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2012 Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes Winner Announced

Ashley Brenden of Phoenix, Arizona has won the one-of-a-kind trip for two to New York City in LAF’s Fourth Annual Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes. Ashley’s name was selected from the 178 entrants whose donations helped raise nearly $12,000 to support LAF’s research and scholarship programs. The prize package features a day of private tours led by Michael Van Valkenburgh and staff to five MVVA-designed sustainable landscape projects: Jacob Javits Plaza, Teardrop Park, Hudson River Park (Segment 5), Union Square Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

“I’m still in a bit of shock that I won this incredible trip to New York City — it is certainly one of the most amazing opportunities presented to me. I look forward to exploring the City, Central Park and also the work of one of our most talented modern-day landscape architects,” said Ashley who is a Site Designer at SmithGroupJJR in Phoenix and an MLA student at Arizona State University. “We plan on going in March to enjoy the wonderful spring weather and to celebrate graduating from the Master’s program — I can’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate joining the field!”

2012-sweepstakes-winnerAshley Brenden (center) is congratulated by LAF Development Manager Matt Alcide and Office Manager Emily DeDad.

Ashley happened to be nearby in the ASLA EXPO Hall when the sweepstakes drawing took place on Sept 30 in Phoenix. She was brought to the LAF booth, where LAF Board members were onhand to announce the good news. “When I was told I won, I actually thought it was a joke! I thought all the cameras and people were just a prank or that maybe they wanted to ask me questions about why I donated. It took me about 5 minutes to register what the Board members had said.”

Ashley was one of a number of SmithGroupJJR employees who helped LAF by providing on-the-ground assistance and volunteer support for the LAF Annual Benefit and other events in Phoenix. She chose to donate because of the people she met through this experience. “After meeting all these generous and kind LAF staff and board members I knew that contributing to an organization that is doing so much to help the field was important.” 

LAF truly appreciates the support of all who participated in the sweepstakes and sends a special thank you to Michael Van Valkenburg and Associates for providing the unique prize package. Stay tuned for information about our 2013 Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes — the location will be announced in February with registration beginning in June.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Landscape Architects and the Microbrewery Renaissance

By Lee Streitz, 2012 University Olmsted Scholar

The renaissance of microbreweries is under way. In the last thirty years, there has been a 1700% increase in the number of independent breweries in the United States. Similar to when the number of wineries and vineyards increased dramatically in the late 1990s, independent brewery growth offers the profession of landscape architecture tremendous opportunities to shape these spaces to ensure that they too become sustainable and choice outdoor destinations.

Unlike wineries though, the growth in the number of independent breweries has not been paired with an increase in sales. This dichotomy means that more breweries are competing for a share of a shrinking market, causing the field to become more competitive.

streitz-cherrytreerender2The gasholder at this former industrial plant was repurposed to function as a beer garden, waypoint, and community performance area.

Because of the increased competition, there appears to be a need for breweries to distinguish themselves from their competitors and build customer loyalty through positive environment- based memories. Research has demonstrated that flagship stores can be valuable tools in strengthening customer relationships and distinguishing one’s brand from competitors (Think of the flagship Apple and REI stores).

While traditional Bavarian biergartens are charming outdoor spaces, which are enjoyed by many, they do little to distinguish themselves from each other. If designed thoughtfully, breweries’ industrial locations could function well as pilgrimage flagship locations, offering a range of dynamic experiences that balance the needs of customers, the environment, and the industrial needs of a brewery.

But why are landscape architects particularly important in shaping brewery locations? Why not charge architects or interior designers with the industry makeover? The quick answer is water.

streitz02-waterdiagramA mid-size brewery can generate enough wastewater annually to fill 17.5% of the Empire State Building.

The brewing industry uses a substantial amount of water in their daily processes. While breweries vary widely in their water efficiency, when calculated liberally, a brewery may produce as much as ten pints of wastewater for every pint of beer. This wastewater has long been considered a nuisance by the brewing industry. Many local water municipalities charge high fees or outright reject brewery wastewater into their systems, as the total suspended solid (TSS) count of particulates may be too high for their system, or the pH levels and temperature may be outside of allowable standards. This means that many breweries have to treat their wastewater onsite through mechanical means prior to sending it down the drain. 

