Pokémon Go Adds a New Layer to Public Spaces

Pershing Square Park as depicted in Pokémon Go
Pershing Square Park as depicted in Pokémon Go

According to the National Academy of Sciences, “nature-based recreation” has decreased 25 percent in the last 40 years. The average American now spends only one half of a day per week outdoors. Furthermore, kids now spend an average of only 30 minutes or less outdoors each day, half as much as 20 years ago. Is Pokémon Go — the explosively popular game app released worldwide this month — a way to get adults and kids off their sofas and into parks and other public spaces?

After a couple of days happily playing the game, my answer is a qualified yes. The qualification: it is possible to play a circumscribed version of the game while sitting at your desk or sofa. But the game is really designed to get you out into streets, parks, and plazas. It got me out into two public places — the town square in downtown Rockville, Maryland, and Pershing Square Park in Washington, D.C. — where I had different yet intriguing experiences.

Pokémon Go, which may be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, is a free, location-based augmented reality game in which players capture adorable-looking creatures called Pokémon. The game is played not from a comfy sofa, but out in the real world.

The app provides a map of the player’s real-world surroundings. Players move outside in order to find Pokémon and capture them using Poké-balls. The map provides a handy way to locate Poké-stops, which are found in such public spaces as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments and contain additional Poké-balls and other items. Poké-gyms, where players unleash their Pokémon to fight, are also located near prominent local businesses and other attractions.

I spent my first afternoon playing the game at Rockville Town Square, a 12-acre suburban public plaza that opened in 2007, part of a larger master plan to create a “daytime, evening and weekend activity center that is easily identifiable, pedestrian-oriented and incorporates a mix of uses and activities.” Not only is it home to shops and restaurants, the square also includes a number of Poké-stops. The large crowd who congregated there on a Sunday afternoon included many Pokémon Go players, smartphones in hand, searching for virtual goodies hidden in the colorful public art.

Rockville Town Square via Better Cities & Towns / Dan Cunningham
Rockville Town Square via Better Cities & Towns / Dan Cunningham

The game turned into a communal experience as we chatted with strangers along the wide sidewalks. We all certainly benefited from Rockville’s cohesive pedestrian policies and were able to crisscross the square and surrounding streets safely with little interference from traffic. While it may be facile to urge landscape architects to create Pokémon-friendly landscapes, they should continue to design high-quality and lasting public spaces that accommodate ever-evolving recreation preferences and pedestrian safety.

A couple of days later, I felt the urge to play the game at D.C.’s Pershing Square Park, a multi-level park designed by M. Paul Friedberg + Partners that opened in 1981. It features a monument to General John J. Pershing as well as a bronze sculpture of an eagle by Lorenzo Ghiglieri — both, unsurprisingly, are Poké-stops. I spent half an hour in the park on a Thursday afternoon and quickly gathered items from the statues (this is done on the app by spinning a photo of the public art or feature).

Pokémon in Pershing Park, Washington, D.C.
Pokémon in Pershing Park, Washington, D.C.

After capturing these Pokémon, I found myself with nothing to do. The park was seemingly devoid of Pokémon, no matter where I stood, so I gave up and sat down to enjoy the calm retreat from the noisy traffic streaming on all sides. Tree branches shook in the breeze, and a parade of Falun Dafa supporters marched by. One woman paused in front of the Pershing monument, not to admire its historical significance, but to retrieve items for the game. Once she finished, she quickly walked away.

Later, a family of tourists arrived with cameras. They stood in front of the monument and photographed it and each other as they spoke in their native language. Clearly they were savoring a moment to be remembered later — a traditional experience of a public space that still serves a time-honored purpose.

My experiences with Pokémon Go, and observations of other players, show that the game may not fit the traditional definition of outdoor recreation, but it certainly creates enthusiasm for exploring your environment and engaging in physical exercise.

And perhaps this new enthusiasm for augmented reality games can be tapped to generate more creative designs of public spaces that integrate real and game worlds. Similar games are sure to come in the future.

