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Olmsted Scholar Feature: Upcoming Research on Infrastructural Regionalism

by Emily Vogler, 2010 National Olmsted Scholar

21st century America operates in a globalized world where interbasin water transfers, mass human migration, international trade, and invasive species create complex relationships between distant geographies. Increasingly, designers are asked to develop proposals that respond to this global context while acting locally to incorporate current approaches to sustainability and design. The region is increasingly important as an intermediate territory that bridges the global and the local scale and serves as a platform from which to address infrastructural networks that are the organizing frameworks for our cities and rural areas.

As the 2010 National Olmsted Scholar, I will conduct research on infrastructural regionalism. I will use the existing networks of Water, Energy, Industry, Transportation, Culture, and Ecology as starting points from which to investigate five city-regions across the United States. Each of these networks links urban, regional, and global issues and is key to making our cities productive ecosystems nested within a sustainable regional framework. In addition, these networks can provide a foundation for the development of a metric that evaluates sustainability at the regional and site scale. This metric should be both quantitative and qualitative; both experimental and theoretical; and should include aesthetics and humanity.

I will document each region through the plotting of existing networks and flows, photographs, interactive community mapping projects, and transects that originate from points of maximum population density and extend to the rural surroundings. Each regional investigation will culminate in a mobile exhibition that will engage the public in a dialogue on the topic of  “the region” and propose a design agenda that bridges the regional and local scales.

Stay tuned to this blog series for updates on my research, including the regions I have chosen to investigate.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in May with a Masters in Landscape Architecture, Emily began working with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in New York City. She is currently working on the ARC Competition to design a wildlife overpass structure in Vail, Colorado. 

Call for LPS Case Study Briefs

The Landscape Performance Series (LPS) Case Study Briefs form a database of built projects with quantified landscape benefits, searchable by benefit, project type, and/or location. Each case study includes a variety of environmental, economic, and/or social benefits along with a methodology document, before/after images, a list of sustainable features, cost comparison and lessons learned. The vision is to grow this resource to include hundreds of projects, representing a wide range of scales, geographic locations and landscape typologies.

lpscasestudycallLPS case studies are submitted by designers or other project stakeholders using an online form, and undergo a review and editing process before being published. LAF is currently seeking submissions to add to our growing database of exemplary built projects. The deadline to submit for the next round of review and publication is Tuesday, November 30. 

Participation increases awareness about your sustainable project(s), demonstrates thought leadership, and shares information so that others — both inside and outside the profession — can learn from your good work. By contributing to the LPS, you will be helping to enrich our collective knowledge about landscape performance, generate demand for the profession, and assist sustainability implementers around the world in understanding and communicating the value of sustainable landscape solutions.

We invite you to submit a Case Study Brief today!

New Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes Winner

Matt Spidell of Castle Rock, Colorado is the new winner of the trip for two to the Philippines through LAF’s 2nd Annual Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes. (Though another winner was selected initially, she declined the prize due to a lack of availability to take the trip.) Matt was chosen from the 200 entries LAF received, raising over $11,000 to support our research and scholarship programs.

Matt will have a unique opportunity to visit Ayala Land/AECOM’s award-winning Avaya Cove resort in Morong, Bataan, Philippines. The sweepstakes package, valued at $8,200, was donated by AECOM and Ayala Land and includes:

  • 6 nights’ accommodation (3 nights at Anvaya anvayacove-542x407Cove, 3 nights in Manila)
  • Roundtrip airfare between the U.S. and Manila
  • All ground transportation transfers
  • $100/day per person meal and entertainment allowance

“My wife and I love traveling and are due for a trip,” said Matt who runs his own firm, Natural Design Solutions, Inc., which stresses ecological design and green building principals. “It will be really cool to go to a resort designed and built with these same principals.”

Matt knew of LAF’s scholarship programs from his time as president of ASLA Colorado, though participation in the sweepstakes was his first direct involvement with the foundation. “And my wife Michelle constantly reminds me that she is the one who actually sent in the sweepstakes entry.”

Matt and Michelle will make their trip sometime in the next year and plan to share some of their photos and insights with us when they return. Thank you to all who participated in the sweepstakes by registering online, mailing in entries, or stopping by the LAF booth during the ASLA Annual Meeting.

Two New Blog Features Coming Soon

Starting in mid-October, the LAF Blog will include two new regular features. 

The first highlights our 2010 Olmsted Scholars and the exciting things that these young leaders are doing. Every Monday, our blog will feature a guest post from an Olmsted Scholar discussing his/her research and activities. This month we’ll hear about National Olmsted Scholar Emily Vogler’s research on infrastructural regionalism, Lauren Lesch’s experience with the Presidential Management Fellows Program, and Finalist Amanda Jeter’s efforts as founder and editor of Root, an annual publication for landscape architecture students and professionals.

The second regular blog feature will highlight innovative research and initiatives related to landscape performance and quantifying the benefits of landscape. We’ll start with a guest post from Texas A&M Adjunct Professor Dennis Jerke, who is leading a new multi-disciplinary Land Development class, in which teams of students visit projects and gather data to assess social/cultural, economic, environmental, and visual value. We hope to make this a monthly or bimonthly feature, so if you know of other initiatives that are advancing our knowledge related to landscape performance or would like to contribute a post, please let us know.

Xtreme LA: A Unique Design Challenge in Austin

xtremelaaustin1During the morning site visit, Dean Almy indicates one potential location for a proposed light rail bridge.We just returned after an intense 3 days in Austin, Texas with the Xtreme LA Challenge. This year’s event, co-hosted by LAF, Landscape Forms and the University of Texas at Austin, brought young professionals from around the country to Austin to work with UT graduate students on a design challenge with established leaders in the profession.

Susannah C. Drake, RLA, RA a principal at dlandstudio and Sarah Kuehl of Peter Walker and Partners led the two teams, which had a day-and-a-half to propose design solutions for an underutilized area along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake.

Austin City Councilmember Chris Riley and UT’s Dean Almy, a member of the Waterfront Planning xtremelaaustin2Susannah Drake's team presents their “soft-boiled egg” concept: hard waterfront edge, green space in the center.Board charged with making recommendations to the City, presented an overview of the area, development challenges and opportunities. The teams spent the following morning visiting both sides of the waterfront to get a feel for the site and its context. They then headed to the studio to vet ideas, hash out solutions, and develop materials to present in just over 24 hours.

The teams presenting their ideas the following afternoon to a packed audience that included representatives from the Waterfront Planning Board, Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department, and the City Planning Commission, along with UT students and other interested stakeholders.

“The teams demonstrated the importance of the xtremelaaustin3Sarah Kuehl's team was inspired by the idea of performance: musical, athletic, natural, city and landscape performance.discipline of landscape architecture to the construction of quality of life in the urban environment,” said Dean Almy. “Each of the teams developed a very thorough analysis of the challenges that future development of the site is facing, and they were able to arrive at two very distinct and provocative solutions in a very short time frame. The presentations will be part of the Waterfront Board’s future diliberations on the future of the area.”

LAF sincerely thanks Landscape Forms and the University of Texas at Austin for all they did to organize this outstanding event. Now in its third year, the Xtreme LA program provides young leaders with a unique opportunity to meet and interact with seasoned professionals and peers from across the country. This year’s inclusion of students on the design teams added an extra layer of mentoring and learning opportunities.