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

Echelon Television Center / Courtesy RIOS

RIOS Tapped for $600 Million Revamp of Television Center Complex in Hollywood – 10/14/2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
“Vibrant-colored streetscapes and landscapes will be utilized as flexible boundaries and invite neighbors to engage with new outdoor public spaces.”

New York City to Implement Infrastructure Program That Would Convert Public Surfaces Into Floodwater Sponges – 10/13/2022, Archinect
“The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has recently proposed an array of stormwater resilience strategies.”

A New Master Plan Could Help Transform Boston Common Into a ‘Better Version’ of Itself – 10/12/2022, Boston Globe
“City officials are hoping to revamp the country’s oldest public park over the next decade.“

‘Experiencing Olmsted’ Review: A Walk in the Park – 10/06/2022, Wall Street Journal
“Frederick Law Olmsted‘s vision of beautiful green spaces has touched American lives from coast to coast.”

Why Landscape Architect Thomas Woltz Keeps a Plastic Godzilla at His Desk –10/05/2022, Fast Company
“I am pretty mild in all things, and his fangs, spikes, and claws stand in for me as an alter ego.”

Ian Exposes Cracks in Climate-Readiness – 10/03/2022, Politico
“National and city officials have already begun discussing how to rebuild southwestern Florida to withstand fierce hurricanes — a conversation taking center stage across the country as climate change turbocharges extreme weather.”

Exploring Ideas Together: A Hands and Hearts Approach to Meaningful Community Engagement

DREAM PLAY BUILD / Island Press

By Deb Guenther, FASLA

The new book DREAM PLAY BUILD: Hands On Community Engagement for Enduring Spaces and Places reads like a conversation with trusted colleagues over great coffee or a memorable lunch. James Rojas and John Kamp generously share their lessons learned in many years of testing and conducting an alternative form of community engagement. Their methods are focused on using hands and heart to build abstract models and share sensory explorations with community members. They break away from a transactional mindset and create an environment for meaningful engagement with longer term benefits for communities. The book spans from inspirations to methods, project examples to logistical details, and includes plenty of encouragement to give these ideas a try. Just like a good conversation, there is positive energy throughout, and at the end you remain intrigued with the possibilities.

Starting with the Personal

Community engagement strategy / James Rojas

The authors are walking the talk. They ground the book with personal stories of how they arrived at this work. Rojas is an urban planner and Kamp is a landscape and urban designer who were disappointed for different reasons in their crafts. They met through art events that explored the intersection with city making ideas. Rojas shares his vulnerabilities and is clearly inspired by everyday objects, friends, and family. Histories of relationships with people and place continue to inform his work. By starting with the personal, Rojas and Kamp demonstrate what their methods support – sharing experiences of belonging. Creating a shared attachment to place can be a powerful way to build a set of core values together and work with communities as they shape themselves.

Making Space for an “Emotional Language”

The methods the book describes revolve around three approaches that can be tailored to different context, timelines, and objectives — model building, pop up models, and sensory site explorations. What they all have in common is that they are abstract and open-ended, encouraging storytelling and meaning making. The work is in the conversations generated by the methods and the themes that emerge from the sets of stories. In the process of talking about their personal stories and experiences prompted by hands on work and heartfelt prompts, groups build a shared understanding of what is important to each other and what commonalities and core values they share.

The book is refreshingly jargon free. The methods and guidance are simple, yet the nuances are not overlooked. There are frequent acknowledgements that “things may not go that way” and that’s okay. The methods are designed to support an emotional, not a technical language. Moving away from the transactional outcomes of a typical community engagement process, the methods shift expectations away from quantitative outcomes. The book moves readers toward realizing the value of having “no desired outcomes other than a sense of neighborhood memories, dreams, aspirations and shared values; to build group cohesion; and set a positive tone for the project.”

Community engagement strategy / James Rojas

Highlighting the Intangibles

The stories also referred to many moments that will have designers nodding along in recognition. Having no expectations for outcomes can easily result in clients who feel at a loss about the value of the work. The book provides specific lists of tangible and intangible results.

