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Announcing Our 2016 National Olmsted Scholars

azzurracox-500x700Azzurra Cox, Harvard University

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is delighted to announce that Azzurra Cox, a master’s student at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and Casey Howard, an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, were selected as the 2016 National Olmsted Scholars.

Azzurra receives the $25,000 graduate prize and will leverage the award to continue her research around a vision for the revival of Greenwood Cemetery, an endangered heritage landscape, which was the first non‐denominational commercial cemetery for African Americans in the St. Louis area. By grappling with deep questions about race, remembrance, and the political agency of landscape, she hopes that the site can serve as a case study for how landscape architecture can help expose and valorize narratives that have been unrecognized. Azzura graduates with a Master of Landscape Architecture in May 2016.

Casey receives the $15,000 undergraduate prize and will use the award to expand on her team’s “Living Filtration System” concept, which won the design round of the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. The concept integrates living microorganisms with renewable materials to improve upon an existing technology commonly used to drain agricultural fields, and she wants to explore how it could be used in horticultural and storm water management solutions. Casey graduated this spring and would like to continue her education by pursuing a Masters in Environmental Studies.

caseyhoward-500x700Casey Howard, University of Oregon

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

  • Jorge Alarcón, University of Washington
  • Olivia Fragale, Boston Architectural College
  • Ellen Oettinger White, Rutgers University

The undergraduate finalists are:

  • Kathryn Chesebrough, State University of New York
  • David Duperault, North Carolina A&T State University
  • Lyna Nget, University of Washington

Two independent juries of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected the winners and finalists from a group of 45 graduate and 32 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for their exceptional leadership potential. These top students earned the designation of 2016 University Olmsted Scholars and join the growing community of over 450 past and present Olmsted Scholars.

The 2016 jurors for the graduate award were: Kona Gray, LAF President and Principal at EDSA; Vaughn B. Rinner, FASLA, ASLA President-Elect and consulting landscape architect; Jody Rosenblatt-Naderi, Director of the Graduate Program in Landscape Architecture at Ball State University; D’Arcy Deeks, President and CEO at IRONSMITH; Daniel Martin, Director of Marketing at Permaloc Corporation and Partner at Land8 Media; Stephanie Pankiewicz, Partner at LandDesign; and Grant Fahlgren, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar (Graduate) and MLA student at University of British Columbia.

Jurors for the undergraduate award were: Jennifer Guthrie, FASLA, LAF President-Elect and Founding Principal at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol; K. Richard Zweifel, ASLA Immediate Past President and Professor Emeritus at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; Maria C. “Tina” Gurucharri, Associate Professor and Landscape Architecture Department Chair, University of Florida; Po-Sun Chen, Executive Director and Vice President of BrightView Design Group; Gina Ford, Principal and Chair of Urban Studio at Sasaki Associates; Jim Laiche, Water Conservation Business Manager at The Toro Company; and Maria Muñoz, 2015 National Olmsted Scholar (Undergraduate) and BLA student at Louisiana State University.

Now in its ninth 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, IRONSMITH, LandDesign, Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly, Steven G. King, FASLA, and Bill Main, Hon. ASLA; Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

Why YOU Need to Be at the Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future

On June 10-11 in Philadelphia, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is convening preeminent thinkers and influencers from around the world to set the course for landscape architecture to make its vital contribution in the 21st century. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of this historic event, engage in dialogue, get inspired, and help propel the profession forward!


Top reasons you should attend The New Landscape Declaration: A Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future:

  • 25 “Declarations” of bold ideas for what landscape architecture can achieve
  • 10 thematic panels about how to effect real world change
  • 0 concurrent sessions – all attendees see every presentation and panel
  • Dedicated breaks for intense conversation with speakers, panelists, and attendees
  • Lunches, snacks, and champagne toast included
  • 14.75 LA CES Professional Development Hours

LAF celebrates 50 years with this historic event. For more information and to register, visit:

Landscape Performance in LAAB Accreditation Standards

The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB), the official accrediting body for first professional programs in landscape architecture in the U.S., has included landscape performance in its recently-revised accreditation standards for all bachelor’s and master’s level programs. Landscape performance is listed in the Professional Curriculum section as one of the topics to be covered under “Assessment and Evaluation.”

laab-logoThe Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) strongly supported this change, as did many of our colleagues in academia and professional practice, who provide input to the revision process. Future landscape architects must be able to assess and communicate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of design solutions.

Moving forward, as each landscape architecture program comes up for accreditation renewal (every 6 years), the program will need to demonstrate how landscape performance is being addressed. The revised 2016 LAAB Accreditation Standards take effect starting with landscape architecture programs scheduled for accreditation reviews in fall 2017. The revised 2016 LAAB Accreditation Procedures are effective immediately.

To assist faculty in incorporating landscape performance into coursework, LAF has developed a Resources for Educators database of sample teaching materials for studio, seminar, and lecture courses. Materials include syllabi, reading lists, and sample student assignments, as well as faculty reflections on their pedagogical approaches and experiences teaching landscape performance.

LAF will also continue to provide support to faculty through its Landscape Performance Education Grants. These $2,500 mini-grants allow select university faculty to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings. Ten mini-grants were awarded in 2014 and 2015. LAF will offer five more for the Fall 2016 term/semester. Applications will be available in May and due June 15.

Has Landscape Architecture Failed? Reflections on the Occasion of LAF’s 50th Anniversary

By Richard Weller and Billy Fleming, University of Pennsylvania

In 1966, Campbell Miller, Grady Clay, Ian McHarg, Charles Hammond, George Patton and John Simonds marched to the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and declared that an age of environmental crisis was upon us and that the profession of landscape architecture was a key to solving it. Their Declaration of Concern launched, and to this day underpins the workings of, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF).

