ASLA and IFLA Announce Renewed Commitment

From left to right: 2020 ASLA Award of Excellence in General Design. Cultural Crossing Transforms Portland Japanese Garden into a Place of Cultural Dialogue. Portland, Oregon, United States. Walker Macy. | Photo by James Florio. 2020 ASLA Honor Award in Urban Design. Yongquing Fang Alleyways: An Urban Transformation. Gaungzhou, China. Lab D+H Landscape and Urban Design. | Photo by Arch-Exist. 2020 ASLA Award of Excellence in Analysis & Planning. Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA). Bugesera, Rwanda, Africa. Sierra Bainbridge. | Photo by MASS Design Group. 2019 ASLA Honor Award in General Design. Barangaroo Reserve. Sydney, Australia. PWP Landscape Architecture. | Photo by PWP Landscape Architecture

ASLA has renewed its three-decades-long partnership with the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) to promote the profession of landscape architecture around the globe. This collaborative partnership will focus on battling climate change; establishing the highest standards of professional practice in design, planning, management, conservation, and development of the landscape; and facilitating exchanges of knowledge and information between IFLA Regions and member organizations and ASLA members.

“Climate change is a global crisis that needs to be addressed on a global level. As a nation, the United States is taking bold steps to address the climate crisis, like rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and convening a Climate Summit for the spring. ASLA is proud to do our part, and we look forward to taking an active role in IFLA,” said Tom Mroz, FASLA, ASLA President.

“We are excited that ASLA is partnering with IFLA, especially at this time when there is an opportunity for renewed collaboration and progress globally on climate change and other issues where the landscape architecture profession can provide leadership and insight,” added James Hayter, President of IFLA

Torey Carter-Conneen, ASLA CEO, further commented: “As ASLA continues to refine its long-term goals and strategy, the timing is perfect to renew our commitment to being a part of the international conversation about the impact of landscape architecture on climate change, social justice, and other issues facing society.”

ASLA Releases Policy Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration

ASLA 2020 Professional Urban Design Award of Excellence. Dilworth Plaza. OLIN / James Ewing, OTTO

ASLA released a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration titled “Landscape Architects Design Vibrant, Resilient, and Just Communities for All – Recommendations for the Biden-Harris Administration.”

“Our climate is in crisis. Social and racial injustice issues continue to go unaddressed. The pandemic is forcing us to rethink public space,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). “Landscape architects aren’t just designing resilient, sustainable solutions for all these problems – they’re designing the public policies necessary to support that vital work.”

The report makes specific, actionable policy recommendations in four major areas:

  • Applying STEM-related design principles to protect communities.
  • Addressing climate change through sustainable, resilient design.
  • Supporting green community infrastructure solutions.
  • Promoting racial, social, and environmental justice in design.

ASLA’s recommendations are supported by other organizations in the industry, including the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF).

“The pandemic has revealed now more than ever the value of public open spaces: we are human beings and need to be outside and with other human beings,” said Barbara Deutsch, FASLA, CEO of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF). “These policy recommendations provide overdue support to enable landscape architects to design healthy, accessible and equitable outdoor places for people to connect with nature and each other, and rebuild the public realm infrastructure.”

“Landscape architects play a vital and irreplaceable role in the design of the built environment. It’s time their recommendations for how that design is governed are heard and implemented,” Carter-Conneen added. “ASLA urges the Biden-Harris administration and the new Congress to review these recommendations and begin the process of implementing them.”

ASLA and our partners look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration and the new Congress on implementing these policy recommendations that will lead to vibrant, resilient and just communities across the nation.

Read the full report

About the Report

The American Society of Landscape Architects compiled a comprehensive series of specific, actionable policy recommendations designed to give landscape architects a seat at the table and support for their vital work. The report is broken down into four sections.