For me, this was the most important part of the book — calling out the value of intangibles. A tangible list of intangibles – so overdue! As James shares in his personal story, he learned from artists that the city is “comprised not only of structures, streets and sidewalks, but also personal experiences, collective memory, and narratives. These are less tangible but no less integral elements of a city that transforms mere infrastructure into ‘place.’”

Challenging the Status Quo

A good conversation challenges you a bit. This book does that in a friendly and approachable way. Through building up examples, case studies, and sharing conversations, the book makes a strong case for creating “communities of inquiry.” This is about intentionally not trying to solve a problem but rather exploring an idea together. The richness that emerges from this approach appears undeniable and yet, we struggle to implement this regularly as landscape architects. This book provides many viable pathways for trying again.

Building Relationships Across Divides

Polarization in public meetings is common. Rojas and Kamp’s methods are born out of the need to seek alternatives to predictable reactions to issues of parking, density, and “wow, that crazy traffic.” By tapping into memories and stories first, polarization is diffused and the commonalities among experiences emerge.

There are also deep divides and distrust between neighborhoods and their cities that have experienced structural racism over time. South Colton, California, located sixty miles east of Los Angeles in the Inland Empire, is a town where Rojas and Kamp have used all three methods — model building, pop up models, and sensory site explorations — over the course of two years. South Colton is both an historically redlined neighborhood that has been isolated and underserved and a place “where residents have worked to creatively and resourcefully improve their environment in the face of great odds…” South Colton is emblematic of many neighborhoods across the country. Generic engagement won’t work here. There can be healing benefits from relationship building approaches to community engagement that extend to the neighborhood and well beyond the neighborhood itself.

Holding on to Core Values and a Sense of Belonging

Near the end of the memorable conversation with a trusted colleague, one starts to realize there is a lot going on that goes beyond the words – the air was breezy, the pace was comfortable, the vibe was relaxed, and so it was easy to listen and feel heard. Setting the tone is a recurring theme in this book, which covers many project examples and methods. Not only does setting the tone result in people feeling ready to engage more deeply, it also models the relationship building work it takes to be responsible to each other and a place.

Part of the book’s appeal is its modest approach to a deeply urgent topic. These practices are deceivingly low key! When we engage in these practices of heart and hand, we are building much more than enduring spaces and places, we are building and strengthening the basics of a democracy. The book stops short of claiming this, choosing to focus on how the health of the public realm and the neighborhood are intertwined. However, it would not be hyperbole to make the link between civic health and these relationship-based practices that reduce polarization, elevate equitable approaches, and recognize the power of humility.

Deb Guenther, FASLA, is a design partner at Mithun, an interdisciplinary design practice with offices in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Her work, Design in Kinship, which was initiated during the 2021-22 Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership, explores the expanding role of collective impact work by community-based organizations in the context of climate change and social justice.

Nature-based Protection Against Storm Surges

Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

“Superstorm Sandy in 2012 was a wake-up call for NYC and made the city realize it needed to better prepare for climate change,” said Adrian Smith, FASLA, vice president at ASLA and team leader of Staten Island capital projects with NYC Parks. Due to storm surges from Sandy, “several people in Staten Island perished and millions in property damage was sustained.”

On the 10th anniversary of Sandy, Smith along with Pippa Brashear, ASLA, principal at SCAPE, and Donna Walcavage, FASLA, principal at Stantec, explained how designing with nature can lead to more resilient shoreline communities. During Climate Week NYC, they walked an online crowd of hundreds through two interconnected projects on the southwestern end of the island: Living Breakwaters and its companion on land — the Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project.

Sandy impacted 13 states along the East coast, causing the death of more than 100 people, power outages for 8.5 million, more than $70 billion in damages, and the destruction of 650,000 homes. In response, President Obama initiated a task force, which led to the creation of Rebuild by Design, a novel program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Then HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan — who has trained as an architect and is married to Liza Gilbert, ASLA, a landscape architect — initiated the program to plan and design better climate resilience solutions.

