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LPS Collection: Small But Mighty

Curated by: Landscape Architecture Foundation

It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of space to have a big impact. Here we showcase some of the smallest projects in the Landscape Performance Series along with Fast Facts on the benefits of even modest amounts of green.

Case Study Briefs

centralwharfplazaCentral Wharf Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

“At just 13,100 sf, this small plaza connects Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway with the Inner Harbor waterfront, serving some 280 pedestrians per hour. It also lowers ground-level temperatures by 10.4°F with tree canopy cover that shades 94% of the site. Pretty cool.”

 

asla-greenroofASLA Headquarters Green Roof
Washington, DC

The unique ‘waves’ aren’t the only thing that make this green roof seem bigger than its 3,000 sf. It is the subject of ongoing research, has hosted over 5,000 visitors, and has an extensive multimedia educational component that receives 35,000 annual pageviews.

 

elmeraveElmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit
Los Angeles, California

”This retrofit demonstrates that transportation infrastructure improvements can be combined with stormwater management to prevent flooding, improve walkability, and beautify the street. The street and residential properties along this one city block capture and filter runoff from a 40-acre area.”

 

eriestplazaErie Street Plaza
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“The City had lofty ambitions for this 0.25-acre former parking lot: create a significant public place that would become a key component of Milwaukee’s waterfront and new development in the Third Ward. The simple, inventive, and open-ended design does just that.”

 

Fast Fact Library

In a study of a Chicago public housing development, buildings with high levels of trees and greenery had 48% fewer property crimes and 56% fewer violent crimes than identical apartments surrounded by barren land. The greener the surroundings, the fewer the number of crimes that occurred, and even modest amounts of greenery were associated with lower crime rates.

“The greenery in this study was trees and grass, and the research suggests the exciting possibility that small-scale tree planting and beautification efforts in barren inner-city neighborhoods could help to create safer communities.”
 

An analysis of the impact of greening 4,436 vacant lots in Philadelphia found that greening was associated with residents’ reporting significantly less stress and more exercise in select sections of the city.

“The vacant lots that were greened averaged just 1,800 sf in size and yet correlated with improved health outcomes.”

 

Research in Tel Aviv determined that the presence of trees cooled the air from between .5°F on a heavily trafficked street to 2°F in a small (.37 acre) garden. The study also found that the cooling effects could be felt up to 330 feet from the site.

“The cooling effect of small groups of trees was noticeable not only within the wooded areas but also in their treeless surroundings.”

LPS Collection: The Case for Street Trees

Curated by: Landscape Architecture Foundation

Need to advocate for more street trees, better design tree space design, or preservation of existing trees? Here are some useful precedents and research compiled from our Landscape Performance Series.

Case Study Briefs

parkavenue

Park Avenue/US 50 Phase 1 Redevelopment
South Lake Tahoe, California

“Streetscape improvements are part of many revitalization plans, and trees often play a big role. In this case, street trees and large planted areas complement increased building setbacks and wider sidewalks, helping to revitalize this corridor and create a scenic, pedestrian-friendly destination.”



uptownnormalUptown Normal Circle and Streetscape
Normal, Indiana

“We’ve seen many a tree go into decline after maxing out its root space, so we love that this project uses underground structural cells to give more soil volume to the 67 street trees. This is projected to triple their lifespan, saving an estimated $61,000 in tree replacement costs over 50 years.”

 

theavenueThe Avenue
Washington, DC

“LAF is based in DC, so we know how essential shade is for outdoor dining in the summer. Researchers counted an average of 90 individuals dining outside at any given time in summer on The Avenue’s 58-ft wide landscaped sidewalk with double rows of street trees.

 

Fast Fact Library

A Modesto, California study found that asphalt on streets shaded by large canopy trees lasts longer than asphalt on unshaded streets, reducing maintenance costs by 60% over 30 years.

“This research is very powerful since Departments of Transportation (DOTs) may only think of street trees as a maintenance liability.”


A study of houses in Portland, Oregon found that on average, street trees add 3% to sales price and reduce time-on-market (TOM) by 1.7 days. In addition, the study found that the benefits of street trees spill over to neighboring houses.

“In addition to public benefits, street trees provide benefits to the adjacent property owners, like the increased home sales prices documented here.”



Benefits Toolkit

National Tree Benefit Calculator
Casey Trees, Davey Tree Expert Company

“This easy-to-use online tool calculates stormwater, energy, carbon, air quality, and property value benefits for individual trees. The only inputs are tree species, size, adjacent land use, and zip code.”

 

i-Tree Streets
USDA Forest Service

“This free application uses tree inventory data to quantify environmental and aesthetic benefits and their dollar value, including: energy conservation, air quality improvement, CO2 reduction, stormwater control, and property value increase.”

Board Emeritus Matching Gifts: Give Today and "Multiply Your Effectiveness"

As one of its first initiatives, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) convened a small group of leading landscape architects at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on June 1 and 2, 1966. Their Declaration of Concern urged a new collaborative effort to improve the environment and train a new generation.

mchargDeclaration of Concern signer Ian McHarg

On the anniversary of this seminal event, we invite you to invest in the work of LAF to continue this legacy to “multiply the effectiveness of the limited number of landscape architects.” Members of the LAF Board Emeritus have pledged to match contributions made to the LAF Annual Fund now through June 15 (up to $10,000), so your gift will have double the impact.

