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Dilemma, Debate and LAF in Salt Lake City

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) and its research initiatives will be well-represented at the upcoming Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) Conference March 23-26 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Organized by Utah State University, the conference will also involve a day trip to the main campus in Logan, Utah.

cela-2016

LAF staff will present during two Concurrent Sessions, report to the CELA Board and Administrators during their respective meetings, and host a meet-and-greet for the 2016 CSI Research Fellows and past Landscape Performance Education Grant and Case Study Investigation (CSI) participants. The conference also features a number of presentations from LAF program participants, who will speak about their methods, findings, and further research.

In total, research from and about LAF’s various Landscape Performance Series initiatives will be part of seven sessions:

Concurrent Session 1, Thurs, 3/24, 8:00-9:20 am
Presentations:     Landscape Performance: A Bold Idea in a Change-Averse Town
                                Matthew James and Erika Roeber, South Dakota State University

                                Integrating Life-Cycle Costs with Landscape Performance
                                Yi Luo, Texas Tech University

                                Case Study Meta-Analysis: A Step Toward Informing Design
                                Mary Myers, Temple University
                                Bo Yang, Utah State University

Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 3/24, 9:30-10:50 am
The Role of Landscape Performance in Standardized Landscape Architecture Curricula
Panel with:            Andrew Fox, North Carolina State University
                                Kenneth Brooks, Arizona State University
                                Stephanie Rolley, Kansas State University
                                Emily McCoy, Andropogon and North Carolina State University
                                Arianna Koudounas, Landscape Architecture Foundation

Concurrent Session 2 - Thurs, 3/24, 9:30-10:50 am
Wadi Hanifah: Landscape Infrastructure for the 21st Century
Presentation by: Jean Trottier, University of Manitoba

Concurrent Session 5- Sat, 3/26, 8:00-9:20 am
Understanding Courtyards at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters: Methods to Quantify Use and Density
Presentation by: Chris Ellis, University of Maryland

Concurrent Session 6- Sat, 3/26, 9:30-10:50 am
Looking Beyond Case Studies in Social Performance Research: Replicable Surveys and Generalizable Outcomes
Panel with:            Mary Myers, Temple University
                                Taner Ozdil, University of Texas at Arlington
                                M. Elen Deming, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
                                Heather Whitlow, Landscape Architecture Foundation

Concurrent Session 8, Sat, 3/26, 2:00-3:20 pm
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters Heat Island Performance
Presentation by:   C. Dylan Reilly, University of Maryland

Concurrent Session 9, Sat, 3/26, 3:30-4:50 pm
Presentations:     Measuring the Social Performance of Food Production Landscapes
                                Ellen Burke, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

                                Evaluating Performance of Campus-based Agriculture: Is Bigger Better?
                                D. Scott Douglas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2016 CSI Projects and Firms Announced

LAF has selected 15 high-performing landscape projects for its 2016 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches LAF-funded faculty-student research teams with design practitioners to document the benefits of exemplary landscape projects.

Participants from each firm will work with the 2016 CSI Research Fellows to evaluate the environmental, social, and economic performance of the selected projects. The resulting Case Study Briefs are published to LAF’s award-winning Landscape Performance Series database of over 100 projects.

This year’s cohort comprises a range of project typologies, including three waterfront parks, a stormwater treatment facility, an EPA Region headquarters, a stream restoration, and several landmark urban parks. The 2016 projects will add unrepresented geographies — namely Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, and Canada — to the Landscape Performance Series.

The 2016 CSI program kicks off in February and runs through early August. The resulting Case Study Briefs from these participating firms and projects will be published in the fall: 

  • phippsconservatoryAndropogon's Phipps Conservatory

    2D Studio
    Fairview Environmental Park, Montgomery, AL

  • Andropogon
    Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA
    University of Pennsylvania - Shoemaker Green, Philadelphia, PA
  • BNIM
    EPA Region 7 Headquarters, Lenexa, KS
    Swope Campus Parking Lot, Kansas City, MO
  • HNP Landscape Architecture
    Samford Park at Toomer’s Corner Landscape, Auburn, AL
  • hto-parkJanet Rosenberg + Associates' HtO ParkJanet Rosenberg + Associates
    HtO Park, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Kansas City Water Services Department
    Middle Blue River Basin Green Solutions Pilot Project, Kansas City, MO
  • Mia Lehrer + Associates
    Vista Hermosa, Los Angeles, CA
  • Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates
    Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY
    Corktown Common, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • PFS Studio
    Sherbourne Common Park, Toronto, ON, CanadarailroadparkTom Leader Studio's Railroad Park
  • Psomas
    South Los Angeles Wetland Park, Los Angeles, CA
  • SWA Group
    Shenzhen Bay, Shenzhen, China
  • Tom Leader Studio
    Railroad Park, Birmingham, AL

We look forward to working with the firms and learning more about these amazing projects and their impacts!

 

2016 CSI Research Fellows Announced

Six faculty Research Fellows have been selected for LAF’s 2016 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches faculty-student research teams with design firms to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify environmental, economic and social benefits and produce Case Study Briefs for LAF’s Landscape Performance Series.

csi-graphic-v2Research Fellows lead the CSI collaboration, work with firms to identify measurable impacts of select projects, develop evaluation methods, and oversee the case study production process. These select faculty members receive an honorarium and funding to support a student research assistant.

