Climate Week NYC: Designing Better Shorelines–with Nature

Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE Landscape Architecture

As part of Climate Week NYC, one of the world’s largest climate events, the New York Chapter of ASLA has organized a dynamic virtual event: Designing Better Shorelines—with Nature.

This free on September 21 at 4.30 PM EST features Pippa Brashear, ASLA, Principal, SCAPE Landscape Architecture; Donna Walcavage, FASLA, Principal, Stantec; and Adrian L. Smith, FASLA, Vice President at ASLA and Team Leader, Staten Island Capital Projects, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

According to the panel, designing with nature helps communities become more resilient to climate change. Living Breakwaters and the Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project in Staten Island, New York City, demonstrate how coastal communities can adapt to rising seas and increasingly intense storms. These innovative projects, led by landscape architects, work in tandem to reduce wave action and beach erosion, create wildlife habitat, and enhance public recreation.

Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE Landscape Architecture

The built environment not only includes buildings and concrete infrastructure, but also landscapes, which are increasingly critical for adapting to climate change. Landscape architects are responsible for planning and designing these nature-based solutions that bring maximum benefits to communities.

The two projects in Staten Island grew out of New York City’s response to Superstorm Sandy, which struck in October 2012. The storm was a wake-up call for the city to better prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project / Stantec

Sandy’s impact is understood to have been intensified by climate change — higher ocean temperatures and sea levels may have contributed to the heavy rainfall and the stronger storm surge, which inundated parts of Staten Island and led to the death of several residents and billions of dollars in damage.

Living Breakwaters is currently being constructed in the Raritan Bay. The Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project will be built on the shore itself. The landscape architects leading these projects will explain why we need to re-imagine our coastlines for climate change and future superstorms and how to do it.

Register today

For landscape architects, this free event offers 1 hour of PDH (LACES / HSW)

Celebrate Park(ing) Day 2022

Illinois Chapter of ASLA Park(ing) Day, 2017, Chicago, Illinois / site design group ltd.

By Lisa J. Jennings and Jared Green

This year, ASLA brings Park(ing) Day to PreK-12 schools, libraries, and community centers across the country. And this year Park(ing) Day isn’t just one day, but a full weekend — September 16-18.

Let’s help students re-imagine streets one parking space at a time. Using a parking space in front of a school, library, or community center, landscape architects can partner with PreK-12 students to think outside the classroom. Help students discover how to improve our public spaces, strengthen social connections, and boost health and well-being.

Step 1: Connect with your local school, library, or community center
Seek out art or science teachers, librarians, or after school program leaders.

Step 2: Make your pitch
Explain the purpose of Park(ing) Day and share the positive results of past Park(ing) Day celebrations in your community.

Step 3: Pair up with a group of students
Make yourself and your organization available to lead a group of students in the redesign of a Park(ing) Day space.

Step 4: Provide planning resources
Direct teachers and school leaders to ASLA’s resources — insurance, Park(ing) Day license and manual  — and help with any permits needed.

Step 5: Design and build a Park(ing) Day space with students
Partner with students, teachers, librarians, and community center leaders to DREAM BIG and plan and design a Park(ing) Day space. Source sustainable materials that can be recycled or reused. Reach out to local nurseries or firms for donations of big ticket items like a tree, plants, a bench, or bird bath that the school, library, or community center can keep.

Illinois Chapter of ASLA Park(ing) Day, 2017, Chicago, Illinois / site design group ltd.

Step 6: Post images of your Park(ing) Day installation to your social (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) using the hashtag #ParkingDay and tag us (@nationalasla)
Make sure you have permission or signed release forms from anyone you photograph.

ASLA will highlight the best posts from students, firms, and chapters across our social platforms!

Lastly, be sure to encourage teachers and students to Save the Date for DREAM BIG with Design 2022, September 22-23. A free online event, DREAM BIG will immerse PreK-12 students in design-centered strategies that address some of the most critical issues of our time. Live, interactive sessions will explore the future of landscape architecture and apply design techniques that can be aligned with interdisciplinary curricula.

Park(ing) Day, 2008 / BAR Architects & Interiors

Adriaan Geuze Wins Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award

Adriaan Geuze, International ASLA / © Maaike Engels

The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) has announced Adriaan Geuze, International ASLA, founder of the global landscape architecture firm West 8, has received the 2022 Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award, the “preeminent award for landscape architects and the highest honor IFLA can bestow.” The jury, which included ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen, stated that “Geuze is one of the most significant landscape architects in the world today.” His firm’s projects in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. have “changed the relationship between cities, nature, and people.”

