Innovators in Education: Four Lessons from Chip Sullivan

Chip Sullivan, FASLA, teaching at the University of California at Berkeley / Dana Davidsen

Chip Sullivan is on a mission to inject a dose of magic and mystery into the study of landscape design.

Sullivan, FASLA, is a professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His philosophy as an educator builds on his artistic training and is rooted in his belief that art and creativity are missing in the practice of environmental design.

As a graduate student in landscape architecture, I both learned from and taught with Sullivan throughout my time at Berkeley. Here are four lessons Sullivan instills in every landscape student:

1. Always, always, always bring a sketch book

Sullivan’s first lesson to all of his students is never, under any circumstances, leave home or the studio without a sketchbook. Sullivan is an avid sketch artist, making copious drawings not only in the field but during meetings, lectures and conversations. Sullivan believes documenting the landscape through sketch is crucial to understanding place and ecological systems.

Doodling during class is not only acceptable, it’s required. Sullivan tells students to sketch non-stop, encouraging them to draw slides and illustrates their thoughts, during his lectures.

Megan Bradley, a long-time student of Sullivan’s, from undergrad into Berkeley’s graduate landscape program, said this mantra has stuck with her through the years. “One of the most important things Chip taught me was to always bring a sketchbook with me everywhere I go. Now it’s a lifestyle!,” she said.

A selection of Sullivan’s many, many sketchbooks / Dana Davidsen

2. Use art to explore sustainability

In his course “Drawing a Green Future,” undergraduates from all backgrounds and fields of study at Berkeley learn basic drawing conventions, through unconventional techniques, as a way to explore issues in environmental design and sustainability.

This is many students first design course. As such, Sullivan embraces an iterative, imperfect learning process, using a range of drawing materials (like sticks!) and exercises that shift focus from artistic talent to allow all students to tap into their own creative process.

Sullivan teaches plan, section, and perspective through sketch, watercolor, and building models and dioramas. The course shows how people move through space — with exercises on drawing the human figure through cartoon, which is his expertise, and sketching from live models.

Final projects challenged students to conceive of an inspirational device or mechanism, conveyed through a plan, section and perspective drawings, that would highlight an environmental issue. Here, Karen Chou’s “Rentura” addresses issues in recycling, building a device to expose the waste stream on the UC Berkeley campus / Karen Chou

3. Document your design process

Sullivan’s teaching focuses on telling a story through design and documenting the creative process. A cartoonist who has been deeply inspired by film, his students use story boarding as a way to think through how user might experience a space and capture the process through a mix of art and media.

The studio “Energy, Fantasy and Form,” taught students how to incorporate sustainable and low-energy elements into a design. In their final project, students created series of stop-motion videos to document their design of a green wall on campus. Brandon Yip, an undergraduate in his final year of study, was a student in this class as well as multiple others throughout his time at Berkeley.

Yip said that in Sullivan’s classes, “we learn that landscape architecture is beyond singular reality. We learn to think about spaces in a multidimensional, omnipresent way, unlocking our mind to the possibility of the overseen and under-appreciated.”

Solar Boulder / Brandon Yip

4. Let your interests guide your practice

Where his students go, Sullivan follows with unwitting encouragement and positivity.

Sullivan’s personality and distinctive interests have shaped his career as a designer and teacher. He encourages students to allow their passions to do the same.

Sullivan got his start in the field at Sasaki Associates as a landscape architect and planner, before transitioning to academia at Berkeley where he’s taught a variety of subjects within the College of Environmental Design — from design studios to seminars.

In his decades of teaching, Sullivan has written five books on drawing, cartooning, and unconventional means of understanding, visualizing, and teaching landscape architecture. In his latest book, Cartooning the Landscape, Sullivan explores relationships between art, nature and environmental consciousness in an inventive, visual narrative style.

Cartooning the Landscape / University of Virginia Press

He is interested in landscape as a form of enlightenment and transformation and has embedded this interest into Berkeley’s graduate curriculum. In 2016, Sullivan orchestrated a session “Do Landscapes Dream? Alchemy, Voodoo and Spirits of Place” at the ASLA Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Sacred Landscapes Tarot Deck. Sullivan with graduate student Meghan Kanady. As a final project, students created a deck of tarot cards exploring the transcendent power of place / Dana Davidsen

He expanded this topic into a seminar, reviving professor emeritus Randy Hester’s Sacred Landscapes course, where students explore ideas of “sacredness” in the landscape through a series of design projects. The seminar explores sites that illicit deep emotional connections through weekly drawings exercises that encourage students to approach design as a work of art and cultural experience.