LAF is still devoted to the four-point program proposed by these thought leaders nearly 50 years ago: (1) recruitment, (2) education, (3) research, and (4) a nationwide system for communicating the results of research, example and good practice.

In the words of Ian L. McHarg, Campbell Miller, Grady Clay, Charles R. Hammond, George E. Patton, and John O. Simonds…

“We pledge our services. We seek help from those who share our concern.”

Give today and multiply your impact.

Urban Green Space and Mental Wellness

May has been designated as National Mental Health Awareness Month to raise awareness about the importance of mental health to overall human health. Many factors contribute to mental health and wellness, including biological factors, experiences, and lifestyle, but the built and natural environments that surround us also play a critical role.

tkf-mental-wellness3Our friends at the TKF Foundation have worked with researchers Kathleen Wolf, PhD (University of Washington) and Elizabeth Housley, MA (OurFutureEnvironment.org) to produce Reflect & Restore: Urban Green Space for Mental Wellness, a research brief that draws on four decades of research.

The report is chock-full of evidence about the benefits of green space for mental wellness — from lowering stress to creating a stronger sense of community to reducing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. The research brief underscores why even small bits of nature in the city are so important.

“The key message, confirmed by literally hundreds of studies, is that across all age groups, and in diverse cultural groups, there is a recurring positive response to small scale, often unremarkable, natural settings in cities. Some responses, such as mood change or a sense of relaxation may be personally felt, while other reactions, such as reduced blood pressure or cortisol levels, are happening at the subconscious level.”

Landscape architects are paramount in creating many of these green spaces, defined in the research brief as urban landscapes, gardens, parks or any private or public spaces where natural elements are key components. We’re checking and adding to make sure that all of the research cited is part of our Landscape Performance Series Fast Fact Library, where you can find over 120 statements of landscape benefits derived from published research addressing a range of environmental, economic, and social impacts. 

Announcing Our 2014 National Olmsted Scholars

The Landscape Architecture Foundation is pleased to announce that Sara Zewde, a master’s student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Erin Percevault, an undergraduate at Louisiana State University, were selected as the 2014 National Olmsted Scholars.

zewdesara-500x700Sara Zewde, Harvard University

Sara receives the $25,000 graduate prize and intends to use the award to return to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and New Orleans, Louisiana to continue working with the communities of Pequena África and Treme in designing their urban landscapes in a culturally and ecologically relevant manner. The award will also enable her to pursue additional projects where communities desire a spatial interpreter of cultural values. Sara expects to receive a Master of Landscape Architecture in May 2015.

Erin receives the $15,000 undergraduate prize and plans to use the award to investigate how new nuclear technology and government legislation may create and alter industrial landscapes surrounding the Lemhi Pass, a National Historic Landmark along the wildlife corridor between Yellowstone National Park and the wilderness regions of central Idaho. Erin is pursuing a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture and expects to graduate May in 2015.

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

  • VeraEve Giampietro, University of Washington
  • Harriett Jameson, University of Virginia
  • Anneliza Kaufer, University of Pennsylvania

The undergraduate finalists are:

  • Viviana Castro, University of Florida
  • Clemente Rico, Arizona State University
  • Blythe Worstell, Ohio State University
percevaulterin-500x700Erin Percevault, Louisiana State University

An independent jury of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the winners and finalists from a group of 45 graduate and 30 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for being exceptional student leaders. These top students earned the designation of 2014 University Olmsted Scholars and join the growing community of over 300 past and present Olmsted Scholars.

The 2014 jury members for the graduate award were: Jacinta McCann, FAILA, LAF Board President and Executive Vice President of Design + Planning and Economics at AECOM; Chris Fannin, Director of Planning at HOK; Joseph J. Lalli, FASLA, Chairman and Principal at EDSA; K. Richard Zweifel, FASLA, ASLA President-Elect, and Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Brent Lloyd, Principal, ValleyCrest Design Group; Maria C. “Tina” Gurucharri, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Florida; Susan Szenasy, Director, Metropolis Magazine; and Leann Andrews, 2013 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate) and PhD Candidate at the University of Washington.

Jurors for the undergraduate award were: Mark Dawson, FASLA, Managing Principal at Sasaki Associates; Thomas Tavella, past President of ASLA; Skip Graffam, Partner and Director of Research at OLIN; Jim Laiche, Business Manager at The Toro Company; Jody Rosenblatt-Naderi, Chairperson of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Ball State University; Bill Marken, Editor-in-Chief of Garden Design magazine, ASLA; and McKenzie Wilhelm, 2013 National Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate) and student at Ohio State University.

Now in its seventh year, the Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier national award and recognition program for landscape architecture students. The program honors students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.The Olmsted Scholars Program is made possible with support from Lead Sponsor: The Toro Company; Annual Sponsors: EDSA, HOK, OLIN, Sasaki Associates, and Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly; and Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.