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Olmsted Scholar Events in Los Angeles


To recognize and build community among our 2017 Olmsted Scholars, LAF held a series of events in Los Angeles on October 19-20. Of this year’s 81 Olmsted Scholars, 38 traveled from across the U.S. and Canada (and from as far away as Hong Kong!) to participate. The Olmsted Scholars Program honors students who are nominated by their faculty for demonstrating exceptional leadership potential and using their ideas, influence, communication, and service to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.

The events kicked off with the Olmsted Scholars Luncheon where the scholars had the opportunity to meet each other, the LAF Board of Directors, Board Emeriti, staff, and program sponsors. The luncheon included the award certificate ceremony and short presentations from 2017 National Olmsted Scholars David de la Cruz (MLA, University of Washington) and Lauren Delbridge (MLA, Virginia Tech).

David, winner of the $25,000 graduate prize, discussed his interest and work on environmental justice issues in his home community in South Central Los Angeles. David will work collaboratively with educators, school administrators, and students at under-resourced high schools to “build youth leadership around urban environmental issues in working-class communities and communities of color.” Lauren, winner of the $15,000 undergraduate prize, shared her thesis project and investigations into the complex nature of coal ash ponds where she is utilizing landscape architecture to develop remediation strategies that have the potential to transform these contaminated sites into multi-functioning places for human interaction, education, and experience.

Following the luncheon, the Olmsted Scholars participated in small group discussions facilitated by LAF Board Emeritus members and special guest 2011 Olmsted Scholar Billy Fleming, Research Coordinator at PennDesign’s The McHarg Center. Each shared their path, aspirations for the profession, and their own personal and professional development goals as they transition from school to professional lives and communities.


The day concluded with a visit to Studio-MLA’s new office space on an industrial site overlooking the Los Angeles River. Thank you to LAF Board member Mia Lehrer and to Studio-MLA Senior Associates Claire Latane and Kush Parekh for hosting and sharing your inspirational and impactful work in Los Angeles.

The activities culminated the following evening with LAF’s 32nd Annual Benefit in the historic ticket concourse of Los Angeles’ Union Station. The Olmsted Scholars were among the over 600 attendees who gathered to catch up with friends and colleagues and support LAF. The scholars were recognized as part of the program, which featured the launch of LAF’s The New Landscape Declaration book and recognition of 2017 LAF Medal recipient Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.


Thank you to the generous Olmsted Scholars Program sponsors whose support makes the financial awards and events like these possible. Lead Sponsor: The Toro Company; Annual Sponsors: EDSA, HOK, OLIN, Sasaki Associates, IRONSMITH, LandDesign, Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly, Steven G. King, FASLA, and Bill Main, Hon. ASLA; Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

More photos from this year’s Olmsted Scholars Luncheon and LAF’s 32nd Annual Benefit can be found on LAF’s Flickr Photostream.

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