenery to the Hutchinson River Parkway and swapped out the fences and hedges of the Park Avenue Malls with flowerbeds and kwanzan cherry trees.

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ASLA 2014 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus. Gustafson Guthrie Nichol / image: Timothy Hursley

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announces the winners of the 2014 Professional Awards. The awards honor top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications, and research projects from across the U.S. and around the world. This year, 34 projects won awards out of more than 600 entries.

The October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) features the winning projects and is available online for free viewing. October’s LAM will be featured on the end-caps of the magazine sections in nearly 600 Barnes & Noble stores beginning October 14.

The awards will be presented at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Denver on Monday, November 24, at 12 noon, at the Colorado Convention Center.  The 2014 awards program is sponsored by Victor Stanley.

The professional awards jury included: James Burnett, FASLA, Office of James Burnett, Jury Chair; Catherine Barner, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy; Alain DeVergie, FASLA, U.S. Department of State; Kona Gray, ASLA, EDSA; David Hocker, ASLA, Hocker Design Group; Keith LeBlanc, FASLA, Keith LeBlanc Landscape Architecture; Anne Raver, Journalist; Jerry van Eyck, ASLA, !melk; and Thaisa Way, ASLA, University of Washington.

General Design Category

Award of Excellence
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, Seattle (see image above)
by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Honor Awards
Slow Down: Liupanshui Minghu Wetland Park, Liupanshui, Ghizhou Province, China
by Turenscape for the Liupanshui City Government

Gebran Tueni Memorial, Beirut, Lebanon
by Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture for Solidere (Société Libanaise de Développement et Reconstruction)

Segment 5, Hudson River Park A Resourceful and Resilient Space for a Park-Starved Neighborhood, New York City
by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. for the Hudson River Park Trust

Salem State University – Marsh Hall, Salem, Mass.
by WagnerHodgson Landscape Architecture for the Massachusetts State College Building Authority  & Salem State University

Urban Outfitters Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia
by D.I.R.T. Studio for URBN Inc.

Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, Grand Teton National Park, WY
by Hershberger Design for D.R. Horne & Company

Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park, Queens, NY
by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi for the New York City Economic Development Corporation/City of New York

Low Maintenance Eco-Campus: Vanke Research Center, Shenzhen, China
by Z+T Studio for Dongguan Vanke Building Technique Research Co., Ltd.

Shoemaker Green
by Andropogon Associates, Ltd., for the University of Pennsylvania

Residential Design Category

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ASLA 2014 Professional Residential Design Award of Excellence. Woodland Rain Gardens. Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects / image: Chipper Hatter, Hatter Photographics

Award of Excellence
Woodland Rain Gardens, Caddo Parish, La.
by Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects

Honor Awards
Hill Country Prospect, Centreport, Texas
by Studio Outside for Sara Story Design

Vineyard Retreat, Napa Valley, Calif.
by Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture

Le Petit Chalet, Southwest Harbor, Maine
by Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC

Sky Garden, Miami Beach, Fla.
by Raymond Jungles Inc.

West Texas Ranch, Marfa, Texas
by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Inc.

GM House, Bragança Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil
by Alex Hanazaki Paisagismo

City House in a Garden, Chicago
by McKay Landscape Architects

Analysis & Planning Category

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ASLA 2014 Professional Analysis & Planning Award of Excellence. Midtown Detroit Techtown District. Sasaki Associates / image: Sasaki Associates.

Award of Excellence
Midtown Detroit Techtown District, Detroit
by Sasaki Associates Inc. for Midtown Detroit

Honor Awards
The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization for Little Rock, Little Rock, Ark.
by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center and Marlon Blackwell Architect for the City of Little Rock, Ark.

