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LPS Case Studies: A Preliminary Analysis

As LAF gears up to begin analyzing the collection of 50+ Landscape Performance Series (LPS) Case Study Briefs per the $22,500 cooperative agreement with researchers at Utah State, Temple, and Kansas State University, we did a few quick in-house analyses and thought we’d share the results.

The word cloud below shows the performance benefits represented in the first 50 Case Study Briefs, weighted by frequency. Stormwater management, water conservation, social & recreational value, and educational value are the most commonly quantified benefits. The least common are scenic quality/views, habitat preservation, and air quality benefits. To some extent, the benefits depend on the type of project — for example, a schoolyard would be expected to provide educational value, whereas a private residence likely would not — but more often the benefits simply reflect what data and information is available for each project.


Participants in LAF’s Case Study Investigtion (CSI) program, which has produced two-thirds of the LPS Case Study Briefs, are charged with conducting field observations, scouring achives and public datasets, and interviewing clients and users to evaluate the performance of projects. Through their expertise and ingenuity, they have found or developed dozens, if not hundreds, of methods for determining performance benefits. Some of the most commonly-used ones described in the case study Methodology documents seem to be:

We’re excited to work with the USU/Temple/KSU researchers to conduct a deeper examination of the metrics and methods in the collection of Case Study Briefs to gain insights and develop guidance that will make the evaluation of landscape performance more accessible to all.

Sustainable Destination: Napa

Last October, 2011 Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes winner Keith Wagner, FASLA traveled to OLIN’s Carneros Inn, a vineyard oasis located between the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California. Keith and his wife, Sara, shared this report from their trip:

sara-keithKeith and Sara enjoy Napa Valley wines and local fare at PRESS Restaurant.

“The Carneros Inn was a quintessential California experience — it had a down-to-earth and luxurious feeling all at once that perfectly suited our aesthetic. The buildings and public spaces take advantage of the view corridors in every direction, and in October, the fall colors under blue skies enhanced every well-designed moment with nature’s surrounding texture.”

“Our 18-month-old son, Hudson, enjoyed the vacation every bit as much as we did, watching cows roaming around the outskirts, smelling the flowers around the vegetable garden, and delighting in the occasional hot air balloon sighting over the hills. Hudson was at the perfect age for inspecting the water collection system, which presented a great strategy for reusing rain water throughout the campus.”

hudson-irrigationHudson inspects the Carneros Inn irrigation.

“We were lucky to be able to schedule our visit in tandem with Keith’s business partner, Jeff Hodgson and his partner Paul. The group of us took day trips to nearby wineries. In the evenings we had a babysitting service recommended by the Inn and took advantage of the famed Napa Valley restaurants, including the Inn’s Boon Fly Café, PRESS, and Farmstead. We also made sure to spend some time relaxing poolside (sited beautifully by OLIN) and spent a morning getting spa treatments.” 

“The Carneros Inn was an amazing place to vacation with both our 18-month-old and with friends — we couldn’t have asked for a better time in a majestic setting. It has continued to inspire us. Our deepest gratitude to OLIN and the Landscape Architecture Foundation!”


Keith is a partner at Burlington, Vermont-based H. Keith Wagner Partnership Landscape Architects. Sara Katz is an artist, who captured the wonderful fall colors of the Napa region in a painting (shown at left). Ketih’s name was drawn from nearly 200 sweepstakes entries, which raised over $12,000 to support LAF’s research and scholarship programs. Special thanks to OLIN for generously providing this prize package.

Details on LAF’s 2013 Sustainable Destination Sweepstakes are coming soon. A clue: The destination city is home to is the longest continuously operating farmer’s market in the U.S. and has been ranked as the nation’s most literate.

Announcing Our 2013 National Olmsted Scholars

The Landscape Architecture Foundation is pleased to announce that Leann Andrews, a graduate student at the University of Washington, and McKenzie Wilhelm, an undergraduate at the Ohio State University, were selected as the 2013 National Olmsted Scholars. Leann receives the $25,000 prize, and McKenzie is the first recipient of the new $15,000 award for undergraduates. This year marks the first that LAF has offered separate recognition and awards for graduate and undergraduate students.

andrews-500x700Leann Andrews, University of Washington

In June, Leann will receive a Master of Landscape Architecture with a Certificate in Global Health. She plans use the award to return to Lima, Peru to implement her certificate capstone project: a community gardening and ecological restoration initiative designed to improve nutrition, increase mobility, reduce illness, improve mental health and well-being, and contribute to economic stability and social infrastructure in a distressed informal ‘slum’ community.

McKenzie is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture and expects to graduate in May 2014. She plans to use the award to travel to Bristol Bay and the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska to research and develop speculative designs for alternative mining practices and modular intervention to enhance and protect salmon habitat.