34 Top Landscape Architecture Projects Win 2015 ASLA Professional Awards

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ASLA 2015 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. At the Hudson’s Edge: Beacon’s Long Dock a Resilient Riverfront Park. Reed Hilderbrand / James Ewing Photography

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is excited to announce its 34 professional award recipients. Selected from 459 entries, the 2015 ASLA Professional Awards honor top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications and research projects 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 2015 professional award winners:

General Design Category

Award of Excellence
At the Hudson’s Edge: Beacon’s Long Dock as a Resilient Riverfront Park, Beacon, N.Y.
by Reed Hilderbrand LLC for the Scenic Hudson Land Trust (see image above)

Honor Awards
Perez Art Museum Miami: Resiliency by Design, Miami
by ArquitectonicaGEO for the Perez Art Museum Miami

Mill River Park and Greenway, Stamford, Conn.
by OLIN for the Mill River Collaborative

Art and Infrastructure: Community, Culture, and a Collection in the Berkshires, Williamstown, Mass.
by Reed Hilderbrand LLC for the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Weishan Wetland Park, Weishan, Shandong Province, China
by AECOM, Shanghai for the Wei Shan Investment Co. Ltd.

Phil Hardberger Park, San Antonio, Texas
by Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects for the San Antonio Department of Parks and Recreation

IBM Honolulu Plaza, Honolulu
by Surfacedesign Inc. for Victoria Ward Ltd., Subsidiary of Howard Hughes Corporation

The Lawn on D, Boston
by Sasaki Associates Inc. for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA)

Public Media Commons, St. Louis
by DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture PLLC for the St. Louis Regional Public Media Inc. let by KETC Nine Network, Public Television

Analysis & Planning Category

ASLA 2015 Professional Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. Penn’s Landing Redevelopment Feasibility Study. Hargreaves Associates / Hargreaves Associates
ASLA 2015 Professional Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. Penn’s Landing Redevelopment Feasibility Study. Hargreaves Associates / Hargreaves Associates


Award of Excellence

Penn’s Landing Redevelopment and Feasibility Study, Philadelphia
by Hargreaves Associates for the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Honor Awards
Cornwall Park 100 Year Master Plan – Projecting a Resilient Future, Auckland, New Zealand
by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Charlottesville, Va., and New York, N.Y., for Cornwall Park Trust Board

A Landscape Legacy – Master Planning a Cultural Landscape for Future Generations at Overlook Farm, Dalton, Pa.
by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Charlottesville, Va., and New York, N.Y., for Mort and Sue Fuller

Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, Fayetteville, Ark.
by University of Arkansas Community Design Center for the City of Fayetteville

Dallas Connected Cities, Dallas
by Mia Lehrer + Associates (MLA) for the City of Dallas

James Island, Columbia, Canada
by Design Workshop, Aspen

Communications Category

ASLA 2015 Professional Communications Award of Excellence. Landscape Performance Series: Demonstrating the Environmental, Social, and Economic Value of Sustainable Landscapes. Landscape Architecture Foundation / Landscape Architecture Foundation
ASLA 2015 Professional Communications Award of Excellence. Landscape Performance Series: Demonstrating the Environmental, Social, and Economic Value of Sustainable Landscapes. Landscape Architecture Foundation / Landscape Architecture Foundation


Award of Excellence

Landscape Performance Series: Demonstrating the Environmental, Social, and Economic Value of Sustainable Landscapes
by the Landscape Architecture Foundation

Honor Awards
Composite Landscapes: Photomontage and Landscape Architecture
by Charles Waldheim, Affiliate ASLA, published by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Landscape Architecture Frontiers, Beijing
by Peking University, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, published by Higher Education Press

Ecological Restoration Journal: A New Platform for Dialogue Between Landscape Architects and Ecologists
by Rutgers University, published by the University of Wisconsin Press

Modern Landscapes: Transition & Transformation Book Series
by the Cultural Landscape Foundation, published by Princeton Architectural Press

Research Category

Honor Awards
Collective Visions: Exploring the Design Potential of Landscape History
by Kathleen John-Alder, ASLA / Rutgers University

Below the Surface: Evaluating Urban Soil Performance Over Time
by Reed Hilderbrand LLC / Halvorson Design Partnership

Restoration in Urban Parks: Long-term Tests of Forest Management to Advance Landscape Structure and Function
by Rutgers University

