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In today’s increasingly evidence-based marketplace, landscape architecture students need to be able to convey the environmental, economic, and social value of excellent design. Incorporating landscape performance into the curriculum will give students the awareness and skills they need to design for, evaluate, and communicate the impact of their projects.
LAF’s Landscape Performance Education Grants allow select faculty to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings. For 2014, five $2,500 grants have been awarded to the following faculty for their proposed classes:
- Aidan Ackerman, Boston Architectural College
Ecological Analysis & Conceptual Frameworks (MLA Studio)
- Gary Austin, PLA, University of Idaho
Water Conservation Technologies (BSLA Lecture)
- Kenneth Brooks, FASLA, FCELA, PLA, Arizona State University
Advanced Landscape Architecture Studio IV (MLA Studio) and Special Topic: Design Performance (MLA Seminar)
- Chuo Li, PhD, Mississippi State University
Landscape Architecture Graduate Studio II: Health (MLA Studio)
- Mary Myers, PhD, FASLA, FCELA, Temple University
Seminar on Landscape Performance: Focus on Temple University Main Campus Landscape (MLA/BSLASeminar)
The selection process for the 2014 grants was competitive, with applications received from faculty at universities across the U.S. The teaching proposals include studio, lecture, and seminar courses for both BLA and MLA curricula.
Students will learn about landscape performance from a variety of angles, such as stormwater management, public health, energy conservation and social cohesion. Many of the courses integrate performance metrics directly into the design process, with students setting objectives and developing metrics to evaluate the projected performance of their studio projects. In other cases, students will apply various tools and methods to measure benefits to inform design scenarios for external “real world” projects.
Grant recipients will work with LAF throughout the duration of the classes and use formal course evaluations to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models used. Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants will form the basis of a new “Resources for Educators” section on the LAF website, which will offer teaching tools like syllabi, reading lists, and assignments for faculty members interested in teaching landscape performance to the next generation of design professionals.
The Landscape Performance Education Grants are made possible with support from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Foundation for Education & Research. Five additional $2,500 awards will be made for the 2014-2015 academic year, with proposals accepted starting next fall.
To prepare for the professional challenges and opportunities of an increasingly evidence-based marketplace, landscape architecture students need awareness, skills, and resources to be able to design for, evaluate, and communicate landscape performance. Yet landscape performance — using metrics to convey the environmental, economic, and social value of excellent design — is not yet an established part of the educational curriculum.
To accelerate the adoption of landscape performance in design education, LAF is offering five $2,500 mini-grants to select university faculty for the Spring 2014. Participating faculty will work with LAF to develop and test one or more models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings, such as research and methods, site planning and analysis, design studios, and other lecture or seminar courses.
Applications will be due Oct 31, 2013. Each application is to include a teaching proposal, which will be evaluated for quality and feasibility by LAF and an independent committee of educators. Grant recipients will be announced in November 2013.
Grant recipients will work closely with LAF and its Education Committee to finalize the teaching proposals, which will then be implemented during the Spring 2014 semester/term. Formal course evaluations will be used to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models tested, including whether specific landscape performance learning objectives are met.
This initiative is made possible by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Foundation for Education & Research, whose support will allow LAF to award a total of $25,000 in grants to educators, with five grants made in the 2013-2014 academic year and five in 2014-2015.
Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants will form the basis of a new “Resources for Educators” section on the LAF website, which will include assignments, syllabi and other resources to help bring landscape performance into the classroom to better prepare the next generation of design professionals.
by Nancy Rottle, 2011 LAF Research Fellow | Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington | Director, Green Futures Research and Design Lab
How is landscape performance best incorporated into the LA curriculum? How might LAF’s Landscape Performance Series (LPS) contribute to landscape architecture education and the future practice of our current students?
These are questions that underlay incorporation of the LPS and Case Study Investigation (CSI) model into the graduate curriculum at the University of Washington during the 2011 autumn term. Collaborating with LAF, my Landscape Performance seminar tackled the production of a dozen case studies for projects that ranged from parks to schools to zoo exhibits, in the Pacific Northwest and in China.
The case study work replaced the usual term paper for my Sustainable Urban Landscapes course, which has focused on landscape performance for the last two years. The seminar readings and discussions examine concepts and practices related to the design of sustainable urban landscapes, engaging such theories as green infrastructure, green and sustainable urbanism, landscape urbanism, regenerative and closed-loop design and landscape metrics. The twist of working within the CSI collaborative model immersed students into a more interactive approach to studying performing landscapes.
Preparation for the class began over the summer, as LAF Research Assistant Pam Emerson and I met with several firms to identify and vet candidate projects for case studies. A primary qualification was the existence of performance data to adequately quantify benefits of a built project. We narrowed our list of applicable projects to the most promising, and collected as much data in advance as the firms could supply. Pam also learned the processes, resources, and issues the students would face by developing two case studies of her own.