West 8 has completed more than 200 landscape architecture, planning, and urban design projects in over 60 countries, on four continents, IFLA writes.

West 8 says its design philosophy is about interweaving “function, engineering, sustainability, symbolism, expression — and both the vulnerability and euphoria of mass culture.”

“Landscape, infrastructure, nature, and historical legacies” coalesce to shape our cities. “The analysis of the unseen logic — ecology, infrastructure, water and soil conditions, building programs, and people” – enables landscape architecture “to be at the forefront of sustainability, ecological sensitivity, and resilience.”

In the U.S., the firm is perhaps best known work for their plan for Governors Island in New York City, which won an ASLA professional award, and The Hills, a set of constructed slopes at the north end of the island that offers 360 views of Staten Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, lower Manhattan, and Jersey City, along with a 36-foot-long slide. In an 2016 article in The New Yorker, design critic Alexandra Lange said Geuze has reinvented the concept of the park with Governors Island and his other projects in Europe.

Governors Island, NYC / © Kreg Holt

Lange reveals the sense of discovery the Hills offer: “In holding you here, between the city and the peaks, Geuze delays the big reveal, focusing attention on the curtain, on the way that the landscape architecture has embroidered the ground beneath your feet. Then he draws the curtain back to show a star that needs no introduction: as a visitor strolls down the path, the Hills part to reveal the Statue of Liberty.”

Governors Island, NYC / © Timothy Schenck Photography

Other significant recent projects include Máximapark outside Utrecht, a city in the center of the Netherlands. The massive 740-acre park serves as a “unifying public space” for a new suburb of 100,000 people.

The park includes 123 acres of traditional park features, including “woods, fields, meandering watercourses, ponds, pedestrian areas, a playground, bridges and formal avenues for visitors to enjoy.” Another 246 acres was given over to a local association for sports fields. And the rest was donated back to the city to develop as housing in order to ensure the park has a dedicated community and sense of security. A 2-mile long, nearly 20-foot-tall honey comb-shaped pergola, which winds through the park, not only helps demarcate the public space, but also provides habitat for climbing plants, bats, birds, and insects.

Máximapark, Utrecht, The Netherlands / © Jeroen Musch

And in Madrid, Spain, Geuze and his team led Madrid Río, a six-billion Euro project, with Spanish architecture firms Burgos & Garrido, Porras La Casta, and Rubio & A-Sala. Capping a highway tunnel and its exits, the project revitalizes a 3.7-mile-long stretch of the River Manzanares. A series of seven new parks, each distinct, connect into a linear park along the river, stitching communities together.

Park Madrid Rio, Madrid, Spain / © Hovercameras

One road off the highway was relocated, creating space for a 1,000-vehicle underground parking garage, which was then capped with a garden. Twenty new bridges increase access to the river and surrounding communities. The new park system won an Urban Land Institute Open Space Award in 2018.

For Geuze, these projects highlight that “public space has become the dominant subject for the landscape architecture profession. Today demands a proactive attitude:

  • to engineer softscape and shade against hardscape
  • to speak out for the public and free spaces against the commercialization of the urban realm
  • to veto traffic-dominated streetscapes
  • to campaign for pedestrian-friendly cities
  • and above all to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all user groups.”

Landscape Architecture in the News Highlights (August 16-31, 2022)

Kids for Earth demonstration Bonn / greenpeace-jugend, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

It Is 100 Days Until Cop15 – And the Omens Are Good for a Global Plan to Protect Nature – 08/30/2022, The Guardian
“Despite many challenges, December’s crucial biodiversity talks in Montreal may set a new path for humans to live with nature.”

How a Dangerous Highway Turned into a Kids’ Paradise – 08/30/2022, Governing
“San Francisco has a brand-new park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. Its history is rooted in an attempt to make road traffic safer.”

Why Drought Looks Different Depending on Your Region – 08/30/2022, Grist
“The Northeast’s ‘flash drought’ is a reminder that dryness isn’t just a U.S. West problem.”

In Los Angeles, a New Athletic Facility Responds to Local Needs – 08/30/2022, Metropolis
“SPF:architects and Hood Design Studio create the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Complex with elegant simplicity, community, and sustainability as core goals.”