Landscape architecture students: Do you have a professor who inspires you? Let us know if you want to write about them at info@asla.org.

Building Real-World Community with Minecraft

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A park designed using the popular video game Minecraft / UN Habitat

Can a video game help bring landscape architecture to the masses?

According to Deirdre Quarnstrom: absolutely.

Quarnstrom is the general manager for Microsoft’s Minecraft Education program, which promotes the popular video game’s use as an educational tool. She is also a director at Block by Block, a nonprofit partnership between Microsoft, Minecraft-creators Mojang Studios, and the United Nations that uses Minecraft to broaden community engagement around public spaces in the developing world.

At the ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Quarnstrom was joined by Lauren Schmitt, ASLA, and Anaheim parks manager Pamela Galera, ASLA, to discuss how landscape architects can use Minecraft to expand and deepen the community engagement process.

Minecraft was first released in 2009, and since then has sold 150 million copies worldwide. The game allows users to create, modify, and explore 3D landscapes constructed out of one meter blocks. According to a 2016 article in the New York Times, it is the third most-selling game in history, behind only Tetris and Nintendo’s Wii Sports.

“Minecraft is a game, but at its core, it’s also a really powerful building tool,” Quarnstrom said. “Because it is blocky and not precise, it becomes a very accessible way for people to start building.”

Quarnstrom pointed out that many non-professionals find it difficult to understand how two-dimensional drawings translate into three-dimensional space. Minecraft helps bridge that gap, and in doing so, allows more people to participate in the design process.

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Traditional 2D representational techniques may be difficult for non-practitioners to understand / UN Habitat

“In the developing world, we find that the planning processes are often dominated by men,” Quarnstrom explained. Block by Block facilitates community engagement sessions using Minecraft to reach those usually excluded from those conversations, especially children, women, and the elderly.

These engagement sessions are not confined to a screen. Participants use site visits to contextualize the study area and then hold brainstorming sessions to discuss their ideas and address challenges. It’s only after those steps that the teams begin to develop their designs in Minecraft.

At the end of the workshop, the participants present their designs and rank ideas. Those blocky Minecraft designs are then handed off to professionals, who use them to develop buildable projects. Block by Block funds construction and works with local officials to ensure they are maintained after construction. According to Quarnstrom, Block by Block has successfully completed 75 projects in 30 countries.

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A Block by Block participant presents her design / UN Habitat

When Minecon, an annual Minecraft convention with 15,000 attendees, was slated to come to Anaheim, California, Quarnstrom was struck with an idea. Why not bring the same process for a project in the festival’s host city?

As it turns out, the timing was perfect. “When we were approached by Block by Block, we were in design on the upper half of the Anaheim River Walk, and there was an opportunity for a children’s playground,” said Galera, Anaheim parks manager and landscape architect.

“We wanted this playground to be cool; we wanted it to be something very special.”

Galera and her team have used other tools for community outreach in the past, including open houses, pop-up meetings, and craft sessions building model playgrounds with ordinary materials like cups, straws, and string.

Galera worked closely with Block by Block to bring neighborhood children into the design and planning process for the new playground. They first created a basemap of the project site in Minecraft, which was loaded onto laptops for the participants to work on.

They then gave the participating children a “crash course in urban design” so that they could understand the project’s constraints and limitations. Finally, the children worked in groups to develop their ideas and build their models in Minecraft.

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Participants work in teams to develop their designs / Pamela Galera

The playground they designed is now under construction.

“For opening day, when we have our dedication, we’ll have the children out there and celebrate their contributions,” Galera said. There will also be a mural painted on a wall at the back of the park that will permanently commemorate the children’s involvement in the process.

Galera sees Minecraft not just as a tool for community engagement, but also as a way for landscape architects to engage with children about the profession and expose them to landscape architecture as a potential career path. In the case of the Anaheim project, she said that many of the participants were children of migrant farmworkers for whom the experience may have been their first encounter with landscape architecture.

“This is our challenge as landscape architects: our profession is nature-based, but it’s also people-based. We have to evolve to make sure our profession continues. This is just another tool. We shouldn’t be afraid of it; we should embrace it.”