With numerous state and local government, non-profit, and philanthropic partners, the first Rebuild by Design competition funded seven ambitious projects throughout the Tri-state area. One of those projects is Living Breakwaters, off the coast of Tottenville, which received $60 million in federal grants, along with significant state and city support.

“Donovan created the opportunity to do things differently, allowing interdisciplinary design teams to take a broad perspective. It really takes a village. Rebuild by Design has allowed landscape architects to shine,” Brashear said.

New York City has more than 500 miles of shoreline, and its harbor is deeply intertwined with the city’s economy and culture. But with climate change, the city’s shoreline and low-lying communities are increasingly exposed to storm surges and sea level rise.

These coastal communities are in both highly dense urban areas like Manhattan and inner Brooklyn, and in suburban or even rural areas in Staten Island and the far reaches of outer boroughs. In communities with natural shorelines, like many in Staten Island, erosion has caused a loss of one to three feet of coastline each year.

Living Breakwaters, which is now under construction, is designed to reduce coastal flood risks and erosion while improving habitat for wildlife and increasing social resilience to future climate impacts.

“It’s not designed to keep floodwaters out but to create a necklace of breakwaters combined with a layered system of adaptation on shore,” Brashear said.

Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

SCAPE worked with coastal and structural engineers to develop a series of breakwater models. They found that just creating digital models wasn’t enough and tested physical models in a “giant wave tank” in Canada to refine the placement of elements in the water.

Digital model of wave action for Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE
Physical model of Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

The breakwaters are comprised of 600 bio-enhancing “armor blocks” made of porous concrete produced by the company ECOncrete. They are set in the water at different elevations. Lower-crested breakwaters will help with erosion while the higher ones will help with wave attenuation.

Living Breakwaters model, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

The breakwaters were custom designed to include “niches and crevices” that introduce habitat complexity, creating space for a range of targeted species, including juvenile fish, oysters, and other shellfish. Brashear argued that their clients are also the wildlife of the harbor. Already, Stanley the seal has made the breakwaters a chill-out spot.

Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE
Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE
Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

The armor blocks will create tidal pools and “reef streets,” which are underwater canyons where oysters will be installed. The careful arrangement of elements enable wildlife to thrive without being overtaken by accumulating sediment.

Living Breakwaters, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

Back on shore, SCAPE engaged local residents to create a dialogue around the design. “Our goal was to foster awareness, help the community cope with flood risk, and engage in stewardship.”

“We also tried to steer away from formal meetings.” Instead the firm engaged residents and school children in new and often fun ways.

Living Breakwaters educational activity, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

Tottenville was once called “the town oysters built.” The bay was so intensively harvested it was “like a farm.” SCAPE found that “oysters are the charismatic bivalve of NYC. The idea of the oyster reefs resonated with people.”

So educational programs with partners brought oysters and their history in the community to life, which helped reconnect the community to its shoreline. “This project is not just about breakwaters but a layered approach to reduce risk and fostering a local culture of resilience.”

Oyster-related event, Staten Island, NYC / SCAPE

The Tottenville Shoreline Protection Project runs parallel to the Living Breakwaters on shore and extends further along the coast. A result of federal, state, and local government investment, it’s one of the key layers in the nature-based protection plan Brashear described.

During both Hurricane Ida and Superstorm Sandy, the surge of coastal waters flooded deeper inland, causing immense property damage, Walcavage said. The Line of Moderate Wave Action (LIMWA) is a measure the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses to indicate the inland coastal zones that can be reached by 1.5 to 3-feet-high waves. In Tottenville, more properties have fallen inside the LIMWA in the past few decades, and the owners faces much higher dangers and insurance rates.

One goal of the Shoreline Protection Project is to move the LIMWA back so more homes are out of the highest risk zone. To accomplish this, Stantec designed a series of “sand-capped dunes with stone cores,” Walcavage said. “These look more like natural shore. The stone core will protect against wave attentuation even if the beach is gone.”