ASLA 2016 Professional Communications Honor Award. Sea Change: Boston, Sasaki Associates / Sasaki Associates

The first, Landscape Architects Apply STEM to Protect the Public, outlines the measures necessary to assist landscape architects in meeting the economic demands and challenges facing our nation.

Recommendations in this section include:

  • Support continued state licensure of highly complex technical professions, including landscape architecture, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
  • Provide targeted and sustained COVID-19 relief for small businesses, including landscape architecture firms.
  • Appoint landscape architects to key positions throughout the Biden-Harris administration, including within the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture, and in the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, the U.S. Access Board, and others.
  • Include landscape architecture on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Designated Degree Program List.

The second section, Landscape Architects Lead in Climate Solutions, focuses on policy solutions that support landscape architects’ work to design resilient, sustainable spaces that help communities mitigate and adapt to the effects of the ongoing climate crisis.

Recommendations in this section include:

  • Create a comprehensive, science-based climate action plan to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
  • Establish adaptation and mitigation strategies using natural systems to make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
  • Protect underserved communities from climate and environmental injustices.
  • Adopt the Sustainable Sites Initiative® (SITES®) for all federal projects.
  • Reverse rules, regulations, and policies from the Trump administration that weaken environmental protections and ignore climate change, specifically involving the National Environmental Policy (NEPA) and the Waters of the U.S.( WOTUS).

The third section, Landscape Architects Transform Community Infrastructure, outlines policies to encourage the designing and building of community infrastructure projects in a way that fosters sustainable development, generates jobs, encourages healthy lifestyles, and creates resilient, equitable, and economically vibrant communities.

Recommendations in this section center around the following goals:

  • Upgrade to a multimodal transportation network.
  • Fix our nation’s water management systems.
  • Recognize public lands, parks, and open space as “critical infrastructure.”
  • Design resilient communities.

The fourth and final section, Landscape Architects Seek Racial, Social, and Environmental Justice, provides specific recommendations that seek to address the inequities that harm underserved communities, including communities of color, low-income populations, and Tribal and Indigenous communities across the country.

Recommendations in this section include:

  • Work with Congress to codify Executive Order 12898, so that it is permanent law for federal agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental effects of agency actions on low-income and minority communities.
  • Join stakeholders across the country in advancing the tenets of the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 5986), which help to ensure that all communities are protected from pollution and that all voices are heard in the federal environmental decision-making.
  • Consider policies that promote design techniques as a tool to address racial, environmental, and social justice for all.

Read the full list of recommendations

ASLA 2021 Professional & Student Awards Call for Entries

ASLA 2020 Professional General Design Honor Award. Naval Cemetery Landscape. Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects / Max Touhey

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is now accepting submissions for its 2021 Professional and Student Awards Program.

The ASLA Awards Program is the oldest and most prestigious in the landscape architecture profession. They honor the most innovative landscape architecture projects and the brightest ideas from up-and-coming landscape architecture students.

“The ASLA Professional & Student Awards recognize the most innovative and impactful work in the profession,” said Tom Mroz, 2021 president of ASLA. “Our professional winners are leaders in the industry. Our student winners represent the best and brightest hope for the future. Each year, we get entries from all around the world. I can’t wait to see the creative projects this year’s Call for Entries brings.”

Award recipients receive featured coverage in Landscape Architecture Magazine and are honored at a special Awards Presentation ceremony in the fall.

Submissions for ASLA Professional Awards are due no later than 11:59 PST on Friday, March 12, 2021.

Submissions for ASLA Student Awards are due no later than 11:59 PST on Monday, May 24, 2021.

ASLA bestows Professional Awards in General Design, Residential Design, Urban Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, Research categories. In each of these categories, juries select a number of Honor Awards and may select one Award of Excellence. One Landmark Award is also presented each year.