Spontaneous Urban Plants
by Future Green Studio

Case Study Investigation (CSI): Measuring Environmental, Social, and Economic Impacts of Exemplary Landscapes
by the Landscape Architecture Foundation

Residential Design Category

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ASLA 2015 Residential Design Award of Excellence. Cedar Creek. Hocker Design Group / Hocker Design Group, Robert Yu, Justin Clemons


Award of Excellence

Cedar Creek, Trinidad, Texas
by Hocker Design Group

Honor Awards
300 Ivy, San Francisco
by Fletcher Studio for Pocket Development

MassArt Residence Hall, Boston
by Ground Inc. for the Massachusetts College of Art and Design / Massachusetts State College Building Authority

Sweetwater Spectrum Residential Community for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sonoma, Calif.
by Roche + Roche Landscape Architecture for Sweetwater Spectrum

Metamorphous – A Corten Seawall Sculpture & Foreshore Enhancement, Vancouver, BC, Canada
by Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture

Mill Creek Ranch, Vanderpool, Texas
by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects

Flying Point Residence, Southhampton, N.Y.
by Edmund Hollander Landscape Architects

Brooklyn Oasis, Brooklyn, N.Y.
by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc.

The Landmark Award

ASLA 2015 Professional Awards. The Landmark Award. The Art Institute of Chicago South Garden by Dan Kiley / Charles Birnbaum, FASLA
ASLA 2015 Professional Awards. The Landmark Award. The Art Institute of Chicago South Garden by Dan Kiley / Charles Birnbaum, FASLA

The Art Institute of Chicago South Garden by Dan Kiley, Nominated by the Cultural Landscape Foundation

The professional awards jury included:

•    Keith LeBlanc, FASLA, Keith LeBlanc Landscape Architecture Inc., Boston, Jury Chair
•    Thomas Balsley, FASLA, Thomas Balsley Associates, New York City
•    René Bihan, ASLA, SWA Group, San Francisco
•    Alan Brake, The Architect’s Newspaper LLC, New York City
•    Kathleen Dickhut, ASLA, Department of Housing and Economic Development, Chicago
•    Signe Nielsen, FASLA, Mathews Nielsen, New York City
•    Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, FASLA, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Vancouver, BC, Canada
•    Mark Robbins, American Academy in Rome, Rome, Italy
•    Richard Weller, ASLA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Explore all the award-winning projects.

23 Landscape Architecture Student Projects Win 2015 ASLA Student Awards

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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

Airborne
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.

Women Earn Less than Men in Architecture and Engineering Professions

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Patricia Arquette / E! Online

Actress Patricia Arquette spoke passionately about closing the gender pay gap during her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress during the Academy Awards on Sunday night. An uneven playing field exists in a number of professions, including the architecture and engineering occupations—women in these fields earn 82 percent of what men make, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2014 averages, which are based on median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers.

The Wall Street Journal used the 2014 data to show that in only two professions do women match or exceed men’s weekly earnings—health practitioner support technologists and technicians (100 percent) and stock clerks and order fillers (102 percent). A gap exists in every other occupation. Among full-time workers, women earn 82.5 percent of male salaries. Women working in construction earn 91.3 percent of male salaries; women in legal professions earn 56.7 percent, the biggest gap.

Discrimination plays a role in the gender wage gap, according to the National Women’s Law Center. The center cites a 2007 study by labor economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, which showed that 41 percent of the wage gap remains unexplained even after examining the effects of occupation, industry, work experience, union status, race, and educational attainment. This indicates that discrimination plays a sizable role in the gap.

The 2012 median pay for landscape architects was $64,180, slightly less than the $66,380 earned by architects, surveyors, and cartographers, says the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. No information about possible salary differences between male and female landscape architects was provided by the bureau.

For Philadelphia and Baltimore, Parks Are Central to Livability

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Schuylkill River Dog Park / FSRP.org

“Many people think parks are easy, but parks are one of the hardest things for governments to do because of the physical and human aspects,” explained Peter Harnik, Hon. ASLA, director of The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence, while introducing a panel of experts at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Baltimore. The complex undertaking of how to best to create and maintain parks — for both governments and non-profits — is a thread that connected all speakers.