DesignIntelligence 2018 Landscape Architecture Program Rankings

Harvard Graduate School of Design studio / Harvard Graduate School of Design

DesignIntelligence recently announced its 2018 landscape architecture graduate and undergraduate program rankings. For the fourth year in a row, Louisiana State University (LSU) was deemed the “most admired” undergraduate landscape architecture program. And for the 14th consecutive year, Harvard University retained its dominance as the “most admired” graduate program, in the annual survey conducted by DesignIntelligence on behalf of the Design Futures Council.

Detailed rankings are available in the 18th listing of most admired schools, which assesses program rankings and education trends in architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design.

Respondents from 6,000 hiring professionals, 5,000 students, and 350 professors ranked the schools, a much broader survey than in previous editions.

DesignIntelligence now lists all 25 most admired undergraduate and graduate school rankings on their website for free.

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings (top 10):

1) Louisiana State University
2) Cornell University
3) Pennsylvania State University
4) University of Georgia
5) Ohio State University
6) California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo
7) Purdue University
8) Iowa State University
9) Texas A&M University
10) Michigan State University

See the full list of 25 most admired undergraduate schools at DesignIntelligence.

Master of Landscape Architecture Degree Rankings (top 10):

1) Harvard University
2) University of Pennsylvania
3) Cornell University
4) Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas
5) Louisiana State University
6) University of California, Berkeley
7) University of Virginia
8) University of Georgia
9) Rhode Island School of Design
10) Ohio State University

See the full list of 25 most admired graduate schools at DesignIntelligence.

In a major change from previous rankings, DesignIntelligence now lists rankings for twelve focus areas, including: communications and presentation skills; construction materials and methods; design technologies; design theory and practice; engineering fundamentals; healthy built environments; interdisciplinary studies; transdisciplinary collaboration across architecture, engineering, and construction; project planning and management; practice management; research; and sustainable built environments / adaptive design / resilient design.

In the sustainable built environments / adaptive design / resilient design, communications and presentation skills, design technologies, design theory and practice, and interdisciplinary studies focus areas, Louisiana State University is top of the list for undergraduate programs and Harvard University takes the lead in graduate programs.

Check out our archive of 2017-2009 rankings.

52 Ways to Ignite Your Creative Spark

A Few Minutes of Design / Princeton Architectural Press

The mission of the Creative Education Trust in London is to empower kids through creativity and design thinking. Partnering with Princeton Architectural Press, they created A Few Minutes of Design, which offers 52 activities to encourage inventiveness. This well-crafted little packet of fun may work just as well for inspiring creativity among children and young adults as it does for rekindling the spark of a semi-burnt-out designer confronting endless deadlines.

The trust believes “creativity is the ability to find connections between the things we know and to turn these connections into new ideas and action. The academic arts and the sciences, practical subjects and life skills all need creativity. Creativity is highly valued by employers. With knowledge, skills, and creativity, every young individual is equipped to succeed in the knowledge economy of the 21st century.”

To appeal to as broad a group of people as possible, Emily Campbell — who is director of programs at the trust and a former graphic designer and design director at a government agency — clearly devised activities with many design disciplines in mind. There are engaging exercises not only for budding graphic and industrial designers, but also landscape architects, urban planners, and architects.

Campbell thinks the 52 activities, which are found on small note cards with instructions on the front and information or images on the back, are deeper than they first appear.

“The cards evoke what it’s like to be a designer through a series of accessible, concise exercises. Some ask you to draw and write; some ask you to classify, others to distinguish or explain. Some tasks are singular; others have several variations. All of them ask you to perform a rudimentary act of design by following plain-language instructions. Although the lessons in these exercises may at first seem minor in comparison to the grand vision — the ‘killer concept’ or ‘problem solved’– small moves and decisions such as these have a powerful influence on the success of any design.”

Some intriguing activities for landscape-minded creators:

Simplify, Then Multiply: “Identify a shape within the photo. Draw or trace the shape, leaving out shadows, highlights, and complicated details so that you have a simplified version. You may to need to invent parts of the shape that are not in view. Imagine that your simplified shape is no. 1 in a series or family of 3. What rules would govern the shape of nos. 2 and 3? Draw them.”

A Few Minutes of Design / Jared Green

Joint Endeavor: “Explain in a drawing how you would join the objects or materials. You can cut them and/or multiply them if you need to. Label the drawing with instructions.”

A Few Minutes of Design / Jared Green

Organizing Rules: One of my favorites — and easy for those with messy drawers, bags, or purses: “Empty onto a surface the contents of your bag, pencil case, desk drawer, or any other container that holds a variety of small, handheld objects. Think of a method or rule for organizing the objects. Organize them into a composition following your own rule. Take a photo of your composition.”