During the autumn seminar, students worked in pairs, assisting one another in gathering data and learning the various landscape evaluation tools. They received regular feedback from me, our Teaching Assistant Delia Lacson (also a LAF Research Assistant), from each other, and from LAF. An invited guest panel of experts described various tools, resources and metrics systems, including Mithun/LBJ Wildflower Center’s carbon calculator, valuation of ecosystem services from Earth Economics, components in the i-tree suite, Seattle parks maintenance data, and Sustainable Sites program resources, especially those related to human health and well-being. The case studies went through three phases of review, including a penultimate review by the sponsoring design firm, before students submitted their final versions to LAF.
Our learning from tackling these case studies underscored, yet transcended, student awareness of the value of incorporating landscape performance goals in the design process. Students in the seminar expressed that it was valuable to learn about the tools and parameters used to design and evaluate high-performing landscapes, to gain in-depth knowledge about a particular designed landscape and its actual benefits, and to learn lessons not only from successes but also from the failures that are unfortunately so common in built landscapes (such as from soil compaction or introduction of weed seeds). The process was also a first-hand lesson in how critical it is to have adequate baseline data and inside knowledge from those involved in the design process.
Measuring and documenting the performance of landscapes is required to reshape the teaching and practice of landscape architecture so that our built landscapes actually provide the desired benefits we hope to achieve. Such measurement and communication are critical to the acceptance and culture of new landscape aesthetics, within the profession and in value formation and demands from our public and private clients. We found the pilot of this model, though still evolving, to be a critical first step in introducing students to this discussion.
LAF appreciates the dedicated work of all those involved with the 2011 UW LARCH 561 course: 2011 LAF Research Fellow Nancy Rottle, Research Assistants Pam Emerson and Delia Lacson, Ximena Bustamante, Sue Costa, Peter Cromwell, Dafer Haddadin , Chen Hai, Taj Hanson, Manami Iwamija, Jo Ming Lau, Audrey Maloney, Jessica Michalak, Haruna Nemoto, Roma Shah, Karin Strelioff, Tao Xu, Xiaobing Wang, Virginia Werner, Ying-Ju Yeh.
By Dennis Jerke, ASLA
At Texas A&M University in College Station, a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students is undertaking a unique research project to measure the value generated by holistic urban design on six Texas projects.
The research project is being led by Geoffrey John Booth, the Youngblood Endowed Professor of Land Development in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University. The research is being conducted by students in his fall Master of Science in Land Development class, a group that includes 40 graduate students and 26 undergraduates from architecture, business, agriculture, landscape architecture, planning, construction science and real estate disciplines.
The research is rooted in metrics associated with the “quadruple net bottom line” as articulated in my book, Urban Design and the Bottom Line: Optimizing the Return on Perception, which examines a variety of projects, such as Chicago’s Millennium Park and the San Antonio River Walk, to demonstrate impact on their communities and the landscape. The basis for measuring this added value is a four-category matrix that evaluates factors such as safety and security, public access, transportation choices and context sensitivity (social/cultural value); taxable value, adjacent property values and occupancy rates (economic value); permeable surfaces, storm water management and rainwater harvesting, carbon
footprint (environmental value); and green space, public art and water features (sensory or visual value).
The students are studying four projects designed by TBG Partners, a Texas-based landscape architecture and planning firm for which I serve as a principal, as well as the restoration of two historic Texas courthouses. The students are using Urban Design and the Bottom Line as their textbook to study the quadruple net value generated by these projects. They are measuring the economic, social/cultural, environmental and sensory value that the design of these projects has created — what we call “the design dividend.”
The projects include Town Lake Park, a large urban park in downtown Austin; Market Street at The Woodlands, a mixed-use town center north of Houston; the Dallas Design District, an area encompassing more than 160 acres of city blocks, open space and Trinity River frontage in north Texas; and the University of St. Thomas campus life mall, a university commons in the heart of this Houston-based campus.
In addition, the students are studying restorations of the 1884-built Lampasas County Courthouse and 1889-built Wharton County Courthouse. They are gathering data/metrics from a variety of sources in each category to identify the measurable quadruple net impact of each design on the landscape and larger community. The Texas Historical Commission will use the data to evaluate the impact of investments in courthouse renovations on the downtown districts in these county seats.
This research is a pilot program to develop a database of projects and value metrics that demonstrate project performance and real estate value uplift. We plan to share our findings with the Landscape Architecture Foundation to add case studies and methods for quantifying landscape performance benefits to the Landscape Performance Series.
Urban Design and the Bottom Line: Optimizing the Return on Perception was published by the Urban Land Institute in December 2008. Dennis Jerke’s background as a landscape architect includes managing the design of more than 300 significant projects across the Southwest. The book combines his passion for communicating the value that landscape architecture generates in Urban America with his 32 years of experience in adding design value in the urban built environment.