Mark A. Focht, FASLA, first deputy commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and former president of ASLA, gave an overview of the amazing progress made in Philadelphia’s expansive park system over the past few years. Some 80 percent of the city’s residents are already meeting Mayor Michael Nutter’s “goal of everyone being within a ten-minute walk away from a park.” Examples of recently built green spaces and amenities that help the parks department to reach all city residents include Paine’s Park, a skate park and public space; the Schuylkill River Dog Park; and the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk.

As part of Philadelphia’s innovative, 25-year Green City Clean Waters plan, the parks department has also “made strategic investments to stabilize, improve, and green existing recreation centers and playgrounds.” It also is implementing green infrastructure for innovative stormwater management in existing neighborhood parks and bringing “high-quality amenities” like trail systems to communities.

Baltimore residents Stephanie Murdock and Jennifer Robinson described how non-profits — not the city government — are leading a resurgence in Baltimore’s parks, helping to make the city more livable. Murdock, the president of Skatepark of Baltimore, talked about her non-profit’s ten-year journey to build a public, concrete, destination skatepark in Baltimore. The first phase – a 5,000 square-feet concrete bowl — was completed last May in Roosevelt Park, a late-nineteenth century park in the Hampden neighborhood.

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Skatepark of Baltimore / Explore Baltimore County

“For a young person in Baltimore to have a place where they can be free, that’s huge,” said Murdock. She told the audience the skatepark will soon add more “shade, seating, walkways, and restrooms” so that all members of the community can enjoy the space.

Robinson, the director of Friends of Patterson Park, another park in southeast Baltimore, said her non-profit’s efforts showed her that “parks become very personal for the people who use them.” Her non-profit is transforming the once-neglected Patterson Park, an Olmsted-designed space, into the city’s “best backyard.”

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Patterson Park / Patterson Park

The group’s involvement began with the renovation of the park’s historic pagoda, which had fallen into disrepair. Today, the group ensures the park remains “a green space for all sorts of users” through community events and programs. The group is now “looking at a formal conservancy model that will elevate the friends’ role in management of the park.”

Green Infrastructure Helps Communities Become “Climate Smart”

At the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Baltimore, a panel of experts called for using green infrastructure to make communities “climate smart,” which can also boost their resilience to natural disasters.

According to Breece Robertson, the Trust for Public Land’s geographic information systems (GIS) director, climate-smart cities use green infrastructure in four ways (see a brief video above). They create “safe, interconnected opportunities to walk or bike; cool down the city by planting trees and creating parks; absorb stormwater to save energy and recharge aquifers; and protect cities through green shorelines.”

In a pilot study with New York City government, Columbia University, and Drexel University on how to use green infrastructure to protect New York City’s waterfront, the team created a GIS data tool to model priorities. According to Robertson, the models found that “green buffers really do improve resilience.”

Pete Wiley, an economist with the NOAA’s office for coastal management, spoke about a post-Hurricane Sandy assessment of the restoration of living shorelines in New York and New Jersey. According to Wiley, one of the challenges is communities and policymakers “think about restoring what was” because they only regard a “narrow range of benefits based on a specific issue.”

Instead, policymakers must “consider the full range of the benefits for all restoration options.” For instance, more resilient coastal designs that apply green infrastructure can provide a range of benefits, including “recreation, carbon sequestration, storm surge protection, and wildlife habitats.”

Hilarie Sorensen, an educator with Minnesota Sea Grant, described how Duluth, Minnesota is assessing how to use green infrastructure in the wake of a massive storm. Th city, which is located in the Great Lakes Basin, suffered from an estimated $100 million in damages after a catastrophic flash flood hit the region in 2012. The organization selected a 4,400-acre site called Chester Creek for an economic assessment of using a green infrastructure approach, because “it had sustained the most damage from the flood and discharged into Lake Superior.”