A Few Minutes of Design / Jared Green

Lastly, there is a well-known landscape architect who asks her employees and interns to do a similar exercise — also 100 times (!) — when confronted with a design challenge:

Object 100 Ways: Draw as many uses as you can think of for the object. What qualities, or properties, does this object have? How else could these properties be used? You can multiply the basic unit, add materials, cut the object, reshape it, or otherwise modify it.”

A Few Minutes of Design / Jared Green

On second thought, that may take more than a few minutes.

ASLA Announces 2018 Student Awards

ASLA 2018 Student General Design Award of Excellence. In Between Walls, Pyramid Lake, Nevada. Niloufar Makaremi Esfarjani, Student ASLA, University of Toronto

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) proudly announces the 27 winners of the ASLA 2018 Student Awards. Selected from 332 entries representing 17 schools, the awards honor the top work of landscape architecture students in the United States and around the world.

The winners will receive their awards at the ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO in Philadelphia on Monday, October 22, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

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

Winning projects are designated as either an honor award or an award of excellence, which is the highest possible distinction.

General Design Category

Award of Excellence
In Between Walls, Pyramid Lake, Nevada
by Niloufar Makaremi Esfarjani, Student ASLA, University of Toronto

Honor Awards
Myth, Memory, and Landscape in the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation, Pyramid Lake, Nevada
by Derek Lazo, Student ASLA, and Serena Lousich, Student ASLA, University of California, Berkeley

Sharawadgi Garden: A New Understanding of Chinoiserie for a Chinese Garden at the MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York
by Douglas A. Breuer, Student ASLA, University of Pennsylvania

Songs from the Ocean, Dancers from the Land: Rendering an Ecological Choreography of Coastal Habitats in Phuket, Thailand, Phuket, Thailand
by Kate Jirasiritham, Student ASLA, The City College of New York

Stop Making Sense: Spatializing the Hanford Site’s Nuclear Legacy, Hanford, Washington
by Kasia Keeley, Student ASLA, and Andrew Prindle, Student ASLA, University of Washington

Wetness behind the sc/een: Re-wetting the Oran, Tilwara, Rajasthan, India
by Cyrus Sohrab Khan, Student ASLA, University of Pennsylvania

Residential Design Category

ASLA 2018 Student Residential Award of Excellence. Baseco: A New Housing Paradigm, Manila, Philippines. Julio F. Torres Santana, Student ASLA, Yinan Liu, Student ASLA, Aime Vailes-Macarie, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Award of Excellence
Baseco: A New Housing Paradigm, Manila, Philippines
by Julio F. Torres Santana, Student ASLA, Yinan Liu, Student ASLA, Aime Vailes-Macarie, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Honor Award
The Snow [RESERVE]: Dynamic Microclimate Strategies for South Boston Living, Boston
by Sunmee Lee, Student ASLA, and Phia Sennett, Student ASLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Analysis and Planning Category

ASLA 2018 Student Analysis and Planning Award of Excellence. ‘El retorno a la tierra’ / ‘Going back to the land’, Las Marías, Puerto Rico. Nicole Rivera-Ramos, Student ASLA, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF)

Award of Excellence
‘El retorno a la tierra’ / ‘Going back to the land’, Las Marías, Puerto Rico
by Nicole Rivera-Ramos, Student ASLA, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF)

Honor Awards
Bloom! A Dynamic Landscape Biological System, Fort Worth, Texas
by Xiwei Shen, Student ASLA, Jiawen Chen, Student ASLA, Chengzhe Zhang, Student ASLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Developing with Water: A Landscape-driven Regulatory Framework, New Orleans
by Meikang Li, Student ASLA, University of Toronto

Pyro-Diversion: Planning for Fire in the San Gabriel Valley, Glendora, California
by Sarah Toth, Student ASLA, The City College of New York

Terre d’eau – Land of water, St. Lawrence River, Quebec, Canada
by Marianne Lafontaine-Chicha, Student ASLA, University of Toronto

Topographic Urban Expansion – A Landscape Armature on Hillsides of Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico
by Qiwei Song, Student ASLA, University of Toronto

Waters in Peril: Collective Measures for a Dying Lake Winnipeg, Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
by Jaysen Ariola, Student ASLA, University of Toronto