A Beloved Puget Sound Beach Emerges From a $6.3 Million Redesign That Brings Resiliency to the Forefront – 08/2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
“Led by Seattle-based landscape architecture and urban planning studio Site Workshop, the revamp of the popular public beach has yielded a slew of amenities, both new and familiar, along with long-needed infrastructural upgrades.”

A Moveable Forest in the Netherlands

“We asked ourselves — if we could move 1,200 trees through a city center for over 100 days, then imagine what else we could do,” said Bruno Doedens, a Dutch landscape architect and land artist, who created the wonderful Bosk public art installation in the city of Leeuwarden with his collaborator, the late Joop Mulder.

Over 100 days this summer, teams of volunteers pushed large and small trees along a 2.1-mile (3.5-kilometer) route as part of Arcadia, a triennial arts festival in Friesland.

Bosk route / Arcadia

The organizers explain that the installation moved in stages through neighborhoods on weekdays, led by traffic controllers and captains, “so the forest decreased in one place while growing somewhere else.”

Bosk / Lucas Kemper
Bosk / Lucas Kemper

Streets that had few trees temporarily became lush forests, changing the character of communities, significantly cooling air temperatures, and slowing the pace of life. The Guardian reported hotels and businesses also benefited from the traveling forest, though some residents were upset by having to park elsewhere.

Bosk / Thomas Vaer Photography
Bosk / Lucas Kemper

The trees were planted in more than 800 wooden containers that were then loaded into wheeled carts. They included more than 60 native species, such as alder, ash, elm, maple, oak, and willow.

The Bosk team labeled each tree with a QR code, so residents could learn more about the species. Soil sensors also alerted the team when any tree needed more water.

Just planting 1,200 trees around the city would have perhaps been easier but “would have had less impact than a moving forest,” Doedens said. The logistical challenges of transporting trees through traffic in a coordinated way “forced citizens to really face the effect of a forest in the city center.”

“The success of Bosk lies in the combination of radical imagination and mobilizing large communities of people,” he argued. The residents of Leeuwarden can now imagine “a new relationship with nature — one based in the idea of enriching the planet rather than polluting and destroying.” With rising urban temperatures, a new relationship rooted in nature will become increasingly important.

Bosk / Lucas Kemper

The message of the interactive public art work was reinforced through a broader immersive program that included a “summer school for Leeuwarden neighbourhoods, a Bosk news program for primary school pupils, and a whispering garden full of inspiration,” the festival organizers write.

In his essay Planet Paradise, Doedens argues that collective art projects like the walking forest can change mindsets and spur on greater climate action. They inspire communities to re-imagine what is possible. Designers and artists therefore play a critical role.

Bosk final destination, the Oldehoofsterkerkhof, August 14 / Ruben van Vliet

“Allow all creative minds from all cultural disciplines – music, dance, theater, poetry, literature, film, architecture, visual arts – together with scientists and pioneers from the practice to dare to dream and think big and even bigger. Give them room for imagination and intuitive thinking to radically reassess our current values and our actions. Allow them to develop new languages that touch our hearts and create new stories and images that help us realize we are walking in the mist, that seductive illusions intoxicate us, and that we need to change radically.”

Landscape architects and artists everywhere can create “new stories that reassure us in a playful way that we can reverse the negative effects of our treatment of the Earth into something positive. They must also be optimistic, empathetic, hopeful, and challenging without being blind to the sizeable and far reaching task ahead of us.”

The Bosk installation ended August 14, and the organizers have since found permanent homes for the traveling trees throughout the city, with many planted in underserved communities.

Landscape Architecture in the News Highlights (August 1-15, 2022)

Living Breakwaters construction kick-off in Staten Island / SCAPE Landscape Architecture & Urban Design

Can Nature-based Alternatives to Seawalls Keep the Waves at Bay? – 08/12/22, The Guardian
“’We can’t build single-purpose infrastructure any more,’ said Pippa Brashear, ASLA, project manager for the Living Breakwaters. The structure that comprises granite rocks and eco-concrete, along with the biological activity that will latch on to and grow out of these structures are intended to work together.”

Highway Removal a High Hurdle, Even With New Funding – 08/11/22, Governing
“Removing highways is a tricky business, a costly and time-consuming physical feat, but advocates say even a small commitment to addressing the harms of legacy highway infrastructure is a positive sign.”