The 2021 Professional Awards Jury includes:

  • Chair: Thaïsa Way, FASLA – Dumbarton Oaks
  • Virginia Burt, FASLA – Virginia Burt Designs, Inc.
  • Sahar Coston-Hardy, Affiliate ASLA – Sahar Coston-Hardy Photography
  • Perry Howard, FASLA – Greensboro, NC USA
  • Kene Okigbo, ASLA – RDG Planning & Design
  • Faith Okuma, ASLA – Surroundings Studio, LLC
  • Karen Phillips, FASLA – NYS Homes & Community Renewal
  • David Rubin, FASLA – David Rubin Land Collective
  • Emma Skalka, Hon. ASLA – Victor Stanley
ASLA 2020 Student Communications Award of Excellence. Jia: Bringing Ladnscape Architecture to Webtoons / July Aung

ASLA bestows Student Awards in General Design, Residential Design, Urban Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, Research, Student Community Service, and Student Collaboration. In each of these categories, juries select a number of Honor Awards and may select one Award of Excellence.

The 2021 Student Awards Jury includes:

  • Chair: Diane Jones Allen, FASLA – Design Jones LLC
  • Magdalena Aravena, ASLA – Lamar Johnson Collaborative
  • Jane Berger – Freelance Journalist
  • Rebecca Bradley, ASLA – Cadence
  • L. Irene Compadre, ASLA – Arbolope Studio
  • Gabriel Diaz Montemayor, ASLA – University of Arkansas
  • Jessica Henson, ASLA – OLIN
  • Radhika Mohan – Enterprise Community Partners
  • Paola Moya, Assoc. AIA – Moya Design Partners

ASLA Announces 2020 Professional and Student Award Winners

ASLA 2020 Professional Award of Excellence in Urban Design, Dilworth Park. OLIN | Photo by OLIN / Sahar Coston-Hardy

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announces the 2020 Professional and Student Award winners. The ASLA Awards represent the highest honor in the profession of landscape architecture.

Chosen from 567 submissions, this year’s 31 Professional Award winners represent the best of landscape architecture in the General Design, Urban Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, and Research categories. In addition, a single Landmark Award is presented each year.

A full list of this year’s Professional Award winners can be found at: www.asla.org/2020awards

ASLA 2020 Student Award of Excellence in Analysis & Planning. West Oakland: From T.O.D to F.O.D. Huiwen Shi, Student International ASLA; Lide Li, Student Affiliate ASLA | Photo credit: Lide Li, Student Affiliate ASLA

Chosen from 560 submissions, this year’s 35 Student Award winners represent a bright and more inclusive future of the landscape architecture profession in the General Design, Urban Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Research, Communications, Student Collaboration, and Student Community Service categories.

A full list of this year’s Student Award winners can be found at: https://www.asla.org/2020studentawards

“ASLA’s Professional and Student Awards programs celebrate the best of our profession today, and the brightest hope for the future,” said ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA.

“From making sure Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as well as other underserved individuals and communities prepare for the many challenges of the climate crisis – this year’s projects clearly demonstrate how landscape architects are designing a future that addresses the biggest problems facing our world.”

All Professional and Student Award recipients, their clients, and advisors will be honored at the awards presentation ceremony held virtually this fall.

Background on the ASLA Awards Programs

Each year, the ASLA Professional Awards honor the best in landscape architecture from around the globe. Winners of these prestigious awards are chosen by a jury that represents the breadth of the profession, including private, public, institutional, and academic practice, and exemplify diversity in professional experience, geography, gender, and ethnicity. Submissions are judged blind.

Professional Awards are presented in seven categories: General Design, Urban Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, Research, and the Landmark Award. In each of the first five categories, the Jury may select one Award of Excellence and any number of Honor Awards. It is not guaranteed that an Award of Excellence will be selected each year, as it is up to the jury’s discretion. Only one Landmark Award is presented each year.

This year’s Professional Jury included: Jose Alminana, FASLA (Chair); Jane Berger; Ujijji Davis, ASLA; Mark Hough, FASLA; Mark Johnson, FASLA; Kathleen John-Alder, FASLA; Mia Lehrer, FASLA; Tanya Olson, ASLA; and Robert Rogers.

