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

Wildfire / NPS Climate Change Response, Public Domain Mark 1.0.

COP27 Climate Summit: Window for Avoiding Catastrophe Is Closing Fast – 10/30/2022, The Guardian
“The effects of global heating could soon reach a tipping point, but scientists fear that the meeting in Egypt will become bogged down in recriminations.”

A Decade After Sandy, Manhattan’s Flood Barrier Is Finally in Sight — Sort Of – 10/28/2022, Grist
“The ‘Big U’ shows how climate adaptation can succeed. It also shows how hard it is.”

The Architect Helping Sinking Cities Fight Flooding – 10/28/2022, CNN
“Kotchakorn Voraakhom is using the tools of landscape architecture to tackle climate change.”

The State of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Most At-Risk Landscapes Is Examined in New TCLF Landslide 2022 Report – 10/26/2022, Archinect
“This year’s Landslide report has identified twelve Olmsted projects in nine states and Canada that are under threat of a range of challenges including climate change, maintenance delays, and the overall lack of funding.”

Should a Park Include a Burial Ground? Residents of Newburgh, N.Y., Can’t Agree – 10/26/2022, The New York Times
“Tensions have been simmering over plans for a new addition to a beloved Olmsted park: A memorial for African Americans whose nearby burial ground was taken over by municipal projects.”

SCAPE’s Town Branch Commons Greenway Opens in Downtown Lexington, Kentucky – 10/17/2022, The Architect’s Newspaper
“A decade in the making, the Town Branch Commons, a new multiuse urban trail flanked by stormwater landscaping, is open in downtown, Lexington.”

If You Don’t Already Live in a Sponge City, You Will Soon – 10/17/2022, Wired
“Less pavement and more green spaces help absorb water instead of funneling it all away—a win-win for people and urban ecosystems.”

The Landscapes of Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman / Benjamin F. Powelson, Public domain

Harriet Tubman stood up for what she believed in. She taught us to stand straight in a crooked world,” said Kaye Wise-Whitehead, a professor of communications at Loyola University, in a wide-ranging discussion at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The event, which was made possible by the Darwina L. Neal Cultural Landscape Fund, explored the life, legacy, and cultural landscapes of Harriet Tubman, one of the chief conductors of the Underground Railroad, which for decades conveyed Black slaves in the South to freedom in the North.

This year is the bicentennial of Tubman’s birth, and there is renewed interest in her life. Two National Park Service sites in the U.S. were initiated by President Barack Obama in 2017 to help enshrine her story — one in Church Creek, Maryland, where she was born, escaped from, and later returned to in order to save other slaves; and another in Auburn, New York, where she lived as a self-emancipated railroad conductor and helped grow a community of freed Black Americans.

In Church Creek, Maryland, GWWO Architects and Mahan Rykiel Associates, a landscape architecture firm, designed a new visitor center and museum at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park. When the project started, the team toured the landscape, which includes expansive fields with woods. “We were told there wasn’t much to interpret,” Chris Elcock, with GWWO said. “There isn’t much there.”

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park / Mahan Rykiel Associates

But the team found that an entire story could be told using the landscape Tubman called home, even later after she had freed herself. The park site, which is set within the 28,000-acre Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, was much like what Tubman would have experienced, with canals, wetlands, waterways, and swales.

Tubman was born near the site in 1822 and enslaved there for 27 years before escaping. She later returned 13 times, saving more than 70 people, including her parents and brothers, but never her sister, who had been sold south.

Elcock explained that the visitor center is purposefully organized into three buildings to represent the three options available to Tubman and her family: “be sold South, remain in place, or travel North.”

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park / Mahan Rykiel Associates, GWWO Architects

Views from within the new visitor center look north to reconnect visitors with that journey.

The pull of freedom is also represented in the landscape of the park site. “We oriented the entire site’s viewshed north through an expansive lawn,” said Peng Gu, president of Mahan Rykiel, who provided additional context in a phone interview. “The north meant freedom.”

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park / Mahan Rykiel Associates, GWWO Architects

And Scott Rykiel, FASLA, vice president at Mahan Rykiel, said that a looping pathway through meadows surrounding the site also purposefully direct visitors northward.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park / Mahan Rykiel Associates

“As you are out there, you can see other visitors and can imagine others on journey through the landscape — either as someone who can help your cause or report you as an escapee,” Elcock said.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park / Mahan Rykiel Associates

The meadows are natural, but Mahan Rykiel also incorporated native plants and brought in swamp white oaks, swamp chestnut oaks, sweetgum, birch, and bald cypress trees.

One path in the visitor center even starts near a wetland, which Tubman would have used on her route in order to leave no footprints slave trackers could follow, Rykiel explained.

Traveling north wasn’t a simple “linear” process. Escaped slaves had to take indirect routes through waterways to evade slave catchers, crossing back before heading to freedom. Before the Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1850, slaves could find freedom by moving to free states in the north; afterwards, they first needed to travel to Canada to become free before settling in northern states.