To mark its 50th anniversary, LAF will hold a summit titled The New Landscape Declaration at the University of Pennsylvania involving over 65 leading landscape architects from around the world. Delegates are being asked to deliver new declarations (manifestos, if you will) about the profession’s future. Drawing upon these statements and the dialogue at the summit, LAF will then redraft the original 1966 Declaration of Concern so that it serves to guide the profession into the 21st century.

On one level, redrafting the declaration is relatively straightforward: it would simply need to stress the twinned global phenomena of climate change and global urbanization — issues that were less well understood in 1966. On another level however, the redrafting of the declaration is profoundly complicated because if it is to be taken seriously, then a prerequisite is to ask why, after 50 years of asserting landscape architecture as “a key” to “solving the environmental crisis” does that crisis continue largely unabated? Seen in this light the declaration can be read as an admission of failure. Consequently, we must ask:

If McHarg and his colleagues were justified in placing such a tremendous responsibility on the shoulders of landscape architects, why have we failed so spectacularly to live up to their challenge?

In our defense, we might argue that landscape architecture is a very young and very small profession and an even smaller academy. We can also protest, as many do, that other more established disciplines — such as engineering and architecture — have restrained our rise to environmental leadership. We can argue that the status quo of political decision-making makes it impossible for us to meaningfully scale up our operations and work in the territory where our services are needed most. These justifications (or excuses) all contain aspects of the truth, but we argue that landscape architecture over the last 50 years is less a story of abject failure and more one of a discipline taking the time that has been needed to prepare for a more significant role in this, the 21st century.

From the last 50 years of landscape architecture we have three models of professional identity and scope: the landscape architect as artist (for example, Peter Walker), the landscape architect as regional planner (for example, Ian McHarg), and the landscape architect as urban designer (for example, Charles Waldheim). Rather than see these as competing models cancelling each other out, perhaps what we have really learned from the last 50 years is that each is somewhat incomplete without the other. If however we make a concerted effort to combine these three models, then perhaps we begin to really give credence to the notion of landscape architecture as a uniquely holistic discipline, one especially well-suited to engage with the contemporary landscape of planetary urbanization and climate change.

Considering our historical moment, one is reminded of the incredible optimism with which the moderns announced theirs. In 1920 the great architect Le Corbusier launched his journal L’Esprit Nouveau with the declaration: “There is a new spirit: it is a spirit of construction and synthesis guided by a clear conception … A great epoch has begun.” A mere 46 years later a small group of landscape architects would declare that epoch as one of environmental crisis. And now, precisely 50 years later as we acknowledge their original Declaration of Concern, the International Commission on Stratigraphy is expected to formally announce the dawn of the Anthropocene Epoch: a new geological period defined by the fact that the earth’s systems are now fundamentally and irreversibly altered by human activity.

The philosophical and practical consequences couldn’t be greater: in short, Nature is no longer that ever-providing thing ‘out there’; it is, for better or worse, the world we have created and the world we are creating. The landscape of the Anthropocene is one of permanent ecological crisis. As such, the Anthropocene is overwhelming, but since it is by definition a human creation, the Anthropocene is something we must take responsibility for, something we can design. This doesn’t automatically mean the hyper modernity of geoengineering planetary systems, but it does return us, humbly and critically to McHarg’s concept of stewardship.

This is now landscape architecture’s century —  all the major issues of the times are at root about how we relate to land — and if by the end of it we are still small, weak and ineffectual, and if the world is a worse place than it is now, then we will only have ourselves to blame.

Richard Weller is the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves on the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Board of Directors. Billy Fleming is a Doctoral Fellow in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thank You to Our 2016 Scholarship Jurors

Throughout its 50-year history, the Landscape Architecture Foundation has awarded scholarships to deserving students. This year, the total amount available increased significantly with the establishment of two new awards — the $20,000 LAF Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA and the $5,000 ASLA-NY Designing in the Public Realm Scholarship. The now 11 different scholarships and fellowships were established and made possible by their respective sponsors.

Scholarship winners are chosen through a competitive application and selection process. LAF convenes juries to decide the winners of four awards. We would like to extend a special thank you to this year’s jurors — we appreciate your commitment to supporting the next generation of designers!

LAF Honor Scholarship in Memory of Joe Lalli, FASLA Jury

Dennis Carmichael, FASLA, LEED AP
ParkerRodriguez, Inc

Lucinda R. Sanders, FASLA
CEO and Partner

Martha Schwartz, DSc, FASLA, Hon FRIBA, Hon RDI, RAAR
Martha Schwartz Partners

Gregg Sutton, PLA, ASLA

Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden and Design Jury

Virginia L. Russell, FASLA, PLA, LEED AP, GRP
Associate Professor of Architecture, Horticulture Program Director
University of Cincinnati

Randall W. Mardis, ASLA, PLA
President / Landscape Architect
Landscape Technologies
Susan Olmsted, AIA, ASLA, LEED AP
Associate Principal

Steven G. King Play Environments Scholarship Jury

Lisa Horne, PLA, LEED AP, ASLA
Project Manager
RVi Planning + Landscape Architecture

Kate Tooke, ASLA
Sasaki Associates

David Watts, PLA
Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Landscape Forms Design for People Scholarship Jury

James Burnett, FASLA
The Office of James Burnett

Dan Herman, ASLA
Rabben/Herman design office

Scott Rykiel, FASLA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President
Mahan Rykiel Associates