Can Anacostia Build a Bridge Without Displacing Its People? — 08/11/22, The New York Times
“The winning design by OMA and OLIN and chosen by a committee of residents, features two gently sloping platforms crossing in a wide X shape, a gesture of connectivity.”

RAISE Grants to Fund Complete Streets in Nearly Every State – 08/11/22, Streetsblog
“The U.S. Department of Transportation released the list of projects that were approved as part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant programs, which funds roughly $2.2 billion across 166 initiatives spanning all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.”

A Landscape for Clean Water on the Chesapeake Bay – 08/09/22, Metropolis
“‘We understood the slope necessary for the historic structures up there, and still wanted to maximize the amount of shoreline that could survive,’ says Carlin Tacey, Waterstreet’s project manager. ‘We’re slowing down the water flow, and trying to use a planted landscape to absorb nutrients that would end up in the bay.'”

To Build Sustainable Cities, Involve Those Who Live in Them – 08/08/22, Fast Company
“To build trust, city leadership needs partners, collaborators, and
residents to work with them on setting goals, developing a measurement
system, and collecting data.”

Walter Hood Speaks With AN About His Practice and the Role of Reflective Nostalgia Today – 08/01/22, The Architect’s Newspaper
“Reflective nostalgia has a role in shaping future possibilities. In that way I am nostalgic for Black space. Maybe 15 years ago, my view of nostalgia was a bit more pastiche and romantic, but now I realize that I do have a yearning for Black space.”

The Inflation Reduction Act Prioritizes Landscape Architecture Solutions to the Climate Crisis

ASLA 2021 Professional Urban Design Award of Excellence. Repairing the Rift: Ricardo Lara Linear Park. Lynwood, California, United States. SWA Group / SWA Group / Jonnu Singleton

By Roxanne Blackwell, Hon. ASLA, and Caleb Raspler

Congress has passed and President Joseph Biden is expected to sign into law the U.S.’s most comprehensive response to the climate crisis to date — The Inflation Reduction Act. The legislation makes an historic investment of $369 billion to improve energy security, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help communities adapt to climate impacts.

Importantly, the Act recognizes and funds landscape architecture approaches to address climate change — from active transportation projects like Complete Streets and recreational trails, to nature-based water infrastructure, community tree planting, ecosystem restoration, and more. Additionally, the legislation makes significant strides in addressing environmental and climate justice and ensuring underserved communities receive resources to adapt to a changing climate.

Landscape architects are uniquely qualified to lead these projects. With their community engagement skills, they are particularly suited to partner with underserved communities. The Act provides tremendous opportunities for landscape architects to work with all communities to plan and design a more resilient and low-carbon future.

LA Riverfront Greenway Phase II, Los Angeles, California / Studio-MLA

Significant funding for programs and projects traditionally led by landscape architects include:

ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE

Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program: $3 billion to improve walkability, safety, and affordable transportation access through projects that are context-sensitive.

The program provides funding to:

  • Build or improve complete streets, multi-use trails, regional greenways, active transportation networks and spines or provide affordable access to essential destinations, public spaces, transportation links and hubs.
  • Remove high-speed and other transportation projects and facilities that are barriers to connectivity within communities.
  • Remove transportation projects and facilities that are a source of air pollution, noise pollution, stormwater, or other burdens in underserved communities. These projects may include noise barriers to reduce impacts resulting from a facility, along with technologies, infrastructure, and activities to reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollution. Solutions can include natural infrastructure, permeable, or porous pavement, or protective features to reduce or manage stormwater run-off; heat island mitigation projects in rights of way; safety improvements for vulnerable road users; and planning and capacity building activities in disadvantaged or underserved communities.

Low Carbon Transportation Materials Grants: $2 billion to incentivize the use of construction materials that have substantially lower levels of embodied greenhouse gas emissions in landscape architecture projects, including reimbursements.

ASLA 2021 Professional General Design Honor Award. Inspiring Journeys For All. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, United States. HDLA / Charlie Craighead

NATIONAL PARKS AND PUBLIC LANDS

$250 million for conservation, protection, and resilience projects on National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.

$250 million for conservation, ecosystem, and habitat restoration projects on NPS and BLM lands.

$200 million for NPS deferred maintenance projects.

$500 million to hire NPS personnel.

$250 million to the Fish and Wildlife Service for wildlife recovery and to rebuild and restore units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY FORESTRY

$200 million for vegetation management projects in the National Forest System.

$1.5 billion for competitive grants through the Urban and Community Forestry Assistance program for tree planting and related activities.