Student Awards are presented in eight categories: General Design, Urban Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Research, Communications, Student Collaboration and Student Community Service. Like the Professional Awards, the jury may select one Award of Excellence and any number of Honor Awards. It is not guaranteed that an Award of Excellence will be selected each year, as it is up to the jury’s discretion.

This year’s Student Jury included: Terry Guen-Murray, FASLA (Chair); Adam Arvidson, FASLA; Lucia Athens, ASLA; Cermetrius L. Bohannon, ASLA; Jonathon Geels, ASLA; Rikerrious Geter, Associate ASLA; Luis Gonzalez, ASLA; Melissa Henao-Robledo, ASLA; Ernest C. Wong, FASLA.

Black Lives Matter

#Blackout Tuesday

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) condemns racial injustice and police violence against black people and black communities. We are using this day to blackout in support of justice for George Floyd and many other black lives lost. #vote #BlackoutTuesday”

ASLA released the following statement on this weekend’s protests, from ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA:

“We are all horrified by the events that unfolded over the last several days. I am personally roiling with emotions, watching in real-time the injustices and inequitable treatment of people and communities who are in anguish because of centuries of racial discrimination. As landscape architects, we work to ensure that all persons have the right to equitable access to environmental and community benefits in the places they live, work, and learn. Now is the time for us to work to help ensure that these communities have fair and equitable treatment in all aspects of life.”

Read ASLA’s Public Policy on Environmental Justice.

Read more about ASLA’s work to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

ASLA seeks to facilitate open, respectful dialogue in its public forums. Opinions expressed in the comments section are not necessarily those of ASLA. By participating in ASLA’s websites, blogs, and social media accounts, the user agrees to the Terms of Use.

ASLA 2020 Professional and Student Awards Call for Entries Now Open

ASLA 2019 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. +StL: Growing an Urban Mosaic, TLS Landscape Architecture, Shanghai OBJECT TERRITORIES, and [dhd] derek hoeferlin design | Photo Credit: TLS | OT | dhd

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is accepting submissions for its 2020 Professional and Student Awards Program.

ASLA Awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards program in the profession of landscape architecture. They honor the best and most innovative landscape architecture projects from around the globe and give a glimpse into the future of the profession.

This year, a new award category, Urban Design, will recognize projects that activate networks of spaces that mediate between social equity, economic viability, infrastructure, environmental stewardship, and place-making in the public and private realm.

Award recipients receive featured coverage in Landscape Architecture Magazine and are honored at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in Miami Beach, October 2-5, 2020.

Entry fees for the ASLA Professional Awards are due no later than 11:59 PST on Friday, February 28, 2020, and submissions no later than 11:59 PST on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Entry fees for the ASLA Student Awards are due no later than 11:59 PST on Friday, May 15, 2020, and submissions no later than 11:59 PST on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

ASLA 2019 Student General Design Honor Award. A Plastic Tide, The University of Hong Kong | Photo Credit: Wiley Chi Wai Ng, Student ASLA

ASLA bestows Professional Awards in General Design, Residential Design, Urban Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, Research categories. In each of these categories, juries select a number of Honor Awards and may select one Award of Excellence. One Landmark Award is also presented each year.

This year’s Professional Awards Jury includes:

  • Chair: Jose Alminana, FASLA – Andropogon
  • Jane Berger – Writer
  • Ujijji Davis, ASLA – SmithGroup
  • Mark Hough, FASLA – Duke University
  • Mark Johnson, FASLA – Civitas
  • Kathleen John-Alder, FASLA – Rutgers University
  • Mia Lehrer FASLA – Studio-MLA
  • Tanya Olson, ASLA – Tallgrass Landscape Architecture
  • Robert Rogers – Architects+Urban Designers
  • Stephanie A. Rolley, FASLA – Kansas State University
  • Gale Newman, ASLA – Texas A&M University

ASLA bestows Student Awards in General Design, Residential Design, Urban Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, Research, Student Community Service, and Student Collaboration. In each of these categories, juries select a number of Honor Awards and may select one Award of Excellence. One Landmark Award is also presented each year.