A cost-benefit analysis explored the use of green infrastructure to reach 76-acre-feet of water storage, with the goal of a 20 percent reduction in peak discharge for a 100-year storm event. The researchers walked through green infrastructure options and selected the “most viable” during meetings with the local NOAA team. They then worked with the local planning department to “preserve existing green spaces and wetlands.” They “calculated the square footage of roofs” and identified potential “green or blue roofs;” they also examined “tax-forfeited properties to preserve parcels of land.” The group received a $250,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant in 2014 to fund restoration projects that also support green infrastructure.

Design and Construction Groups Launch Alliance for a Resilient Tomorrow

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ASLA 2012 Professional General Award of Excellence. A Green Sponge for a Water-Resilient City: Qunli Stormwater Park by Turenscape / Kongjian Yu

At the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., leaders of twenty associations focused on the design, construction, operations, and management of the built environment announced the Alliance for a Resilient Tomorrow, a new partnership dedicating to promoting resilience across the board. The CEOs of the industry associations, which have more than 700,000 members generating almost $1 trillion in GDP, also used the occasion of “Building Safety Month” to issue a joint pledge on resilience.

The event featured panel discussions of several of the CEOs who have joined in this pledge:

“We, like so many in this room, realize that next steps must be taken to address disaster mitigation, resilience, and sustainability,” said Chase Rynd, Hon. ASLA., Executive Director, National Building Museum, which has just staged a major exhibition on designing for disaster.

Robert Ivy, CEO of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), said that the list of signatories was “broad and comprehensive” and included not only the design, planning, and engineering profession, but also client representatives. He noted that AIA’s members have been involved with issues of resilience for a long time and operate according to a “core set of ethics to design structures that are sound.” However, the world has changed due to climate change, which “takes us to another place.” He added that “this is the beginning, the first step” to addressing resilience in a changing world.

“Sustainability is part of the DNA of landscape architects, and resilience is a key part of sustainability,” said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). “One of the major roles we’re now playing is making sure we share best practices and the results of what’s happening among our members.” She noted that, “while projects have always been designed for resilience, now there’s an additional emphasis placed on performance standards and tracking them. This will help ensure we not only influence design decisions but also development projects.”

Randy Fiser, Executive Vice President, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), suggested watching communities to “see how they begin to evolve.” He added that “often times, we see communities destroyed by events. Subsequent conversations often focus on rebuilding the way it was.” Fiser sees the need to inform communities to take that leap forward.

“A history of events have already occurred in this country—hurricanes, tornadoes, and mudslides—and we now have a game plan, our statement signed today,” said Henry Green, President/CEO, National Institute of Building Science. He called for moving future discussions internally and engaging the media, which he said will make a huge difference.

“Infrastructure in the United States is in really bad shape and will have to be rebuilt in the coming years,” said Gayle Berens, senior vice president, Urban Land Institute (ULI). She also argued the rate of recovery in Sandy-affected areas is highly variable. Here, size matters: New York City is in great shape, but communities in New Jersey, with “part-time mayors,” really need help.

Tom Phoenix, President-Elect, ASHRAE, pointed out that the “economics of what we’re doing can’t be escaped. To be honest, nothing’s going to happen unless someone can pay for this. How do we educate building owners, especially in the private sector, that there’s a benefit to doing this?”

This guest post is by Karen Grajales, ASLA Public Relations Manager

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Continues to Shape American Cities

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Louisville, Kentucky, and Birmingham, Alabama, have ambitiously expanded upon their Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.-designed park systems in ways that both reinforce this great designer’s legacy and provide lessons for other communities. At the Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.: Inspirations for the 21st Century symposium held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Dan Jones, chairman and CEO, 21st Century Parks; Philip Morris, Hon. ASLA, former executive editor of Southern Living Magazine; and Eric Tamulonis, ASLA, principal, Wallace Roberts Todd (WRT), explained Olmsted Jr.’s continuing contribution to contemporary park systems and interconnected parkways. Working in the era of the “recreational reform park”, Olmsted Jr. helped to systematize a new approach to municipal park and recreation planning.

Building on his father’s 1893 system plan for Louisville, Olmsted Jr. provided a finer grain of public amenity by way of community and neighborhood parks, recreation grounds, and squares. Progressing to a more comprehensive, statistically-based approach to addressing municipal recreation needs, Olmsted Jr. also created a comprehensive system plan for Birmingham, addressing long-term regional growth and recreation needs by targeting a range of park opportunities well beyond the city. According to Tamulonis, Louisville had implemented Olmsted’s plan “almost in its entirety” and became known as the “city of parks,” whereas Birmingham, called the “River of Steel” for its industry, did not implement as much of its own plan.