Sapwi Trails Community Park. Thousand Oaks, California | Conejo Recreation & Park District and RRM Design Group (consulting landscape architects) / Conejo Recreation & Parks District

WATER

$550 million for planning, designing, or constructing water projects with the primary purpose of providing domestic water supplies to underserved communities or households that do not have reliable access to domestic water supplies in a state or territory.

$4 billion for grants, contracts, or financial assistance to states impacted by drought, with priority given to the Colorado River Basin and other basins experiencing comparable levels of long-term drought.

$15 million to provide technical assistance for climate change planning, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience to Insular Areas – U.S. territories.

COASTAL COMMUNITIES

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $2.6 billion for grants, technical assistance, and cooperative agreements that enable coastal communities to prepare for extreme storms and other changing climate conditions. This includes projects to support natural resources that sustain coastal and marine resource dependent communities and assessments of marine fishery and marine mammal stocks.

$50 million for competitive grants to fund climate research related to weather, ocean, coastal, and atmospheric processes and conditions and impacts to marine species and coastal habitat.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE

$3 billion in competitive grants to address clean air and climate pollution in underserved communities.

$33 million to collect data and track disproportionate burdens of pollution and climate change on environmental justice communities.

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse Sustainable Landscape Renovation, Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A. Rios Clementi Hale Studios / Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), Robert Reck

FEDERAL BUILDINGS

$250 million for the General Services Administration to convert facilities to high performing buildings.

$2.1 billion to purchase low carbon materials.

$975 million for emerging and sustainable technologies and related sustainability programs.

$20 million for hiring new personnel to conduct more efficient, accurate, and timely reviews for planning, permitting and approval processes.

OTHER PROVISIONS

Department of Agriculture: $19.4 billion to invest in climate-smart agriculture practices and land interests that promote soil carbon improvements and carbon sequestration.

Department of Energy: $115 million for the hiring and training of personnel, the development of programmatic environmental documents, the procurement of technical or scientific services for environmental reviews, the development of environmental data or information systems, stakeholder and community engagement, and the purchase of new equipment for environmental analysis to facilitate timely and efficient environmental reviews and authorizations.

Department of Housing and Urban Development: $837.5 million to improve energy or water efficiency or the climate resilience of affordable housing.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF): The fund will help efficiently finance projects, including landscape architecture projects, to reduce emissions through active transportation, ecosystem restoration, energy and water efficiency, and climate-smart agriculture. The fund will receive $27 billion total, with $8 billion earmarked for low-income or otherwise underserved communities. Funds will flow through regional, state, local, and tribal green banks. And the GGRF will provide the institutional foundation for a National Climate Bank Act.

Roxanne Blackwell, Hon. ASLA, Esq., is director of federal government affairs, and Caleb Raspler, Esq., is manager of federal government affairs at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

Landscape Architects Form High-Profile Task Force to Take Action on Climate and Biodiversity Crises

ASLA 2019 Professional General Design Honor Award. Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park Phase II: A New Urban Ecology. Long Island City, NY, USA. SWA/BALSLEY and WEISS/MANFREDI with ARUP / copyright Vecerka/ESTO, courtesy of SWA/BALSLEY and WEISS/MANFREDI

Led by climate leaders in the field of landscape architecture, ASLA is developing a profession-wide Climate Action Plan

ASLA has announced it is developing its first Climate Action Plan for the U.S. landscape architecture community. The ambitious plan seeks to transform the practice of landscape architecture by 2040 through actions taken by ASLA and its members focused on climate mitigation and adaptation, ecological restoration, biodiversity, equity, and economic development. The plan will be released at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, November 11-14, 2022, in San Francisco, CA.

The ASLA Climate Action Plan is led by a five-member Task Force and 16-member Advisory Group of climate leaders from the landscape architecture profession.

Pamela Conrad, ASLA, Founder of Climate Positive Design and Principal at CMG Landscape Architecture, has been named chair of the Task Force.

The diverse, intergenerational Task Force includes climate leaders at different stages of their professional life.

“Landscape architects are leaders in designing solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises that also provide multiple environmental, economic, social, and health co-benefits. ASLA purposefully included both established and emerging climate leaders in this critical Task Force, which will shape the profession far into the future,” said Eugenia Martin, FASLA, ASLA President.