This year’s Student Awards Jury includes:

  • Chair: Kristina Hill – University of California, Berkely
  • Adam Arvidson, FASLA – Landscape Architect, Writer
  • Lucia Athens, ASLA – Office of Sustainability, City of Austin
  • Cermetrius L. Bohannon, ASLA – Virginia Tech
  • Jonathon Geels, ASLA – Troyer Group
  • Rikerrious Geter, Associate ASLA – GGN
  • Luis Gonzalez, ASLA – Lennar
  • Melissa Henao-Robledo, ASLA – Landscape Forms
  • Ernest C. Wong, FASLA – Site Design Group

ASLA Announces 2019 Professional & Student Awards

ASLA 2019 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Heritage Flume. Sandwich, MA. Stimson / Ngoc Doan

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announced the 2019 Professional and Student Award winners.

Chosen from 544 submissions, this year’s 36 Professional Award winners represent the best of landscape architecture in the General Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, and Research categories. In addition, a single Landmark Award is presented each year.

A full list of this year’s Professional Award winners can be found at www.asla.org/2019awards

ASLA 2019 Student General Design Award of Excellence. “Y” Shape Jetty System: A Sustainable Solution for Coastal Ecosystem Protection, Population Retreat, and Global Tourism Development, Yi Song, Student ASLA, University of Texas at Austin.

Chosen from 368 submissions, this year’s 26 Student Award winners represent the bright future of the landscape architecture profession in the General Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Research, Communications, Student Collaboration and Student Community Service categories.

A full list of this year’s Student Award winners can be found at: www.asla.org/2019studentawards

“ASLA’s Professional and Student Awards programs are the oldest and most prestigious in the profession. This extraordinary and diverse array of winners represent both the best of landscape architecture today and the brightest hope for our future,” said ASLA President Shawn T. Kelly, FASLA.

“This year’s awards reflect the global nature of landscape architecture and demonstrate to professionals and the public alike how our profession addresses some of the world’s most pressing problems, including climate change and resilience, livability, and the creation of healthy and equitable environments.”

All Professional and Student Award recipients, their clients, and advisors will be honored at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture on Monday, November 18, in San Diego, California. There are still complimentary press passes available.

Background on the ASLA Awards Programs

Each year, the ASLA Professional Awards honor the best in landscape architecture from around the globe. Winners of these prestigious awards are chosen by a jury that represents the breadth of the profession, including private, public, institutional, and academic practice, and exemplify diversity in professional experience, geography, gender, and ethnicity. Submissions are judged blind.

Professional Awards are presented in six categories: General Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Communications, Research, and the Landmark Award. In each of the first five categories, the Jury may select one Award of Excellence and any number of Honor Awards. It is not guaranteed that an Award of Excellence will be selected each year, as it is up to the jury’s discretion. Only one Landmark Award is presented each year.

This year’s Professional Jury included: Andrea Cochran, FASLA (Chair); Henri Bava; Kofi Boone, ASLA; Gina Ford, FASLA; Deb Guenther, FASLA; John King, Honorary ASLA; Pam Linn, FASLA; John Vinci; and Keith Wagner, FASLA. Joining the Professional Jury for the selection of the Research Category were representatives on behalf of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA): Stephanie A. Rolley, FASLA and Galen Newman, ASLA.

Student Awards are presented in seven categories: General Design, Residential Design, Analysis & Planning, Research, Communications, Student Collaboration and Student Community Service. Like the Professional Awards, the jury may select one Award of Excellence and any number of Honor Awards. It is not guaranteed that an Award of Excellence will be selected each year, as it is up to the jury’s discretion.