Communications Category

ASLA 2018 Student Communications Award of Excellence. ‘Korea Remade’: A Guide to the Reuse of the DMZ and Hinterlands towards Unification, Border of Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Xiwei Shen, Student ASLA, Jiawen Chen, Student ASLA, Siyu Jiang, Student ASLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Award of Excellence
‘Korea Remade’: A Guide to the Reuse of the DMZ and Hinterlands towards Unification, Border of Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
by Xiwei Shen, Student ASLA, Jiawen Chen, Student ASLA, Siyu Jiang, Student ASLA, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Honor Awards
District Hill Cemetery Master Plan, Chickamauga, Georgia
by Arianne Wolfe, Student ASLA, and Devyn Quick, Student ASLA, University of Georgia

The Living Things Nursery Catalogue and Guide to Climate
by Bonnie-Kate Walker, Student ASLA, University of Virginia

Public Space Design Guidelines for Saltillo, Mexico, Saltillo, Mexico
by a team of students from the University of Texas at Austin

A Student’s Guide to Environmental Justice Version 1.3, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
by Kari Spiegelhalter, Student ASLA, Tess Ruswick, Student ASLA, Patricia Noto, Student ASLA, Cornell University, Rhode Island School of Design

Research Category

ASLA 2018 Student Research Award of Excellence. Restoring Diversity: Factors Influencing Revegetation Efforts in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave Desert Land Trust. Marinna Wagner, Student ASLA, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Award of Excellence
Restoring Diversity: Factors Influencing Revegetation Efforts in the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave Desert Land Trust
by Marinna Wagner, Student ASLA, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Student Collaboration Category

ASLA 2018 Student Collaboration Award of Excellence. The One Tree Project, St. Louis, Missouri, by a team of students at Washington University in St. Louis.

Award of Excellence
The One Tree Project, St. Louis, Missouri
by a team of students at Washington University in St. Louis

Honor Award
Thermal Thresholds, Minto, Alaska
by Yin Yu Fong, Katie Kelly, Student ASLA, Anna Morrison, University of Virginia

Community Service Category

ASLA 2018 Student Community Service Award of Excellence. Children’s Garden: Strengthening Mother-Child Relationships within Prison Walls, Mitchellville, Iowa. A team of students at Iowa State University / Image

Award of Excellence
Children’s Garden: Strengthening Mother-Child Relationships within Prison Walls, Mitchellville, Iowa
by a team of students at Iowa State University

Honor Awards
Croatian Monastery Continues to Heal: A Community Restorative Garden for Youth, the Blind, and the Elderly with Disabilities, Rijeka, Croatia
by a team of students at the University of Washington

Dolores Street Pollinator Boulevard, San Francisco
by Julia Prince, Student ASLA, Benjamin Heim, University of California, Berkeley

Jazz Fence, Chicago
by Jiaming Sun, Student ASLA, and Yu Si, Student ASLA, Illinois Institute of Technology

The student awards jury included:

  • Roberto Rovira, ASLA, Chair, Florida International University, Miami
  • Andrea Cochran, FASLA, Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, San Francisco
  • Kurt Culbertson, FASLA, Design Workshop, Aspen, Colorado
  • Tom Dallessio, Professional Planner and Policy Expert, Philadelphia
  • Jennifer Daniels, ASLA, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Ray Gastil, City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
  • Jeffrey Hou, ASLA, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Elizabeth Kennedy, ASLA, Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect, Brooklyn, New York
  • Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, OLIN, Philadelphia

Videos: ASLA 2018 Diversity Summit

The Color of Landscape Architecture presented by Richard Jones, ASLA, President of Mahan Rykiel Associates.

Since 2013, the American Society of Landscape Architects has convened an annual Diversity Summit with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of how landscape architecture can better represent the communities and people it serves.

On June 22-24, ASLA hosted the 2018 Diversity Summit at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C. For this year’s summit, five professionals from the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit were invited back, and nine new participants were selected from a call for interest to add valuable input to discussions and resource development.

ASLA 2018 Diversity Summit participants / EPNAC.com

The goals of the 2018 Diversity Summit were to review benchmarks prioritized from the 2017 Diversity SuperSummit and create opportunities for participants to research and workshop resources for ASLA’s career discovery and diversity program.

Review of 2017-2018 work plan and 2017 Diversity SuperSummit priority survey, presented by Shawn Balon, ASLA, career discovery and diversity manager at ASLA.

