News & Events

LAF News

Stay up to date on LAF!

Subscribe to RSS Feed

2014 CSI Firms and Projects Announced

A total of 21 projects – submitted by 14 design firms, one organization and one institution – have been selected for LAF’s 2014 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches LAF-funded faculty-student research teams with leading practitioners to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects.

Participants from each firm will work with the 2014 Research Fellows to evaluate the performance of one or more built projects and produce Landscape Performance Series Case Study Briefs. Projects are selected based on design innovation, availability of baseline information, potential for quantified performance outcomes and the firm’s commitment to the research collaboration.

The selected projects represent a wide variety of typologies, locations and climates. The various public parks include several prominent brownfield reclamations, as well as plazas, streetscapes, creek restorations, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Learning environments include three university campus sites and two exemplar public schools designed to encourage student appreciation of the sciences. Among the selected projects, several have been recognized with SITES and LEED certifications, while others were awarded national research grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Commerce.

The 2014 CSI program kicks off in March. Starting in the fall, look for the resulting Case Study Briefs from these participating firms and projects:

  • City of Charlottesville and the Nature Conservancy
    Meadow Creek Restoration
  • EDSAchattanooga-500w-m1tHargreaves' Chattanooga Renaissance Park
    NOVA Southeastern University
    Pompano Beach Streetscape
  • Hargreaves Associates
    Chattanooga Renaissance Park
  • Jacobs/Ryan Associates
    Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy
  • Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect
    Buffalo Public High School 305, McKinley High School
  • Morton Arboretum
    Meadow Lake Restoration & Permeable Main Parking Lot
  • Perkins + Will
    1315 Peachtree Streetatlantabelt-500wPerkins + Will's Atlanta Belt Line Eastside Trail
    Atlanta Belt Line Eastside Trail
  • PWP Landscape Architecture
    Nasher Sculpture Center
  • Raymond Jungles, Inc.
    1111 Lincoln Road
  • Rhodeside & Harwell
    James Madison University College of Integrated Sciences & Technology
  • Rick Manning Landscape Architect
    TREE Neighborhood, Eco Village at Ithaca
  • Rios Clementi Hale Studios
    Pete V. Domenici Courthouse
  • Site Design Groupcavalliere-500wSmithGroupJJR's Doc Cavialliere Park
    Henry Palmisano Park
  • SmithGroupJJR
    AT&T Performing Arts Center
    George “Doc” Cavialliere Park
  • Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
    Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center/Smith Education Center at Monticello
    Plaza at Sundance Square
  • Wolf Lighthall
    Cornell University Nevin Welcome Center

2014 CSI Research Fellows Announced

Eight faculty Research Fellows have been selected for LAF’s 2014 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. CSI is a unique research collaboration that matches LAF-funded faculty and student research teams with design firms to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects as Landscape Performance Series Case Study Briefs.

csi-graphic-v2Research Fellows lead the CSI collaboration, work with firms to identify performance benefits 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 selection process was highly competitive with proposals received from over 27 researchers across the U.S and abroad. The following LAF Research Fellows will lead the seven 2014 Case Study Investigation teams:

  • Chris A. Martin, PhD, Arizona State University
  • Michele Palmer, Cornell University
  • Ebru Ozer, Florida International University
  • Mary Pat Mattson, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Brad Collett, University of Tennessee
  • Taner R. Ozdil, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington
  • James P. Richards, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Leena Cho, University of Virginia

Congratulations to this impressive group! Later this week, we’ll announce the projects and firms selected for participation — stay tuned!

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.

CSI: Preparing Researchers for Practice

by Rachel Guinn, MLA Candidate and Mary Pat Mattson,Studio Assistant Professor, College of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology

LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program gives emerging landscape architects an opportunity to gain knowledge about professional practice from a wholly new perspective. IIT’s Mary Pat Mattson interviewed Research Assistant Rachel Guinn about her experience.

What interested you in becoming a researcher for LAF’s Case Study Investigation program?

csi-iit1Rachel examines the vertical growing wall of the Museum of Science and Industry's Smart Home exhibit.

I was interested in participating in CSI to learn about what landscapes do after they are installed, and I was especially excited to study local landscapes here in Chicago. Far too often, landscape is talked about as a static thing, so the opportunity to investigate the “living, breathing” aspects of landscapes really interested me.

Were you already familiar with concepts and methods of ‘landscape performance’?

What I have learned from CSI is how diverse and infinite landscape performance is, which makes it very difficult to quantify concisely. Ecologic benefits are complex simply because ecologic processes do not stop at property boundaries, so understanding the effects of and influences on a landscape project is quite an undertaking. Social benefits are notoriously difficult to quantify because so many effects of landscape are qualitative and subjective. Economic benefits may appear to be simple, but given the diverse ways that projects and their maintenance get funded and the many people involved, it is not always clear where and what the costs of sustainable landscapes are. CSI has given me an appreciation of what an endeavor it is to study the benefits of landscapes, but how valuable that information is.

What did you find most rewarding in your research process? Were there any surprises or big hurdles to overcome?

The most rewarding aspect has been getting to thoroughly “know” projects by talking with the people who helped them come about, coming to understand the lifespan (up till now) of the projects — how they began as design goals, how they have changed over time as needs altered and issues cropped up. It has given me an even deeper appreciation of the time and effort that developers, landscape architects, architects, landscape contractors, invest in creating landscapes that function at the highest levels.

Being on the “interviewer” side of conversations was difficult. As a design student, I was used to being asked questions about a project, but turning the tables and asking the questions requires understanding on a whole other level. It was so important to be prepared to ask the right questions to maximize the outcome of interviews.

Can you describe something that links the three projects you’ve studied? 

csi-iit2Rachel confirms plant species in the spiral garden at Advocate Lutheran hospital.

All of the projects we studied in CSI used landscape as an educational tool, whether through stewardship (63rd Street Beach), programming (the Smart Home exhibit), or visibility of ecologic processes (Advocate Lutheran General Hospital). I think education is often part of successful projects because it engages people directly, and the more people notice their environments, the more they will care for them and ensure the project’s continued success. Learning about individuals’ stewardship for these respective projects has been a remarkable and rewarding discovery.

Is there a project, or aspect of a project, you wish you could continue to explore?

I have read about Chicago’s water quality issues and seen beach closures for years. While researching 63rd Street Beach, I found a plethora of research conducted at this location, which has been known for its particularly high levels of E.coli. Sources of the pollution range from sewer outflows to seagull populations to human use. It would be great to continue to study how, if at all, the creation of dunes at the beach has helped to improve water quality — if the naturalized landscape makes people more aware of their impacts on the environment, if the grass has helped filter pollutants, or if the dune habitat has truly helped to reduce gull numbers.

How has the experience affected you as a young landscape architect? How do you anticipate taking these experiences into future practice?

Being a research assistant has been a fantastic step into real-world projects, clients, and firms. It has been great to dive into these projects, their histories and how they are performing. I now see the value in being able to talk about landscape in terms of quantifiable performance benefits, and the importance of connecting academic and professional practices to study projects after installation.

Research Fellow Mary Pat Mattson and student Research Assistant Rachel Guinn are participating in LAF’s 2013 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program. They have been evaluating and documenting the performance of three Chicago-area landscape projects.