Also honored are six National Olmsted Scholar Finalists, who each receive a $1,000 award. The graduate finalists are:

  • Jose Alvarez, Florida International University
  • Tina Chee, University of Southern California
  • Graham Prentice, University of Pennsylvania

The undergraduate finalists are:

  • Zachary Barker, State University of New York
  • Pamela Blackmore, Utah State University
  • Eliza Rodrigs, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
wilhelm-288wMcKenzie Wilhelm, Ohio State University

An independent jury of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the winners and finalists from a group of 39 graduate and 28 undergraduate students who were nominated by their faculty for being exceptional student leaders. These top students earned the designation of 2013 University Olmsted Scholars and join the growing community of 243 past and present Olmsted Scholars.

The 2013 jury members for the graduate award were: Bill Main, Honorary ASLA, LAF Board President and Executive Chairman of Landscape Forms; Mark A. Focht, FASLA, PLA, ASLA President-Elect and First Deputy Commissioner at Philadelphia Parks + Recreation; Joseph J. Lalli, FASLA, Chairman and Principal at EDSA; Lucinda Sanders, FASLA, CEO of OLIN; Perry Howard, FASLA, Associate Professor and Coordinator at North Carolina A&T State University; Andrew Spiering, Land8 Media, LLC; Jack Ohly, 2012 National Olmsted Scholar and Associate at Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates, Inc.

Jurors for the undergraduate award were: Jacinta McCann, FAILA, LAF Board President-Elect and Executive Vice President at AECOM; Susan Hatchell, FASLA, PLA, ASLA Immediate Past President and President of Susan Hatchell Landscape Architecture, PLLC; Jim Laiche, Business Manager at The Toro Company; Elizabeth Brabec, JD, ASLA, Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; George Schmok, Publisher/Producer at Landscape Communications, Inc.

Now in its sixth year, the Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier national award and recognition program for landscape architecture students. Past National Olmsted Scholars include Andrea Gaffney from the University of California, Berkeley (2008), David Malda from the University of Virginia (2009), Emily Vogler from the University of Pennsylvania (2010), Kate Tooke from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (2011), and Jack Ohly from the University of Pennsylvania (2012).

LAF Receives Two Grants for 2013 CSI Program

LAF recently received two grants to support the 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches LAF-funded student-faculty research teams with leading practitioners to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects. The 2013 program features 8 research teams working to evaluate the performance of 24 landscape projects, ranging from the Tassajara Creek Restoration in California to the Ann Arbor Municipal Center in Michigan.

driehausfoundation-207wThe Richard H. Driehaus Foundation has granted $10,000 to support three Chicago-area projects that are being documented through the 2013 CSI program: Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Jackson Park and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry’s Smart Home: Green + Wired.

artworkslogo-f3kFor the second year in a row, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has supported the CSI program with a $25,000 Art Works grant. LAF is one of only 50 nonprofit organizations throughout the country recommended to receive an NEA Art Works grant in the Design category. The NEA received 1,547 eligible applications for this round of Art Works funding. Of those, 817 are recommended for grants totaling $26.3 million to support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts. Visit the NEA website for a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support.

New Landscape Performance Track at CELA

The Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) has announced that it will offer a new “Landscape Performance” track at its annual conference, starting in 2014. The CELA conference focuses on recent research and scholarship in all aspects of landscape architecture.

cela-logo“The decision to offer this track underscores the explosion in interest and number of proposals that CELA has seen in recent years on this topic,” said CELA President Sean Michael, PhD.

“Landscape performance should be fundamental knowledge in landscape architecture, though it is not highly developed yet,” said CELA Vice President of Research Ming-Han Li, PhD, PE, PLA. “The new track will help ensure that the latest research and thinking on landscape performance is a regular part of the dialogue at the CELA conference.”

Landscape Performance joins ten track categories used to organize the conference sessions and papers: Design Education & Pedagogy, Communication & Visualization, Design Implementation, Urban Design, Landscape Planning & Ecology, Research & Methods, Service Learning & Community Engagement, Sustainability, People-Environment Relationships, and History, Theory & Culture. Members of the academic community and others submit abstracts to each track for peer review which, when accepted, are presented at the annual conference and published in the proceedings.

LAF will co-chair the new Landscape Performance track along with a representative from CELA. The move is the latest step in an ongoing partnership between the two organizations. In 2011, the CELA Vice President of Research began serving on the LAF Research Committee, and last year, CELA and LAF leadership began serving on in an ex officio capacity on the other organization’s Board of Directors.

For more than 90 years, CELA has been concerned with the content and quality of professional education in landscape architecture and with generating high quality research.