Tottenville Shoreline Protection Plan, Staten Island, NYC / Stantec, NY State Governor’s Office for Storm Recovery

Walcavage said getting the architecture of the dunes right was tricky. The dune infrastructure is responsive to different water and coastal conditions. Some areas are designed for wave attentuation while others guard against erosion and sea level rise. They are wider in areas to ensure the sand’s correct “angle of repose.”

Tottenville Shoreline Protection Plan, Staten Island, NYC / Stantec, NY State Governor’s Office for Storm Recovery

And the team realized that the entire shoreline protection system had to be extended because otherwise the “water would just go around it” and find another way inland.

Beyond the new dunes, earthen berms will also be built in a series of restored wetlands, marshlands, and forested areas, which will double as flood water containment areas and public parkland. A key part of the project is safe but also beautiful pathways that improve access to these amenities.

Tottenville Shoreline Protection Plan, Staten Island, NYC / Stantec, NY State Governor’s Office for Storm Recovery
Tottenville Shoreline Protection Plan, Staten Island, NYC / Stantec, NY State Governor’s Office for Storm Recovery
Tottenville Shoreline Protection Plan, Staten Island, NYC / Stantec
Tottenville Shoreline Protection Plan, Staten Island, NYC / Stantec, NY State Governor’s Office for Storm Recovery

The entire shore infrastructure also required a new road for maintenance vehicles, which further added complexity.

When concerns are raised about the costs of these twinned projects, which together exceed $100 million, it’s important to understand these landscapes are “about both coastal risk reduction and ecological restoration,” Brashear said. And also, “people here in Tottenville are not ready to leave.”

Landscape architects, working together across public and private practice, want to reduce this community’s risk and send a message that storm surges and sea level rise don’t necessarily need to result in the loss of life, property, and public space. Even amid a changing climate and uncertain future, quality of life in shoreline communities can be improved through greater investment.

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

Climate justice now / Fibonacci Blue, CC BY 2.0.

‘A Much-Needed Step’: The EPA Creates a New Environmental Justice Office – 09/28/2022, Grist
“The initiative will give hard-hit communities $3 billion to address pollution.”

Reimagining Landscape Architecture: Designing Without Plants – 09/30/2022, Architizer
“With time, haptic connection and human relationships at its core, landscape architecture is a process of design that encompasses far more than flora.”

Paved With Good Intentions: We Still Can’t Kick the Car Habit – 09/28/2022, Metropolis Magazine
“Despite impressive environmental achievements, recent climate legislation substitutes electric vehicles for a more holistic, climate-friendly approach to urban planning and design.”

W Architecture & Landscape Architecture Transforms a Former Parking Area Into a Waterfront Family Park – 09/27/2022, Global Design News
“The Pier Approach is a 20-acre area space that encourages a diverse range of active and passive experiences and culminates with artist Jane Echelon’s ‘Bending Arc’ floating over the central lawn.”

Op-Ed from Torey Carter-Conneen: A Unique Moment for Landscape Architects – 09/21/2022, Archinect
“Advocacy and education efforts for landscape architecture at national, regional, and local levels are critical. As a profession, landscape architecture remains misunderstood by policy-makers and municipalities across the globe.”

Our New Flames – 09/19/2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
“New projects demonstrate how designers in California respond to increased fire risks.”

ASLA Announces 2022 Professional Awards

ASLA 2022 Professional General Design Award of Excellence. Palm Springs Downtown Park, Palm Springs, California. RIOS / Millicent Harvey

Twenty-eight Professional Award winners represent the highest level of achievement in the landscape architecture profession

By Lisa Hardaway

ASLA has announced its 2022 Professional Awards. Twenty-eight Professional Award winners represent the highest level of achievement in the landscape architecture profession. All winners and their locations are listed below.

Jury panels representing a broad cross-section of the profession, from the public and private sectors, and academia, select winners each year. The 28 winners were chosen out of 506 entries.

The Professional Awards jury also selects a Landmark Award each year; this year’s Landmark Award celebrates “Crissy Field: An Enduring Transformation” by Hargreaves Jones for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Crissy Field, in San Francisco’s famed Presidio, features restored coastal habitat, recreational amenities and historical interpretation.