With the use of innovative ideas by landscape architects, wastewater can be treated onsite, used to create habitat, and reclaimed to irrigate planted areas on the brewery site, bringing both interest and
sustainability to the space.streitz03-waterside

Prior to graduation in May, I completed a master’s report at the University of Arizona that examined the use of industrial locations as outdoor amenities for both the brewing industry and their patrons. My project specifically looked at a former gasworks plant in Berlin, Germany to examine its design potential as an industrial adapted reuse project into a brewery, beer garden, community amenity, and dynamic outdoor space. The report also examined the use of constructed wetlands as a means of onsite wastewater treatment that could also create wildlife habitat, and function as a community amenity.

After graduating from the University of Arizona in May 2012 Lee moved to San Francisco where he is working as a design associate for Carducci & Associates near Fisherman’s Wharf. Coincidentally, one of his first projects with the firm was working on the design of a brewery and beer garden associated with a Whole Foods in the Bay Area.

Olmsted Scholar Feature: Reframing the Argument for Sustainability

By Peter J. Ellery, 2012 University Olmsted Scholar

One of the most difficult tasks we face as professionals charged with shaping the environment is convincing our clients, and indeed the public at large, of thinking more sustainably. While this argument has ebbed and flowed in response to political and social conscience, it has been mostly moot in influencing any large-scale social change. This is in spite of the consequences now being seen in some areas of the world and scientific forecasts that paint an even bleaker future. So why is this sustainability argument highlighting our self-demise not working?

In response to this issue, art and architectural historian Dr. Rodhri Windsor-Liscombe, suggests, “The arguments for sustainability tend to be excessively technical or technocratic, preoccupied with instrumental or technological solutions, cast in cataclysmic narrative or disconnected from individual behaviour. Each provides opportunities for the average citizen to either detach themselves from the problems and potential solutions, or to expect others, be they corporations or governments, to correct the situation.” If we continue to frame this argument using strategies that emphasize cataclysmic or punishment-based “stick” scenarios to threaten us, is change likely?

We currently use a “pathogenic” or disease management approach when arguing for sustainability and changes to the general public’s behavior. This approach emphasizes the identification and treatment of the problem, along with the consequences we face should the problem continue unresolved. In contrast, a better approach might be to utilize a “salutogenic” perspective  to promote sustainable choices and behavior change. This perspective emphasizes environmental choices and behaviors because of the inherent value they provide, rather than what they help us to avoid. Central to this approach is the framing of the sustainability argument so that it falls within the general public’s sense of coherence. This involves presenting the argument to the public in a way that is meaningful, manageable, and comprehensible to them.

For the sustainability argument to be meaningful, it has to allow the public to see the value in making these decisions. For example, rather than using scientific or economic concepts like carbon footprint, or carbon credits, that have little meaningful value to the general public, consider highlighting the positive rewards that result from sustainable choices. This could involve showing how a green roof helps businesses save money in terms of heating and cooling costs, and for some, this might be the right motivation needed to make this choice. However, the general public will also respond to rewards that are intrinsic to the environment as well. For example, the argument for a green roof or space around a building being dedicated to vegetation and trees only, becomes much more compelling if you emphasize the smell of the garden in spring, the view of the garden from overlooking office windows, and the opportunity for those working in nearby areas to have lunch and relax in a shaded, park setting.

Second, the ideas offered in sustainability arguments must be manageable. They have to fit within the public’s life patterns and daily routines. The public is unlikely to walk or ride a bicycle to work in locations where vehicular traffic is a safety issue, the weather is extreme in either heat or cold, or if the distance is excessive. For those required to wear a suit as part of their job, even providing shower and changing facilities at work may not be enough if they do not have the extra time needed for the commute or to bathe and dress in their daily routine. Emphasizing strategies and design features that address these concerns, and yet still fit within the public’s existing lifestyle is essential to successfully arguing for sustainable behaviors.

Finally, we have to consider what the public finds comprehensible to their way of life. For example, it is not that the public is against the idea of wind powered energy systems. As Steffen Danborg of the Danish Wind Industry Association explains, the public in general is very supportive of wind-powered energy. The concern, in many cases, lies in the locating of windmills and windmill farms that generate this energy. It is simply difficult for some people to accept such an intrusive addition to their current understanding of the environment in which they live. As a result, arguments like noise, electro-magnetic interference, and visual eyesore (either real or perceived) are used in the “not in my backyard” counter arguments, which often lead to legal action and delays in wind power development. Interestingly, research shows public opinion changes in a positive and accepting direction, once people become acclimated to the presence of the wind turbines. The moral here is that our sustainability arguments need to consider the amount of change that those involved will need to accommodate (again, either real or perceived), and either introduce the change slowly so that acclimation can occur, or use a less intrusive approach so that change occurs within parameters of our understanding of the world in which we live.

