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LAF's First Park(ing) Day Full of Fun Surprises

LAF celebrated Park(ing) Day in downtown DC on Sept 20, joining thousands around the world who showcased the power of parks by creating temporary parklets in metered parking spaces. Park(ing) Day 2013 saw at least 22 pop-up parks designed and built in DC by nonprofit organizations, design firms, businesses, and city agencies.

parkingday01LAF's park spanned two M St parking spaces.

LAF partnered with Valleycrest Landscape Companies to design and build a “light touch” space, in which all materials were borrowed, repurposed or on their way to a permanent home. Hay bales lined the park to create comfortable seating and shield visitors from traffic, while dogwoods and a street tree provided shade. Purple muhly grass destined for a park in Virginia framed the space, and caught visitors’ eyes from across the street with their distinctive color. The centerpiece of the installation was cornhole — a beanbag toss which lured many a downtown office worker into a break from their routine! 

parkingday05Visitors played dozens of games of cornhole.

More than 150 people spent time in the park during the Friday lunch hour, with hundreds more stopping to observe and photograph the space. For LAF staff, the most memorable part of the day was seeing the many different ways people chose to use the space.

Visitors played dozens of games of cornhole, making an impressive number of three point shots! LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch’s cornhole skills were showcased in this Park(ing) Day video report from the local NBC4 station. Bloggers, fellow designers, non-profit professionals, and environmental activists visited the space, many of whom toured the various temporary parks in the city.

parkingday03GW University students spent time sketching.

Patrons of a nearby food truck used the hay bale seating to enjoy ice cream and root beer floats. Several young families stopped by the space to take photos. An art class from George Washington University made a surprise visit, spending about a half an hour sketching the parklet, plantings, and surroundings.

Park visitors expressed how much they enjoyed seeing a bit of extra green in their city. Thanks to all who came by, and many many thanks to ValleyCrest Landscape Companies!

For more photos of the day’s festivities, visit LAF’s Flickr page.

For a social media play-by-play, check out LAF’s Storify summary.

LAF to Participate in Park(ing) Day

On Sept 20, streets across the world will look a bit greener. It’s Park(ing) Day, an open-source day where citizens, designers, and organizations reclaim parking spaces to create temporary public parks. The global event seeks to raise awareness about the high percentage of our built environment devoted to parking – and the many other creative, inspiring ways this space could be used.

LAF is partnering with ValleyCrest Landscape Companies to design and build a pop-up park near the LAF office in downtown Washington, DC. Located in front of 1900 M Street, LAF’s parklet will offer downtown workers a lighthearted break in a newfound green space. Open from 11am to 2pm, the park is designed to be “light touch,” and will be constructed with re-purposed materials including haybales, dogwood trees, and grasses, either borrowed or destined for another home. The centerpiece will be a social and recreational element designed to introduce a little bit of friendly competition for visitors – come visit and see for yourself!

2013 should see active involvement in Park(ing) Day throughout DC, including from the District Department of Transportation, which recently announced its first-time participation. Since its inaugural year in San Francisco in 2005, Park(ing) Day has inspired participation across 6 continents, with parklets designed across North America and Europe, as well as in New Zealand, Indonesia, and South Africa.


Coming Soon: 20 New LPS Case Study Briefs

Now through November, LAF is rolling out 20 new case studies that showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of high-performing landscapes. Visit the LPS Case Study Briefs page to see the latest or follow us on Facebook , LinkedIn , or Twitter to get updates as each new case study is released.

The case studies are part of LAF’s award-winning Landscape Performance Series, an online, interactive set of resources to help you quantify benefits, show value, and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions. By year-end, the searchable database will contain over 80 Case Study Briefs.

From Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park to private residences in Aspen to the 1,000-acre Napa River Flood Protection Project, the new case studies represent a range of geographic locations, scales, project types. Documented landscape performance benefits include:

  • newlpscasestudiesFilters 4.5 million gallons annually, 100% of surface runoff from 12.5 acres of developable properties adjacent to the park. (Milliken State Park, Detroit, MI)
  • Improves the quality of life for 99% of 108 park users surveyed. (Buffalo Bayou Promenade, Houston, TX)
  • Creates an estimated 1,373 construction jobs and 1,254 permanent jobs on properties developed as a result of flood protection. (Napa River Flood Protection Project, Napa, CA)
  • Provided a hands-on educational experience for 450,000 people. (Chicago Museum of Science and Industry Smart Home, Chicago, IL)
  • Increased calmness in 57% and made the hospital stay easier for 50% of patients surveyed. (Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, IL)

These exemplary projects were documented through LAF’s 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, a unique research collaboration that matched eight LAF-funded faculty/student research teams with practitioners from 20 participating design firms. The teams worked together to develop methods to quantify performance benefits and produce the Case Study Briefs.

Through the Landscape Performance Series and Case Study Investigation programs, LAF is working to advance our collective knowledge of landscape performance and lead the profession to routinely design with specific performance objectives, collect performance data, and integrate landscape performance in design education. The next CSI program will run March – August 2014 with applications available starting in October.

CSI Research: Using Jan Gehl and the Toyota Prius to Assess Landscape Performance

The 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program officially ended on August 9 with each of the faculty-student research teams presenting their work during a 1.5-hour, information-packed webinar. The researchers described a variety of exemplary projects, the research process, and some of the key environmental, economic, and social benefits that they were able to document.

This year’s teams demonstrated creativity and ingenuity with the methods they used to observe and quantify performance. Two of the teams went in to detail about the methods and processes they pioneered and tested through CSI.

The University of Oregon research team discussed their experience using Jan Gehl’s Public Life Public Space survey to assess the social benefits of three exemplary public spaces: Portland’s Director Park, Randall Children’s Hospital, and Dutch Kills Green in Queens.


The Utah State University research team presented two innovative methods they developed to assess landscape performance on three residential sites in Aspen, Colorado: (1) A visual analysis of landscape buffering and (2) A bioclimatic analysis of Human Comfort Zone.

Want to learn more? Look for the resulting 20+ LPS Case Study Briefs from the 2013 CSI program in Sept/Oct, as we publish several each week.

Top 7 Back-to-School Case Studies

It’s hard to believe that summer is winding down, and that in some places classes have already begun. To celebrate the upcoming schoolyear, we’ve compiled a collection of LPS Case Study Briefs on school and campus projects that showcase the environmental, economic, and social value of sustainable landscapes. Here they are, each with one key landscape performance benefit highlighted…


The Willow School - Gladstone, NJ

Engages all 250 students in an educational curriculum that includes landscape processes and ethics. When a sample of students were asked to list environmentally-friendly features of green buildings, 82% listed landscape features such as rainwater harvesting, composting, vegetable gardens, or wetlands.


Brent Elementary Schoolyard Greening - Washington, DC

Introduced 1-2 hours per week of outdoor classroom experience for grades 1-5, and 4-5 hours per week for preschool and kindergarten. Sixteen classes use the “Nature Classroom” for subjects ranging from science to art, music, and English.


TJU Lubert Plaza - Philadelphia, PA

Increases satisfaction with TJU as a workplace/university, with 81.2% of respondents saying that the presence of the plaza probably or definitely increased their satisfaction and 88% reporting to feel more positive after spending time in the plaza.


The Dell at the University of Virginia- Charlottesville, VA

Reduces sediment and nutrient loadings downstream, reducing total suspended solids by 30-92%, phosphate by 23-100%, and nitrate by -50-89% according to water sample data.


Yale University’s Kroon Hall - New Haven, CT

Saves 634,000 gallons of potable water each year by eliminating the need to use potable water for irrigation and, in concert with water-conserving plumbing fixtures, reducing the building’s potable water use by 81%.


University of AZ Sonoran Landscape Laboratory - Tucson, AZ

Reduced potable water use for irrigation during the desert establishment period (first 3-5 years) by 83%, or 280,000 gallons annually. After the establishment period, the need for potable water in irrigation should be eliminated.


Gary Comer Youth Center - Chicago, IL

  • Produces 1,000 lbs of fruits and vegetables annually. Food from the rooftop feeds 175 children at the center each day, is distributed among four local restaurants, and is sold at a local farmers market.

In Sept/Oct, look for 20+ new Case Study Briefs as we publish the products of the 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program.