ASLA 2022 Landmark Award. Crissy Field: An Enduring Transformation. San Francisco, California. Hargreaves Jones / Hargreaves Jones

“ASLA Professional Awards for decades have recognized the most significant achievements by landscape architects nationwide, and we congratulate this year’s winners for their extraordinary contributions to their communities and the profession,” said ASLA President Eugenia Martin, FASLA. “Many of this year’s winning projects were focused on reconnecting communities to landscapes, illustrating the important role landscape architects play in creating places for communities to live, work, and play.”

ASLA 2022 Professional Residential Design Award of Excellence. Edwin M. Lee Apartments. San Francisco, CA. GLS Landscape | Architecture / Patrik Argast

“These award winners underscore how landscape architects are problem- solving some of the biggest challenges facing communities around the globe,” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen. “From equitable community gathering spaces to addressing climate change, these winners represent the cutting edge of our industry.”

ASLA 2022 Professional Urban Design Honor Award. Denny Regrade Campus. Seattle, Washington. Site Workshop / Stuart Issett

Beginning this year, award winners will be archived in the Library of Congress. In addition, Award recipients and their clients, will be honored in person at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA 2022 Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco, California, November 11-14.

AWARD CATEGORIES

General Design

Award of Excellence
Palm Springs Downtown Park
Palm Springs, California
RIOS

Honor Award
From Brownfield to Green Anchor in the Assembly Square District
Somerville, Massachusetts
OJB

Honor Award
West Pond: Living Shoreline
Brooklyn & Queens, New York
Dirtworks Landscape Architecture P.C.

Honor Award
Riverfront Spokane
Spokane, Washington
Berger Partnership

Honor Award
10,000 SUNS: Highway to Park Project
Providence, Rhode Island
DESIGN UNDER SKY

Honor Award
Domino Park
Brooklyn, New York
James Corner Field Operations

Honor Award
A Community’s Embrace Responding to Tragedy, The January 8th Memorial and the El Presidio Park Vision Plan
Tucson, Arizona
Chee Salette, Tina Chee Landscape Studio

Urban Design

Award of Excellence
HOPE SF: Rebuild Potrero
San Francisco, California
GLS Landscape | Architecture

Honor Award
Midtown Park
Houston, Texas
Design Workshop, Inc

Honor Award
Shirley Chisholm State Park
New York, New York
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Honor Award
Denny Regrade Campus
Seattle, WA
Site Workshop

Residential Design

Award of Excellence
Edwin M. Lee Apartments
San Francisco, California
GLS Landscape | Architecture

Honor Award
Coast Ridge Residence
Portola Valley, California
Scott Lewis Landscape Architecture

Honor Award
Quarry House
Park City, Utah
Design Workshop, Inc

Honor Award
Crest Apartments, A Restorative Parallel for Supportive Housing
Van Nuys, California
SWA Group

Honor Award
Refugio
Santa Cruz, California
Ground Studio

Analysis & Planning

Honor Award
Connecting People and Landscape: Integrating Cultural Landscapes, Climate Resiliency, and Growth Management in the Low Country
Beaufort County, South Carolina
Design Workshop, Inc

Honor Award
Moakley Park Resilience Plan
Boston, Massachusetts
Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Honor Award
Preparing the Ground: Restorative Justice on Portland’s Interstate 5
Portland, Oregon
ZGF Architects

Honor Award
Reimagine Nature and Inclusion for Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, Utah
Design Workshop, Inc

Honor
Accelerating Rural Recovery and Resilience: The Pollocksville Community Floodprint
Pollocksville, North Carolina
NC State University Coastal Dynamics Design Lab

Communications

Honor Award
Talk Tree to Me: Facilitating a Complex Conversation Around Trees in Detroit
Detroit, Michigan
Spackman Massop Michaels

Honor Award
Miridae Mobile Nursery: Growing a Native Plant Community
Sacramento Region, California
Miridae

Honor Award
Open Space Master Plan, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
New York City, New York
Grain Collective Landscape Architecture & Urban Design PLLC

Research

Honor Award
Curbing Sediment: A Proof of Concept
The Ohio State University
Halina Steiner & Ryan Winston