Deanna Mitchell, superintendent of the the park, said Tubman lived a rich and long life, passing in 1913.

Shepherding slaves, “she understood the stars and could navigate.” The Union Army later discovered this and enlisted her help in Beaufort, South Carolina, where she commanded the army to free more than 700 slaves. “She was the first woman commander in the U.S.” Tubman was also a spy, nurse, and cook for the North.

Her early life in Maryland was marked by brutality. At age five she was loaned out to other households to tend to enslaved babies. “She was whipped every time they cried.” She preferred working outside where she could connect with nature.

For Tubman, the landscape was a way to “escape slavery, learn survival skills, escape domestic brutality, learn a trade, earn her own money, and learn the waterways.” It was the waterways that would help bring her north.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park / Mahan Rykiel Associates

Mitchell quoted Tubman: “God’s time is always near. He set the North Star in the heavens. He gave me the strength in my limbs. He meant I should be free.”

For the National Park Service, which has conducted studies on natural resources of the site, preserving the landscape Tubman would have known is of critical importance. But there are major threats: sea level rise is expected to flood much of the historic site and invasive phragmites have led to tree die-off in areas. Major studies with the Army Corps of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are underway to protect a landscape that received 100,000 visitors from 50 countries last year.

The conversation then moved to Auburn, New York, the landscape of the freed Harriet Tubman and her community. Jessica Bowes, Cultural Resource Specialist for Women’s Rights and Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks in New York, said that Tubman ended up in Auburn because it is where powerful abolitionist women lived, including Frances Seward, the wife of President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State. In 1859, Seward sold a 7-acre farm to Tubman, a farm that later grew to 32 acres.

Tubman brought many of the slaves she freed from the South to Auburn, where many later settled. Auburn was also a welcoming place because it had been a long-time Black community. As freed slaves joined the existing Black community, their neighborhoods expanded and moved. A new African American school caused the community to migrate to Washington Street, and a new church created a hub over on Parker Street, near Fort Fill cemetery.

In this neighborhood, Tubman purchased a second brick home, which has become part of the Harriet Tubman National Historic Park. The AME Zion Church, where Tubman’s funeral was held, is also part of the site. The community is still home to many of Tubman’s descendants. Some homes near the church have been continuously owned by Black Americans for generations.

Harriet Tubman Residence / Lvklock, CC BY-SA 4.0
AME Zion Church / Lvklock, CC BY-SA 4.0

“While Tubman didn’t create the community, she definitely impacted it,” Bowes said. The foundation of the Underground Railroad was “church, family, and community.” And those elements are key to the cultural landscape of Auburn’s Black community.

“The boundaries of the National Park sites are fixed, but the broader cultural landscape is fluid,” Bowes also said. Those boundaries take the form of physical barriers between the sites, as well as the changing community. But these barriers also provide opportunities.

More ambitious stories about the cultural landscape in its entirety are now being told. These efforts are supported by two-hour walking tours, a restoration of the AME Zion Church, and a new bronze statue of Tubman in a small park. “Cultural landscapes are made stronger with the presence of the community.”

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

ASLA Announces 2022 Student Awards

ASLA 2022 Student General Design Award of Excellence. Nature’s Song – An Interactive Outdoor Music and Sound Museum. Chicago, Illinois. Travis Johnson; Faculty Advisors: Christopher Marlow, ASLA; Craig Farnsworth, ASLA. Ball State University

Nineteen Student Award winners represent the highest level of achievement in landscape architecture education

By Lisa Hardaway

ASLA has announced its 2022 Student Award winners. Nineteen student Award winners represent the highest level of achievement in landscape architecture education. All winning projects and the schools they represent 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 19 winners were chosen from 459 entries.

“In my conversations with students I encourage them to always draw, always dream, and to embrace the quote by Horace ‘begin, be bold, and venture to be wise,” said ASLA President Eugenia Martin, FASLA. “The vision and creativity in this year’s entries gives me great optimism and excitement for the role landscape architecture students will play in the future of our planet.”

ASLA 2022 Student Analysis & Planning Award of Excellence. Street Trees of New Orleans – Rethinking Tree Practices for a Fluctuating City. New Orleans, Louisiana. Kerry Shui-kay Leung; Faculty Advisors: Kristi Cheramie, ASLA; Paula Meijerink, ASLA; Forbes Lipschitz, ASLA. Ohio State University

“Students are the future of this profession, so it’s encouraging and inspiring to see the full range of creativity, passion and talent that is evident among this year’s cohort of Student Award winners,” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen. “Many of this year’s Student Award winners are focused on helping communities adapt to climate change, from addressing drought and extreme heat to mitigating wildfire risk and rising sea levels—clearly, landscape architects are a key part of the climate change solution.”