Throughout the weekend, participants offered ideas for the development of two resources that can assist professionals in implementing diversity and inclusion practices into business strategies and help ASLA National and ASLA Chapters create programs to reach youth and communities.

Discussions at ASLA 2018 Diversity Summit / EPNAC.com
Discussions at ASLA 2018 Diversity Summit / EPNAC.com
Discussions at ASLA 2018 Diversity Summit / EPNAC.com

Read more about the ASLA 2018 Diversity Summit report — in this summary or the full report. Feedback from summit participants will serve as an actionable guide for the ASLA career discovery and diversity manager for the upcoming year.

Also, explore resources from the past six years of Diversity Summits, including handouts, videos, presentations, news articles, and reports.

This post is by Dan Li, Student ASLA, education programs summer intern at the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Roberto Burle Marx, in His Own Words

Cover
Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape As Art and Urbanism / Lars Müller Publishers

Roberto Burle Marx stands as one of the towering figures of 20th century landscape architecture, yet he left relatively little in the way of writing that describes, defends, or otherwise elucidates his work. A new collection of lectures, edited by Gareth Doherty, ASLA, helps fill that void.

Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism consists of twelve lectures written and delivered by Burle Marx over the latter half of his career. In the preface, Doherty explains he first learned of these lectures as an intern at the Roberto Burle Marx Studio in the summer of 1996, two years after Burle Marx’s death.

“As a parting gift, Haruyoshi Ono, Burle Marx’s successor as director of the studio, presented me a photocopy of every lecture they then had that Burle Marx had delivered in English,” he writes. “I had little to no Portuguese, and they felt this was the one way I could carry something of Roberto with me and get to know him better.”

The lectures Doherty received in 1996 form the basis of this volume. Like Doherty, many of today’s practitioners never had the opportunity to hear Burle Marx present his work, let alone meet him. In this context, Lectures: Landscape As Art and Urbanism is a valuable resource that helps reinforce Burle Marx’s legacy.

Copacobana-Beach
Copacobana Beachfront (Avenida Atlântica), Rio de Janeiro, 1970 / Leonardo Finotti, Lars Müller Publishers

As the book’s title suggests, the lectures shed light on Burle Marx the urbanist. He recognized the city was “the ‘habitat’ of modern man, offering him simultaneously a great variety of choice in his job and in his way of life.” The price for this variety, however, was “many difficulties which hamper his creative capacity due to deficient housing facilities, inadequate transportation, noise and sounds which tear him to pieces; not to mention other deeper difficulties in his work relationship, the opportunities of education, and in the enjoyment of the pleasures the city offers him.”

Burle Marx’s solution was to bring nature into the city. “The brutality of present urban conditions make the garden a compelling necessity,” he wrote. “One must bring nature into the reach of man and, above all, take man back to nature.” The garden was the tool for achieving this goal, a place where one could “find rest, relaxation, recreation, and above all the feeling that his is living in, and integrated into, this space.”

Petrobas-Rio
Petrobas, Rio de Janeiro, 1969 / Leonardo Finotti, Lars Müller Publishers

He even saw gardens as having a didactic role: “The sight of that association of plants gives us the impression of a covenant for living together.” A garden was “a spatial condition of community life…a place which provides the desire any man has to communicate with his fellow men, and with nature as an aesthetic phenomenon and as a manifestation of life.”

Burle Marx also viewed landscape architecture as a tool for preservation. “It seems to be to be almost an obligation of the landscape architect to combat destruction and to preserve certain ill-fated species in danger of extinction, in order that they may survive for the education and enjoyment of future generations.”

Burle Marx was deeply concerned about the impact of development practices and their impact on the landscape, and saw landscape architects as defenders of the natural environment, prefiguring today’s focus on environmental issues within the profession.

What these lectures illustrate most clearly, however, is the depth of Burle Marx’s love of plants. “Plants have always been an integral part of my life,” he wrote in a lecture simply titled “The Plant.” And in “The Garden as a Way of Life,” he declared that the plant is the “the most basic element of composition.”

Sitio-Santo-Antonio-1
Sítio Santo Antônio da Bica, Barra de Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro, 1949-1994 / Leonardo Finotti, Lars Müller Publishers

Of course, this is not exactly a revelation for those familiar with Burle Marx’s life and career. He was obsessed with plants from an early age, an obsession that guided his career and manifested itself in both his designs and in his personal collection of thousands of plants culled from the Brazilian countryside.