The essential point being made here is that we need to change the way in which the case for sustainable development is presented. It is time to acknowledge that the current cataclysmic threat or “stick” approach to the sustainability argument has provided little motivation for change in public behavior, and instead, more meaningful, manageable and comprehensible strategies are necessary to get this sustainability “mule” moving in the right direction.

Peter Ellery is in his final year of a Master of Landscape Architecture degree at Ball State University. His thesis explores the expansion of educational opportunities through environmental design and looks at how an effectively landscaped environment can both enhance and extend the primary school curriculum of a Building Tomorrow Foundation Primary School in rural Uganda.

LAF Events at the ASLA Annual Meeting

If you’ll be in Phoenix for the ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO, we hope you’ll join us for one or more of the following events to support and raise awareness about LAF programs. We’ll celebrate the fifth year of our acclaimed Olmsted Scholars Program, showcase the new resources in the Landscape Performance Series , and promote the 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) progam.

lafatasla1Sonoran Celebration, LAF’s 27th Annual Benefit
Fri, Sept 28, 7:00-10:30pm
Join top designers and leaders from practice, academia, and industry for a vibrant and memorable evening at the Phoenix Art Museum. Enjoy cocktails, fine food, and live music all while raising money for LAF’s research and scholarship programs. We’ll celebrate the fifth year of LAF’s Olmsted Scholars Program by recognizing the 2012 scholars and $25,000 winner, catching up with past Scholars, and making a special announcement about the program’s future.

lafatasla2LAF Booth in ASLA Expo Hall (#446)
Sat-Sun, Sept 29-30, 9:00-5:00pm
Visit our booth to learn more about LAF, register for the Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes, meet the 2012 Olmsted Scholars, and learn how you can participate in our 2013 Case Study Investiga- tion (CSI) program to document the benefits of high-performing landscape projects. On Sunday, we’ll be conducting video interviews, so come prepared to share your thoughts for inclusion in our Conversations with Leaders in Landscape series - we’d especially like to hear from past Board members, scholarship winners, and research grantees.sweepstakes-e-announce

Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes
Sun, Sept 30, 4:30pm
Join us at our booth in the ASLA Expo Hall as we announce the winner of our one-of-a-kind trip for two to New York City, featuring a day of private tours led by Michael Van Valkenburgh and staff. You can make a donation to register to win right up until the drawing. Entrants need not be present to win. All sweepstakes proceeds support LAF’s research and scholarship programs.

aslaedsessionAssessing Performance Education Session
Mon, Oct 1, 8:00-9:30am
Don’t miss Assessing the Performance of Landscape Projects presented by LAF’s Heather Whitlow, Kurt Culbertson of Design Workshop, and Bill Wenk of Wenk Associates. Learn methods and tools to identify and quantify performance benefits based on two years of success, challenges, and lessons from the Landscape Performance Series and Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. Then hear how Design Workshop and Wenk Associates are using landscape performance in their respective practices to set goals, develop design strategies, assess the effectiveness of designs, and show value of landscape solutions to clients and other stakeholders.

Leaders Roundtable: Technology and the Landscape

Each year, LAF and Landscape Forms co-host a Leaders Roundtable to foster dialogue among distinguished design professionals about emerging trends in design and professional practice.

In June, fourteen leading landscape architects met in Philadelphia to explore the impact of technology on the design of the landscape, the experience of landscape, and the way professionals conduct their practices. The meeting was moderated by landscape architect Rodrigo Abela of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, who kicked off the discussion by observing that, “The people in this room are probably the last generation who will remember the world before we were connected.”

While participants’ use of digital technology varied, all were very aware of the way cell phones, laptops and tablets impact the design and use of outdoor spaces. A short video and excerpts from the dialogue are below. For a full summary of the conversation, see the Roundtable Report on Technology and the Landscape.

“Two hundred years ago the landscape was the source of productivity in human settlement. It would be amazing if technology could make us more productive in the landscape again. Landscapes are good for you. The more we can encourage work activity out there, the better.”
                    — Richard Roark, LEED AP, OLIN

“People in cities are not necessarily looking for a full-blown experience of nature, but they are interested in being outside and bringing technology with them. If we embrace technology in a helpful way and make even the smallest space incredible, that will help them notice nature in those moments when they look up from the screen.”
                    — Laura Solano, PLA, ASLA, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

“Metric technology will make us better informed about people and the environments we design for them. It’s inescapable.”
                    — Lee Weintraub, FASLA, Lee Weintraub Landscape Architecture