Task Force members include:

  • Chair: Pamela Conrad, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, Principal, CMG Landscape Architecture, and Founder, Climate Positive Design, San Francisco, California

    Conrad built Climate Positive Design into a global movement with the goal of ensuring all designed landscapes store more carbon than they emit while providing environmental, social, cultural, and economic co-benefits.

  • Diane Jones Allen, FASLA, D. Eng., PLA, Director, Program in Landscape Architecture, University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), and Principal Landscape Architect, DesignJones, LLC, Arlington, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana
  • José M. Almiñana, FASLA, SITES AP, LEED AP, Principal, Andropogon Associates, Ltd., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Sarah Fitzgerald, ASLA, Designer, SWA Group, Dallas, Texas
  • Vaughn Rinner, FASLA, PLA, Former ASLA President, Seattle, Washington
ASLA Climate Action Plan Task Force / ASLA

The goals, objectives, and action items of the plan are also shaped by a Climate Action Plan Advisory Group of 16 diverse climate leaders, who are based in 12 U.S. states and two countries and in private and public practice and academia. The Group consists of nine members who identify as women, seven as men, two as Black, four as Asian and Asian American, one as Latina, and one as Native American.

“ASLA believes equity needs to be at the center of climate action, because we know climate change will disproportionately impact underserved and historically marginalized communities. It is important that the group guiding the Climate Action Plan and the future of the profession mirrors the diversity of the landscape architecture community and its breadth of educational and practice areas,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, ASLA CEO.

Advisory Group members include:

  • Monique Bassey, ASLA, Marie Bickham Chair, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Scott Bishop, ASLA, RLA, Principal, BLD | Bishop Land Design, Quincy, Massachusetts
  • Keith Bowers, FASLA, RLA, PWS, Founding Principal, Biohabitats, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Pippa Brashear, ASLA, RLA, Resilience Principal, SCAPE Landscape Architecture & Urban Design, New York, New York
  • Meg Calkins, FASLA, FCELA, Professor of Landscape Architecture, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, PhD, PLA, LEED AP, Program Head and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, and Environmental Design, The Design School, Arizona State University, and President-Elect, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA), Tempe, Arizona
  • Jose de Jesus Leal, ASLA, PLA, IA, Native Nation Building Studio Director, MIG, Inc., Sacramento, California
  • Manisha Kaul, ASLA, PLA, CDT, Principal, Design Workshop, Inc., Chicago, Illinois
  • Greg Kochanowski, ASLA, AIA, Design Principal & Partner, GGA, and Founder, The Wild: A Research Lab, Los Angeles, CA
  • Mia Lehrer, FASLA, President, Studio-MLA, Los Angeles, CA
  • Hitesh Mehta, FASLA, FRIBA, FAAK, Associate AIA, President, HM Design, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Kate Orff, FASLA, Professor, Columbia University GSAPP & Columbia Climate School, and Founder, SCAPE Landscape Architecture & Urban Design, New York, New York
  • Jean Senechal Biggs, ASLA, Transportation Planning Manager, City of Beaverton, Portland, Oregon
  • Adrian Smith, FASLA, Staten Island Team Leader, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, New York, New York
  • Matt Williams, ASLA, Planner, City of Detroit Planning & Development Department (PDD), Detroit, Michigan
  • Dou Zhang, FASLA, SITES AP, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Shanghai Office, Sasaki, Shanghai, China
ASLA Climate Action Plan Advisory Group / ASLA

In 2021, ASLA joined with Architecture 2030 to call for the landscape architecture, planning, architecture, development, and construction professions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their projects and operations by 50-65 percent by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2040.

Also last year, ASLA ratified the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Commitment, which calls for limiting planetary warming to 1.5°C (2.7 °F). The commitment is supported by 70,000 landscape architects in 77 countries, the largest coalition of landscape architecture professionals ever assembled to advance climate action.

In 2020, ASLA and its members formed a Climate Action Committee, which has guided climate action priorities and laid the groundwork for the Climate Action Plan.

Landscape Architecture in the News Highlights (July 16-31, 2022)

The Orbit, Innisfil, Ontario / Partisans

A Radical Vision for Reinventing the Suburbs – 07/25/2022, Fast Company
“Outside Toronto, in a field surrounded by farmland, the seeds of a seemingly implausible high-density, transit-oriented community are taking root.”

Oak Fire Remains Uncontained as Al Gore Warns ‘Civilization at Stake’ – 07/24/2022, The Guardian
“’We’re seeing this global emergency play out and it’s getting worse more quickly than was predicted,’ Gore said. ‘We have got to step up. This should be a moment for a global epiphany.’”