Devastation to Resilience: The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, Houston
by Design Workshop Inc., Aspen, and  Reed/Hilderbrand for the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Zidell Yards District-Scale Green Infrastructure Scenarios, Portland, Ore.
by GreenWorks, PC, for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services and ZRZ Realty

Yerba Buena Street Life Plan, San Francisco
by CMG Landscape Architecture for the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District

Unified Ground: Union Square – National Mall Competition, Washington, D.C.
by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol for the Trust for the National Mall

Communications Category

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ASLA 2014 Professional Communications Award of Excellence. The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley / image: TCLF


Award of Excellence

The Landscape Architecture Legacy of Dan Kiley
by The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Honor Awards
Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers
by James Richards, FASLA, published by John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Monk’s Garden: A Visual Record of Design Thinking and Landscape Making
by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Garden, Park, Community, Farm
by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, published by Princeton Architectural Press

Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes
by Louise A. Mozingo, ASLA, published by MIT Press

Research Category

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ASLA 2014 Professional Research Award of Excellence. Finding Connections to the Outdoors for Youth and Families in Larimer County, Colo. Design Workshop Inc. / image: Design Workshop

Award of Excellence
Finding Connections to the Outdoors for Youth and Families in Larimer County, Colo.
by Design Workshop Inc. for Great Outdoors Colorado and Larimer County, Colo.

Honor Awards
Exhuming the Modern: The Lost Bench of James C. Rose
by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc.

A New Norris House and Landscape
by the University of Tennessee College of Architecture & Design

The Phenology Project
by Landscape Performance LAB, Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture

The Landmark Award

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Landmark Award. Norman B. Leventhal Park at Post Office Square. Halvorson Design Partnership Inc / image: Ed Wonsek

Norman B. Leventhal Park at Post Office Square, Boston
by Halvorson Design Partnership Inc. for the Friends of Post Office Square Inc.

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ASLA Student Analysis & Planning Award of Excellence. Meridian of Fertility. Reid Fellenbaum, University of Michigan / image: Reid Fellenbaum.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announces the winners of the 2014 Student Awards. This year, 21 submissions received awards, out of more than 500 entries from 77 schools.

The October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) features the winning projects and is available online for free viewing. October’s LAM will be featured on the end-caps of the magazine sections in nearly 600 Barnes & Noble stores beginning October 14.

The awards will be presented at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Denver on Monday, November 24, at 12 noon, at the Colorado Convention Center.  The 2014 awards program is sponsored by Victor Stanley.

The student awards jury included: Gina Ford, ASLA, Sasaki, Jury Chair; Rebecca Barnes, FAIA, University of Washington; Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, Parker Rodriguez; Sandra Y. Clinton, FASLA, Clinton & Associates; Bernard Dahl, FASLA, Purdue University; Christian Gabriel, ASLA, U.S. General Services Administration; Eric Kramer, ASLA, Reed Hilderbrand; Willett Moss, ASLA, CMG Landscape Architecture; and Brian Sawyer, ASLA, Sawyer/Berson.

General Design Category

Honor Awards
16th Street Station
by Erik Jensen, Associate ASLA, graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley

34,000 Tons of Miracles
by an undergraduate student team from Pusan National University, South Korea

Residential Design Category

Honor Awards
The Edgerly: The Next Generation of a Community Anchor
by a graduate student team from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Spaces of Exception: Housing as a Common Framework
by a graduate student team from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Analysis & Planning Category

Award of Excellence
Meridian of Fertility (see image above)
by Reid Fellenbaum, Student Affiliate ASLA, graduate student at the University of Michigan

Honor Awards
The Wild Anacostia: Cultivating a Thick Edge Typology through Everyday Experience
by Kate Hayes, Associate ASLA, graduate student at the University of Virginia

Migratory Lands Demonstration Project
by Emily Chen, Student ASLA, graduate student at Washington University, St. Louis

The Plexus Spine of North Philly
by Jacqueline Martinez, Student ASLA, graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania

Markings
by a graduate student team from the University of Texas at Austin

Bigger Darby: A Landscape Approach for a Coherent & Resilient Watershed
by an undergraduate and graduate student team from The Ohio State University

Beyond Turf: Reinterpreting the Ecological Management of Vacant Landscapes
by Alexander Ochoa, Student ASLA, an undergraduate student at Louisiana State University

Communications Category

Honor Awards
Adaptive Streets: Strategies for Transforming the Urban Right-of-Way
by a graduate student team from the University of Washington

SNACKs
by a graduate student team from the University of Virginia

Research Category

Honor Awards
A Spatial Analysis of the Uncharted Territory of Growing Old
by a graduate student team from the University of Virginia

Student Collaboration

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ASLA Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. Harvest Home. Students at George Washington University / images: Adele Ashkar, Nick Gringold, Ryan McKibben, Julie Melear, Sharon Metcalf