The following LAF Research Fellows will lead the five 2016 Case Study Investigation teams:

  • Charlene LeBleu, FASLA, AICP, Auburn University
  • Howard Hahn, RLA, ASLA, Kansas State University
  • Nicholas Pevzner, University of Pennsylvania
  • Kelly Shannon, PhD, University of Southern California
  • Jane Wolff and Elise Shelley, University of Toronto

We look forward to working with this distinguished group! The 2016 CSI program gets underway in February and runs through early August. Research teams will document the performance of 15 exemplary projects. Stay tuned — next week, we’ll announce the projects and firms selected for participation.

LAF Research Initiatives Win Two 2015 ASLA Professional Awards

asla-award-lps2-600w

Two of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s signature programs have been honored with American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2015 Professional Awards, which recognize top public, commercial, residential, institutional, planning, communications, and research projects from across the U.S. and around the world. This year, ASLA received 459 entries for these prestigious awards.

The Landscape Performance Series received the 2015 Award of Excellence in Communications, the highest honor in this category. The Landscape Performance Series was developed to build capacity to achieve sustainability and transform the way landscape is valued in the design and development process. Redesigned and launched in 2014 as LandscapePerformance.org, this unparalleled platform showcases the measurable environmental, social, and economic benefits of landscape and has become a go-to place to find design precedents, show value, and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions.

                                   “It’s a living document essential to our profession.”
                                                              — 2015 Awards Jury

LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program received a 2015 Honor Award in Research, co-presented by ASLA and the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches faculty-student research teams with leading design practitioners to measure and document the performance of their built projects as Landscape Performance Series Case Study Briefs. To date, 30 faculty, 35 students, and 57 design firms have participated, resulting in the publication of over 100 case studies.

                       “The more we say that measuring performance over the long haul
                                    is part of what we do, the more it’s going to happen.”
                                                              — 2015 Awards Jury

“We are thrilled to see our research programs achieve this level of recognition in the profession.” said LAF Executive Director Barbara Deutsch, FASLA. “Our work to promote landscape performance is changing the way landscape architects practice and the way others understand and appreciate the value of landscape solutions.”

The awards will be presented at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago on Monday, November 9 at McCormick Place. The complete list of award winners — along with project information, images, and criteria — can be viewed at: http://www.asla.org/2015awards/index.html.

Ecological Succession and Plant Choice

By Wes Griffith, BSLA Student, and Chris Sass, Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky

While participating in LAF’s 2015 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, many themes came to the surface, but one stood out to us as an area directly addressable by landscape architects. That theme is the issue of ecological succession and plant choice. Ecological succession describes how ecosystems change over time, sometimes in a predicable manner, but not always. So how do we as landscape architects begin to address ecological succession through our sustainable designs and planting plans?

One of the first goals to help landscape architects think about ecological succession should be to set a long-term management plan that dictates how a landscape will be managed, including removal of invasive plants, the addition of native seed or plants, and the social dynamic of the site. Such goals were addressed in one of the projects we studied, the Lower Howard’s Creek Corridor Management Plan, which considers ecological, social and economic integrity.

A long-term management plan is necessary because succession occurs over a long time period. How long is long-term? Well for example, the second growth forest at Lower Howard’s Creek has been re-establishing since the late 1800s and we are just now starting to see some mid-successional species as early successional species are beginning to be replaced. Species such as Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and foxtail (Seteria spp) are being replaced by oaks (Quercus spp), Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata) and Riparian Wild Rye (Elymus riparius). So how long is long-term? Definitely longer than our current 25-year project lifespan. This reminds me of the Iroquois maxim stating we need to plan for the seventh generation if we are to truly achieve sustainability.

The Coefficient of Conservatism (CoC) is a tool we can use to plan for ecological succession. CoC numbers range from 1 to 10, where lower numbers indicate a wider range of plant tolerance and higher numbers indicate a much lower range of tolerance. The later successional species mentioned above exhibit a higher CoC number, meaning they require a more specific habitat and exhibit a lower tolerance range. While it may seem like the right thing to do, using higher CoC plants in our initial planting plans is probably not the best idea. Unless we are certain — or make certain through costly amendments — that the specific habitat requirements are there, the higher CoC plants will not make it very long, and we will have wasted the plants and the opportunity. We see this mistake often in our profession. For example, a planting plan may call for Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia), which in many areas is endangered or threatened and has a high CoC. It is tempting to plant, but will this plant not only survive, but thrive and reproduce in a new planting area? Probably not unless the habitat is within its tolerance range.

Using the CoC, we can plan plantings by assessing the stage of succession we are designing. Higher CoC numbers will require very specific tolerance ranges and habitat types, while lower CoC numbers will be much less fussy in the landscape. Looking through some of the project planting schedules for the sites we studied, we noticed that the CoC values of plant species ranged from 1 to 10, the minimum and maximum numbers. The question becomes: What have we designed for? A highly established landscape that is fairly stable? Or one that is just beginning to establish itself at the early seral stages?

Maintenance plays an important role in how we begin to plan for successional landscape designs. We have found maintenance to be an issue at two of the sites we studied. Both college campus projects, Northern Kentucky University’s Norse Commons and the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture Alumni Plaza, used native plants, and unfortunately some of the planted species have been outcompeted.

In all, as a profession concerned with sustainable approaches, we should think beyond the 25-year mark and aim more for the century mark and beyond. Let’s be more like the Iroquois and plan for seven generations.

Research Assistant Wes Griffith and Research Fellow Chris Sass are participating in LAF’s 2015 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program and working to evaluate the environmental, economic and social performance of three sustainable landscape projects in Kentucky.