Ford House Completes Restoration of Historic Lagoon and Pool – 07/24/2022, Detroit Free Press 
“’Before the restoration, the landscape behind the pool had become overgrown. It lost its hierarchy, the diversity of material, and the layering that were meant to replicate a northern Michigan landscape,’ said Stephen White, principal and director of landscape architecture and urban design for Albert Kahn Associates.”

Underused Park at the Foot of Detroit’s Transformed Michigan Central Station is Getting a $6 Million Makeover – 07/22/2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
“Similar to other transformative projects launched by the city in recent months, the park refresh is financed in part—$5 million to be exact—by funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.”

The Midwest Gets Its First Climate-Adaptive Park – 07/20/2022, Governing
“The park is designed to remediate past environmental abuses, adapt to future flooding events, and slow years of riverbank erosion.”

Extreme Rainfall Will Be Worse and More Frequent Than We Thought, According to New Studies – 07/20/2022, Grist
“By focusing on the group of climate models that most realistically simulate the actual physics of raindrops, Studholme’s study found that the average climate model likely underestimates how extreme precipitation will change in response to global warming.”

MOBOT’s New Visitor Center Opens Next Month. But Without a Little-known Nursery, It Wouldn’t Be Nearly as Cool – 07/20/2022, St. Louis Magazine
“MOBOT is using [the Oertli Family Hardy Plant Nursery] to grow endangered plants to conserve and to display at the garden, to propagate difficult species, and to bank seeds that are threatened in the wild.”

Presidio Tunnel Tops: Infrastructure Designed for 360 Views and Fun

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the Doyle Drive Bridge in the north end of San Francisco, which had moved vehicles through the Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge since the 1930s. As a result, California’s department of transportation (Caltrans) embarked on a planning effort to re-engineer the roadways and interchanges through the Presidio. During those discussions in the 1990s, landscape architect Michael Painter, designer of the parkway system within the 1,500-acre Presidio, offered a plan for replacing the viaduct, which had severed the upper areas of the Presidio from Crissy Field, with tunnels. His idea was that with tunnels, the city could then use the space on top for a new park. More than thirty years later, James Corner Field Operations has realized this vision with Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre park designed for kids and their families.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / James Corner Field Operations, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

According to Richard Kennedy, ASLA, principal-in-charge and head of the San Francisco office of Field Operations, Caltrans had offered to form the soil from the tunnel excavation and other landscape work into a flat top and a triangular edge. But the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service, the Golden Gate Park National Parks Conservancy, and Field Operations had other ideas. They would rather sculpt the land. “We decided to create a topographical design,” Kennedy said, eventually using more than 90,000 cubic yards of soil. And in order to do this, they first had to look deep underground.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / James Corner Field Operations, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

Given San Francisco is an active seismic area, the Presidio Parkway tunnels, which were completed in 2012, had to be engineered for stability. This meant the rest of the adjacent Tunnel Tops landscape, a project that started in 2014, also needed to be engineered in a similar way. “That way, in the event of another earthquake, everything would move as a contiguous system with no differential settlement,” Kennedy said.

MKA, a Seattle-based engineering firm, set the tunnel park on 40-foot-deep stone columns arranged in a 10 by 10-foot grid. Each column, comprised of gravel, is 3 feet in diameter. This complex subterranean work isn’t apparent on the surface of the park, but for Kennedy it shows that the park is also infrastructure, and that infrastructure investment is needed for landscape architects to realize their vision.

“It’s a new vision for this area of the Presidio — open public parkland. Before, the perception was the Presidio was a kind of commercial office park. Our goal was to invite the public in with disarming and sometimes obvious elements. On opening day, there were over two thousand children in the playground,” Kennedy said.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / James Corner Field Operations, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

Field Operations organized Tunnel Tops into three landscape zones. The first zone is a “platform,” a flat landscape on top of the tunnels at the same level of the Presidio’s main parade, which essentially acts as an extension of the historic military base.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Ryan White, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

“We purposefully designed it as a platform to leverage the incredible panorama. This elevation of 40 feet enables visitors to turn 360 degrees and see everything — from Marin to the Golden Gate Bridge, to Alcatraz Island, the Presidio, and the Palace of Fine Arts. This is an experience visitors couldn’t have had when the viaduct blocked views.”