Still, Lectures provides valuable insight into this obsession. Botanical names litter the pages. He writes lovingly of bromeliads, philodendrons, and heliconia. When describing his own designs, he devotes the most attention not to form or spatial qualities, but to plant selection and arrangement, underscoring their importance to his design process.

Stitio-Santo-Antonio-2
Sítio Santo Antônio da Bica, Barra de Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro, 1949-1994 / Leonardo Finotti, Lars Müller Publishers

Intriguingly, much of Burle Marx’s writing in this area prefigures the trends that have shaped planting design over the last 20 years. He proclaims the importance of native plants, saying that “ideally, we should only plant species native to the area.”  Elsewhere, he explains “the garden that has the best chances of survival and needs the minimum amount of care for such survival will be indigenous.”

Furthermore, he understood designed plant combinations as informed not only by aesthetic considerations, but by ecological ones as well. “Observing the demands of ecology and aesthetic compatibility, the landscape architect is able to create artificial associations of the greatest expressiveness,” he writes.

“To make artificial landscapes means neither to deny nor to imitate nature slavishly. It means, instead, to know how to transport and associate, with personal, selective judgement, the results of a long, loving, and intense observation.”

Resedencia-Edmundo-Cavanellas
Residência Edmundo Cavallenas, Petrópolis, RJ, 1954 / Leonardo, Finotti, Lars Müller Publishers

In the current context — in which many landscape architecture educational programs dedicate minimal time to plant material and planting design is sometimes seen as a specialized skill set — Burle Marx’s love of plants and the role that they played in his design process stands out.

While this is overall a handsomely presented collection, there are certain design choices that make reading it more difficult than necessary. The lectures are printed with narrow margins, which make Burle Marx’s words seem as though they are liable to scatter off the page. The effect is heightened by the book designers’ decision to present selected sentences in a larger type than others for emphasis. The result is not wholly satisfying.

The book also includes breathtaking photos of Burle Marx’s built works captured by Leonardo Finotti, but they are not keyed to references in the text itself, which can make for a frustrating experience. Those looking for clear, visual illustrations of Burle Marx’s comments may want to keep Google close at hand while reading.

In all, though, Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism is an immensely valuable resource for those of us, like Doherty, with little to no Portuguese. It gives those of us in the English-speaking world an unmediated line to Roberto Burle Marx; that alone is worth the price of admission.

Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Books

The ASLA Discover Landscape Architecture Activity Books are for anyone interested in landscape architecture, architecture, planning, and engineering, and for those who like to draw, doodle, and be inspired. The books’ primary focus is landscape architecture, giving readers the opportunity to see the many drawings, places, and landscapes created by landscape architects.

Download Activity Book for Kids

Take a journey across an imaginary town to learn about the building blocks of landscape architecture. In this activity book, you will learn about landscape architecture, see sketches from landscape architecture professionals, and have the opportunity to sketch and color drawings. This book is geared towards readers 9-12 years old.

Drawing by Jim Richard, FASLA / ASLA
Drawing by Michael Batts, ASLA / ASLA

Download Activity Book for Teens & Adults

Take a journey across the United States to see some of the great places designed by landscape architects. In this activity book, you will learn about landscape architecture, see sketches from landscape architecture professionals, have the opportunity to sketch and color drawings, and problem solve to plan your own projects. This book is geared towards readers 13 years and older.

Drawing by Yifu Kang, Student ASLA
Drawing by Robert Chipman, ASLA / ASLA

Share the Books!

Do you have a friend that is interested in landscape architecture? Do your children like the idea of blending art with the environment? Are you a landscape architecture professional visiting a local school and searching for a fun interactive exercise?

Whether you are a kid, teen, parent, teacher, undergraduate student, or landscape architecture professional, there are many ways to share the activity books. To start, share with family, friends, classmates, neighbors, other professionals, and community members.

And don’t forget to share your work. Post your drawings with #ASLAactivitybooks to show the world your creative talents! Stay tuned for future initiatives at ASLA including available copies for distribution and Spanish translated editions.

Design from a Digital Device

Landscape architects create drawings on paper and on digital devices. If you are interested to complete the activity books from your digital device, check out some of the free apps and programs below that include drawing tools.