Today, both cities are reinvesting in their downtowns. Louisville and Birmingham have “parks not necessarily in the center of the city, but on the periphery, which are in a sense generating their own climate, providing a new dimension.” There is now “green infrastructure in keeping with the Olmstedian tradition of using open space, in the public realm, to shape the future growth of communities.”

Jones described the Parklands of Floyds Fork, a public park system totaling nearly 4,000 acres across four parks in eastern and southern Louisville, a project WRT has been designing and creating for years.

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He outlined several principles central to Olmsted Jr. For instance, the urban world of the twenty-first century is “directly analogous” to the world faced by Olmsted in the twentieth century. Parks are “shaping city infrastructure, are equal to other infrastructure, and should be built in advance of growth.” Planning parks systematically is superior to individual park design.

Jones also noted that some critics view very high-quality design as the work of elites, but he disagreed strongly with this view, saying “both Olmsteds proved that great design matters.”

Morris outlined the development of Olmsted Jr.’s plan for Birmingham, and how the plan was republished in 2005 by the Birmingham Historical Society.

He described the city, with its 38 different municipalities, as “fragmented,” but noted that “regional connections can be created even without a central government.” For example, agreements were signed between municipalities, and many stakeholder meetings were held to develop a master plan for the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System, a regional greenway and street-based trail system to connect communities across Jefferson County.

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According to Morris, the city was an example of “it’s never too late,” and that “these ideas can work even in adverse conditions.”

This guest post is by Karen Grajales, ASLA Public Relations Manager.

Image credits: (1) Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. / Newport Arboretum, (2) ASLA 2009 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Parklands of Floyds Fork / WRT, (3) ASLA 2012 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Red Mountain / Green Ribbon —  The Master Plan for Red Mountain Park / WRT. 

The Rich Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.

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Laurie Olin, FASLA, founder of OLIN Studio and recent recipient of the National Medal of Arts, gave the keynote speech at the symposium, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.: Inspirations for the 21st Century, held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Presented by the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) and its partners, including the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the symposium was the first of two parts that, together, will be the most comprehensive presentation to date of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.’s amazing legacy.

Olin’s point of view is a “practitioner’s” but also “someone trying to teach people to become landscape architects,” referring to his work as practice professor of landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and former chair of the department of landscape architecture at Harvard University. In his talk, Olin didn’t take the bird’s-eye view of the younger Olmsted’s legacy, but provided a more detailed narrative about his formative years and the interests and forces that gathered in his work and thought.

The overview began with the father, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., who was “justly credited” with “initiating the field of landscape architecture.” The son, Olmsted Jr., “continued this activity” as it was “conceived and formed by his father” through the work of the family firm that he inherited with his older half brother, John Charles Olmsted.

Omsted Jr. was “in large part truly responsible for the “development and recognition of landscape architecture as a profession” and was a “progressive reformer” at heart. He also was responsible for the “rapid evolution” of the study of landscape architecture and was a “central figure in the initiation and development” of the field of urban planning, the National Park Service, and ASLA.

Olin discussed current jousting in academia around landscape urbanism, concluding that the breadth of Olmsted’s vision remains both pertinent and much in play in the field today. Landscape architects must contend with the “transformation and rescue of declining areas” and “restructuring hastily-constructed sections of cities.”

Hurricane Sandy’s effect on coastal cities is also a “clear landscape design problem, exactly the sort of work Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. would be doing today.”

Ultimately, according to Olin, “we’re all forging ahead, trying to improve both practice and academia.”

Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.: A Vision for the American West, will take place March 27-28, 2014 at Stanford University. This second event will expand the D.C. discussion to incorporate issues specific to the American West, including land and water conservation, state and regional parks systems, and protecting the region’s unique environmental resources.

This guest post is by Karen Grajales, ASLA Public Relations Manager.

Image credit: Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. / National Association for Olmsted Parks