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

The second landscape zone is what Field Operations calls the Cliff Walk, a set of trails and gathering places that intentionally focus visitors on landmarks at vantage points. “We used the slope to a great extent. As visitors wind through the trail, their body position moves, so they see different elements of the horizon. It’s surprising, awesome, and highlights the drama of being on the edge,” Kennedy said.

Along this edge are charismatic benches made of cypress trees that had been culled from the Presidio. Kennedy said Field Operations had hoped for sculpting a large piece of driftwood but no such trunk large enough appeared on the park coastline (another was found and used in the playground). Instead the benches are sculptured out of 9.5-inch wide planks and “assembled Jenga-style” into a curvature that resembles a tree. He said as cypress wood dries, it becomes metallic grey and when it catches the light sparkles like a silver fish. The perfect wood for a vista over the Bay.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

The Outpost, an interactive play landscape, is the third zone. It’s where most visitors may enter Tunnel Tops, off of Mason Street, which bisects the upper area of the Presidio and Crissy Field. Other draws here include the new Crissy Field Center and adjacent Field Station, two environmental learning centers designed by architecture firm EHDD, with exhibition designers at Studio Terpeluk, which will teach kids about anthropology and ecology. This area is “designed to appeal to a broader sweep of families,” Kennedy said.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

Given the upper portion of Tunnel Tops needed to be flat and highlight the panorama, Field Operations could use the lower portions nestled in the slope to add more intricacy without obstructing views.

Custom play elements are designed to bring children into the vistas. For example, there is a gap in the Outpost’s climbing wall on axis with Golden Gate Bridge. “Moments like this can create positive memories and life-long connections to the outdoors,” Kennedy argued.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

The Outpost is also designed so that as the plants grow in overtime, the playground will feel more like the marshlands of Crissy Fields. The same plant species are found in the play area. “Labyrinthine trails will form, adding a layer of mystery.”

Play elements extend east from the Crissy Field Center creating an inclusive environment for toddlers to preteen children. The elements escalate in complexity as children move outwards from the buildings.

Near the Field Center, there are simple play areas comprised of sand and water for the youngest children. Older children can then enjoy a tunnel through a large driftwood trunk, which lets them to burrow through or climb above, along with slides set in boulders.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)
Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

The bird’s nest sculpture, which is modeled after an oriole’s teardrop nest, enables children to climb on the outside and perch at the top, or climb from inside the nest and “poke their head out like small birds.”

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

The most difficult element is the forest den, which is a pile of logs. The interior of the structure has a small room filled with ropes and nets. “The exterior of the pile is purposefully challenging to climb and was designed to provide a sense of graduated risk. I have watched as some children became very nervous as they climb further towards the top. While the children can play safely, they can experience challenges, which also challenges themselves. I have seen children form teams. It asks them to be more brave,” Kennedy said.

Presidio Tunnel Tops / Rachel Styer, courtesy of Partnership for the Presidio (Presidio Trust, NPS, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy)

On opening weekend Kennedy also saw teenagers climbing to the top of the logs to experience the view. For them, Field Operations has also designed seating areas that will eventually be enshrouded in marshes.

The new park includes over 200,000 plants of 200 varieties, many of which support birds and pollinators. Approximately 50 percent are native and drought-tolerant plants, chosen for what the climate will be in a few decades. The native plants were grown from seed in a nearby Presidio nursery to ensure they are “genetically specific to this landscape,” Kennedy said. The Presidio Trust “invested in plant communities that will last and can coexist with existing natural resources in the national park.”

The upper level landscape, which is connected with the manufactured military landscape of the Presidio, offers Mediterranean plants from countries like Chile and South Africa that will better blend with the existing non-native cypress and eucalyptus trees and gardens. In the Outpost, Field Operations focused on incorporating 100 percent native plants.

Presidio Tunnel Tops was made possible by a number of organizations. The Presidio Trust, a non-profit organization, has a mandate to preserve the historic military base and has restored 150 acres of landscape to date. The Presidio in turn is part of the 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service, the country’s largest urban national park. The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is the non-profit arm of the park and raised $98 million of the $118 million project, while the Presidio Trust provided the other $20 million.

The Tunnel Tops is just one part of a broader revitalization of the Presidio. CMG Landscape Architecture, a San Francisco-based firm, is creating a plan to update Crissy Field, the beloved landmark designed by HargreavesJones that opened in 2001.