Award of Excellence
Harvest Home
by a graduate student team from George Washington University

Honor Awards
The Prairie Club + Redefined
by an undergraduate student team from Ball State University

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: History, Design and the American People
by an undergraduate student team from Ball State University

Gardens, Greenspace and Health in Eliseo Collazos, Lima, Peru
by a graduate student team from the University of Washington

Community Service

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ASLA 2014 Student Community Service Award of Excellence. Ratang Bana Aids Orphanage Playscape. California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo / image: California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo

Award of Excellence
Ratang Bana Aids Orphanage Playscape
by an undergraduate student team from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Honor Awards
Creating Home, A Healing Garden for Veterans and Their Families
by an undergraduate student team from the University of Washington

The Hastings-on-Hudson Community Street Tree Inventory
by Brett Schneiderman, Student ASLA, graduate student at Cornell University

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Dogpatch Arts Plaza / CMG Landscape Architecture

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? At the EcoDistricts Summit in Washington, D.C., two urban innovators in San Francisco, the home of so many game-changing technologies, have come up with a truly brilliant idea: the Green Benefits District (GBD), a sort of green business improvement district, designed to facilitate community investment in new tree-lined streets, parks, and gardens. Michael Yarne, with Up Urban and Build Inc. and the creator of the concept, said the GBD in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco will also aim to improve the management and upkeep of neighborhood public spaces, which they say is currently done poorly by the city government. The GBD will be like the “Uber of public space,” meaning they are adding another layer of more convenient services on top of the existing baseline service. A GBD is needed because the city government is “stuck in the 1970s.” But the GBD clearly has higher aims than just better services: Yarne sees a future with local, distributed renewable energy systems and more.

With the help of Scott Cataffa, ASLA, a partner at CMG Landscape Architecture, Yarne is in the middle of a two-year process to prototype the GBD concept. It seems creating a new assessment district in California is not an easy thing, as you first need a BID lawyer, then need to get 30 percent of the proposed assessed district to agree to a petition, and then 51 percent of the “weighted property owners” to back the idea through a ballot. Only then will the state and city governments allow you to use tax revenue to meet local ends.

Dogpatch and NW Potrero Hill, which covers some 700 acres and contains 100,000 people, has a “rich industrial heritage.” Through a survey, Yarne and his team learned the area actually has 13 sub-neighborhoods. Some of these maintain a “gritty, marginalized identity.” In contrast, some neighborhoods have a high level of “social capital,” which enables more coordinated action. Yarne decided to start in the area with higher social capital, with a history of local environmental activism and ownership of public spaces. There, a “plucky, can-do” group of locals have wrangled the state government to let them build a park where where was once transportation infrastructure. But all their efforts are “taxing.” This community clearly wants “parks and open space preserved,” but what’s the best way to do this? The neighborhood decided to pool resources into a new GBD.

The GBD will “coordinate property owners and build trust.” It will be a non-profit, public benefit corporation with an elected board and annual oversight by the city legislature. The new GBD will be “small enough to enable trust to grow and will operate in a hyper transparent manner.” It will “use an experimental ‘it’s OK to fail’ approach and aim to create long-term revenue.” Trust, he said, is the new “green,” because, without it, community action is impossible. Trust building will happen on the ground, in person, but also through a new app that will enable all GBD members to see in near real-time all reports, decisions, and expenditures.

“Like Facebook, the app will encourage GBD members to create a profile to encourage community accountability.” There will be something like the “See, Click, Fix” app, which will enable community members to report problems. The app will define the “party responsible for fixing, set the fix date, and the cost of the fix.” Yarne said listing the cost of the fix was important, because people don’t really have a clue as to cost of public services. All of the issues will be mapped, so the GBD member can see problem areas. For example, they could learn that vandalism occurs near the train stations. Like other techno-utopians in San Francisco, Yarne believes the app will “empower the community by demystifying work that’s happening.”

Landscape architect Scott Cataffa has been helping the nascent GBD map all their assets and discover where the opportunities are. Cataffa said a map of the community found only 2 percent of it is open space.  The community is already maintaining about half of the public spaces in the district, but the audit is helping the community figure out who owns what. With a list of more than 50 possible opportunities in hand, the GBD team is now figuring out what role they should play in creating new green public spaces and other sustainable features. They created a checklist to help label each project, with potential roles such as “lead, initiate, assist, or advocate.”