This year’s Student Jury included: Linda Jewell, FASLA (Chair); Diana Fernandez, ASLA; David Gouverneur; Robert Gray, ASLA; Damian Holmes; Kendra Hyson, ASLA; Maki Kawaguchi; Signe Nielsen, FASLA; and Daniel Tal, ASLA.

ASLA Supports Coalition to Save the Amazon Rainforest

SOS Amazonia / Lucas Peries

The Amazon rainforest is one of the world’s most precious ecosystems. It provides 6 percent of the oxygen produced on the planet. It stores an estimated 100 billion tons of carbon – about 17 percent of the world’s carbon – in its trees and plants.

This year alone, about 80,000 fires have raged across the forest, more than an 80 percent increase over 2018. Through July 2019, over 7,200 square miles of the Brazilian rainforest were burned, an aggregated area roughly the size of New Jersey. We can and must do more to protect the Amazon and avoid catastrophic consequences.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) supports our global sister organizations, led by Iniciativa Latinoamericana del Pasisaje (Latin American Landscape Initiative, LALI) and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), as they work to quell the flames, prevent further deforestation, and protect the Amazon rainforest.

To see what you can do to help, visit:

The Amazon Conservation Team

The Amazon Conservation Association

SOS Amazȏnia

ASLA Publishes Guide to Universal Design

Frequent seating with armrests, wide paths and ramps, an accessible bathroom near the street, consistent lighting, and diverse plant life all contribute to making Tongva Park + Ken Genser Square in Santa Monica, California universally designed. ASLA 2018 Professional General Design Honor Award. Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Santa Monica, CA. James Corner Field Operations LLC / Tim Street-Porter

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has published a new guide to universal design.

Everyone navigates the built environment differently, with abilities changing across a person’s lifespan. One billion people, or 15 percent of the global population, experience some form of disability. The global population of people over 65 years of age is expected to double by 2050, totaling 1.6 billion people. Universal design means that everyone, regardless of ability or age, can access and participate in public life.

ASLA’s guide provides a comprehensive view of which communities are underserved by the built environment. It also offers a set of new universal design principles that address the needs of deaf or hard of hearing, blind or low vision, autistic, neurodevelopmentally and/or intellectually disabled, and mobility-disabled adults and children, as well as concerns for older adults. These include: accessible, comfortable, participatory, ecological, legible, multi-sensory, predictable, and walkable/traversable.

“This guide serves as an entry point into Universal Design, asking designers to assess our existing design models and projects, and to include disabled folks as stakeholders and experts in the design process,” said Alexa Vaughn, Associate ASLA, a landscape designer at OLIN. “As a Deaf landscape designer, I am elated that landscape architects, designers, planners, elected officials, and beyond have started to think about Universal Design.”

Dilworth Park is a universally-accessible public plaza at Philadelphia’s City Hall. A formerly-sunken plaza was redesigned to be even with street level, eliminating the need for stairs and walls and improving access to City Hall. A water feature at grade creates a place for people to play, while allowing easy navigation around it. Connections to the metro further the connectivity of the park to the rest of the city, creating a civic space that functions for everyone. Dilworth Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, OLIN / Sahar Coston-Hardy

Landscape architects, urban planners, elected officials, and community advocates can implement these real-world solutions in their communities to ensure that the built environment is accessible to all.

“As our society ages, those of us involved in creating public places must understand the unique challenges that accessing public spaces has for older adults,” said landscape architect Brian Bainnson, ASLA, founder of Quatrefoil, Inc. “The simple concepts captured in this guide provide clear, achievable steps that will make our public spaces safer and more accommodating for everyone.”

More About the Guide

The ASLA Guide includes hundreds of freely-available case studies, research studies, articles, and resources from non-profit organizations around the world.

Projects and solutions are organized around different types of public space that landscape architects and planners design: neighborhoods, streets, parks and plazas, playgrounds, and public gardens.