Honor Award
Soilless Soils: Investigation of Recycled Color-Mixed Glass in Engineered Soils
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
OLIN

Honor Award
Alabama Meadows
Auburn, Alabama
Emily Knox, ASLA; and David Hill, ASLA

Looking to Olmsted in the Era of Global Urbanization

Riverside Park and Central Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Manhattan, NYC / istockphoto.com, Terraxplorer

This year marks the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, who is considered the founder of the profession of landscape architecture. Do his ideas still matter in today’s rapidly urbanizing world? Jayne Miller, chair of World Urban Parks, asked global landscape architects and park leaders to weigh in during the latest online conversation organized by Olmsted 200.

For Kongjian Yu, FASLA, founder of Turenscape and professor and dean, College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Peking University, “Olmsted is still relevant because he knew how to meet essential human needs. He brought nature back to the city, which is so important for the human body. We need nature to get energy. But we also need open public space as a group. He believed green space means equal space.”

Mount Royal Park, Montreal, Quebec, Canada by Frederick Law Olmsted / istockphoto.com, bakerjarvis

“Olmsted knew if you love nature, you will take care of it. Elevating nature is about civilizing yourself. If we elevate nature, we also civilize human beings. We can civilize cities,” Yu said.

Olmsted was one of the first to articulate the value of nature for an urbanizing world, said Yu, who has translated many of Olmsted’s essays into Chinese.

In the 1880s, when Olmsted was at his peak, almost 30 percent of the U.S. population was urban; today, it is 70 percent. In contrast, China was just 10 percent urban up until a few decades ago and then the country went through a rapid period of urbanization, reaching an urbanization rate of nearly 65 percent by 2022.

“Urbanization is now global, and we can all learn from what Olmsted knew 150 years ago. He was 150 years ahead of the rest of the world.”

ASLA 2016 Professional General Design Honor Award. Framing Terrain and Water: Quzhou Luming Park, Quzhou City, Zhejiang Province, China. Turenscape

“Olmsted sticks with us because he knew landscapes are about delivering physical, psychological, and social benefits — they can even be symbols of collective identity,” said Romy Hecht, associate professor at the School of Architecture, Ponticia Universidad Católica de Chile.

“It seems to me Olmsted was about re-imagining cities as a whole place with whole landscapes,” said Alison Barnes, CEO, New Forest National Park Authority, chair of the Green Halo Partnership, and board member of London National Park City.

Barnes’ own work with London National Park City is a “modern Olmsted movement,” Miller argued. It’s about “everyone benefiting and contributing to urban nature, about deep democratization of nature,” Barnes said.

Primrose Hill Park, London / istockphoto.com, Paolo Paradiso

“We think cities should be habitats for ourselves. We should be able to get lost in nature in cities and connect with nature wherever we are.”

“I think Olmsted said utility trumps ornament. Utility is about connecting with our need for nature. There is a lot of synergy with our work and Olmsted’s. It’s important that we refresh these ideas.”

The pandemic caused large numbers of urbanites to leave the city and buy homes, sometimes sight unseen, in more natural rural areas, Miller said. Could this be the first sign in a slow down in global urbanization?

“I believe more urbanization is inevitable. Human communities have always evolved into urban ones. It could be a beautiful process rooted in nature,” Hecht said.

But for this to happen, more cities will need to follow Olmsted’s model. “He was an activist who called for urban improvements, a sense of community, and the diversification of opportunities.”

For Barnes, it is less about following an Olmsted-like figure and more about engaging and empowering communities to take action — to “create demand for nature.” In the UK, a number of development projects that would have negatively impacted natural areas haven’t happened because of “strong and vibrant” community groups.

Access to green space is a fundamental human need; “it’s essential.” “It’s not just landscape architects on their hobby horses, but about ensuring our quality of life.”

Unfortunately, access to urban nature is still highly unequal across the developed and developing worlds, even where there is significant community engagement. For example, in Santiago, Chile, which has six million residents in 200 thousand acres, “37 percent of the population has just 33 square feet of green space per capita, while 0.5 percent has 200 square feet per capita,” Hecht said. There is also unequal maintenance of these spaces and therefore unequal park quality.