ASLA 2022 Student Community Service Award of Excellence. Seeding Resilience: Celebrating Community, Education, and the Environment at Princeville Elementary School. Princeville, North Carolina. Spencer Stone, Associate ASLA; Madison Sweitzer; William Stanton; Rebecca Asser, Associate ASLA; Sarah Hassan; Martha Tack, Student ASLA; Anna Edwards; Tianyu Shen; Ruixin Mao; Sara Fetty; Faculty Advisors: Andy Fox, FASLA; Carla Delcambre, ASLA. NC State University Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning / North Carolina PBS

Award recipients and advisers will be honored in person at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Francisco, California, November 11-14.

AWARDS CATEGORIES

General Design

Award of Excellence
Nature’s Song – An Interactive Outdoor Music and Sound Museum
Ball State University

Honor Award
Cell Growth Dish–Brownfield Landscape Ecological Restoration Design
Tianjin University

Honor Award
Arboretum Within Wetland
University of Pennsylvania

Honor Award
Boston Anthro-Zoo Park: Redefining Zoos as Biophilic Public Spaces
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Urban Design

Honor Award
A Vision for Reparations: Reimagining the Eco Industrial Park for South LA
University of California, LA-Extension

Honor Award
The Bottom Rises: Sustainable Infrastructure Anchors a Reviving Neighborhood
University of Texas at Arlington

Residential Design

Honor Award
A New District Centrality and Balanced Community
University of Pennsylvania

Analysis & Planning

Award of Excellence
Streets of New Orleans – Rethinking Tree Practices for a Fluctuating City
The Ohio State University

Honor Award
Dredge Ecologies: Climate-Adaptive Strategies for a Changing Island in a Changing Climate
NC State University Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Honor Award
Living with Water: Landscape as the Potential to Envision an Anti-Fragile System for Yuba River Watershed
Southeast University / Delft University of Technology

Honor Award
Learning from Animal Adaptations to Wildfire
University of Southern California

Communications

Award of Excellence
Landscape Travels
Kansas State University

Honor Award
Overlook Field School: Wildfire Recovery
University of Oregon

Research

Honor Award
Thermalscape Tactics – Solutions in Response to Ubiquitous Heat Threat in El Paso
Texas A&M University

Honor Award
TOXIC/Tonic: Mapping Point Source Dementogens and Testing the Ability of Environmental Tonics to Mitigate Public Health Concerns
NC State University Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Student Collaboration: General Design

Award of Excellence
Carbon in the Tidewater
University of Delaware

Student Collaboration: Analysis & Planning

Honor Award
Fixed in Flux: A World Class Park Embracing Rising Waters
NC State University Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Student Community Service

Award of Excellence
Seeding Resilience: Celebrating Community, Education, and the Environment at Princeville Elementary School
NC State University Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Honor Award
15 Weeks to Transform Colorado’s Unique Ecosystem into a Learning Landscape
University of Colorado Denver

Park(ing) Day 2022 Empowered Kids to Re-Imagine Streets

Earlier this month, the 16th annual Park(ing) Day took place across the country, transforming parking spots into public spaces. Landscape architects were encouraged to empower PreK-12 students to Dream Big and re-imagine streetscapes in front of schools, libraries, and community centers. The idea was to help students discover how to improve public spaces, strengthen social connections, and boost health and well-being.

Highlights from Park(ing) Day 2022 feature creative transformations and inventive alternatives to an automobile-dominated environment:

The ASLA Utah Chapter challenged third graders at Calvin S. Smith Elementary School to design a mini-park in place of two parking lots in front of their school (scroll through images at top). The chapter then incorporated the sketches into their parklet.

“It was an amazing experience to involve the kids. They are so talented and loved learning about landscape architecture and getting involved in the community,” said Aaron Johnson, ASLA, vice president of visibility and public affairs with the ASLA Utah Chapter. “A few of them came to see their work displayed at Park(ing) Day. They were very excited to show their designs to their parents.”

In Manhattan, Kansas, ASLA student members from Kansas State University partnered with a local public library to help kids learn about parks and landscape architecture.

ASLA student members from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada collaborated with Gene Ward Elementary School to introduce third grade students to landscape architecture.

In Brighton, Massachusetts, PreK-12 students from Boston Green Academy got to plant seeds, experiment with soils, and talk with landscape architects about urban heat, environmental justice, and the role of nature in cities thanks to the Boston Society of Landscape Architects.

ASLA New York teamed up with Futures Ignite and students at WHEELS PreK-12 to create a pop-up park as part of a block party in Washington Heights, New York City. Their space offered kids free plants and drawing opportunities. And ahead of Climate Week NYC, landscape architects educated the public on landscape architecture and climate and environmental issues.

“This is what a #schoolstreet should be every day,” wrote ASLA New York Trustee Jennifer Nitzky, ASLA, on Instagram. The kids were able to imagine the many benefits of using their streets for “fun, games, learning, and relaxing in green spaces.”

ASLA student members from Florida International University designed and built an ADA-compliant raised garden bed for their Park(ing) Day installation in Miami, Florida, later donating it to Neva King Cooper Educational Center.

And, lastly, landscape architecture students from the University of Georgia led the transformation of an alleyway in Athens, Georgia into a welcoming space for older students to gather for music and urban sketching.

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.”