New design principles identified ensure that public spaces are:

  • Accessible
  • Comfortable
  • Participatory
  • Ecological
  • Legible
  • Multi-Sensory
  • Predictable
  • Walkable / Traversable

The guide was developed with the assistance of an advisory group that includes disabled landscape architects, designers, and experts: Danielle Arigoni, director of livable communities, AARP; Brian Bainnson, ASLA, founder, Quatrefoil Inc.; Melissa Erikson, ASLA, principal, director of community design services, MIG, Inc.; Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA, partner, Gentile Glas Holloway O’Mahoney & Associates; Clare Cooper Marcus, Hon. ASLA, professor emerita of architecture and landscape architecture and environmental planning, University of California, Berkeley; Danielle Toronyi, OLIN; Alexa Vaughn, Associate ASLA, Deaf landscape designer at OLIN.

The guide was written by Ian Dillon, master’s of landscape architecture candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jared Green, senior communications manager at ASLA.

Parks Don’t Spring From Nowhere. Someone Designed That

ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas. OJB Landscape Architecture / Liane Rochelle

July is National Parks & Recreation Month. While you’re spending your time with your toes in the grass, watching the kids play on the swings, enjoying the scent of the flowers and plants around you, there’s something you should remember:

Someone designed that. People often think of the nature around them being… well, natural. Springing out of the ground unassisted and unpredictable, with no human hand directing it. That’s not always – and in the case of urban parks, not usually – the case. Landscape architects design, plan, and maintain the built and natural environment. Working in concert with local elected officials, city or state agencies, and the community as a whole, landscape architects design public open spaces that bring people together, encourage outdoor and active lifestyles, and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

Some of the most iconic parks in America were designed, and are currently maintained, by landscape architects. From coast to coast, you can find the world of landscape architects in some of the most iconic parks and public landscapes in America.

Jackson Park in Chicago was the site of the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. After the fair’s six-month run, the land was turned back to parkland for public use. The nearly 600-acre park is located on over a mile of waterfront land on Lake Michigan. Today, the park’s green features include the Wooded Island (complete with ha Japanese-style garden), Bobolink Meadows, and a functioning vegetable and flower garden. Other features include a gymnasium, three harbors, basketball and tennis courts, multi-purpose fields, and more.

Jackson Park, Chicago / Michael Christensen, Creative Commons

The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Olmsted is considered by many to be the father of American landscape architecture, and his sons went on to found the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1899. Jackson Park was recently restored by a team of experts which included Heritage Landscapes, a landscape architecture firm that was recently awarded the 2019 ASLA Firm Award, one of the highest honors for landscape architecture firms in the country.

Central Park in New York City. Balboa Park in San Diego. The grounds of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. All were designed by teams that included landscape architects.

And landscape architects don’t only focus on the iconic. Some work in municipal parks departments, on conservancy boards, at schools, or in small neighborhoods all across the country to plan the parks and public spaces that bring neighbors together every day.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, the small 2.5-acre Pulaski Park was transformed by landscape architects at Stimson from a mostly-paved site to a largely green space that celebrates the city’s culture, heritage, and diversity. It was a small project with a tight budget, which resulted in a makeover that gives the community a place to connect – to each other and to the nature around them.

ASLA 2018 Professional General Design Honor Award. Pulaski Park, Northampton, Massachusetts. Stimson / Top photo by Stimson, bottom photo by Ngoc Doan
ASLA 2018 Professional General Design Honor Award. Pulaski Park, Northampton, Massachusetts. Stimson / Photo by Ngoc Doan

Prefer roller coasters and Ferris wheels to trees and swing sets? Major companies like Disney and Universal Studios employ landscape architects to design and maintain landscapes that energize and delight guests.

So as you celebrate National Parks and Recreation month in #GameOnJuly – whether it’s at one of our nation’s most iconic landscapes, or at your neighborhood park down the street – remember that where there is a park, chances are a landscape architect was behind it.

Learn more about landscape architecture.