Parque Bustamante, Providencia district, Santiago de Chile, Chile / istockphoto.com, tifonimages

This means “we need a green recovery” that brings more parks to more people. “Leaders have an obligation to engage communities to achieve these goals. We need to start with leaders.”

Along with rapid urbanization, countries around the globe must also contend with the climate crisis. Miller asked: What would Olmsted propose to address the impacts of climate change — green infrastructure and nature-based solutions?

“The first wave was Olmsted’s wave — to green the city. The second wave was to design with nature at the regional scale, like Ian McHarg proposed. Now with industrialization and urbanization at a global scale, we need a third wave — to transform the globe,” Yu argued.

“We need new nature-based infrastructure. We can no longer rely on concrete, steel, and chemicals. Sea walls and gates will inevitably fail. We need to plan ecological infrastructure” for the entire planet.

ASLA 2020 Professional General Design Honor Award. Deep Form of Designed Nature: Sanya Mangrove Park, Sanya City, Hainan Province, China. Turenscape

“Olmsted offered a way. His Emerald Necklace in Boston was adaptive with a muddy river system. He gave space for the water, marshlands, and lowlands. This is a model for adapting to climate change.”

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

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, aerial view from the south / Studio Gang and SCAPE

Studio Gang’s Redesigned Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, US, is Set to Open to the Public – 09/2022, ArchDaily
“The new building is situated within 11 acres of public landscape designed by SCAPE Landscape Architecture and inspired by the native ecologies of Arkansas.”

Michigan Gets $105M Grant from Feds To Turn I-375 in Detroit Into Boulevard – 09/15/2022, The Detroit News
“City leaders have envisioned the elimination of I-375 as a way to reconnect once-predominantly Black neighborhoods divided by the highway when it was built in the 1950s and ’60s, bulldozing the Black Bottom and Paradise Valley residential and commercial districts in the name of urban renewal.”

The Best of Urban Design 2022 – 09/15/2022, Fast Company
“See all the honorees of Fast Company’s 2022 Innovation by Design Awards in the Urban Design category.”

At 75, the Father of Environmental Justice Meets the Moment – 09/12/2022, The New York Times
“The White House has pledged $60 billion to a cause Robert Bullard has championed since the late seventies. He wants guarantees that the money will end up in the right hands.”

The Town Squares We Used to Have — and Could Have Again – 09/12/2022, Governing
“This historic importance of town squares, in towns of all shapes and sizes, is impossible to dispute. The question is how badly we need them now — not just as picturesque garden spots but as gathering places for a functioning community.”

First Look at Frisco’s Newest Park – 09/07/2022, Local Profile
“OJB Landscape Architecture, the firm behind Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park, is handling the park’s design that’s centered around providing inclusive and accessible year-round arts and culture programming to reflect North Texas’ diverse character.”

Herzog & De Meuron and Piet Oudolf Team for Philadelphia’s Forthcoming Calder Gardens – 09/07/2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
“Landscape architect Richard Herbert, ASLA, joins Herzog & de Meuron and Piet Oudolf to design Calder Gardens, slated to open in 2024.”

Uproar Causes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Rethink Miami Storm Protection Plan

Visualization of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ grey infrastructure proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority
Visualization of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ grey infrastructure proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority

A persuasive local advocacy and media campaign convinced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a new, expanded study for a $6 billion project to protect Miami from future hurricanes, coastal flooding, and climate impacts. Critics argued that the Army Corps’ initial draft plan for the project, which had proposed a series of sea walls and gates, would have negatively impacted the character of Miami, reduced property values, and cut-off access to important waterfront parks, exacerbating existing inequities in access to public space.

The Miami Mayor’s office and Downtown Development Authority instead demanded a deeper exploration of nature-based solutions, including constructed islands and mangroves, to protect the urban coastline along Biscayne Bay. The Army Corps has agreed to spend $8 million over 60 months, essentially doubling the cost and timeline of the original study, and take a more collaborative approach with city stakeholders.