One proposal by CMG would create a new amphitheatre and outdoor art gallery in an unused, city-owned dead-end between two large industrial buildings. Through the audit, they also found that the very wide rights of way, which were designed for industrial use, create opportunities to create new linear parks. So they propose creating a new linear park — or green street — running from the new amphitheatre to a larger park. Cataffa said “we are looking at the right of way as a place to turn grey to green.” Other ideas being cooked up include putting a solar farm on top a freeway that cuts through the district, and creating a (black) waste water recycling system.

If they are allowed to assess the community for the GBD, Yarne says they will raise about $400,000 in their first year from taxes of about 9.46 cents per square foot of commercial and residential space and parking lots. Some non-profits would get a 50 percent discount on that tax, as would some struggling industrial site owners. Yarne expects their available funds to double over the coming years given lots of new residential complexes are coming online. He said, already, the GBD can change perceptions of new development from an unwelcome sign of gentrification into new opportunities to green.

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Stegastein / Johanna Hoffman

Regardless of how beautiful or strange a landscape is, we’ve all done it. After the initial shock of a cliff’s craggy façade or the undulating, raw rubble of lava rock flows wears off, we’ve been lulled into sensory complacency. Amazement only lasts for so long: being stunned becomes the norm.

This is why the 120 designed projects along Norway’s National Tourist Route are so significant. They are the result of a multi-decade investment of nearly $400 million by the Norwegian government to enhance overlooks, picnic areas, and rest stops along its scenic highways. Together, theses projects exemplify design’s power to highlight nature.

A result of our hunter-gatherer heritage, we humans are good at maintaining a narrow focus. Through different creative media – film, dance – we have developed ways to compensate. Filmmakers regularly use music to highlight the feeling of a character or the insight of a narrative moment. Musicians employ lighting during live performances to cue audiences to shifts in mood. Designers of Norway’s tourist routes show how landscape architecture can do the same for our appreciation of landscapes, expanding our narrow focus.

In Stegastein (see image at top), which was created in 2006 by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wihelmsen, laminated wood contrasts with the surrounding forested hillside in color and form, reinterpreting the steep movements of the region’s hillsides.

In Storseisundet Bridge, which was completed in 1989, the rising section of the scenic highway crafts a line against the jagged outcrops of the surrounding fjord. The contrast highlights the intense sinuosity of the Norwegian shore.

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Atlantic Road Bridge / Johanna Hoffman

Other projects use design to accentuate landscape dynamics otherwise difficult to identify.

For example, in Vedahaugane, completed in 2010 by L. J. Berge and Z. Jelnikar, the designers reveal complexity in the simple — both in the path’s design and the surrounding landscape — by using curved benches.

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Vedahaugane / Johanna Hoffman

And in Sohlbergplassen, created in 2005 by Carl-Viggo Hølmebakk, the exuberance of the curves coupled with the linear nature of the concrete formwork highlight the tightness of the forest groves and dappled light falling through the trees.

Sohlbergplassen_forasla_resized

Sohlbergplassen / Johanna Hoffman

And then there are designs that use framing devices to enable new ways of relating to the space.

Gudbrandsjuvet, which was created in 2007 by Jensen & Skodvin, is a CorTen steel walkway that crisscrosses a canyon carved by a gushing waterfall, cultivating a sense of both spaciousness and fragility where there otherwise would be none. Designed to sway with use, the walkway one traverses has a sense delicacy, creating a new sense of vulnerability for visitors to the waterfall.

Gudbrandsjuvet_forasla

Gudbrandsjuvet / Johanna Hoffman

And lastly, at Trollstigen, which was designed by Reiulf Ramstad Architects in 2010, a cliff overlooks a cascading waterfall and deep valley. The handrails and benches on the steep rock outcrops make seemingly dangerous areas approachable.

Trollstigen1_forasla

Trollsteigen / Johanna Hoffman

The main viewing platform provides spaces for both refuge and spectacle and prospect. The combination of these moments tells us extreme outdoor spaces are places to be appreciated rather than feared.

This guest post is by Johanna Hoffman, Student ASLA, Master’s of Landscape Architecture Graduate, University of California – Berkeley, College of Environmental Design. 

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