Adobe Sketch
iBooks
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Microsoft OneNote

This post is by Shawn Balon, ASLA, Career Discovery and Diversity Manager at the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

LAAB Invites Comments on Proposed Revisions of Accreditation Standards

ASLA 2017 Professional Communications Award of Excellence. Digital Library of Landscape Architecture History / Benjamin George, ASLA

The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) invites comment on its proposed revisions to the LAAB Accreditation Standards. LAAB last approved revisions to the standards in 2016 as part of its periodic review of its standards. LAAB conducts a formal, comprehensive review of the accreditation standards every five (5) years (page 4, LAAB Accreditation Procedures). The proposed revisions are posted on the LAAB website under LAAB News & Actions.

LAAB currently accredits first professional programs at the bachelor’s and master’s level in the United States and its territories. Of these programs, all are traditional programs housed within universities and colleges throughout the United States. While some courses within a few programs are offered via distance education, there are no LAAB accredited programs that currently offer a large portion or all of their curriculum online. However, as more students enroll in online courses and programs during their time in higher education, the demand for an LAAB accredited online program will likely grow.

About 5.8 million students were enrolled in at least one distance learning course in a U.S. institution in fall 2014 – up 3.9 percent from the previous fall, according to Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education in the United States, an annual report by the Babson Survey Research Group. Additionally, a majority of calls and emails received at ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture regarding landscape architecture education involves the availability of online programs. Therefore, LAAB has undertaken the process to review its standards relative to the delivery of online courses in landscape architecture. This review began in February 2017 and its timeline is included below.

Timeline for development of accreditation standards for online delivery of content in professional landscape architecture degree programs:

February 2017 LAAB Winter Board Meeting

LAAB began discussion of the potential for incorporating standards language that would allow the assessment of online delivery of courses in landscape architecture bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The board agreed to sponsor a visit to the only known institution offering large portions of landscape architecture degree programs online – Academy of Art University’s (AAU) BFA and MFA in landscape architecture.

April 2017 Academy of Art University Visit

Ned Crankshaw, FASLA (LAAB/University of Kentucky); Kelleann Foster, ASLA (Pennsylvania State University); and Kristopher Pritchard (LAAB) visited AAU in San Francisco to review pedagogical process and outcomes in their programs.

July 2017 LAAB Summer Board Meeting

LAAB invited Dr. Leah Matthews, executive director of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), to discuss online professional program accreditation. Dr. Matthews confirmed LAAB’s general direction concerning additional review areas needed for on-line program delivery. The board discussed next steps in a deliberative process of online standard development and evaluation. Each step involves input from LAAB’s community of interest and board review and revision.

October 2017 ASLA Annual Meeting

LAAB shared AAU visit summary and ASLA Committee on Education discussion summary with LA program leaders and invited them to provide any feedback and comments to LAAB.

February 2018 LAAB Winter Board Meeting

LAAB reviewed and discussed an initial draft of standard(s) and assessments directed toward online educational delivery.

March 2018 CELA Annual Conference

LAAB organized a panel discussion about online professional degree program accreditation. Comment period on draft standards is open through the end of May 2018.

July 2018 LAAB Summer Board Meeting

LAAB will analyze comments received and frame a revision of draft standards with final language development following the meeting.

LAAB now invites members of the community of interest and the public to review and comment on the proposed revisions found on the LAAB website. We welcome comments and input on the revised LAAB Accreditation Standards until Friday, June 1. Please send comments to Kristopher Pritchard, accreditation & education programs manager.

LAAB anticipates final adoption of the revised Accreditation Standards by winter 2019. Follow-up questions and inquiries may be directed to Manager Pritchard.

#WLAM2018 Reaches 2.8 Million

This year the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) looked to the future for World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) by featuring ASLA student chapters, who are the next generation of landscape architects.

In 2018, ASLA continued its This is Landscape Architecture social media campaign. More than 1,638 users posted nearly 6,000 instances of their favorite landscape architect-designed spaces with #WLAM2018. These posts helped educate 2.8 million people around the globe about the profession.

To see a glimpse of the future of landscape architecture, ASLA asked a different student chapter to take over our Instagram each day in April. Arizona State University showed us how they are exploring the basics of design: sketching.

Thomas Jefferson University showed off the latest technology in designing landscapes.

The student chapter at the University of Maryland showcased how landscape architects shaped their campus.

ASLA student chapters also work with their local communities on projects. Auburn University shared its Alabama Lab, where students “use design to help create and continue conversations about local issues across a larger geographical and disciplinary spectrum.”

The chapter at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, featured their public awareness initiatives, like PARK(ing) Day.

As we focus on the future, ASLA also used April as an opportunity to unveil its new logo and rebranded look.