Key to this shift were renderings created by Miami-based, women-led landscape architecture firm Curtis + Rogers Design Studio for the Miami Downtown Development Authority, which governs the business district. These concepts were included in the Authority’s response to the Army Corps’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study but soon became the focus of public attention and coverage in The Miami Herald and local TV stations, social media discussion, and national coverage in NPR and The New York Times. The authority commissioned visuals that would both show how 20-feet-tall concrete walls along the bayfront would impact the city (see images at top) and demonstrate how a better alternative, rooted in nature, could offer protections while offering many other benefits.

According to Aida Curtis, ASLA, a founding principal at the firm, the Authority gave her firm just two weeks, during the height of the pandemic, to work with coastal and civil engineers to create nature-based design concepts. She explained that the concepts are comprehensive, but more research, modeling, planning, and design work needs to be done to further hone the ideas. Still, the Authority was able to use these concepts for leverage in negotiations with the Army Corps.

“We had envisioned vegetated shorelines with mangroves along with strategically-placed bermed islands in the Bay that would attenuate wave action during storm surges. This is a grey/green solution, not all nature-based, but it would be much better for the community and environment and increase park access,” Curtis said in a zoom interview.

An alternative nature-based proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority
An alternative nature-based proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority
An alternative nature-based proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority

Curtis argues that “this kind of idea is what the Corps should have proposed initially,” and her concepts are line with their stated Engineering with Nature principles, which calls for using nature-based solutions to solve climate impacts.

The Army Corps had engaged Miami-Dade County, which includes the City of Miami, in a series of complex feasibility studies to improve resilience against storms, flooding, and sea level rise. In other study areas, south of the city, the Army Corps did propose nature-based solutions, including mangroves, Curtis said.

But the issue was in the downtown core, they only offered hard grey infrastructure. “We wanted to show the walls as real as they would be, with graffiti and the trash that is common in parts of downtown Miami. People didn’t realize how tall or in-your-face these walls would actually be.”

Visualization of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ grey infrastructure proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority

“Their proposal would also have put many residential communities outside the wall. This lack of thought is what caused the uproar. The city needs a much more comprehensive solution.”

Curtis noted that Miami suffers from significant water management problems. So much groundwater has been extracted through wells that saltwater is now seeping into the water supply. Stormwater runoff and fertilizer use throughout the city and country have caused significant water quality issues, leading to massive fish kills. In Miami Beach, a system of pumps have been instituted to draw out flood water. “But they discovered that during a hurricane, there is no power, which means no pumps. Grey infrastructure solutions for water management have failed in Miami.”

There are many arguments for designing nature-based solutions — using landscape architecture strategies to help solve Miami’s problems. Curtis said they offer multiple environmental and equity benefits.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tentative Selected Plan and Alternate Plan. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority

On the environmental side, mangroves reduce inland flooding by serving as a barrier against waves. But they also clean and oxygenate the water while providing habitat for sea life and sequestering carbon.

An alternative nature-based proposal. Response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study / Curtis + Rogers Design Studio, courtesy of Miami Downtown Development Authority

Given housing has become increasingly unaffordable, lower-income communities in Miami have been pushed west, inland. “Park and open space is very limited in the city. Low-income and immigrant communities have limited access to the waterfront.”

One of the benefits of natural coastal infrastructure is that it can double as park land. “New islands in the bay could be designed to be accessible public space that people can enjoy.” Her firm’s proposal would create 39 acres of new public recreational areas.

Curtis said next steps will be key. The Army Corps and city will need to “bring in more stakeholders and get more community input.” The city is expected to also undertake their own complimentary planning effort.

Perhaps the one positive effect of the initial Army Corps study is that “more people in Miami are now paying attention to this and more are involved in climate action,” Curtis said. “The intended audience of the response was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the Authority’s report and our images transcended and went viral.” There is also now greater awareness of the value of nature-based solutions and “the detrimental effect grey solutions can have on cities — the severe damage they can have on quality of life.”

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